Would you put your toddler on a safety leash?

February 11, 2013, 4:41 pmYahoo!7

Whether you love them or hate them, everyone’s got an opinion on safety tethers for tots! We spoke to two mums with very different points of view.

Would you put your toddler on a safety leash?
Toddler + Preschooler


For one mum, her son's safety tether gives her important peace of mind when they are on family outings.

Photo by Getty Images

Our first son, Darcy, was 10 months when he began to walk and 11 months old when he began to run. At that age, he didn’t have the common sense to know what was dangerous, but was fiercely independent and would protest violently about going into the pram or holding hands. After a month of his tantrums and our frustrations, we bought him a monkey backpack with a tether for us to hold on to. It was the best compromise we could think of, as the angst the alternative was causing all of us just wasn’t worth it.

The backpack allowed our son the freedom to walk and explore and gave us the peace of mind that came from knowing he was only ever a metre away from us and couldn’t run off or get into any danger. Shopping trips and other outings became far more pleasant for everyone involved. He loved his backpack because it was a monkey and he saw it as a toy, not a restraint. He wouldn’t go anywhere without it, always asking for “monkey” before we left the house!

Our second baby, Connor, was born when he was a little over two years old. Our pram was capable of taking both of the boys, but Darcy was as independent as ever and it was a rare occasion when we could get him to ride in it. He would hold hands for a few minutes then squirm or protest until he was released. The monkey backpack was a great way of allowing him limited freedom without him running loose.

We did, unfortunately, experience some dirty looks from people in shops or parks when we used the backpack. We didn’t let that worry us though, as we are firm believers in not knowing someone else’s situation until you have walked a mile in their shoes. Darcy’s safety and happiness was all that was important to us.

If people had stopped and looked at the delight on Darcy’s face at being allowed to walk or run with a calm Mummy and Daddy tagging along behind, they would have known it to be the best solution for us. We won’t hesitate in using the tether with Connor if he turns out to be a runner like his brother. In fact, the hardest part will be taking it from Darcy!


On the other side of the fence is a mum who prefers to focus on teaching her daughter not to stray using other methods.

Photo by Getty Images

My daughter, London, is now 20 months old and getting to that age of independence, curiosity and plenty of confidence. As wonderful as this is, it’s also sparked a new love of running away from me when we’re out and about! Of course this is incredibly worrying and although I’m aware of her intentions, I’ve developed a fear that I’ll take my eyes off her for a split second and something will happen or she will be gone.

When we’re out, London thinks it’s loads of fun to run off and hide in the clothes racks at department stores. It may be the source of giggles for her, but it makes my heart stop and I’ve had to consider all options to ensure her safety. I know child safety tethers offer parents peace of mind, but I have to admit I’m not a fan. I associate them with leashes and would never feel comfortable strapping London into one.

One of the main reasons I don’t like these restraints is that I see parents tethered to their children and they seem so disconnected as they drag their little ones along, unaware of how they are behaving. I want London to understand that it isn’t safe to run off and to learn to walk by my side while holding my hand. I’m trying to teach her to walk on her own to encourage good behaviour and independence, but also so I can identify what catches her attention and understand why she feels she needs to create attention on herself. It means I have to work harder to reinforce what she needs to do, it’s certainly frustrating at times, but I believe the end result will be worth it.

A strategy that seems to be working for me at the moment is to let London walk by my side with my hand softly on her head or shoulder. It doesn’t make her feel restrained and I know exactly where she is! Treats and encouragement to reward her good behaviour don’t go astray, either. This may change in the coming months as she becomes increasingly independent, but I guess that’s part of the parenting process and of being able to adapt and change to your child’s individual personality as she gets older.

We asked our Facebook fans what they thought. Here's what some of them said:

The argument for:

"I think they are fantastic!! My eldest son was a runner and i nearly lost him once. I swore i would never use one before that happened, but afterwards I never looked back."

"I think it's better to be safe than sorry, my 13 month old runs everywhere, he hates being confined to his pram. He is too young to understand why he needs to hold my hand so a safety harness is the best thing for us."

"I used one for my eldest daughter at the local shops as she used to run off. I'd rather get dirty looks from people who think they are wrong than my child getting hit by a car! It's about safety for the child!"

"The lead was a lifesaver for me! Please think about those of us who use them for kids with intellectual impairments, like my daughter."

"I'm for them, I have a child with Autism and using it gave me peace of mind whenever we went out shopping. When you have a child with Autism, you don't care what others think."

The argument against:

"I don't like them, it's not necessary if you teach your child about road safety and teach them to stay by your side. My eldest used to walk off, but I just called her back and asked her to hold the pram, she didn't like it, but I just told her that if she wants to be a big girl and walk by herself she has to stay by me at all times.. It's not hard to do."

"I'm against them as I think of them as like a dog leash. That's my own opinion though. My kids will walk and hold my hand and if they won't we do not move until they do. No negotiating with that."

"Lots of things can ensure safety but regardless of how safe they are some things are just too much. It's a LEASH. Chasing your child through the shopping centre is just a milestone in motherhood."

"My daughter was a runner, she ran off at any moment. Car parks, etc. I never used one as they remind me of a dog leash. I would just hold her hand everywhere we went. She soon learned."

"It's not what we would choose, personally. We feel it would hinder our son's exploration."

Where do you sit on the debate? PP wants to know. Please leave us a comment below - would you use a safety leash on your toddler?

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  1. Mira10:17pm Monday 18th February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    I say don't knock it till you try it people. I have a 15 month old baby who LOVES to walk/run, saying Hi to strangers etc and refuses to hold my hand or go on his stroller/carrier. I was considering to get one myself to see if he'll like it, to give him more freedom to roam around and also for my piece of mind. I'm reading the comments for those who are against them and I'm thinking why can't we use the safety harness to a child, if you as a parent think will work. For those parents who have so many kids without the harness...well good on you, lucky you have a good child but others may not have the same 'perfect' child as you.

  2. Leo04:35am Tuesday 12th February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    i am past the parenting stage now but feel moved to come down hard of judgmental people, not just in this sphere of activity but life generally. Their life and every body elses would benefit from their being reprogrammed. Live & let live

  3. Julie05:30pm Monday 11th February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    Yes as it's for my granddaughter and she is too fast for me as I had a stroke 9years ago and can't walk fast enough to keep up with her and a scared that as soon as she realises this she will take off, so to keep her safe certainly, having said that I never needed them for my three children but things change.

  4. spud-5304:47pm Monday 11th February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    To the people who think toddlers know what danger is ............ go and have a think about what you think is right as no child up until there teens has any idea what real danger is and often a lot of adults have no idea what danger really is as well. I had one when I was a toddler and that was over 56 years ago ......

  5. Strait03:32pm Monday 11th February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    My take on this: if it's not your child, you don't need to bother. If you think your child is safe with one of those contraptions, Godspeed. They look like cool backpacks and are totally safe, strapping around the child's torso. If you are a parent who does not approve of the idea of putting one of these on your kids, Godspeed to you too. Just know that once you have taken care of your own child, you are entitled to a coffee and a nap, not an opinion on what other parents do to their kids.

    1 Reply
  6. Rob01:55pm Monday 11th February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    To all the comments that are against the straps good on you all for standing up to those parents who cannot handle children properly. My mother had 14 children and she managed, I had six children and both my wife and myself managed. Children are humans and should be treated as such. Shame on those parents who strap their children.

  7. Jill Wozhere10:55am Monday 11th February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    In reading through all these answers it is clear that many people are worried about others seeing them as cruel in putting staps on their children. How silly is it that peope should be made to feel guilty for doing something in the best interest of their children? If the straps were designed to tie your child to a post while you go to a party, or to dangle them off a cliff in effort to torment them, then certainly there would be reason to be horrified and disgusted with such restraints, but when the purpose is to keep the child safe then why on Earth should anyone feel bad about it? I had not one bad feeling about putting my children in straps and had not one bad feeling about being put in them myself. The trouble with this world is there are way too many outspoken, but totally lacking in common sense people, that do not have a clue about bringing up well structured, well mannered, respectful, considerate and sensible children. Too many idiots minding other people's business for them. Instead of moaning about how parents control their kids, they should be more concerned about the price of living forcing more and more parents to put their kids in the care of others because they cannot afford for one to stay home and be a full time parent to their children. Parenting is an important job. Let's just be there for our kids, strapped or unstrapped!

  8. Glib10:52am Monday 11th February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    If they are wearing a leash, they should be entitled to drink out of water bowls at cafes. And you should carry plastic bags in case they poo on the nature strip.

    1 Reply
  9. Valou06:45am Monday 11th February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    Dogs only on a leash

  10. Kathleen06:30am Monday 11th February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    I used a safety leash on my children when they were small and I knew they would not run off also I knew no one could walk off with them. Yes I am all for safety leashes for children


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