To Leash, or Not To Leash

When my son was just a baby, we were given a little monkey backpack that had a "leash" that would keep an active toddler from running off. I never used it, partly because I never thought about it, but partly because I was worried about the strange looks I might get. I tucked it away and didn't use it for him, or for India. I didn't really have a stance on the thing, I just kinda forgot about it.

This weekend, on a trip, my sister-in-law had the same harness with her and suggested that I put it on India while her cousin Tanner sat in the stroller. We were walking near a busy street and it seemed like a good idea. Well, wouldn't you know, we did get some horrified stares, and even a nasty comment or two. But the more I felt the judgemental eyes on India, the more I mused on the lot of her cousin Tanner, who was not only harnessed, but also strapped into a seat and unable to walk. Now, I've had one of my kids strapped into a stroller countless times in my parenting career. In three years time, I have never gotten a stare or negative comment for having a child in a stroller. But let a kid walk around with a harness, and boy hardy, people are pissed. And to be honest, on this particular outing, India seemed a lot happier than her cousin of the same age. She was walking, exploring, and feeling like a big girl. Not to mention, she was getting more exercise.

It kind of changed my outlook on the leash thing. Or maybe it changed my outlook on the stroller . . . I don't know. I'm not sure I will crack out the monkey backpack buddy. But I certainly won't judge anyone who does.


  1. You are so right! I was so busy judging the people with their kids on a leash, I had never considered the restraints of a stroller. Too funny. Good point, lady!

  2. I'm all for a kid "leash". Someone going to a busy amusement park or the like with a toddler that refuses to be carried and a stroller that's too bulky.. why not use one to make sure your child won't get lost in the crowd? I don't see what the big deal is. I will probably use one when my 9 month old is old enough for one. I hope I'm strong enough to tolerate all the glares from unsympathetic people.

  3. I never considered the leash until I had two kids. Although I have never taken the plunge I think it makes sense. I just finished reading a novel called "Year of Fog" that follows a family dealing with a kidnapping and I think that I would do the leash for my 2 year old if we go to a busy public place in the near future.

    I will admit, I have given weird looks and even made comments to my hubby before about kids looking like pets. I never thought about how leashing stacks up to strollers.

    Maybe we should capture this on video... Our own Mama Manifesto expose!

    :) Ali

  4. I like your point! I'm not against the leash, even though I don't use one. I could see how in busy situations it could be a safety precaution. What I am against is parents who use that or any other device (stroller, or what have you) so they don't have to actually "parent", if that makes sense.

  5. You are so right!!!
    I have a leash and use it with my girl, although she protests a lot!!! I don't care about looks or comments: I simply don't want to loose my daughter or that some bastard (sorry for the expression but that's how I feel it) can take her away! We don't use it unless we are in any crowded space. The world is getting crazy and people are just insane so I don't want to take the risk of loosing my girl and not see her anymore! Sorry if I sound hysterical but I am not. I am concern about spending a life with my little one. I am Spanish and there so many kids disappearing lately that it's just scary! The agony and pain of those parents... No, my daughter will go with a leash, I will do my best to protect her, and who cares about looks and comments!

  6. We have what appears to be the same leash (monkey backpack?) and although we don't use it that often, when we do my (2 yr old) son loves it. We bought it as backup for a vacation thinking we'd never really have to use it - but much to our surprise, it was perfect for him. He's a squirmer and it's great to have the opportunity to let him run around a little bit, which is exactly what he wants to be doing most of the time.

    I don't really care what anyone thinks - I actually never thought about it until now - I know I'm doing what works for MY kid.

    Thanks for the perspective :)

  7. Some people just have a hard time when kids act like animals or their parents treat them like one... ie. dog on a leash... I on the other hand throw cheerios on the floor and encourage the kids to eat like chickens, they swing from things like monkeys, they act like a grouchy bear in the morning, swim like fishes... they are just animals with no fur, feathers or fins ;) Deal with it people!

  8. When my cat started using our carpet as a bathroom after my daughter was born she went to the pound(after nine months and a lot of vet bills to remedy the situation). My three year old has taken to using the carpet bathroom to get my attention, but she remains in the family... and always will. Sorry the leash comment made me think of that.

    I haven't bought one of those backpack harnesses yet, but I am not opposed at all. My 16 month old is a mover and hates to be kenneled in the stroller at the zoo or anywhere else we go. She also yells no and pushes my hand away when I try to hold hers so she can walk. I can't just run after her and leave my 3 year old behind. I have been thinking about buying one of these things, but know that my three year old will want one too, "just like sister," so maybe I will get two and look like a professional dog walker on my next zoo trip!

  9. i have always been against the leash deal. but your perspective totally makes sense. i guess i always looked at kids on leashes as people treating their kids like dogs. but hey, now people put their dogs in strollers (which i also judge harshly) who cares anymore. :o)

    no seriously...great insight kristen.

  10. Such a good point!!! I've always been against the leash too. However, I have a very active independant 15 month old who does not want to hold hands when walking that I have actually begun to think twice about it. She would much rather walk than ride in a stroller.

  11. When given the choice between losing my 2 year old or the evil stares of people who haven't taken two toddlers to Disneyland by themselves, I will chose the stink eyes. The stroller comparison is brilliant! I have never even looked at it that way.

  12. Ha! i read this and my first reaction was "oh no, Kristen has seen my facebook flair!" (i have a piece of flair that says "free the leash kids.)

    Actually im not opposed to it at all, especially because i am obsessive about not losing my kids. i think whatever we can do to keep our kids safe in this crazy world is worth the battle.

    i will say, i have seen one or two instances where the leash was misused (in my opinion) and it broke my heart. but obviously the positives far out weigh the negatives.

  13. Guilty as charged, though I think I prolly kept the eye rolling between my husband and me. Never thought twice about strapping my kids to some wheels. I must admit, this past summer I began to see the advantages of restraining a 2 year old......namely when hubby and I were playing co-rec softball and my lil one would run out behind the batter to show mommy the not-so-empty beer can she had found under the bleachers. OK. just kidding about the beer can:)

  14. My #1 job as a mom is to keep my kid safe. The longer I am a parent the less I care about what other people think.
    Tanner and I had been in the car for 2 hours and we had to stop at the store before we went home. I had to grab 2 things so I put the leash on, which has a monkey on it so he calls it monkey. A lady walked by and said to her friend, I hate when parents so that to their kids. I thought really, he has already been locked in sitting down for 2 hours, why not give the kid a break while at the same time not driving me crazy because he is running around everywhere. Great post K!


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