Child Leashes: Are They Safe? & How Should You Use Them?

Last Updated On: 

February 1, 2019

While they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, for lots of parents, child leashes offer the safest way to get from point A to B. Whether you have an energetic little toddler, are traveling solo with your kids, or just need some extra peace of mind when walking along busy roads – a child leash can be useful in many circumstances.

Or, you might have your doubts about using a leash on your kid, and that’s perfectly fine too! Everyone has their own parenting values and we respect that. If you familiarize yourself with the subject and are still not comfortable using one on your kid, know that this is by no means a necessity.

Either way, it’s good to be informed, just so you can make a fair decision on where you stand.

If this is of any interest to you, be sure to check out our guide below where we discuss all of the above, as well as scenarios where a child leash is useful, safety tips, what should be avoided and why it should be avoided, as well as different types and issues to consider when you’re shopping around.

But before we get into all of that, let’s take a minute to quickly go over what we believe to be some of the best child leashes of today.

Best Child Leashes – A Quick Look At Our Top 7 Recommendations

Pick #1: Goldbug 2 in 1 Child Safety Harness
Pick #2: Yodo Toddler Backpack with Safety Harness Leash
Pick #3: Mommy’s Helper Toddler Leash & Harness
Pick #4: Brica By-My-Side Safety Harness Backpack
Pick #5: EPLAZA Butterfly Belt Harness with Leash Assistant Strap
Pick #6: Blisstime Safety Wrist Link
Pick #7: Walkodile Kids Walking Rope

*Note: Upon clicking on any of the links in this section, you will be redirected to the respective product listings on Amazon.com where you can learn about the product’s price, customer rating & customer reviews.

What’s A Child Leash?

If you’ve ever seen a parent holding a cord that attaches to their child, it’s probably a child leash.

They usually attach to a backpack the child wears, or to a harness wrapped around their chest. Sometimes, they even attach from one parent’s wrist to the child’s wrist.

Whether you agree or disagree with their use, it’s important to know that child leashes are primarily designed with safety in mind. (Well, the ones we recommend, at least – but more on that later).

Check out the video below for a look at some of these leashes in action, just so you can get an idea about how these things work.

Why Do Some Parents Use Child Leashes?

Despite what the critics say, child leashes are rarely a case of “lazy parenting”. In fact, you could argue that they’re simply a part of a safety-conscious parenting strategy.

But, does it make you an unsafe parent if you don’t use them? Absolutely not.

You see, child leashes suit some families, and not others. Every parent and their family is different. Some parents couldn’t leave the house without one, while others may never need one.

If you feel confident in your abilities to chase after your children if need be, or if your toddler isn’t the type to run off, perhaps it’s something you’d never need to consider. But for some people, in certain situations, they’re a necessity.

For example, here’s a few scenarios when a child leash could be helpful:

  • If you’re heavily pregnant and taking kids to a busy shopping mall. Depending on your physical condition, you might be worried about keeping up with your toddler.
  • If you’re a solo parent or guardian traveling through airports or train stations with more than one child – lugging baggage, organizing travel documents and supervising toddlers can be challenging, especially when doing all of this on your own.
  • If you have an elderly relative or friend taking your child for a stroll to the park and they don’t feel confident being able to chase them if they run off, or you don’t feel confident in their ability to stay in control.
  • If you’ve ever ‘lost’ your child in a supermarket, you might be battling anxiety about it happening again.

And the list goes on and on. There are lots of different reasons why you might need a child leash, and it’s not something you should feel ashamed about.

Is It Safe To Use A Child Leash?

The American Academy of Pediatrics don’t appear to have made any widespread recommendations on their usage, and they haven’t been banned from use (as of this writing).

Therefore, we can assume that there aren’t any major health concerns to using child leashes – as long as you are using them safely, responsibly and with awareness of your little one’s comfort and dignity.

Which brings us to our next question…

How Should I Use A Child Leash Responsibly?

Tip #1: Ensure that any harness or wrist strap is comfortable for your child to wear, and doesn’t chafe, pinch or hurt them.

Tip #2: If your child seems distressed by the leash, take it off and do some good old-fashioned problem-solving. This may mean altering it a bit so it fits better, providing a cuddle and some words of encouragement (if it’s just a temper tantrum or if they’re just feeling a bit scared because of something new) or possibly getting rid of it altogether and finding a different type that they prefer (“Look, it’s a harness with a monkey toy!”).

Tip #3: If you’ve persisted but your little one just doesn’t like it and seems quite upset no matter what you do, maybe you need to look at a different option – like using a pram for the time-being.

Tip #4: Always use the leash gently if you need to pull on it. By not being gentle, you’ll risk injuring your little one.

Tip #5: Don’t forcefully tug or drag your child (unless it’s an emergency, such as removing them from a dangerous scenario like a busy road and having no other option but acting fast). Ideally, though, you’re always on top of the situation, alert of your surroundings and won’t find yourself in a situation where you need to “act fast”.

Tip #6: Never attach your child to a pole or some other object. The whole purpose of using a product like this is to keep them within easy arm’s reach of you! Also, there’s the risk of strangulation if you leave them alone.

Tip #7: It’s probably not a good idea to give the leash to another child to hold or to anyone who isn’t responsible enough to use it safely and gently.

Tip #8: Continue to use your words to encourage your kid so that you can teach boundaries and discipline. For example: if they’re trying to run off, it might be better to ask them to slow down and explain why, before you resort to physically restraining the leash.

Tip #9: Don’t forget to continue teaching your child lessons about spatial awareness and avoiding danger, just like you would if they weren’t on a leash. Just because you’re now using a child leash doesn’t mean you’re exempted from that essential part of parenting. Example: “Eleanor, don’t forget to look both ways before crossing the road” or “Watch out Tom, there’s a bike coming!”.

Tip #10: Never put a child on a leash as a form of punishment. Remember that it’s a safety tool and should only be used as intended.

What About All The Controversy?

Check out the video below for a quick look at some of the different views surrounding child leashes, including those who prefer not to use them, and others who see worthwhile benefits to using them.

Some people believe that putting a leash on a child inhibits their freedom. You might also hear friends liken it to treating your kid like an animal.

Of course, everybody has a right to their opinion, but as long as you’re using a child leash for the right reasons and are sticking to best practices only, we think it’s best to stay true to your own values and needs as a family.

If you’ve had a near miss with a child running onto a road, of course you’d be looking at a device that could ensure their safety, and there’s no shame in that. On the contrary, that’s something you should be praised for.

However, and just to cover all angles, here are two statements that are NOT an acceptable reason to put your child on a leash:

  • “I’m sick of having to watch him all the time! A leash means I can just attach him and then focus on other things.”
  • “Teaching her not to run in front of cars seems like hard work. A leash means I won’t have to worry about it! I get what I want without having to waste my time teaching her about it.”

Not that we think any of our readers would be thinking like this, but it’s still important to be clear that irresponsible and lazy parenting are not valid reasons to use a child leash.

A leash is not the easy way out of parenting. It’s just an added safety feature that allows you to take your child places with less worry of them getting hurt or lost.

At What Age Can I Put A Leash On My Child?

There doesn’t seem to be any age stipulated by health professionals or the medical industry as a whole, but we recommend asking your family doctor their opinion if you’re worried about doing this too early and possibly harming your child.

Using common sense, though, your child obviously doesn’t need one unless they’re walking.

And it might be worth waiting until they’ve properly mastered walking all on their own without needing your help before you bring out a leash or harness. The last thing you want to do is introduce a device that somehow impacts the learning process at such a crucial time.

Luckily, they shouldn’t be able to run too far until they’ve mastered walking anyway!

You’ll also find that most child leashes are designed for specific ages, and some might not fit until 18 months of age or so. Just check the product details for this information, and you should be good to go.

At What Age Should I Stop Using A Child Leash?

As your toddler gets older and is nearing time to start school, it’s important that they learn to experience the world and everything it has to offer – including understanding danger, discipline and boundaries.

As a parent, you’ll know when the time comes that your child is too old to be wearing a child leash.

When that time comes, trust your gut. It would be restrictive to their development to keep them on a leash for longer than is necessary or healthy.

You’ll also find that most restraint products have age guidelines made very clear by the manufacturer, and eventually your child might physically outgrow the harness or backpack.

In which case, it’s time to transition to outings without the leash.

Of course, you should still do your best to take it slow. Start with easier adventures, like walks in a park, before you tackle places alongside busy roads or packed shopping malls with your little one completely free. One step at a time!

What Are The Different Types of Child Leashes I Can Choose From?

Not all child leashes are the same – there’s a few different types for you to choose between:

Just A Simple Harness And Leash

This is a child leash in its most basic form. It consists of a harness that attaches to the child’s chest or torso, with a leash attached that a parent can hold.

The advantage is that it should be light and easy for a child to wear – and obviously not too hot or anything like that, because there’s nothing else but the harness itself.

Leash Attached To A Backpack

This is exactly what it sounds like – a harness that includes a backpack, with a leash attached.

Lots of parents love them because they’re multipurpose, keeping your kids safe while also acting as a useful place to store things like drink bottles and nappies. If your kid likes to wear backpacks, it might even distract them from realizing they’re on a leash!

The backpacks often come in fun designs and colors, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find one that your kid finds appealing.

Wrist Straps

This safety device is a bit different to the usual leash style. It’s a cord that connects child and parent via a loop around each of your wrists.

Some people prefer them, but there are also concerns by some parents who worry about the strap chafing the exposed skin. Some also worry that yanking on the strap could potentially hurt the child’s arm or shoulder (as opposed to a harness that just safely sits around the torso).

At the end of the day, it really depends on the unique design and features of the wrist strap itself, so it’s good to familiarize yourself with the product first and read the reviews to see if any parents who tried it saw their children sustain any injuries from it.

If you’re considering this type, it might also be worth checking the opinion of your trusted family doctor first.

Walking Ropes

This one’s a bit different than the rest (again), but its purpose is the same – to keep children close and discourage them from running off, risking their well being.

It’s good for large groups of children, as it usually has multiple little handles for each child to hold onto, with the guardian acting as a leader at the front of the group, holding the rope.

It’s ideal for preschools, kid’s clubs and large families, especially for things like fire drills and emergency evacuations.

What Should I Look For In The Best Child Leashes?

When you’re on the lookout for a child leash, you’ll discover that there’s so many different options to choose from.

They’ve all got their pros and cons that are worth considering, but to make all of this easier for you, here’s a list of some of the most important things to consider before making a purchase.

A Comfortable and Supportive Harness

This is definitely one of the most important things you should look at.

If the harness is not comfortable or safe for your child, it should pretty much be a deal breaker and you’ll be better off looking elsewhere.

A Sturdy Leash or Cord

It’s obviously important that the leash itself is high-quality and doesn’t break at the slightest pull.

Again, check out the reviews before you buy to see what other people have to say about this, as this is one of the points that get mentioned a lot by people who have actually used the product.

Fun Designs

Whether we like it or not, kids are sometimes driven by visual appeal. For example, if a harness backpack is cuddly or colorful, or has their favorite character all over it, they might be more likely to want to wear it.

If your child has a favorite color or animal, you might be lucky enough to find one that includes both of these things in the design!

Additional Features

If you’re looking at one of the backpack harnesses, you might like to compare the added features, such as pocket space and insulation capabilities.

While this isn’t the most important thing to consider (remember that safety and comfort should always be your top priorities), it’s still worth looking at.

Best Child Leashes – A More Detailed Look At Our Top 7 Recommendations

Pick #1: Goldbug 2 in 1 Child Safety Harness

This safety harness is as cute as they come, with a design that incorporates a little animal friend to act as a travel buddy. It’s almost like a child leash and a soft toy all in one!

Hey, maybe your kid will love the idea of giving their little animal friend a piggy back ride so much, that they might even forget they’re attached to a leash.

Either way, it’s both practical and fun, with a three-foot leash and buckles that makes it easy to put on and take off.

There’s also a very useful storage area, think of it like a mini backpack that’s always handy for carrying small things around.

This harness is suitable for little ones of ages 18 months and older.

Pros

  • The cuddly animal design makes it very child-friendly.
  • Includes a useful small area for storage.
  • Chest buckles are easy to use and adjust for different sizes.

Cons

  • Some people complain that the backpack part is actually quite small, so if you’re looking for something to store lots of things in there, you might be better off looking at a different product.
  • If you live in a hot or humid climate, you might find that a harness like this isn’t as cool and comfortable to wear as a simpler harness that doesn’t have a backpack or toy design.

Click Here To Check Price & Read Customer Reviews On Amazon

Pick #2: Yodo Toddler Backpack with Safety Harness Leash

If you’re taking your little one to daycare, on a picnic or just out for an adventure, you should definitely have a look at this harness that comes with an insulated lunch bag to preserve your little one’s food.

It’s designed to keep things warm or cool for up to three hours. It could be perfect for packing a little toddler lunch and keeping everything nice and fresh for eating, and it’s also pretty easy to clean away in case any food stains on the inside were to happen.

Plus, the backpack design is adorable – and that’s always a bonus with kids!

The leash is 50 inches and attaches to either the bottom ring or top handle of the backpack, and is suitable for kids 18 months and older.

Pros

  • Includes an insulated lunch bag to keep your little one’s food in good condition.
  • There are two places you can attach the leash to the backpack.
  • A cute design that appeals to young children.
  • Has a name tag at the back, which is great for daycare or kindergarten.

Cons

  • Similar to our #1 pick above, some people might find the storage area a bit too small, depending on how much they want to carry in there. In practical terms, it’s really only designed to hold a day’s lunch for a kid, not much more than that.

Click Here To Check Price & Read Customer Reviews On Amazon

Pick #3: Mommy’s Helper Toddler Leash & Harness

If you’re looking for something lightweight, compact and discreet, this leash and harness could be perfect for your needs.

There are no novelty extras like a backpack or soft toy, in case you don’t really need any of those. It’s just a very simple design that’s meant to achieve one thing: and that’s keeping your little one out of trouble and harm’s way.

But that’s exactly why it made it onto our list of recommendations. Because it’s the simplicity of this product that lots of parents love, and it’s exactly this that allows it to be so light and small.

The harness also has your child’s safety well in mind, by being fully supported by the torso instead of the stomach.

Pros

  • Simple design, without other bells and whistles you might not need or want.
  • Designed to be supported by the torso and not the sensitive stomach area.
  • Light and cool to wear, so is a great option for summertime – unlike other options out there that have your little one feeling uncomfortable when it’s hot outside.
  • Small and compact (because there’s no backpack) so you can easily store it in a parent bag.

Cons

  • Depending on the type of shirt or jumper your child wears with it, they might find the straps irritate the neck area a bit. Some people attach car seat pads to fix this issue and report it works out well for them, so this certainly isn’t a deal breaker.
  • If your child is the type that would prefer a fun design, this might not be the best option. You’ll be fighting an uphill battle trying to get them to use something like this when they’re not attracted to it.

Click Here To Check Price & Read Customer Reviews On Amazon

Pick #4: Brica By-My-Side Safety Harness Backpack

If you’re looking for a gender-neutral harness backpack that can still be used even if your little one outgrows the need for the leash, this is well worth a look.

The design is cute and simple, which many parents love because it doesn’t draw too much attention from strangers who might judge the child leash aspect.

Not that you have anything to be ashamed of as long as you’re sticking to the best practices and are actually doing this for your own kid’s well being, but you know how it goes!

All in all, it’s a nifty little backpack that holds enough (e.g. diapers, wipes and a snack) for an outing. We also love the pockets on the outside that can hold a water-bottle or toy.

The leash can easily be detached when it’s not needed. Also, the cool thing is that without the leash, it really does look just like a regular kid’s backpack.

This is a great option for kids 18 months and older.

Pros

  • Looks just like a regular backpack and works like one too, with good storage space to make use of.
  • Shock-absorbing and can easily be detached when not needed.
  • Backpack also has front mesh pocket and two side pockets.
  • Design includes reflective safety strips.

Cons

  • Some people might be shocked by how small it is, but you need to keep in mind that it’s designed for a toddler’s back – and its design is pretty clever, by using pockets on the outside for extra capacity.
  • The design is quite neutral and simple, which many people love. However, if your child would prefer crazy fun colors with novelty designs, choosing something else might be better for them.

Click Here To Check Price & Read Customer Reviews On Amazon

Pick #5: EPLAZA Butterfly Belt Harness with Leash Assistant Strap

Who doesn’t love butterfly wings? Okay…maybe some people. But, if you’ve got a ‘girly girl’ who loves pretty things, this butterfly harness might be right down her alley. It doesn’t get much more ‘girly’ than this!

If you’re worried about your child not wanting to wear a leash, a harness like this can be passed off as more of a fun costume for them to wear. “Time to put on your butterfly wings, Melissa!”

Plus, the leash can detach so your little one can just wear the wings on their own for the fun of it.

Aside from the gorgeous design, we also love that it’s lightweight and compact. So, it’s easy to store away when it’s not being used.

Pros

  • Cute design that would suit any child (girls specifically) that loves butterflies.
  • Not too bulky or hot, making it perfect for all kinds of weather.
  • Leash disconnects so they can wear the wings around the house just for the fun of it.
  • Doubles as both a fun costume and a child leash.

Cons

  • It’s obviously a very ‘girly girl’ design – might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Some of you might choose to look elsewhere for your boys.
  • There’s no backpack – just wings attached to the harness.

Click Here To Check Price & Read Customer Reviews On Amazon

Pick #6: Blisstime Safety Wrist Link

If you’re not a fan of the traditional child leash design, this wrist link could be a great alternative.

With straps that loop around your wrist and your child’s wrist, you can walk attached to one another without feeling like you’re leading them.

The chain extends up to 1.5 meters, giving your child enough freedom and space without you having to worry about the risk of losing them in a crowd. Just the right balance you should seek.

Plus, the wrist link has metal connectors that rotate 360 degrees, which can help stop your child from twisting their wrist.

Some people feel it’s a bit more discreet than a traditional child leash, which attaches to the torso or backpack. However, this is obviously subjective and is something up to you to decide whether or not you’re comfortable with.

This wrist link’s makers suggest it’s best for ages four years and older.

Pros

  • Easy for parents to use, but difficult for small kids to get open.
  • Made with soft material for comfort.
  • You can adjust the size.
  • Has an anti-twist mechanism.
  • Something totally different from the usual child leash design.

Cons

  • Ideally for ages four years and older, so if you’ve got younger kids, it might not be the best product for your needs.
  • Obviously has no fun design to it or any practical storage space like a backpack harness, but that’s not what it’s meant to do in the first place.
  • If your child is older or happens to be a bit of an escape artist, there’s always the chance they’ll figure out how the wrist strap works and could potentially break free from it. So, proper supervision and acting fast are still needed from you in case anything goes wrong.

Click Here To Check Price & Read Customer Reviews On Amazon

Pick #7: Walkodile Kids Walking Rope

If you’ve got a large family or kid’s group, then a regular solo leash won’t cater for your needs. But luckily, this walking rope offers a great solution.

The rope has 10 handles for each child to hold, which makes it ideal for preschools, kid’s groups or large families. It’s great because kids can either just hold the handle on their own, or you can secure them to it a bit more firmly by fastening the velcro.

A parent or guardian can then lead the group from the front.

We love the bright colors and think it’s been very thoughtfully designed, with the handles providing good spacing apart.

Pros

  • Provides a safe way to lead groups of up to 10 kids at a time, something very difficult – if not almost impossible – to do with the other options mentioned on this list.
  • There’s velcro fastening on every handle.
  • Designed with Hi Viz detailing for safety and fun colors for kids to enjoy.
  • Handles are well spaced along the rope, to ensure that kids don’t bump into each other.

Cons

  • It’s probably a bit excessive if you’re getting it to only use it on one kid. If that’s the case, you can just look at a singular child leash instead.
  • While the velcro is great, because it’s on the child’s wrist they might fiddle with it and try to take it off (as opposed to a solo leash which usually attaches from the back).

Click Here To Check Price & Read Customer Reviews On Amazon

Wrapping it Up

We hope you’ve found this article helpful, especially if you’ve been debating with yourself about whether or not it’s a good idea for you to get and use a leash on your kid.

Unfortunately, when it comes to child leashes, there’s no right or wrong answer – things are almost always going to be determined on a case by case basis.

As parents, all we can do is follow our instincts and try to make the right choices, having consumed as much accurate information as possible beforehand.

If it makes you feel any better, then by all means have a chat about this with your family and friends, but always remember that their opinions might wildly differ on this topic – like all controversial parenting issues.

As a last resort, if you’re worried about any health, developmental or well being risks, it might be best to chat with a doctor to hear their opinion about your specific case.

Most importantly, if you’re researching child leashes, you can feel confident about  one thing: you’re an amazing mom, dad or caregiver who loves their kid enough to look into this whole thing before you commit to it! So, hats off to you for being the responsible person you are!

If you’ve got any tips of your own or anything else you want to add about child leashes, let us know in the comments below! But remember, folks: keep it friendly! We’re not here to judge each other.

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