Does your wild child have that look in their eye? You know the one. The look that says they are ready to move their little legs into high gear, and run as far away from you as possible?
You are not alone! Many mamas struggle to contain especially explorative children.
Whether your child is a runner, climber, or a vanishing artist, one of the most popular ways to make sure they stay close is a child leash. It is also controversial, spurring often-heated discussions on parenting, self-esteem, and safety.
We understand that all parents want to keep their children safe while teaching them essential life skills. Our goal is to help you make an informed decision as you consider if using a child leash is right for you. In this guide we will go over how to use child leashes safely, what sort of child leashes are available, and the very best child leashes you should consider purchasing.
- Supports child’s torso
- Has swivel attachment
- Super affordable
- Fun, bright design options
- Waterproof material
- Cushioned straps
- Super long cord
- Two layer velcro security
- Materials for sensitive skin
- Focuses on mom and child’s comfort
- 360-degree attachment
- Leash extends up to 65 feet
- Shock absorbing tether
- Reflective panels
- Lots of room for storage
- Large capacity
- Fun animal design
- Front and side pockets
- Adorable, friendly design
- Adjustable safety strap
- Harness and backpack combined
- Fun design
- Comes with 2 in the pack
- Long leash allows movement
- Very affordable
- Center leash clasp
- Super long leash
- Reflective safety tape
- Childproof locking system
- Anti-stick fabrics
What Are Child Leashes?
When you think of a leash, you probably think of dog leashes. One end of the leash attaches to your dog’s collar. The other end is held by you so you can make sure your dog does not run away.
Child leashes are not much different. They are designed to comfortably attach to your child as you secure the other end. The goal of child leashes is to keep your child close and provide safety if they bolt and it should be minimal stress and exertion for you.
There are three main types of child leashes:
- Child leash harnesses: These child leashes are worn by your child on their body to maintain your child’s ability to move while preventing the leash from becoming tangled.
- Child leash backpacks: This type of leash is attached to a child-sized backpack your toddler can wear. The leash is often removable.
- Wrist link straps: Wrist link straps feature wrist cuffs that wrap around your child’s wrist and your wrist. They are made especially for keeping your child within arm’s reach.
As you continue through this article, we hope to help you figure out what type of child leash is best for your specific circumstances.
Why Are Child Leashes So Controversial?
Child leashes are controversial for a number of reasons. Some mothers and childhood experts feel:
- Leashes run the safety risk of causing scrapes and falls when harnessed in, and may even be at risk for strangulation.
- Children’s leashes can be seen as a lazy parenting style, preventing children from learning how to listen and obey rules (1).
- Using a child leash may humiliate or embarrass children (2).
Mothers may want to consider these factors when using a child leash, but the decision is ultimately a personal one.
What You Need to Know
Should I Use a Child Leash?
How can you determine if a child leash is right for you and your child to have a safe, enjoyable time outside of the house? Ask yourself these six questions. If you answer yes to one or more of them, a child leash may be right for you.
Are We In a Large, Crowded Area?
Child leashes are best for abnormal circumstances that may be overwhelming to both you and your child. This includes a large family vacation to a theme park, a day trip to the beach, or even an outing in a mall. The more crowded and spacious the area, the more useful and appropriate a child leash will be.
Smaller, more contained areas, such as a park, grocery store, or even walking down a quiet street, may be areas for forgoing the leash and trying to teach your children about staying close.
Are You Near Something Dangerous?
You do not want your children to be alone when they are near something they do not know how to behave safely around.
This may include:
- The beach.
- Rocky paths.
- Cliffs or hills.
- Busy streets or large parking lots.
- Campfires or fire pits.
If you plan to spend an extended amount of time in any of these areas, a child leash may be a useful tool as you teach them how to interact in these environments safely.
Am I Alone Looking After More Than One Child?
There is nothing like a pack of children running around to stress out an on-the-go mom. It is hard for a single person to carry, hold onto, and keep an eye on multiple moving bodies.
If you are in a public place with multiple young children, a child leash may be a great option for keeping everyone accounted for.
Does My Child Have Special Needs?
Children with special needs, and especially those with ADHD or a form of autism, are more prone to wandering off. One study found nearly half of children over the age of four with autism spectrum disorder had wandered off or had run away. Out of these incidents, 65 percent of the children had a “close call” with moving traffic (3).
A leash can help both the mom and the child feel more confident as they go out into the world.
Can My Child Discern Between Right and Wrong?
As children get older, they need to learn about making decisions. It is especially important they begin to understand essential safety rules at a young age.
If your child is old enough to understand the difference between right and wrong and facing the consequences of their decisions, a child leash may not be effective for everyday circumstances.
Do I Avoid Going Out Because of Child-Wrangling Woes?
Socialization is essential for moms and children. If you avoid leaving your house because you are worried and stressed about wrangling your children, consider a child leash on a trial run.
The positives of getting out there and completing chores, visiting new places, and meeting new people may outweigh some of the downsides of using a child leash.
One of the best ways to ensure you use a child leash safely is to find a high-quality product designed especially with children in mind. After all, not all child leashes are created equal. You want to be on the lookout for good materials, child-friendly designs, and high ratings from other moms.
We have broken down the different types of child leashes you can choose from and the best products in every category.
Best Child Leash Harnesses of 2021
Child leash harnesses wrap around your child’s body. Most are designed to go around your child’s shoulders and chest for a secure, comfortable hold. Here are our top four picks for the best child leash harnesses.
1. Mommy’s Helper Kid Keeper Harness
Simple is sometimes best. Affordable and easy to use, this harness focuses on minimalism to keep you and your little one away from all the fuss of other products. It has many features, including adjustable straps and a swivel snap leash attachment, but our favorite is the design of the harness itself.
Some child leash harnesses cover and press on the sensitive area of your baby’s stomach.
This harness was designed to be fully supported by your child’s upper torso. It will stay in the correct position and ensure your little one is comfortable. This could be a good product for you if your child is younger.
This harness is made of durable nylon with plastic buckles and attachments. The shoulder straps have padding for comfort and the swivel attachment for the leash and harness prevents tangling. The adjustable leash can be up to 42 inches long.
- Supports child’s torso.
- Leash has swivel attachment.
- Super affordable.
- Some users found the plastic can snap or break easily.
2. Comfortable OFUN Safety Harness
Are you planning a large vacation to a theme park or resort? Or, maybe you and your family just like to go on adventures together. If so, this child leash harness from OFUN may be right for you.
It features adjustable shoulder straps, a special wrist attachment for mom, and breathable cushions on the harness. We like these features because it keeps both you and your child comfortable no matter how much fun you’re having.
We are especially impressed by the breathable cushions because this means moisture is whisked away and friction is reduced, allowing you to use the harness for longer periods of time without worrying about your child’s well-being.
The harness itself is made of canvas and cotton with a plastic buckle. The leash, referred to as the “anti-lost wrist link” is made of an uncuttable wire coated in thick, durable plastic.
The wrist attachment goes around mom’s wrist and has a swivel connector, which means it turns every which way so your baby doesn’t get stuck or pulled on. The lining is made of cotton.
- Focuses on both mom and child’s comfort.
- 360-degree attachment prevents falls.
- Leash extends up to 6.5 feet for maximum mobility.
- Front buckle isn’t childproof.
- Takes time to adjust straps correctly.
3. Angel Wings Harness & Leash
Children will love the fun design of this harness and moms will love its simplicity. The harness goes over your child’s shoulders and around the waist. It is easier to use a child leash when your little one enjoys what they are wearing, especially when it straps across their chest.
The back of the harness has a pair of attached angel wings on the full back panel. You can detach the leash with the special clip if needed.
The front clips with an adjustable buckle and strap. If you are looking for a simple child leash that still has a bit of flair, this could be a good option.
The Angel Wings Harness & Leash is made of high-quality cotton and nylon. The back loop and leash clip are both made of metal. The leash is not adjustable, but is 63 inches long.
- Fun design will delight children.
- Comes with two in the pack.
- Long leash allows movement.
- Non-adjustable leash.
- Lacks padding.
Best Child Leash Backpacks of 2021
Many parents struggle with child leashes because they feel they are tugging their child along like an animal. Child leash backpacks are designed to help alleviate that problem. Children strap on a fun backpack like normal, but a leash is attached to the back for parents to hold onto.
Here are of our favorite child leash backpacks.
1. Skip Hop Toddler Leash and Harness Backpack
We love these adorable cartoon backpacks and we bet your child will too! The miniature size is perfect for toddlers and there are multiple cartoon animals and creatures to pick from. The detachable leash on the bottom is discreet, making it easy to use only when necessary.
One feature we appreciate is the waterproof material. Water stays out, but so does a host of other things. You can allow your child to explore, knowing it is ok if the juice cup spills, the popsicle drips, or if they splash in puddles.
Even though your child may need to be restricted with a leash backpack, helping them find their freedom within those bounds can make the experience so much more pleasant for everyone involved. The fun of this backpack may be a great distraction for a child struggling to understand why they need to wear it in the first place.
Each mini backpack is approximately 3.2 x 7.5 x 9 inches. The material is neoprene, a type of soft, synthetic rubber fabric.
The number of compartments vary by style. Most have one main compartment inside the backpack with one zippered pocket in front. Plus, all feature cushioning in the back and on the shoulder straps.
The leash, which is 38.5 inches, attaches to the bottom of the backpack with a metal clasp.
- Fun, bright design options.
- Waterproof material.
- Cushioned straps.
- Varied features by style.
2. By My Side Safety Harness Backpack
Small and compact, yet this backpack has a lot of room and compartments for your child’s toys and snacks. We love this option for moms who are taking their children on longer excursions and need to pack more essentials with them.
However, our favorite feature is the shock-absorbing tether cord. If your child should stumble or fall, it absorbs some of the strain and prevents discomfort. This is a good fit for moms with children who do not know when to stop running farther than the leash allows.
Each bag is approximately 2.8 x 2.8 x 8.3 inches. It is made of multiple materials, including reflective fabric panels and mesh. The tether is attached to the bottom of the backpack with a swivel clip.
Other features include an adjustable chest clip, a large backpack compartment, a large front mesh pocket, and two mesh side pockets.
- Shock absorbing tether.
- Reflective panels.
- Lots of room for storage.
- Lack of padding.
- Very small size.
3. Animal 2-in-1 Harness Backpack
Wearing this backpack is like getting a hug from a cuddly animal. It combines the best features of a harness and a backpack. Two strong front clips allow you to keep the backpack on your active child while retaining the useful storage features of a bag.
Plus, the animal design makes it super friendly for your child. We especially love the cuddly, plush design for children who struggle to wear other types of child leashes. With this backpack, the child leash becomes another friend to keep them safe.
Each furry critter harness is approximately 5.9 x 4.5 x 12.6 inches and is made of cotton materials. It comes in three different styles — a monkey, a dog, or an elephant. The leash attaches to the bottom of the backpack and is 36 inches long.
- Adorable, friendly design.
- Harness and backpack combined.
- Very limited storage space.
- Hard to adjust the straps to fit.
4. Lakeausy Baby Walking Mini Backpack
This tiny backpack is ideal for a tiny child! As any mom will tell you, everything changes once your baby is mobile. Many backpacks are designed for older toddlers, but this one is great for younger children.
Many characters to choose from and affordable. It will definitely be a backpack they will want to use later on without the leash.
Each bag is approximately 7.8in*4.3in*10.2in7.8 x 4.3 x 10.2 inches and made of cloth fabric. The length of the leash is approximately 32.4 inches. A front chest clip helps keep your toddler harnessed in.
- Very affordable.
- Center leash clasp.
- Cute butterfly design.
- Super long leash.
- Only available in pink and purple.
- Not the most inconspicuous design.
5. AGSDON Toddler Backpack Leash
This dinosaur backpack is a high quality and budget-friendly backpack that keeps your kids safe. But it’s also more discreet since it looks less like a leash. So if you want something that adds a bit of fun and style to safety, then this is the way to go.
Plus, it is the perfect size for an iPad Air; so if your child likes to keep a tablet nearby to combat boredom, this is a great option.
The backpack also has a side pocket which is perfect for snacks and a water bottle. So whether your child gets bored, hungry or thirsty — this is a superb choice. Lastly, it also comes in a butterfly option so if your child doesn’t like dinosaurs, there’s no reason to fear.
- Large capacity, perfect for iPads.
- Fun animal design.
- Front pocket and side pockets for snacks.
- Suitable for kids aged one to three.
- The strap attachment is flimsy and may fall off.
- The leash is short.
Best Wrist Link Straps of 2021
Wrist link straps have come a long way. In the past, attaching a cord between your wrist and your baby’s wrist was dangerous and a big no-no. One wrong pull could topple your baby over or even dislocate their shoulder.
Plus, all of the rubbing and chaffing could leave a rash on your child’s wrist.
Luckily, wrist link straps have been updated to suit the needs of modern moms. Here are our top two picks.
1. Jinsey Anti-Lost Wrist Strap
A secure coil keeps your child close while still fostering their independence. The steel cord is wrapped in a smooth and flexible plastic, measuring over 8 feet long when unwound.
The adjustable wrist cuffs feature environmentally-friendly materials that won’t irritate the skin. Inside each cuff is a layer of padding for comfort.
Out of all the features, we appreciate the two layers of Velcro for added security. It is easy for a child to pull at anything placed on their wrist. If you are worried about your child tugging off the wrist cuff, these two layers of Velcro straps will make it hard for little hands to manage an escape.
Each anti-lost wrist strap comes with two wrist cuffs attached by an 8.2 feet long stainless steel cord wrapped in PU plastic. The cord is attached to each cuff with a rotating attachment for flexible movement.
Two layers of Velcro and comfortable material keep the wrist cuffs secure on both the child and adult.
- Super long cord.
- Two layer Velcro security.
- Materials for sensitive skin.
- Takes extra time to put on and remove.
2. Amprich Reflective Tape Wrist Link
For various reasons, a mom may be walking with her child after dark. This wrist link strap with reflective tape aims to keep both of you safe from motor vehicles and other hazards.
Both the coil and wristband feature reflective tape. If you find yourself traveling consistently with your children when it is dark outside, this wrist link strap may be the most useful.
It also features a lock system. The key is on the adult wristband, so once the wrist cuff is on your child, it can’t be taken off. This is a great option for parents of special needs children who struggle to keep their wrist cuff on.
The cord between the two wrist cuffs is made of stainless steel covered in PU plastic and striped with reflective paint. The cord can extend up to 5 feet.
The cuffs are made of breathable mesh and Velcro. The fabric was designed to be anti-stick so it moves comfortably on the wrist.
- Reflective safety tape.
- Childproof locking system.
- Anti-stick fabrics.
- Shorter cord length.
- Hard to get on and off.
How To Use Child Leashes Safely
If you decide to use a child leash, do all you can to use your type of child leash properly. Doing so will help avoid potential risks and hazards.
We have gathered four safety tips you should consider before strapping your child into their safety leash:
- Do not fasten the leash too tight: If the leash is not secured properly, it can rub uncomfortably on your child’s skin or constrict blood flow if placed too tightly. Talk with your child about how they feel when their leash is attached.
- Do not leave children unattended: Never leave your child unattended when using a leash. This includes attaching your end of the leash to something else and walking away. The leash can easily become a strangulation hazard.
- Teach children how to move in the leash: Toddlers can struggle with staying on balance. One of the most common risks for using a child leash is spills or falls. Work with your child on how to behave and act when they are on the leash to avoid falling down. Don’t pull your child, try to keep the leash with slack – it should only be taught during those times that they try to elope.
- Practice using a child leash at home first: Before using it for the first time during a large outing, make sure you’ve introduced it at home. The last thing you want is for both you and your child to become stressed if the child leash you have chosen doesn’t work the way you thought it did, or if your child isn’t able to wear it comfortably.
The Bottom Line
After careful review, our top pick for the best child leash is the Mommy’s Helper Kid Keeper. It is easy to use, affordable, and keeps your child safe and comfortable. In terms of keeping your child secure, it does the job without a lot of extra bells and whistles to worry about.
However, each mom out there should make a personal decision about what works for her and her child. Your needs are very likely different from the other moms around you.
You may just need a simple leash for a particularly active day. If you prefer having an option with storage, a backpack may work better.