Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Product Review: Toddler Leashes

After a horrible experience being delayed in the airport with an uncooperative 15 month old, I got online looking for a toddler leash. Most of the hits were for blogs or message boards talking about how horrible it is to use one. However, when faced with a bored toddler who wanted to run away from me in the airport and went limp when I tried to hold his hand, I knew I could have used one. There was no option to go home, we were stuck. I couldn't just let him run because there were too many people wielding heavy baggage. Distractions of snacks, drinks, nursing, toys, etc. lost their appeal. He wanted mobility. He refused to hold my hand. He was insistent on going behind the podium at the boarding counters. It was a nightmare. Like everything else, a toddler leash is a tool. For those of us who a driven to purchase it after dealing with a very willful child, it is not an effective everyday tool, but it is a good distraction/coping mechanism for certain situations like airports.

When I searched, I found a variety of leashes in different styles including:

*Wrist band

I went with a monkey backpack for $9.99 or so from Target. Wal-Mart carries it as well.
It had two advantages: it was cheap and cute. I thought he would like the monkey and enjoy wearing it.

The results: he loves the monkey and requests to wear it. He doesn't always let me hold the other end, though. I don't use it very often, in fact, I probably use it more on him at his request, than I do trying to use it for its designed intent.

That said, it was totally worth it and definitely useful. It has bought me some time on several occasions and I do recommend them as a tool in your parenting chest.

At the Aquarium yesterday, my friend, Jen, brought a kid leash/backpack for her daughter. (I did not bring the monkey, but should have as I was sprinting through the exhibit chasing after him). Her daughter did great on the leash. She is also spirited, but less prone to run. She had a Tot Tether. At $34.99, it is much more than the monkey pack that I have, but it has the advantage of the buckles being in the back so the child cannot undo them. Ian can undo the front buckles on his monkey. The backpack itself has a lot more room than the monkey pack which basically just has an opening. You can fit a few Hot Wheels cars in the monkey, but with the Tot Tether you could fit more. It is still a nice child-friendly size, though.

I didn't see the Tot Tether when I was looking to buy for Ian. Even if I had, I think I would have still gone with the monkey based on cost and Ian's personality (which limits the amount I can effectively use something like this), but it is nice to have options.

As with everything, your child's personality, your environment, your child's size and interests will determine what baby you need and what baby gear you can skip. This item is not something to put on a baby shower registry, but if you find yourself dealing with a child who climbs out of strollers, thrashes in carriers (below a year this is not a problem but after, if they trash and fight, toddlers are very strong and it is miserable, plus toddlers get heavy), and refuses to hold your hand, a toddler leash/backpack is very helpful.

There are many other


Connie said...

I carried both my kids in Maya wrap slings up until they were 2+ yo. Honor cont'd to be an up-baby, barnacle girl, and never had any problems holding my hand. One time she went beserk in an airport - but it was understandable. I actually had to strap her into her carseat and drag it with her screaming in full tantrum mode!

Brian had issues. He didn't want to run off, but he definitely didn't want to go around holding my hand - understandable really. I'm tall - poor kid didn't want to spend hours with his arm over his head! He was also a BIG boy and I couldn't carry him everywhere - not that he wanted me to anyway.

My friend gave me her toddler leash. I had thought I'd NEVER use one... but I didn't understand :)! I didn't even plan on using that one. But it was in the car, and one day when we went to the mall, before we were even out of the car, Brian said he would NOT hold my hand. I started to say, well, then I guess we'll go home, but I remembered the leash. I asked him if he wanted to try it - stay close to me with the harness, hold hands, or go home. He chose the harness.

Mine was a simple one, like the monkey one you describe. Velcro and canvas straps. Brian could put it on and take it off himself... but restraint wasn't the idea. It was just a tool that helped him pay attention to where he was in regards to me. We had about 3-5ft of strap from his harness to my wrist band. He liked it, asked to wear it, never 'pulled on it', and actually held my hand a lot more - since it was now his choice to do so!

Don't let anyone give you crap about the leash! ;) I used to tell people, "He likes it, it gives him more freedom, and he doesn't have to spend the day with his arm in the air to hold onto me - think about it." - It was great was when Brian would say defensively, "MY harness!" ... so nyah! take that!

Connie said...

oh... harness wearing was from about 14mos to a little over 2yrs old. After a certain point he outgrew it, and by then, he was good about staying near and holding on.

chris said...

Thanks for the great advice! I was at odd about whether or not to use on with my 2 1/2 year old at disney world this january. The monkey backpack is perfect! Just ordered it from target.

I'll be sure to post pictures of a monkey-with-a-monkey-on-her-back on my blog soon!