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:
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