Judy on Duty: The Leash Debate

Should children wear leashes? Our columnist, Judy on Duty, shared her thoughts in her IMHO (“in my humble opinion”) section on page 114 of our April issue: “Leashes are for dogs. You wouldn’t put your child in a crate, or let him poop on the sidewalk, right? If you have a bolter, invest in a cheap umbrella stroller with a buckle.”

Since then, Judy has received over 100 emails about her opinion, and all of them are from readers saying they disagree with her. Here are a few:

You should retitle your IMHO to IMHIO, because you left out the “I” for ignorant.  As the mother of twin 20 month old boys, I would do anything reasonable to keep my kids safe.  Since I haven’t figured out how to run in two different directions at the same time, a reasonable option for me might be toddler leashes.  How exactly is this any worse that restraining them in a stoller, as you suggest?  They would at least get some exercise.

As for your comments that you wouldn’t put your child in a crate, well, have you heard of a crib?  And also suggesting that pooping on the sidewalk is somehow significantly worse than pooping in the diaper your kid is wearing is rediculous.

What bothers me the most about your humble ignorant opinion, is that you are judging other moms and dads who are simply doing their best to keep their kids safe.  Implying that using a toddler leash is akin to treating your child like a dog is naive and insulting.”

– Becky
Minneapolis, MN

“Not sure if your brain is off duty but “leashes” as you call them allow children to be mobile and have both hands free to explore their world in a controlled manner when they are walking but still too young to understand basic hazards.. Umbrella strollers with a buckle, while meeting safety and security needs, don’t give a child any mobility or freedom.”

– Trudy Greer

“…Maybe you have never taken a 2 year old to Seaworld or a fair or even the mall where there are alot of people and safety is a concern, but mine has refused to sit in a stroller since she learned to walk and then we discovered the kid leash that doubles as a big kid book bag where she can keep her treasures!  Why take all the fun out of a fun day by suggesting to restrict your child to a stroller?!  You example of letting them poop on the sidewalk or putting them in a crate is a little far fetched and off base on this.  Just my honest opinion.”

– Jenny Poole-Miller
Lexington, KY

“Your opinion on child leashes may be appropriate for the parent of one small child, however as the parent of now 6 year old triplet girls, I seriously disagree.  Unless I never left the house without another person in tow, I’d have had to risk my children’s safety to do simple things like get into the library, pediatrician’s office or other simple places that are not accommodating for a triple stroller.  When they were younger, I had puppy backpack leashes my girls actually liked.  If someone went more than a foot or two, the “tail” which was the leash part became taught and I felt confident that the kids would not get run over by a car.  While I agree that some parents do abuse this concept – I’ve actually seen kids tied to chairs at outdoor restaurants – there are appropriate uses for them by responsible parents.”

– Susan Lounsbury

Does anyone agree with Judy? We want to hear what you think!

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  1. by Marliz

    On March 23, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    I agree with Judy. I see why some ladies might disagree. I am very against the “leashes.” But it depends what the intended use is for. I have seen so many parents use to control the amount of “freedom” that they give their child and then of they do something wrong then they yank back (very wrong). If the purpose of allowing them to walk is to get exercise then they should be taken to a safe place that they can run around. If you are at the store and you are grocery shopping give them a list 1 or 2 things and allow them to help you, this gives them freedom and responsibility. Then if they can’t handle this then put them in the cart or stroller. Young children need to move alot so plan accordingly and don’t expect them to cooperate fr long periods of time.I have done this with my own children and I work at a daycare with 9 one year olds and we take them on field trips without putting them on a leash all the time with only one other adult.

  2. by Amanda Eastman

    On March 23, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    I use a leash for my daughter and she loves it. She can run and run and get plenty of exercise, and she can’t run away from me. I guess some parents would want their children to sit on their butts???

  3. by Rachel

    On March 23, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    I didnt think so either until I had a child that liked to run off to “see things” or run to play with a child she sees somewhere. I would much rather my child be safe than worry about someone claiming leashes were only for dogs. If you look at the larger picture, they are used for the same reasons.

  4. by Norma

    On March 23, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    I had always thought that putting kids on “leashes” was pretty bad…I would look at moms with their leashed kids as though they were doing something horribly wrong, BUT then I saw my aunt put her 2.5 yr. old in one. Then I realized that sometimes it’s necessary.
    She has three boys. 10, 6, and 2 1/2. Her husband’s career requires that he works long hours and she finds herself alone with all three very often…this means that of course, she has to get out of the house with them fairly often just to keep the household running. The 2.5 year old is EXTREMELY energetic. He will literally bolt in any random direction if given the opportunity which poses a safety hazard (think parking lots, crowded places). This is pretty much the only situation in which I say, “go ahead and put your kid on a leash to keep him safe and to maintain your sanity!”
    However, I don’t think it’s appropriate to use when you only have one kid to look after…

  5. by Laura

    On March 23, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Judy I completely agree with you!!!

    Every time I see a child leashed up and being treated as the family pet I am absolutely disgusted. When did parenting become victim to such laziness? All children love the freedom of being able to run. It is our job as parents to teach them boundaries, to hold our hands, and that there are safe places to wander freely along with the not-so-safe places where we stick together. Teaching takes TIME, PATIENCE, AND PRACTICE. This often means that your fun filled day at a theme park may soon become exhausted with constant explanation and repeated ‘no’ or ‘hold my hand’. It saddens me that so many would rather resort to ‘the easy way out’.

    I am a mother of 3, preschooler and twins, and I have NEVER leashed them like an animal. They are little human beings. I teach them, praise them, love them, and guide them as such.

    Great job on having the courage to speak up and share your opinion. It’s too bad that you have 100 emails showing you that some people cannot take be mature enough to take an opinion for exactly that, an opinion which is only another point of view.

  6. by Stoich91

    On March 23, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Leashes look bad, but they’re not bad for your kids’ health. Sorry you’ve been endowed with twins, which are obviously a handful for you. Invest in one of those nifty gadgets they call a husband and employ the use of your hands (or a nanny). I won’t judge if you use a leash, but I HAVE brought preschoolers through very crowded places before, and leashes ARE NOT necessary. How did they do it in the past? They probably held their kids’ hands. But hey, whatever floats your boat…I’m not going to say how to raise your kids. ;) Her reply was a LITTLE curt…

  7. by Brooke Brown

    On March 23, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    As a mother of a 2 year old and a 9 month old, I say it’s a great thing in the right hands cuz it’s hard to control one kid that wants to walk and the

  8. by Rachel

    On March 23, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    It amazes me how people like to critisize when they do not live in others shoes. I find it insulting that Laura finds people using child “leashes” as an easy way out and that it is treating children as animals.

    Ignorance is not bliss. It’s ignorant.

    I have a kiddie backpack that has a strap attached to it that fits my wrist. Who is to say I am not the one on the leash? I want my daughter safe and if this keeps her from running into the street and getting hit by a car, then SO BE IT. A leash is meant for safety and for runaways to not go out of sight. All children do not learn to listen immediately. Just because you have children that will listen, doesnt mean other parents have not been teaching their kids the same.

    My daughter has manners, is smart and active. She is not perfect just as the rest of humanity.

  9. by Jessica

    On March 23, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    I have leashes for all 3 of my kids. Let me explain. I have 3 kids-a 4 yo and 3 yo twins. I’m not able to afford a nanny AND I have a husband who works 70+ hours a week…other hands are not an option. I appreciate the fact people don’t want to use them, but if I’m going to a very public place (i.e. Disneyland, Mall of America, zoo, etc) I want them to be able to walk and enjoy. My triple stroller is HUGE and they don’t like sitting in it for an extended period of time–they like to walk. By using a leash on my children I am taking the time to teach them good manners, how to behave, but also keep my sanity at the same time. I do not ‘yank’ them into position or pull them anywhere-I use it for the intended purpose, so my children are kept safe. I’m a responsible parent who wants to let her children go places and learn manners.
    People are entitled to have their own opinions and until you have taken all 3 of my kids to the Mall of America or the zoo ALONE, then we can revisit the subject! :)

  10. by The Quilt Fairy

    On March 23, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Well, I agree with Judy. Has an adult ever tried being on a leash himself? It’s controlling, it’s restrictive and it’s humiliating. Leashes were created for the purpose of obedience and control of pets not humans. Unfortunately, that’s another one of the ‘easy’ solutions to parenting challenges. Leashing a child might be extra convenient for the parent but I can’t see how a kid can benefit from that or even enjoy it; my dogs put up with leashing but exploring and running free is what they really enjoy!

  11. by Stoich91

    On March 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    @Jessica, you deserve a gold star (or at least a weekend getaway retreat! LOL). Twins really do change things up, but maybe I’m just from the mindset that family (ie. doting aunties, uncles, and grandparents) are always there for you (and nearby in proximity), so it’s hard for me to understand that you would be left, alone, taking your 4yo and twins to the MALL OF AMERICA (silent night, woman, you DO deserve a gold star!). I would probably just sit tight at home (and try to keep my hairs in) until I had help than rather use leashes, but if you HAVE TO go MOA with 4yo and toddler twins by YOURSELF ;D I guess that would be a more appropriate context than a mom who just doesn’t want her arm being jerked every which way. Leashes also don’t teach important concepts like HOLD HANDS before crossing the street, but I guess that’s for another conversation… ;D

  12. by Anne

    On March 23, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Then how is it that a caregiver can walk down the street with 4 kids under 2 and a 1/2 and not have any bolters? The answer? The kids were taught not to. Tah-dah! The leash just delays their learning of boundaries/what is safe and what is not. Just like there are dangerous things in playgrounds and the appropriate thing is not to shelter them from those, but to teach them how to navigate them safely. It does require a lot of energy. Teaching kids is tough work! If you don’t want to do that work, may I suggest you look into alternate caregivers. I think strollers get over-used, too. Kids don’t get enough exercise or activity time as it is, why eliminate all of the walking from their lives? Walking is GREAT for you! Most people eliminate it because kids, especially toddlers, walk slowly–and we don’t want to slow down for them. So we strap them into seats–for our convenience, not theirs!!

  13. by Justthe10

    On March 23, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    I don’t really agree or disagree. I would never put my children on a child harness. Leashes are too detached for me. I have children in the autistic spectrum as well as ADD and I have many in a row. 11 pregnancies within a 13 year time frame, 8 birthed children. I carried my first two, 12 months apart, on my hip or held their hands or pushed two grocery carts. It was workable for me having two kids 12 months apart. When my last 6 kids came within 7 years of each other, I still managed.
    This is not to say that everyone could, nor that my skills are somehow better. Just different preference.
    If someone else uses a leash, or crib, or stroller, or holds their hand, or slings or tells them verbally what the boundry is… Well, who cares.

    The kids all get to adulthood no matter how you taught them restraint.

  14. by kari nastasi

    On March 23, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    leashes are not only for dogs. they are great for kids that can’t or won’t hold your hand. they alow you to keep your children within a safe distance, and the freedom to run! the cheap umbrella strollers as you suggest, are crap and are made for short people. i’m 5’9 1/2 and trying push one of those things around for just an hour, puts me in a very uncomfortable hunched over position. out of the question, with my back in bad shape already. and as far as the crate thing goes, what they hell do you think a playpen is woman? and as if sitting in a poopy diaper is any better than dumping your load on the sidewalk. i could honestly care less what the other mothers at the dr’s office or wherever we are at are saying about me and my kid on a leash! atleast i have control over my child, and she’s not running amok like some of those heathen brats that are not on a damn leash.

  15. by Melanie

    On March 23, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    If we’re going to call them leashes, I’ll say if you love your dog enough to keep him on a leash to keep him safe, why wouldn’t you love your child enough to restrain him for safety, too. I think other moms have covered pretty much everything else.

    @Norma, if you think it’s inappropriate to use a leash when you have only one child, I would love to have seen you manage my highly gifted, highly ADHD child at age 3 for 5 minutes by yourself (or even with an adult helper) at Disney World without carrying him. If I were to hold his hand tightly enough to keep him from bolting, I probably would’ve left bruises on his hands/wrists.

    Don’t judge. Every child is different. We have all different kinds of tools to make our lives and our children’s lives happy and safe. We all take advantage of the tools that work for our families. For some, it’s a stroller (which, btw, is often not even an option – like at Disney World, where many areas require strollers to be parked while their occupants stand in a line or go through an exhibit). And just because a parent uses a “leash” on their child doesn’t mean they’re irresponsible or lazy parents or that the kids are badly behaved. You may be looking at the exhausted mom with the wild kid and thinking she’s too lazy to discipline him, when in truth she is a mom who has done everything possible to help her child learn to behave appropriately but the impulsive child just can’t control himself. Honestly, I was a much better parent in my mind and happily judged away until I became the mom of an ADHD child and realized that parenting is not a one-size-fits-all occupation.

    My son was actually proud of his “doggy backpack” and still asks for it (at age 6!) when we go to Disney, even though he has long since outgrown it (and, no, we don’t use it now, even when he asks).

  16. by Flinkin Dinkin

    On March 23, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    My child already sleeps in a crate and poops on the sidewalk. Psyched to hear about this leash thing.

  17. by Tracy

    On March 24, 2011 at 12:16 am

    If you’re using a leash on your child, you have failed as a parent – period.

  18. by Are Leashes for Children? - NYTimes.com

    On March 24, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    [...] three sentences brought 100 e-mails — every one from a reader who disagreed. Some examples: Judy,
You should retitle your IMHO to IMHIO, because you left out the “I” for ignorant.  As [...]

  19. by Brian

    On March 24, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    I’m a father (a rarity on this forum, I’m sure) and a hands on parent with my daughter. In the past I’ve judged parents I’ve seen using them pretty harshly. But parenting has brought wisdom to me. I don’t use a leash with my daughter, but I no longer judge parents who do. Every child is different, some are too fidgety to be strapped in a stroller for any length of time, others too rambunctious. There are good safety reasons to use a leash, in particular I’ve seen women in their final trimester using them with their athletic and willful children. How could they possible run to catch their toddler and keep them from danger?

    It’s not the tool that bothers me, but when it is misused. Bad parents are bad, with or without a leash. The same is true for good parents.

  20. by Becky

    On March 24, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    I wouldn’t use a leash, but I don’t have a problem with other people who feel the need to. That being said, I’ve personally witnessed two incidents of parents using a leash incredibly stupidly. One father was leashed to his child while teaching the little tyke how to ski. Great idea dad…until one of you falls. The other time was at a large entertainment area. I see a lot of kids on leashes at these places and it doesn’t bother me…except for the one little girl whose leash was looped around a doorknob while her parents completely ignored her. That’s not a leash, that’s a tie-out. As the above poster said, bad parents are bad parents regardless.

  21. by Bethkoz

    On March 24, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    I didn’t think leashes were appropriate either, till I spent some time with my brother and his wife and their highly intelligent, inquisitive 2 year old and their 9 month old. I realized then that it depends on the child, and with some, you need all the help you can get. Made a believer out of me!

  22. by Theresa

    On March 24, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    I would rather have people judge me for using a child harness than lose my child in a crowded place.

  23. by Kaely

    On March 24, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    Here’s an idea, how about you raise your children and I’ll raise mine and we all stop judging each other. Don’t like harnesses? Great! Then don’t use one. I don’t like strollers, so I don’t use one. I also don’t judge other families that do use them. I don’t know what your day is like or what your kid is like and honestly it’s not of my business. I don’t go on the internet (or a magazine column) and complain about how excessive stroller usage is contributing to our growing childhood obesity epidemic and how my parents and generations of parents raised children without strollers and if people don’t make their kids walk “they’ll never learn how” or any other such nonsense. Live and let live.

  24. by Ashley

    On March 24, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    Comment above: I could not have said it better myself.

  25. [...] three sentences brought 100 e-mails — every one from a reader who disagreed. Some examples: Judy,
You should retitle your IMHO to IMHIO, because you left out the “I” for ignorant.  As [...]

  26. by Elizabeth

    On March 25, 2011 at 8:58 am

    I was against them until I had my son. Unlike my daughter, who has always had great self control and is a great listener, my son is into everything and loves to run, run, run. I got a dinosaur backpack “leash” and he loves it. He can walk and run all over NYC like a big boy instead of being constrained in his stroller.

  27. [...] a bit of a controversy brewing over at Parents magazine, after the print column “Judy on Duty,” written by Judith Goldberg, brought up the [...]

  28. by Mel M

    On March 25, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I can understand both sides of the argument. I have seen many a parent use these child leashes and all I see is a parent who is being too lazy to actually keep an eye on their kid and do what so many generations before them have done successfully – parent. Doesnt mean I would never use one – I just see it as a lazy form of parenting.

  29. by jess

    On March 25, 2011 at 11:28 am

    i wholeheartedly agree with Judy! it is pure laziness and downright cruel to the child!

  30. by Liz

    On March 25, 2011 at 11:32 am

    The only times I’ve ever used a leash on my daughter was when we were in Las Vegas and in a super busy airport. When you HAVE to concentrate on something other than your child and you’re in a situation like that, a leash is very helpful. Other than that, let them run free! The worst feeling in the world is not being able to find or see your child and imagine how it would feel in a crowded airport or city with thousands of people! In such instances, I say go for it.

  31. by Kara

    On March 25, 2011 at 11:32 am

    I agree with the 100 e-mails! I would do anything to keep my 18 month old babies safe. The harness, gives them the freedom to explore on their own, but also allows me to keep them from running into the street. Which happened once and my son was almost hit. The looks, and negative comments are NOTHING compared to what it felt like seeing a car zoom past my little baby!

  32. by Rhiana

    On March 25, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I have an extraordinarily active 2yo that loves to explore and be adventurous. I would NEVER put her on a leash! I keep up with her – exploring and adventuring right alongside. When it isn’t appropriate to do those things, I giver her the choice of a baby carrier (Moby wrap) or stroller (rarely). The carrier allows her to be almost at my height, allowing her to feel connected to me and like she is getting a better view of the world she’s so interested in. I firmly believe that small children have the same ability to feel the need to control their bodies – restraining them in an unloving fashion (such as leashing) is so dehumanizing and humiliating!

  33. by Carol

    On March 25, 2011 at 11:38 am

    I have two autistic children. My youngest was a runner when he was small, and, wow, was he fast! Since my boys are only 1 1/2 years apart in age, if I had to take off to try to catch my child, I would have to have left my other one behind! How is that safe? Not to mention the fact that my child could be in the street before anyone knew he was going to run. Holding his hand was not an option because, to hold it tight enough to keep him with me, I might have seriously hurt him. Think before you speak! They are now almost 19 and 20, so I guess I did something right!

  34. by ShesAlwaysWrite

    On March 25, 2011 at 11:39 am

    To all the folks who feel parents who use leashes simply need to “teach” their child not to bolt… may I remind you some of us have special needs children who cannot be taught things like that. And since we like them to remain our children rather than becoming, say, roadkill… we will continue, on occasion, to use the toddler leash as necessary. Like when we’re taking them down the busy street so they can run freely inside the safe playground.

  35. by Patty Bigornia

    On March 25, 2011 at 11:42 am

    I do believe a “make-shift leash” type of device is needed for some, and maybe not for others. I have an 11yr old son (YES I SAID 11YRS OLD) who is very much a “Bolting” risk. He is too old for a harness now, but wears one on the school bus to keep his seatbelt on. If they made a harness type of device for someone his age and size I would definitely be using it. We have had way too many “near death” experiences with him coming very very close to being hit by a car because he bolted into the street. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BEING LAZY!!!! Imagine trying to restrain an 11yr old boy that is trying to run from you at any unexpected moment . . . you wouldn’t be able to do it 100% of the time. I hold my sons hand EACH AND EVERY time we are anywhere near the street, and still there are times he will bolt. For some kids/families it may be the perfect safety device and other may be just lazy, I don’t know! I don’t use one but definitely would if they made one for someone his size and I’M NOT LAZY, YES SAFE, BUT FAR FROM LAZY!

  36. by Kara

    On March 25, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Jess how is it lazy?! I don’t strap my kids in their harnesses and tie them to a table leg. We use it when we’re taking a walk or at the store. And how is it cruel?! My kids aren’t dragged down the street by the harness. I don’t pull them to make them go in the direction I want them go.

  37. by L

    On March 25, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Judy is wrong. One, kids outgrow umbrella strollers in short order. Two, has she ever had special needs children? I two ASD children and have used the “leash” on special occasions where we were in a large crowd and they wanted to be free of the stroller. Had they taken off, I’d never find them and they couldn’t communicate to anyone who their parents were. I agree with the first letter posted — She needs to add the “I”.

  38. by elizabeth

    On March 25, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Wow, why are we so critical and verbally abusive to those that use kiddie leases!? Very mature to call people ignorant and lazy. As a mom of a 2yo runner, a husband who works out of the country, no family living near, and I need to go places alone with my son, sometimes a leash is very necessary. It would be more ignorant of me to assume my two year old will stay by my side at this age. We all parent in different ways, why can’t we be supportive of each other instead of petty and insulting. I do hope you all are not raising your children to call people names. That is how bullying starts, by not being tolerant of others. Please think before you speak.

  39. by Ann

    On March 25, 2011 at 11:47 am

    If you feel it is alright to put a child on a leash, would you put your mother, father or grandparent on a leash if they had a mind altering problem (altzimers, dementia, etc.). This is a form of restraint and there are even restraint policies in hospital today. So keep the leashes for the pets, and treat your children like human beings.

  40. by Jessica Hester

    On March 25, 2011 at 11:47 am

    I have a 2 year old son with autism who is also a wanderer. Although I have not used a “leash” for him, I have considered it because it would give him more freedom than being strapped into a stroller every. single. time. we go somewhere. He also has a twin sister who does not have autism–and I want him to feel like he can do the things his sister can do.

    Also, to whoever said that if you use a “leash” you have failed as a parent– please take into consideration the unique circumstances some parents find themselves in before you criticize them.

  41. by Jennifer

    On March 25, 2011 at 11:49 am

    While I’ve personally never used one, as a mother of two small children 14 months apart I can sympathize with the feelings of wanting to use one, especially if you cannot have another adult with you. My son, who is very safety conscious and worries about getting injured and never leaves my side, especially walking down a street or in parking lots is completly opposite from his younger sister who tunes you out when you call and just keeps running. Again, I’ve never managed to use one, but I can understand what compels others to do so, as a parent I am in no position what another parents deems best for their child’s safety sake, as long it is being used appropriately. While it could come off as ridiculous to some, what’s even more ridiculous is burying a child over a random accident and a never ending wish to turn back the clock 30 seconds. If using a leash gives a parent a better ability to keep their child safe, while giving their child some more freedom than being in a stroller, they should be able to do so without contempt or judgement from others. If it really bothers people that much, maybe offer your services to pitch in to be 2nd set of hands and eyes to the mother for the afternoon.

  42. by Kara

    On March 25, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Ann, how likely is it that my 70 year old dad with altzimers is going to run into the road? Not very likely. You know what my 82 year old grandpa was belted into his wheel chair so he wouldn’t fall out. Is that inhumane? No. It’s a matter of safety.

  43. by Britt

    On March 25, 2011 at 11:55 am

    I’ve never understood why people are so critically judgemental of each other, ESPECIALLY parents. Seriously now! If they are used for their intended purpose, which is to keep the child safe (no yanking, etc.), then I see no probelm whatsoever. I’d much rather see a small child on a “leash” than hear about that child getting run over or abducted on the news. Come on people! The “dog” argument is ridiculous. A playpen is pretty darn similar to a dog crate if you ask me… but, oh gee, that’s ok to use because it keeps our children SAFE! You can’t watch your child 24/7, even if you have only one. Ask the mother who’s lost a child how a split second changed everything. And what about the kid’s perspective? I’m pretty sure there are no kids growing up with serious emotional handicaps, telling the counsellor about their horrifying “leash” experience. They probably don’t even remember! Instead, they are alive and well because their parents loved them enough to keep them safe, even if it meant getting sneered at by judgemental people with too much time on their hands.

  44. by Jennifer

    On March 25, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I forgot to mention in my last post. I’ve been a subscriber to parent’s magazine for quite awhile, and I know i’ve seen advertisement for all kinds of products for kids’ leashes. I am sure the advertisers using this magazine pay for a good portion of your salary, so they can’t be too awful.

  45. by Natascha

    On March 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    I just had this same discussion with some of my family members, and it turned quite heated..
    I have 5 children and I used the “harnesses” NOT leashes !! for each of my children. My first two boys were 13 months apart, and I felt much better knowing I had my 13 month old attached to my belt buckle as I was pulling my newborn baby out of my car.. going to busy places with young ones, parking lots etc.. they are fast, and often times much faster than we can catch them and unfortunate things happen too easily. It’s not about being a lazy parent, or treating your child like an animal, it’s about being smart, safe and responsible and aware of the tools that are out there to keep your children safe, just like Car seats in which your child is strapped in for hours at a time..

    I think people need to stop looking at it like it’s a leash ! some of the comments I see regarding putting your child into a kennel etc.. are just ridiculous.. animals shouldn’t be locked into kennels for hours upon hours either, but it gets done.. old people, whatever – sometimes even old people have to be restrained, it’s about the safety of the human being !!

    Bottom line, it’s a choice !!! and no one should JUDGE anyone who choses to use a harness to keep their child safe.. just like some parents don’t want to be judged for keeping a pacifier in their childs mouth until they are 4 years old.. or Breastfeeding till your child is 3 – you have a right as the parent of your child to do what you feel is best for you…. There are much bigger issues to worry about ! like making it illegal to SMOKE around your child ! My children are now in their early 20s, and late teens, and when I ask them, they all agree that when they have children.. they will use a harness, You use them in car seats, booster seats, strapped on rides, ski harnesses and many many other reasons

  46. by Jessyca

    On March 25, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    I think that the leashes are ridiculous. Do you honestly have no control over your child that you feel the need to restrain them to a two foot long rope? I’m surprised that no one has considered this child abuse. Holding your child’s hand and teaching them discipline is important when “controlling” your child. Not having them tied to your wrist and able to dart 2 feet before getting tugged back. You are the parent, they are the child, they need to learn when to listen. A leash isn’t going to stop them from getting hurt in a parking lot either. The only place a child is safe is next to your side holding your hand, being carried, or in a stroller. And even then, those aren’t 100% effective against bad drivers.

  47. by Jennifer

    On March 25, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    It saddens me that parents are so judgemental. As long as parents are taking good care of their little ones it is not anyone’s job to tell them they are doing it wrong.
    Tracy, how dare you tell parents they failed as parents if they used a leash. What kind of message are you teaching your children with a statement like that?

  48. by Rhonda

    On March 25, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    I agree with all the comments that it’s hard to control active kids who want to explore. However, I strongly disagree with the “kid leash”. I’ve never put one on any of my 3 kids (7, 4 & 2), and though some trips to the store or outings can become exhausting, after some patience and teaching, they know their boundries and when it’s not ok to run out on their own and they don’t fight me anymore when I make them hold my hand in a parking lot, to cross the street or in a crowded area.

    I agree with Laura above that the leash’s are the easy way out and keeping a constant eye on our kids and the extra energy to keep them safe without harnessing them is part of the job we take on when we become parents, including parents of multiples. I have a very strong-willed, independant daughter who rebels at being restricted. If I chose to put her on a leash instead of teaching her the rules and boundries she would go completely wild running everywhere the second it came off. I think the freedom without one teaches a valuable lesson in learning and following rules and gives them a sense of true freedom. Noone likes to be restricted, especially kids.

    Having said that, I know there are a lot of strong opposing feelings and these kind of opinions are going to get under their skin as an attack on their parenting techniques. Ultimately, to each their own. While I disagree with the use of them for my kids, there are far worse things unfortunate kids experience at the hands of adults.

  49. by sarah

    On March 25, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    wow! i find it highly interesting how controversial this topic can be! in the past i have thought it “silly” to use leashes — but just this morning (before seeing this post) i saw a woman breastfeeding her son in the dr’s office waiting room while her small toddler had the backpack leash on – i don’t know if the mother wasn’t holding the leash, or was trying to allow her daughter the freedom to sit near her, or what the situation was but the child left her mother’s side and went right past me while poor breastfeeding mom is stuck with “come back here” while little girl smiles at her like haha go ahead and come get me — i guided the child back to her mom where she was then able to make use of the “leash” and keep her child near her…..this situation and others comments make me have to agree that there are certainly times when this device will come in handy!

    to say this is dehumanizing or humiliating, to me sounds a little bit ridiculous—unless your child is like 8 or something! (and in this case i am not referring to special needs children, who i fully understand there are circumstances where children of any age just simply need a form of restraint to keep them safe), but really, why don’t you ask any older child/adult whose parent used a “leash” while they were a toddler and ask how many of them felt humiliated??? if your study results in some astonishing statistics then sure, you’ll change my opinion! i, for one, don’t recall being 2 years old and don’t think it scars children by any means!

  50. by JenO

    On March 25, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    My SIL was a leash hater for so long. After her first child she continued to judge other mommies. Then she had my nephew. You can talk about teaching boundaries and all that, but when you have an kid with special needs (he’s severely autistic) sometimes the leash is your only option if you want to get out of the house. Using the leash allows her so much more freedom, they were even able to go to an amusement park, which she would never have dared with a little boy clever enough to unlatch a stroller belt, but unable to reach the back of the harness.
    I can understand both sides of this argument, but I only see one side that’s going to spend time judging others out there in real world.

  51. by The Peoples are Pissed… at A Mountain Momma

    On March 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    [...] Are Leashes for Children? Motherlode Parents.com [...]

  52. by Lauren

    On March 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    I am totally with you. I have a friend who registered and recieved a leash for her son and I told her straight out if I ever saw her use it I would make fun of her for it. She thanked me for the warning and we moved on.

    I have two children under two, and we go on outings all the time. I usually only take the “one seater” stroller, for the baby (who is not even 2 months) and let my 21 mo walk with me. I have never had a problem with him running away from me.

    He knows when we are walking he has to hold my hand and he knows that when I call him he needs to listen and come and see me.

    I just made sure to teach my son boundaries instead of taking the easy way out and putting a leash on him. Putting a tether on my child isn’t going to teach him any boundaries, it’s just going to make him want to pull away.

    If I am going to a high traffic area and I am worried about my son’s safety, then I don’t go alone and we take an umbrella stroller with us for him (which is good to do anyways, because as much energy as a toddler can have, they can crash just as fast!).

    IMHO – it’s not about the tools you use, it’s about the quality of your parenting.

  53. by Teresa

    On March 25, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    My children aren’t dogs so therefore I don’t agree with the kid leash they are ridiculous please watch and teach your kids thats is what I have done no leash required!!!!!!

  54. by Brittney

    On March 25, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    I agree with Judy. I have raised my daughter to know that she needs to hold my hand when we are out in public. I can sense her attitude and if I know she is getting restless and wants to run around, I will put her in the shopping cart or I will make a game of where we are going to keep her attention on me and not on something to run off towards.

    I think that as a parent you have to have control of your children in public and you have to teach them appropriate behavior and manners in public. I understand that every child is different, but we are the parents and should be able to control our children in public.

  55. by Heather

    On March 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Wow. I’m reading all of these comments, and am shocked and appalled by some of you mothers who so vibrantly detest the use of a ‘leash’ for you child. Yeah for you. HOWEVER!!! As a first time parent of an almost 2 yr old, and currently pregnant with my second….I LOVE that my DD LOVES her puppy that she she can wear, and be cute, and be free in, and I can keep her from darting out in front of cars, carts, and unsuspecting other people. No, she does not like sitting in an umbrella stroller. Yes, I’m teaching her to wait, and to hold my hand, and to pay attention to others. That doesn’t mean that it’s an instant gold star for her. She would rather run (and sometimes walk)EVERYWHERE. If we didn’t have that crazy dog….I would get NOTHING accomplished in my day. Oh, and by the way, did I mention that she also will climb out of a cart seat as well, even if you buckle her in? It’s magic!! Seriously people. If you are so proud of yourself for being able to control all of children at once, they magically do as you ask, and never talk back or ignore you, yeah! The rest of us obviously aren’t so fortunate. Oh, and I see that most of you who are appalled….there is enough of an age gap for you to have some breaks. Get off our backs. Seriously. No on is judging you for NOT using one.

  56. by natascha

    On March 25, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    - Perfect mommies should write books and proper boundaries and qualities of parentings :)

    Those of us who loved the idea of using the harnesses for childrent that are now young adults and have grown up safe and secure, just don’t know about boundaries and quality..

    ~ of course,when you have a child that is defiant and rebels at being restricted and you give in to their demands is Certainly the best way to handle the situation.. this would also be the case where the defiant child were to try to get away from you, you hold their arm against their will, you suddenly let go, and the kid takes right off..

    ~ and to threaten a new mom that you would tease them, and pick on them for what they otherwise might think is a good thing ? shame.

    I really wish that adults would support eachothers parenting rather than acting like “Super mom” My way is the only way.. what works for one child and one family, may or may not work for another..

    Saddens me to see how Defiant even adults can get, no wonder the generations are growing up with more defiance and lack of respect.

  57. by Amy

    On March 25, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Well I agree with the other moms that a leash or harnes is a good option if a storler does not work. I have an 18 month year old who hates being confined for long perods of time. Just recantly gave birth to our no 6 day old son. I would conceder getting a harnes for our daughter that way I can have th stoler for him. I had to put her in a storler and carry him at the Dr’s and this was not very easy to do. As long as your not using htme to tie them down to one spot or to hurt them or for a type of disaplen. They are a very nice option to have. As for comparing them to dogs that is a bit over the top.

  58. by Amelia

    On March 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    I’m glad that some women can have multiple small children who want to stay close, and are easily directed. As the single mother of 3 (thankfully school aged) children who are 13 months apart, a singleton, followed by twins, I thought I would be able to guide and love them, and NEVER have to use a leash. But the one of my twins was born with a syndrome that falls on the Autisim spectrum, and causes parts of the brain not to develop, resulting in no impulse control. Then my older son developed more and more “behavioral” issues, now we know its a sensory perception disorder. But at the time I had a 2 year old who, just as he was grabing your hand would turn and bolt into the street, under a car, or through the store at break neck speeds, leaving me with twins in a giant double stroller, usually a shopping cart full of groceries, and no help. Ever. If you can teach your children, if there are no complications for you, or if you just have a naturally mild temper child, good for you. If you are able to run after that child and manage it, good for you. If you use a leash to keep your child next to you, so that you don’t have to pay attention to what your toddler is doing, you’re a horrible parent. And I suspect deep down you know it, and you probably don’t care. But if you have a special needs child, or several strong willed small children, or a back problem that makes it hard to run after your small child, you should, and can take steps to give them freedom to walk around, without danger of them being run over. Which by the way is a HUGE consideration these days. There aren’t sidewalks, and ways of walking around town without the immediate presence of cars. So don’t you dare judge my choices. You have no idea what I went through, or what complications lead mentoring the incredibly difficult decisions that you may or may not agree with. Don’t judge me, and I won’t judge you for that junk your giving your kid to keep them from whining, or for that extra hour of television you let them watch so that you could visit with a friend, or for not following through on a reward. No one knows your life, or the reasons you chose what you do. Don’t you dare to presume you can know the same about mine. If you really what to know why those kids are on a leash, or not allowed to have juice, or a cracker, or have to sit while their siblings play, why don’t you politely ask. I’ll bet you will be surprised to find there is a reason you never dreamed of. I will return the courtesy, and teach my children how to be open minded, and to communicate with others before forming judgements.

  59. by Steph

    On March 25, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    I completely agree with Judy. Most parents today are just looking for the easiest way to deal with their children, thus the overload of tv and junk food. It has nothing to with safety, parents should try keeping a vigilant eye on their kids, but of course that require a parent to get their noses out of their phones, and that’s just blasphemy!!!

  60. by STEPHANIE

    On March 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    First, I would not call Judy names because I do not agree with her!! I never liked the leash idea however, I have seen instances when they definately are needed to keep a child safe when there are families with multiple small ones in tow. Teaching boundaries and manners is wonderful however kids are kids and they get excited and forget. I do not judge anyone for using a leash, each family has to do what they feel is best in keeping their children safe.

  61. by kelly

    On March 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    I agree that leashes should NOT be used on chilldren. I have 2 year old boys (yes, twins) and a 13 week old daughter. I take my kids to the store every week, if one has a drs appointment then we all go, putting it shortly, they go everywhere I go WITHOUT resorting to a leash. I feel leashes are a lazy way to pretend your child listens to you instead of actually making them listen. Leashes are for dogs, not children.

  62. by Jennifer

    On March 25, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    My 15 m.o. Boy is a 24/7 explorer. He will ride in a stroller but on long days (mostly vacation trips) I have to use the harness for a little while. He demands to walk yet lacks the comprehension of true safety awareness. He doesn’t want to hold my hand and he’s 30 pounds. Some places we go: boardwalks, malls, Lowe’s Motor Speedway carshows are jam-packed with strangers coming from every angle. It would take a split second for someone to snatch him and bolt and by te time I got in pursuit, he’d be gone. So what do you suggest I do?? Duct tape him to the stroller and let him be anxious and angry all day? Stay at home and let him ‘run free’ but miss out on family trips and important hobbies of mine? I did sign up to sacrifice when I became a mommy but I firmly believe in also leading a life with activities that make me happy, even if it challenges my son for a few hours. He does not mind the ‘leash’ and I find the new backpack models very socially appropriate. At least mothers out with kids on a leash aren’t sitting on a sofa keeping their kid cooped up all day. Everyone can have their opinion bit don’t you dare try to elude thatthose of is that use the harnesses are ignorant, lazy or unattached. I quit my professional career to stay home and nurture my child 1:1 and I am more than angry that someone would suggest something like a harness is a sign of lazy mothering. Breastfeeding for 12 months is not something a lazy mother does. >:-(

  63. by LDenton

    On March 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    To each there own. I did not read Judy’s article, but the excerpt above is offensive. She is entitledmto her opinion, but let’s look at the benefits of a toddler harness. Children develop language by being apart of the environment, conversation, environment. Strollers are constricting and limit a child’s interaction. Get down at stroller level and see what your child sees. I do use a stroller at times but find my son gets restless in it and is unhappy. I’m an advocate for babywearing. For a child that is experiencing anxiety when in crowds it’s a perfect option, but I would definitely use a toddler harness for times it was necessary and appropriate for him to explore and in large crowds or places he could bolt to and vet hurt. Again everyone is entitled to there opinion, but next time take the emotion out of your article and re-read from the other perspective.

  64. by Lisa

    On March 25, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Is it really any different than putting them in a front carrier or a large kid-carry backpack? GET OVER IT!! Don’t do it if you don’t like it…BUT stop judging others who feel it’s necessary for their child’s safety. I’m sure others are judging you and your parenting decisions in ways you’ll never know. FYI – there’s no awards for parents who don’t use a leash…and it doesn’t make you a great parent just because you don’t use one.

  65. by Clementine Kruczynski

    On March 25, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    I have an Autistic son. We use the backpack type leash as an added safety measure. When we go for walks, to the park (before playing), the zoo, or anything like that I put it on him. I hold his hand as well, but he is strong. A lot stronger then my niece who is only 2 months younger then he is, or any of my nephews. He can pull away from me faster then they can and be gone in a second. The leash is being used to keep him from bolting somewhere dangerous while we are out. It’s simply an added safety measure.

    There seem to be a lot of people commenting on this that have no idea what it is like to have a child like this, and say you have to teach your child. I do teach my child. He knows so many things that a typical 2 yr old doesn’t know. He’s sight reading already, can count to 15 in English, 10 in Spanish, say his ABCs and knows all of his ABCs and Number to 20 on sight. He knows his colors and his shapes as well. He can sing 4 or 5 songs from memory as well. BUT his communication is delayed. He doesn’t understand some things that a ‘normal’ 2 yr old does. I didn’t want to HAVE to use his monkey backpack, but it’s a necessity. He doesn’t need to be in a stroller for everywhere we go. I see no point in making him sit for hours at the zoo. That’s not fair to him. When we are somewhere safe where he can run around with out me worrying about him darting out into the street he does. He has an obsession with cars…he will follow them and chase them.

    If you don’t have a child that needs the extra safety measure good for you. My son NEEDS it. It’s one of the few ways I know he can’t yank his hand out of mine and dart after that car he just has to see.

  66. by Mixellbaby

    On March 25, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I have used a leash for my now 2 yr old daughter. I ONLY used it in places where she could run off & get lost or grabbed by anyone! While on the leash I had her hold my hand. I was teaching her to stay with me but any parent of young children who just learned to walk knows they wonder off! In a split second your child is gone! Leash in hand she isn’t gone far! Leash not in hand who knows where she could be! At a fair, in a crowded store, walking a mall! Then your the bad parent who lost their kid! Scared to death someone took her? I mean YES there are parents who abuse the leash!But as a safety issue, I see no problem with it! And have you ever tried to put a child in a stroller that doesn’t want to be? kicking screaming tantrum because they want to walk! Your damned if ya do, damned if ya don’t, EVERYONE is going to have an opinion, I say you do what you need to do for the safety of your child!
    I do think however the comment about poopin on the side walk, I have seen this, especially people with kids just learning to potty train!! And as for crating your child, what are cribs & portable cribs? Playpens or those fence ones for in your yard? For that matter restraining your child at all could be offensive!

  67. by Vanessa

    On March 25, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I would rather have people judge me for using a child harness than to put them in danger! With my two oldest daughters I never had to use one, but my youngest (2yo) it’s a must. I used to think they were silly until I had her & now I totally understand why they are sometimes needed. Unless you have walked in my shoes or have my child, then do not judge us!

  68. by Trista

    On March 25, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    My girls are 7 months apart (3 1/2 and 3 yrs old), my second daughter being born 16weeks premature, doesnt always understand that things can hurt her along with a delay in speech. If she did get separated from me she would not be able to tell anyone who she is or who she was with!! She can and will be a handful in crowed places. Not to mention the amount of older men that have told me how pretty my girls are and how they cant stop starring at them, you bet I have at least one girl in a child harness! As to those who make the comment to me that a leash is for a dog, actually my dog stopped using a leash years ago when he learned to listen and stay by my side at all times!!

  69. by Stefanie

    On March 25, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Oh Judy, do you have children? You must have only one because I have 3 boys (2 are my own and 1 is my nephew that I have custody of) and child harness was absolutely necessary for the two older boys. It gave them the freedom to explore, but I had a handle on them (as they were only 5 1/2 months apart in age). And do you think anyone would walk off with my boys when they were “leashed”? Heck NO! I don’t use them all the time, but big tourist places with lots of people sometimes require it; it’s a safety and sanity issue: no one will walk off with them and I know where they are so we all can enjoy the activity we are doing. So if you don’t like it, don’t look. And unless you have walked in my shoes or had to deal with my children, then do not judge me for using them!

  70. by Miss Aquarius

    On March 25, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    I don’t see why some parents get so up in arms about arguments like these. Haven’t you ever heard the old saying “Thou shalt not judge?” I personally have used a harness when my 11 year-old son was younger and I reserved it for times that I knew we were going to be in crowded places (airports, carnivals, parades). If we were going somewhere like the grocery store or to the park, I took that opportunity to hold his hand and teach him boundaries. It was a more controlled situation where I could focus completely on him and not have to worry about keeping a death grip on his hand so he didn’t get lost in the crowd. As he did well with the more controlled situations, I used the harness less in more crowded situations until he was at the maturity level that he knew what was expected of him. It worked like a charm (for my family) and I fully intend on doing the same thing with my 6 month-old son when he becomes a toddler.

    I guess all I’m saying is that different things work differently for each parent and each child and it’s up to that parent to decide what is best for them. There’s no point in trying to bully someone into your frame of mind. But watching the sparring match between opposing sides is always entertaining.

  71. by Amber

    On March 25, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    I have to say i’m kind of inbetween on the leash. Some people do abuse the restraint of the leash, but used for the right reasons, it could be a very useful tool. I remember my family telling me about my great-grandma using a leash on her kids. They got so well behaved with the leash she could even drop it and they wouldnt run off. When used at the right times, it can teach your kids a huge lesson, only take as much leash as we are giving you when you pull for a little extra you do get in trouble. The leash can teach your kids that there are boundaries set and they have to follow them. The leash is not a good idea when you choose to use it like a watchdog for your child.

  72. by Beth

    On March 25, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Here’s one for you. After my second child was born I had severe complications from her birth. Had neither the strength nor the ability to chase my three year old when he got a wild hair. His puppy pack kept him safe.

    My mother has severe arthritis in her hands and can’t easily grip a Child’s hands. The puppy pack let her grandson and now her granddaughter take her on “explores” without fear that she couldn’t hold their hands.

    I’m glad for all of you who feel so incredibly superior to me as a parent. I would never wish what happened to me on anyone, but you might keep in mind that ther’s often more going on than the eye can see.

  73. by Lily's Mommy

    On March 25, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    I agree with the statement that different things work for different parents! But completely disagree with Judy. My dog doesn’t even need a leash because she is trained and knows to stay at my side. The reason you use “leashes” on kids/dogs is to keep them safe and near you. If you have a “bolter” you should do what you need to do to keep them safe and teach them about safety. Why should you strap them down and not them get any activity?

    For many people dogs are like their children. A member of their family. Cribs are a place we put babies/children to rest and keep them safe which basically equals a kennel. Leashes are the equivalent of a stroller as we use it to take our kids outside and keep them in a specific place. And hey guess what? We also have to potty train them both to go where we would like them to go… oh and guess what? Little boys pee outside all the time!

    I personally have not used a children’s leash or restraint, but will if the situation warrants it. Its sad to think about but remember that there are sickos out there and you are not only controlling your child but also protecting them from being grabbed because they are attached to you. Its good to teach children boundaries and if this method works for you thenyou should go for it.

  74. by Jeanette

    On March 25, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    I didn’t use a harness with my first child, who will be 15 years old in a month, but with my second who will be 3 years old soon, you bet I do! We found one that looks like a big-kid backpack that we can with or without the leash part, and he asks for it all the time.

    My son loves to run, and even though he KNOWS that cars and roads are dangerous sometimes he doesn’t look where he is going….he’s just running for fun! Couple that with a husband with such a bad back he can barely walk on a good day, a harness is the safest way to go while still giving our son the freedom to explore.

    It is NOT failing as a parent as someone mentioned, far from it. It’s simply using all the tools available, like a stroller, a pacifier,a baby monitor ect.

    You raise your kids the way you want, I’ll raise mine the way I want and how about we all just be happy that we are all raising our kids with love and doing the very best we can for them.

  75. by Stacey

    On March 25, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    In every parenting aid reference I have read, magazines and the Internet and books, I am constantly reminded that “every child is an individual.” Each child requires an individualized routine, method of parenting from their caregivers, and, well, everything. What works well in teaching one child may not work at all for another. While personally I highly dislike the entire notion of the harness/leash and will adamantly refuse to use one, I think for some children it probably is necessary. Some parents, too, may find them a blessing, especially if, perhaps, they have a medical condition that makes them incapable of keeping up with the high energy lifestyle of a child. Though I do think some parents abuse the privilege and use harnesses/leashes as a substitute for a careful and attentive eye too.

  76. by Pam

    On March 25, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    I am personally appalled that this woman is quite publicly being judgemental of other mothers. I also find it irresponsible that she is encouraging people to use “CHEAP” umbrella stroller rather than a “SAFETY” harness to keep our children safe. I don’t think SAFETY is actually her main concern.
    You could also make comparisons between cribs/baby gates/playpens vs. animal cages/dogpens…would Judy say that parents should not use these items either?! What all of these items have in common is that they are DESIGNED TO KEEP OUR CHILDREN SAFE.
    I also truly believe that the harness, UNLIKE a stroller, promotes both healthy physical activity AS WELL AS a child’s sense of independence. Maybe part of what causes obesity in children in America is that we are encouraged to strap our child into seats even when out and about (shopping, zoos, amusement parks, etc…)
    Some children are especially active and need to run around and use up energy and not be strapped down all day. For times when strollers are not a reasonable option, did Judy take into consideration parents who have more than 2 children (and only 2 hands!)…special needs children (such as hearing impaired, autistic or ADHD)…or children who manage to wiggle their way out of the stroller even when buckled?? How about kids who have had “Nanny’s elbow” or shoulders prone to coming out of the socket, and should not have their hands/arms tugged on. How about at zoos and museums where parents are REQUIRED to leave their strollers OUT of an attractions??
    How about the fact that baby stores all over the country sell these items?? Do stores like Target, Babies R Us, Buy Buy Baby, et al now sell devices for degrading and abusing children?? These same companies that sell these items are also sponsors of Parents magazine, and I am sure wouldn’t appreciate these negative comments!!
    All (or at least most) parents just try to do whatever they feel is best FOR THEIR CHILD, and to keep their children happy and safe. Those who choose to use a “child safety harness” should not be ridiculed or made to feel badly about their choice. Shame on Judy on Duty, and shame on Parents magazine for allowing her critizing statements to possibly prevent mothers from doing whatever they feel necessary to keep their kids healthy & safe.

  77. by Steve

    On March 25, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    If you feel it is alright to put a child on a leash, would you put your mother, father or grandparent on a leash if they had a mind altering problem (altzimers, dementia, etc.).

    I think you were trying to convince me that leashes for children were bad, but instead you convinced me that they can be a good idea for the elderly, too.

    Every kid is different. If someone’s kid does better on a leash than in a stroller or carrier, who are you or anyone to tell them they’re doing it wrong? If someone said that to me I’d start slapping them and keep slapping them until they apologized.

  78. by Iris

    On March 25, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Well I do understand why so many of the readers have such a strong idea about putting your children on a leash however I am a mother that had 5 children at the same time.2 boy, 3 girl, set of twin girls. I carted them everywhere with me. I also had my brothers 2 children that were the same age as my 1st two so it was like having 3 set’s of twins. I used a stroller for the youngest and had a wrist connector for the twins which I contented together through the stroller to keep them with me and the other 4 walked holding hands until we got into the building then the wrist connector came off. At that point I made them hold onto the cart or the stroller.Yes when you don’t have enough hands you have to use something, but my children knew because I showed them since they were born if they behave and listen while we went out they got something no matter how small it was. They also got shown that if they miss behaved we left and I returned with out them. So it can be done with out using a leash being connected the whole time. Children do like to explore but if you teach them that inside is not where you run or jump you can keep control. It does all start at home. If you let your child run and jump away from you at home of course they will do it in public. So if your main concern is your child safety then you need to show then at home first. I know non of these things was around when my mom raised 7 of us with out the use of a leash and everything turned out ok so is it more being lazy or is it just for safety?

  79. by Kristin

    On March 25, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    I have to disagree with Judy. Like another reader wrote, I am the mother of triplet boys and have not found a way to run in three different directions. I feel having them on a leash keeps them safe with me and I can use that as a teaching tool to help them learn how to stay with me and not run. As far as restraining them in a stroller, my stroller is huge and doesn’t fit many places and they are growing out of it. Again I would rather have them safe with me then running in front of a car.

  80. by Andrea

    On March 25, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    I always thought leashes were horrible until I had my own children. All 3 of my children have gone through a phase where they liked to “bolt”, one is borderline ADHD. While I’ve never actually used a harness(leash), there have been incidents where a harness would have kept them from being in harms way (my son liked to bolt when he knew I couldn’t chase him). I don’t consider myself a lazy parent, but there are times when your full attention can’t be on the kids (i.e. checking out at a store, etc.) I do teach them to hold my hand and not to run out in the street, and as they’ve gotten older, they listen. However, a 2-4 year old may not have the self-control to stop themselves even if they know better. For those that suggest that you should just take an extra pair of hands with you if you go out, realize that this isn’t an option for everyone. My husband works opposite hours half the time and I have to take my kids with me most everywhere. While we may have gotten by without using a harness, I’m not going to judge someone who uses one in an appropriate manner. I know I probably would have had more peace of mind if I had.

  81. by Jacqueline

    On March 25, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    First Becky from MN should learn what Ignorant means before using the word!!

    My Opinion
    I would never put my children on any type of leash, backpack or not. I taught my kids self control they could either walk next to me or sit in a stroller or cart. Period, I’m the parent and they are the child!!

  82. by Michelle

    On March 25, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    I agree with Judy! As a parenting author and professional nanny for 15 plus years, exclusively working for multiples, I agree 100%! I recently was quotes saying something similiar in a newspaper and received the same response. Rather than the umbrella stroller, though, the child should be taught how to be obedient and to hold hands or walk next to the parent/caregiver. You so this by being consistent and by following through when you say “If you don’t walk beside me we are leaving” and actually doing it.

  83. by KtCallista

    On March 25, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    I have to disagree with Judy! I used to think, that leashes are a bad idea, and they definitely can be abused!! However, When we had to take my then 14 month old daughter on an emergency flight to a family funeral, I was so thankful for her puppy backpack with the tether. Not because my daughter would run away, but because she could walk without me needing to stoop to hold her hand while I had a backpack diaper bag on and a suitcase in the drag. It also gave me the peace of mind that while we were experiencing horrendous boring layovers while over tired and emotional, that I was not going to lose my daughter in a crowd or to a random stranger.

    My daughter loved wearing the backpack (although we never filled it), it acted as a lovey for her and when she got a little sister she had to have her own bag. We continued to use them on occasion when we’d go to out of town malls (or even local malls) just because they loved wearing them so much. We never needed the tether because of having a runner, but my kids simply felt safer with them, and would ask us to use them, even when it wasn’t really necessary.

  84. by Joanna

    On March 25, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    I am disappointed that Parents magazine ran this judgmental piece. What about the parents of children with special needs such as autism who may count on a harness/backpack (it is purposely inflammatory to call it a “leash”) to keep their child safe in a crowded airport? Unless you have been the parent of such a child, you can not judge. You think you can, but you can not. Period. The fact that this piece was published–coupled with the fact that Parents completely failed to acknowledge Autism Awareness month in its April issue–has alienated many parents in the special needs community. Parents magazine needs to wake up and recognize the needs of ALL parents…not just those with typically developing children who can be “trained” to stay safe, as many commenters suggest. It isn’t so easy for everyone. This opinion piece has just stigmatized and isolated an already marginalized community–those parents raising children with special needs. Shame on Parents.

  85. by Kate

    On March 25, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    HOLY HELL, people. If you haven’t walked a mile in someone’s shoes, DO NOT JUDGE THEM. Harnesses are not abusive – they are not for punishment, they are for safety.

    Lazy parents wouldn’t be in situations where they needed a harness in the first place.

    Would you also judge me if my highly-special needs twins began screaming at the top of their lungs b/c I wouldn’t allow them to walk when we’re out & about? They’re 3 years old. They’re loud. They cannot speak or hear. They can see – but they already know they can shut their eyes so they don’t have to “listen” to the sign language. They’re autistic & hyper-spastic about thigns they love – like the park. So when we walk to the park, they will RUN the entire way, and will not hold my hand and will not stay by me. I’m lucky that my community has a “safety park” with a fenced in area and safer playground equipment for children such as mine – with no impulse control, who have sensory issues and like to touch EVERYTHING and EVERYONE they find interesting. When we get to the park, I remove their harnesses (with the fighting me to get away from me) and let them RUN FREE inside the confines of hte safe area. Then I wrestle them back into the harnesses when we need to leave – as long as they’re aloud to walk themselves back home, they’re fine. Otherwise, they’d scream.

    Same way in the mall. Carts? not acceptable to them. The fun little “cars” with handles we can rent for $5 each? Not Ok by them. Strollers? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

    So what’s it gonna be? Or should I use a harness, so they can experience the world in safe manner? Or should I let them scream and have that piss you off anyways?

    I guess the ideal solution would be to keep my little “Freaks” locked away so I don’t have to face anyone’s judgment, ever. So they don’t have any experience in the world and thus never have the chance to see the lights & decorations in the mall at Christmastime … or listen to live music in the park on a warm summer’s night … those activities are reserved for perfect kids with perfect parents, who don’t need to figure out alternative methods of SAFELY helping their children navigate this world.

    Our families are supportive and loving and kind – but when our boys start the screaming, they’d prefer a hole open up in the ground & swallow us all. I would too. So to avoid that, we harness. And everyone is happy. AND SAFE!

    Until you’ve lived this life, day in and day out, for the 3 years that my husband and I have, you have no right to judge. I get it – you don’t like harnesses. But sometimes – they’re the best solution for the family who is using them.

  86. by Jamie

    On March 25, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    I have to say I don’t agree, but I’m not going to say she’s a bad person…to each his own. I don’t let my kids watch tv…..don’t judge me!

  87. by Lynda

    On March 25, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    There are more things to be concerned about then judging a parent with his/her child on a leash. I’m lucky to be able to see my grandson when I can, which isn’t very often…

  88. by sara

    On March 26, 2011 at 1:20 am

    I personally agree with judy there are other ways to restrain your children, harnesses are for animals. I would never put one on any of my children and I have three. My children know not to run off, even my 10 month comes when I say come here and he knows when I say stop to stop. I believe it’s how u raise your children.One thing I don’t understand is people rather their kids run around crazy on a harness the sit them in a stroller. Who wants to yank on a leash all day long, its like the retractable leashes you put on a dog so they can only go so far. My children are not animals.

  89. by Jodi

    On March 26, 2011 at 2:25 am

    The more I read the comments from those who agree with Judy, the more infuriated I get. HOW DARE you say that I am a lazy parent! HOW DARE you imply that I do not teach my children to listen and to stay close to me! HOW DARE you imply that I am a bad parent and that my child needs to be taught how to behave!!! I am APPALLED at your lack of respect for mothers who are doing all they can do, day in and day out, to bring up responsible, RESPECTFUL human beings! The first thing that you think of is that we are LAZY????? Really??? WOW!!! We treat our kids like dogs???? I cannot remember a single instance when I saw someone using a “SAFETY HARNESS” around their child’s neck like a collar!!! MY child is CONTINUOUSLY given directions on how to behave in public places. MY child is CONTINUOUSLY taught right from wrong. MY child is CONTINUOUSLY disciplined for wrong or unacceptable behavior. HOW DARE YOU assume that YOU know better than ANYONE else!!!!! A dog is put on a “leash” so that he doesn’t run off. A surfer uses a “tether” so their board doesn’t get swept away by the surf. WHY DO THEY DO THESE THINGS???? Because THESE ARE THEIR MOST VALUABLE POSSESSIONS!!!!!

    My children are THE most important things EVER to me!!!! For you to make it sound as though I am NOT a good parent, that they somehow should be ASHAMED of me…

    Mothers, I have come to realize, are THE…MOST…JUDGMENTAL people on the face of the earth. And we are supposed to be in the same “sorority”, if you will. NOT!!!! Judge me for not breastfeeding, judge me if my child watches TV or plays video games, judge me for what my child eats. It NEVER ENDS!!! PERFECT parents and PERFECT children DO NOT EXIST!!!!

    I have also come to realize through all this, that I am a GREAT PARENT, because I am doing all that I can to do what is BEST for my child…all while teaching them RESPECT for others.

    It’s terribly sad that we have parents out there that are so full of themselves that they resort to bullying and name-calling rather than listening and trying to understand the other side. To make assumptions about someone without out knowing them, in my opinion, is the WORST thing you can do!!!!

  90. by Theresa

    On March 26, 2011 at 3:34 am

    I would just like to congratulate everyone out there who feels compelled, nay!, entitled, to judge others.

    Perhaps you could list some of your A+ parenting moments/choices/skills that entitle you to judge other people so we can bask in the glory of your parenting.

    To those of you who are surprised by the ire and judgment this topic has elicited, be warned: Once you become a parent, every A-hole on the street is going to tell you how to parent your children.

    You know what the best advice is? Tell everyone who tries to give you advice to F-Off!

  91. by Jodi

    On March 26, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Dear Parents Magazine…In light of the bashing parents received over your “Judy on Duty” article regarding child safety harnesses, it would be nice to see an article SUPPORTING the idea. Or maybe even BETTER…how about an article on Mother Bullies!!! I am surprised that you would print such a controversial article and not care to at least share an opposing point of view! Mothers were called lazy, insecure and overall bad mothers!!! We shouldn’t have to defend ourselves as good parents because we want to keep our kids safe or use tools to HELP us parent!

  92. by Jessica

    On March 26, 2011 at 10:08 am

    I do not agree with putting your kids on a leash. As someone stated previously, you teach your kids not to run off and when they need to stay by your side. Hold their hand when you are crossing a street so they don’t get hit by a car. If you have too many kids to handle, you teach them one holds your hand and then they hold hands with each other. I think a leash is degrading to your children. I would never use one and do not like when I see other people using them. When you see people that work at daycares, schools, ect., that work with 10-20 kids at a time, you don’t see them using leashes

  93. by Jessica

    On March 26, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I personally would not use one. I stated in my last post that I don’t like when I see people use them and we teach our kids to stay with us. I am not trying to offend anyone. And after reading some posts I realize that in some cases it is NECESSARY to use them. My heart goes out to those with special needs children. It is a challenge in itself to take care of them. And in cases like that you should use one for their safety.

  94. by Liz

    On March 26, 2011 at 9:31 pm


    I just wrote something similar, but a little less judgemental – in that I too have a “runner” as I’ll nicely call him – you know – the kid who bolts in public places and leaves you standing there with an infant, a toddler and your 4 year old! Yep, I have 4 and my oldest is 4 – no twins! So, I can see why a leash would be helpful, although I’ve done everything in my power to not get to that point.

    There was a day, before I had kids, that I would have thought it was awful to have a leash…. but knowing what I know now – you do what you have to do!

    My runner has scared me to death on many occassions – and he’s getting big for a stroller although I will use it when necessary. I just try not to be outnumbered when I have him – and I avoid situations as much as possible when he could run.

    Check out my take on it. I too compare the whole thing to dogs…. in that dogs also use leashes….. but like I said, you do what you have to do to keep your kids from running into traffic!

  95. by Rebecca

    On March 27, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    You know what? I’d rather be a “lazy parent” than the mother of a horrifically injured (or God forbid worse) child. I used to think it was bad to “leash” a kid, too, until I was blessed with a bolter. You try and tell a 2 year old to stand by your side.

  96. by mom of 3

    On March 27, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    from all the comments i have read about it being wrong to put your kids on leashes and if you take the time to teach them to stay by your side they won’t bolt….well obviously you don’t have a child who bolts and you have no clue what you are talking about. some children are come that way, just like some come shy, or outgoing. some just bolt. yes you teach them not to bolt but it still takes time and there is a learning curve. and until you get past that learning curve they will put themselves in dangerous situations. i have a now 5 yr old who could crawl faster than most 2-3 yr olds could run. and once she was walking she was running, and i would have to sprint to keep up with her. she thought it was so funny to watch me run after her. and then in her fun of running away from me she bolted in front of a car…thankfully she wasn’t hit but it was seriously close and nearly gave me a heart attack. we then used a harness for her that she couldn’t get out of by herself because it buckled in the back. i still made her hold my hand and would always let the leash hang slack. it was more of a back up plan so that if she ever let go and tried to run i could stop her before she got in front of another car. children are quick, and can be a lot faster than we adults think they can be. not every child is the same (i have a now 3 yr old that i have never had to use a harness for because she is too afraid of strangers to ever venture too far from me) and we can’t parent every child the same. so to judge someone for doing their best to keep a child safe and happy, i think is completely wrong.

  97. by Megan

    On March 28, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    I LOVE my 17 month old’s leash. I don’t use it to tug or pull thim around- Just to keep him within a radius of me. He;s actually pretty good about holding my hand, but when I have to use that hand, it keep him near by.
    if your kid is pulling at the end or youare dragging them, I can see why that may not be the best idea, and maybe you need to find a discipline that could work or use a stroller- that becomes dangerous to other people nearby who could trip on a leash (being on that almost did, kid ran and threwthemselves down on me) But for day to day, it’s a GREAT! safety tool.

  98. by Janice

    On March 28, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    I totally disagree with Judy. Prior to having children I was also in the camp of “Never in my life will I put my child on a leash”. But that changed when my daughter, now 4, was born. She did not want to be in her stroller! And if we did, she would scream bloody murder. So, we opted for a leash anytime she wanted to walk. She didn’t use it to long since she listened very well. She would never run to far and would stop and wait when we called her name. No my son, thankfully, sits in his stroller and hasn’t caused a fuss. But the day that he wants to start walking instead of sitting, that leash is coming back out. And he’ll be using it for a long time. He does not listen and doesn’t care. He will walk away from us and into the arms of anyone that will hold him. He’ll also run into the street no matter how loud you yell for him to stop. So you can take you IMHO and shove it!

  99. by TC

    On March 28, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    As a 28 yr old who’s own mother used one on me when I was a kid I can assure you it didn’t harm me to wear one as a kid. I never felt humiliated and in fact liked to wear it because I got a little bit more freedom with it rather than holding someone’s hand.

    I never had to use it for the oldest, she was never the kind to run but her younger brother is a runner and it’s come in handy several times at crowded places like the zoo and the children’s museum.

  100. by 3Lads&aLass

    On March 28, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    I agree to some degree. While I can see a need perhaps in families with triplet 1 year olds or a child with special needs, I don’t think most kids require that type of leash. I had four kids in just under six years. I never needed one and I took (and continue to take) all four of my kids by myself EVERYWHERE–to parks, the mall, shopping, museums, etc. My older kids had to give up the stroller at a pretty young age. Even with a double stroller, by age 3 at the oldest, they were booted out for younger siblings. They learned to stay close and they were punished when they didn’t. In particular, if they wandered too far off, they’d lose a privilege, often having to hold onto the stroller for 10-15 minutes–even if they cried (the horror!) It never took more than once in any trip for them to realize that straying too far took away all their freedom. I try to be very relaxed with them and allow them to use their natural curiosity in any situation that is not openly dangerous. However, when on the street, etc, they adhere to the rules. And if they don’t, they get a punishment, even (gasp!) being allowed to cry in public. I think a lot of problems with children these days is that we are afraid to act as their parents. We are afraid to let them cry in public for fear other parents will judge us. When it comes to my children’s safety, there are certain rules they HAVE to follow and starting at age 2 or 3, they are certainly able to do so.

  101. by Leela

    On March 28, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    I have an autistic son who when he was a toddler loved to run toward cars. Just loved it. Busy streets were his favorite. I know that many moms on here would like me to keep my son locked up in the house rather than take him to the park or the zoo on a leash. Yeah, when we went out, mothers looked at me like I was evil and they clearly thought my kid was a brat for jolting every direction. I know they judged me and hated me and really felt they were superior because they didn’t have to do that with their precious children who were parented well unlike my poor little freak. Still I didn’t mind their hate because I wanted to do normal things like normal families but my son wanted to run. With a leash, we found a middle ground.

    I do think it’s weird that moms won’t use leashes but put their children in cages (cribs and playpens), not to mention if you use a highchair you’re forcing a child to stay put when you could just teach them to stay put without restraints. Do you feel lazy when you do that or is that different because you are a good parent and, if you do it, then it must be good?

    Oh and please don’t say you can see that in MY situation a leash might make sense but hate on other moms without disabled children. You are the same women who hate on me without knowing my story so I don’t want your pity because it’s fake.

  102. by Sissy

    On March 28, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    I used a leash when my kids were smaller and I did get a lot of pissy looks from other moms, but then again I’d get pissy looks if I gave my kids a bottle or if the women found out I had csections or that I homeschooled. Fact is some women aren’t confident unless they’re putting down other women. The only way their kids are special is if other kids suck. So I don’t take it personal. I liked the leash. My kids liked the leash. They liked it a lot more than they liked their cribs or strollers which held them in one place and didn’t allow exploring. It worked for me and I am cool with all those moms who put their kids into strollers because that works for them. I am also cool with moms who jerk on their kids’ arms while shopping to keep the little ones from running away because holding them in place like that works for those women. I might think it’s a bad choice, but it’s not my kid and it’s not my choice.

  103. by Amy

    On March 28, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    I do have a “leash” for my daughter. She is 14 months old, she likes to walk like a “big girl”, but because she is 14 months, she hasn’t yet gotten it that she can’t take off. Her “leash” is a ladybug backpack style with a strap across her chest. She loves her back pack, because I also have 2 teenagers who have backpacks for school. I have had people make comment about her being “like a little puppy” but oh well. She gets to feel like a big girl and assert a little independence and I can easily keep a hold of her. It may sound stupid, but it is a lot easier to keep hold of a harness/leash/strap/whatever than a wiggly little 14 month old hand. It makes for a more pleasant outing. I am not constantly chasing after her or having to keep a death grip on her hand. She is happy, so I am happy.

  104. by Molly Peet

    On March 28, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    I don’t understand how mothers can say that what works for them will work for every other person. Are we sheep? Robots? How about our kids? Do they have a variety of personalities or what will work for one will work for them all?

    Plus there is something very condescending about women saying it’s okay for moms of multiples or disabled children to use a leash (yah you have their permission!) but not other moms. I read these comments and I think that it’s a good thing we live in a free society because it not, there are plenty of little dictators who would love to tell everyone else how to live.

    Leashes don’t hurt the kids anymore than strapping them into a stroller or putting them into a crib. Plus I’ve seen plenty of moms who hold hands and yank their kids everywhere. These are the same moms on here applauding themselves for not using a leash because their kids are so well behaved. NO, my favorite are the women who say hide in the house and never go out without nannies or family members because kids are too hard to care for on your own! These responses are just silly and nasty at the same time.

  105. by Hazel

    On March 28, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    3Lads&aLass and Jessica can save their pity for women with special needs children and multiples. You’re the same ladies judging us when you see us in public because you don’t know our kids are freaks so you feel so superior because we use harnesses. Once you find out our stories, you pity us which again makes you feel superior. Save it. We know what you really think and the nastiness in your arrogant hearts.

    Parents mag is elitist and many of the women on here are too. Seriously, wait for the nanny to take your kids out? How elitist was that comment?

  106. by CAmom

    On March 28, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    I have never used a leash, nor do I really judge people who use them in an appropriate fashion – and it sounds like many of you do. However, one time I did see a woman with a child (maybe 4 or 5 years old) on a leash at Disneyland outside a restaurant. She needed to nurse her infant so she tied the child up to a post while she sat on a bench about ten feet away (Yes, it was that great a distance) to nurse. The child was screaming, crying and pulling on the leash like an animal. Now, look, I’m trying not to be judgmental, and I have two small children myself – but it looked odd and inhumane, exactly like a dog tied to a tree outside a restaurant. I’ve never had to tie up one child in order to nurse my other one. Sorry, but I judged a little on that one – especially since she did it so publicly, and many people stopped to question where the child’s parent was -

  107. by Sara

    On March 28, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    I am currently on the fence with the leash debate. I have a very active 14 month old boy and we don’t use strollers. He loves to walk and that’s what I encourage him to do… use his freedom. However in public it’s difficult for him to hold my hand as his little arms get tired being held up to reach mine. I normally do allow him to walk beside me/ahead of me ect but he’s not quite grasped the whole listening concept yet. He will stop when I say his name but then usually takes off toddling again.
    I want him to have his independence and I want him safe which is where I’ve considered a harness to allow him to safely explore but where I can also keep him within a range close to me.. he’s fast!

    But it’s thanks to all the judging mommies out there that I will probably NOT use one and continue to do the best I can to allow him roaming freedom within limits which is quite difficult.

  108. by Deborah

    On March 28, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    I’m professional nanny, and I’ve used backpack harnesses/leashes in the past for little ones who decided that strollers were for wimps at the age of 14 months. I’ll use one again for my current charge if needed.

    I don’t know why giving a child freedom to walk, exlore, and investigate SAFELY is somehow evil. Frankly, the effect of using the harness/leash on previous children has been amazing – once they feel they are “too big” to use it, they still stay close by me.

    Of course, I don’t count on the leash to teach my charges – I also work with them on holding hands, looking for traffic, stopping when I say “FREEZE!”, and etc.

  109. by Rebecca

    On March 28, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    I don’t use one regularly for my almost 2 year old, but I did purchase a backpack/leash combo recently for our upcoming vacation. We’re not taking a stroller (family at our destination is providing one), so I can’t imagine how negotiating 2 airports with her would work safely if we DIDN’T have a leash. She’s too big for a carrier, and we’ll have bags and her car seat with us already, so one of us carrying her all the time would be difficult. Plus, she’s almost 2. She doesn’t WANT to be carried all the time! She wants to explore. When we’re in an everyday situation where she’s my focus, I can keep track of her just fine. But in a busy international airport, forget it. To me, it would be irresponsible parenting for me NOT to have a leash.

    I realize that we may get some raised eyebrows and nasty looks, but I don’t care. My daughter’s safety is way more important to me that the opinions of perfect strangers.

  110. by Jen DC

    On March 28, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    I used to work at the Nat’l Zoo and corralled lost kids at every major event. I would rather see a parent judiciously using a harness for a child they cannot trust to stay nearby than have to watch a horrible accident occur or hear about a child kidnapped. If you don’t need a harness, don’t use them. But to simply state “it’s parental laziness” is to ignore the host of reasons someone else may find it invaluable. You can’t tell by looking what issues a family may have that necessitates the harness, be it issues the child has or the parent.

    We’ve really got to learn some compassion for each other. Parenting is not about “winning,” it’s about love for one’s child. You don’t have to LIKE the choice someone else has made for his or her family, but you still have to respect the person and their right to their decision. And you need to understand that you are no better than someone who has chosen to turn to a tool that keeps their child safe from harm. What would your response be if one of these women’s children ran out into the street and was killed because they DIDN’T have the harness? You’d probably be just as judgmental, only taking the opposite tack that the accident could have been prevented if the parents had taken more security measures.

    As someone who has wrestled with a strong-willed toddler and lost the battle due to sweaty palms (DC in the summer, I tell ya; luckily I caught him before he made it to the street), I’d take the harness over losing that battle and possibly my kid any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

  111. by oh no

    On March 29, 2011 at 9:58 am

    I am personally against the leash with the exception of special needs children or other extreme circumstances like that. I think it goes along the lines of most excuses people use not to parent. Honestly, if you can’t handle your one child then maybe, just maybe, you shouldn’t have kids. Children today are not disciplined and this is just one of the ways people make excuses not to take any personal responsibility for their child’s actions. I am all for safety and a child being next to you holding your hand is safer than a child who is three feet in front of you in a parking lot because that is all the space needed to be hit by a car. A child needs to be taught self control people! It’s not impossible it just takes work, more work than most “parents” are willing to put into it. I am sure these “leashed” children are still wearing diapers at four years old, as well..

  112. by Julianne

    On March 29, 2011 at 10:03 am

    I think it is a matter of preference. My mom decided to use one with me. I didn’t like the stroller and my mom had no desire to drag me around by my arm and possibly injuring my arm and socket. She chose the “leash” to give me freedom with boundaries. She did not use the “leash” every time we went somewhere. I think it takes the discretion of the parent.

    My sister did not use the leash with her two older children. However, her third child (a very very energetic boy) did use a “leash” in some situations.

    As for me? When my LO is born and gets to the point where he or she wants to walk around I think I will do the same as my family. I’ll keep the “leash” handy if I feel it’s necessary, but ultimately it’ll be used on a trial basis. Not every time. My concern is safety.

  113. by questioning

    On March 29, 2011 at 11:12 am

    If safety was really your number one concern for using a leash wouldn’t it make more sense to teach your child to stay with you and not run out of sight? I think it is safer to have a child that can listen and maybe keep a hand on the cart or stroller or hold your hand than have a child that is restrained and may take off on the one time you don’t have him restrained in a harness. Maybe it’s just me..

  114. by Dawn

    On March 29, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    I used to take 12 three year olds to the grocery store, and they all walked beside me and I never used a leash, sometimes they all held onto knots in a rope just to keep them together, and I wasn’t some super Nanny or well educated teacher , I was a 19 yr old pregnant for the first time, daycare worker, if I can do that with children from various backgrounds and upbringings (some not good at all), I expect a mother to be able to control her own children. I took my ADHD 2 yr old to Disney, with a 4 yr old(very energetic) and an ADHD 9 yr old, rented a stroller for when their legs were tired and I din’t even come close to losing one of them. People need to get a grip literally on their children, you teach them when they are very little that no means no and when they are older they will listen! If you want to be a parent then be a PARENT!

  115. by Amy

    On March 29, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Are we mature adults here or what? Why would some of us feel we have a right to criticize something that might make the difference between losing our child or worse having them snatched. I use my sons monkey backpack in busy crowds but not as much as I used to. He is two years old. I always keep an eye on him and he has learned now to stay near me but to me it’s not worth the risk in some cases. With all the irresponsible parenting out there you’d think we’d have more significant things to criticize. It’s not like the majority of us using them are doing it to avoid our responsibility of watching and teaching our children. It’s just an extra precaution. Kept my son out of the street during an exciting Christmas parade and even caught the positive attention of a local news lady.

    Just saw the comment about those who use a “leash” having failed as parents..oh really? Then why does my son now know to stay close to Mommy and hold her hand in certain circumstances monkey backpack or not? Besides he hates strollers and I see no need to limit his exercise. He plays outside plenty as we live on a small farm and still he never stops. Strollers are like torture to him. The “leash” helped me teach his boundaries and keep him safe in the process.

    It is so sad to see such awful comments from people. Some people are hateful and makes you wonder if they are really teaching their kids appropriate behavior like they claim. They are super perfect parents after all. They feel so secure in absolute knowledge and wisdom that they can judge all other parents as fit or unfit.

  116. by Kathryn

    On March 31, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    I can believe that some would agree with the No Leash idea– honestly, I was one of them before I had three children, one of which with Autism. I’ve never used the “leash” but I wish I had. It would give our family much more freedom. Taking our children, 7, 4 and 2, to the zoo (for example) or any public place is a challenge. They want to walk around, see what’s out there. But because our 4 year old Autistic son can dart and will have a meltdown because we try to hold his hand constantly (because of his sensory disability), we can’t do things like that. He doesn’t like to sit in a stroller for hours! But, I don’t have a “leash” for fear of ignorance, stares, and unaccepting people. I get enough stares when he has a meltdown or when he gets excited and flaps his hands around. Seriously? “Control your child”? “Takes time and patience”? Tell me that again when your child has Autism. Or maybe we should just continue to hide him from the world… would that be more appropriate?

  117. by Superdad06

    On April 1, 2011 at 10:08 am

    I’m a single dad with four year old twin girls, and I still use the monkey backpacks.

    To those who said they take their kids places and their kids never run off and always listen to what they’re told: Congradulations, you have the perfectly TRAINED child. Trained like an attack dog.

    I recently moved to a new state with my girls because my job transferred here. So I don’t know anyone yet that is willing to HELP me in running daily errends that are essential for us to LIVE.

    Our condo is within walking distance to several places we ALL have to go to on a daily basis (Grocery store, bank, pharmacy… the list goes on) So instead of trying to put the girls into their booster seats and using the gas to go a mile down the road; we walk. The problem is we have to walk next to a busy road and cross the highway at a busy intersection. And the stroller option is out: the girls consantly fight over who sits in front of the stroller and the side by side is too wide for aisles.

  118. by MELISSA

    On April 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    I really do not care about anybody’s opinion when it comes to me raising my children, but since I do use a harness for my 3yr old, I simply had to put my 2 cents in. Before I had my children, I never thought that I would use a harness (not a leash), but when my 1st daughter was born and she started learning to walk, I decided to go ahead and buy one. I am so glad that I did. From the day that my daughter started to walk she would try running from me. I used the stroller and then she learned how to get out of the 5 point harness by the time she was 18mths old, that’s when the harness came out. When she was old enough to understand to hold my hand, she did and the harness went away. I now have a 3yr old that I still use to this day. I have talked to her and tried to teach her about holding my hand when going places, but obviously she still does not get the concept. I also use the harness because I cannot run after my 3yr old. I am far from lazy or an irisponsible parent, I am handicapped. I have severe osteoarthritis in both of my hips because some people lacked judgement in their jobs. I will continue to use the harness until I feel that my child understands the concept of she can be taken, or hurt running away from me. I do not care that you can control your children with a harness, good for you, here’s a brownie point for you. I am also a single mother with a job. I don’t have a nanny or I am not a stay home mother, oh and also my 3yr old has sensory issues. Until one of you mother’s that think getting a harness (not a leash) is pure laziness walks in my shoes everyday, please do not judge, you have no clue what that parents goes through at all. Shame on you, you are not god and never will be.

  119. by April

    On April 2, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    I agree with Judy. I’d rather parents who can’t figure out how to control their children (without restraints) learn to do that first before taking them to a place that’s so unsafe they feel uncertain they could keep an eye on them.

  120. by PrincessJenn

    On April 6, 2011 at 10:01 am

    As my husband,Bil, noted above, we live in a reality very different than the author’s, obviously.

    When you see my child walking through the mall with a backpack leash on, please don’t assume it’s because I’m a lazy parent who can’t control my toddler. Exactly the opposite. But to hold our hands in a mall setting is too overstimulating. The sights, sounds, lights plus the added sensation of touch is too much. So we use the leash instead. The clasps on the backpack that go across her chest and hold it tight to her back, also act as a compression which helps calm and focus her. It is a solution she ASKS for, so I fail to see how it makes me a bad parent.

    I challenge the writer to walk one day in my shoes as the parent of a special needs child.

  121. by Mae

    On April 6, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    I have 3 kids 19 months apart. 3 year old daughter, 23month old twin boys. My husband is rarely ever home. I have to do things by myself with no help (I have no family here and my friends also have children to chase after so they cannot be helping me chase mine, nor do I expect them to). My kids are adventurous and exploitative. I encourage this. I personally, haven’t mastered dividing myself in half to chase after my twins, when one goes right and the other goes left. My daughter through lots of patience and hard work stays right with me, holds my hand and is a great listener (only used a harness with her once and that was when we were at the hospital for several hours when my mother was having open heart surgery, she wasn’t going to sit in a stroller all day and I didn’t trust her wandering by herself. Other than that never really had to use one with her. My sons on the other hand have had to use them more often. I don’t yank or pull on the leash. If they won’t cooperate I walk up to them hold their hand and talk to them. The harness is more of a precaution for if one slips away from me. I only have 2 hands! Occasionally I need a hand free to do something and have to let go of someones hand. The harness insures they do not decide to bolt as soon as I let go. I will say though that they are learning very well to stay and to listen very well, I’m very proud of them and we use the harness less and less when out and about. You can both use a harness and STILL teach your kids to listen it’s all about how you do it. It’s rude to make assumptions. I can TOTALLY understand why parents of special needs kids use these, and why moms of twins/triplets etc use these too. I say…stop judging shut up and take care of your own kids.

  122. by Bubbe

    On April 10, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    32 years ago I had a hardness with a strap and I loved it. at six feet tall it was very hard to bend over to hold my little girls hand and she had to have her arm up straight to hold mine. the “leash gives the child the freedome and the parent the comfort of knowing where the child is… I now have a grand daughter and love it. getting older bending to hold her hand and walk is almost painful.

  123. by Deb

    On April 10, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    My 21 month old loves her “doggie backpack” and asks to hug it whenever she spies it in my car. She has refused to sit in a stroller or shopping cart since she could walk, and is still learning not to dash off at the speed of light when we are in public (i.e. she is not one of the timid and clingy children described in some of the posts above). I have had many stressful times trying to get errands done and keep my toddler closeby. I got the backpack about 6 months ago and had tried it on her at home but had never used it until the other day when we needed to venture into the mall (don’t go there very often). It was fantastic!! For the first time I was not totally stressed out about her running off and being grabbed by some stranger or darting under a rack of clothes. Just as some of the parents above described I kept the tether loose and still held her hand when I could and ran right along with her, but the peace of mind I had was awesome!! It took the stress out of the outing, and it did not intefere with the usual training we go through when we are out about staying close to mommy and holding hands. It was that little safety net I knew I had that made all the difference. I have not used it since then, but if I have to go into a large crowded area I will not hesitate. My mom used them with my brother and I when we were kids, and we have no psychological scars from the experience. I am sure that there are the oulier parents who may abuse them, but seriously…to each their own!!!

  124. by Deb

    On April 10, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    P.S. has anyone read just how many recalls there are on umbrella strollers? For goodness sake, these things can cut your little ones tiny finger off!!!

  125. by Kari

    On April 10, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    To all of you who are opposed to using a backpack harness, yet do not judge and tell other mothers that they shouldn’t- good for you, you’re exercising your right to practice freedom in this country and letting others exercise that same right. Thank you.

    As for those of you who are opposed and vehemently insist that our children are dogs (you’re term, not ours) and that other mothers who do use them are failed parents, I would just like you to know why I did use a backpack harness for my son.

    First, I have been very lucky, not once but twice, that my son is still alive. My grandmother, however, did not have my same luck.

    To say my grandmother did not teach her children to listen and obey and follow safety rules would be a gross misconception on anybody’s part. Believe me, I’m her granddaughter, I know. Neither is she one who has ever been lazy or lax in her mothering responsibilities. About 45 years ago when my own mother was probably not yet a teen and grandma had her and 3 younger ones, they were all walking somewhere, the store I think (they didn’t have a second car for grandma to just put everyone in and drive around). At a crossing area my grandma was either carrying or strolling the youngest child and she also had a hold of my uncle’s hand (he was just 5 at the time). Although they had to wait to be able to cross because of oncoming traffic, my uncle strongly yanked his hand out of my grandma’s and ran across the road. He was then hit by a semi and instantly killed.

    Now if I were to ask grandma today if she would have used backpack harness had it been available to her, I would be shocked if she were to say “no.” If anybody today who’s child has been kidnapped or killed from someone (either themselves or a trusted relative) not watching their toddler well enough, you would be hardpressed to find someone answer with “Oh no, I still wouldn’t have used one of those. I’d much rather not have my child here with me today than to have used one of those.”

    Hindsight is 20/20, as the saying goes.

    we found out at age 2-1/2 our son is autistic. You cannot expect him to even hear or pay attention to you when you call his name or tell him to “stay here.” Thus for some time we did keep a backpack harness on him when we went to the store because he was too big for a stroller and loved the freedom to walk around. He is now 3-1/2 and I no longer use it with him because he is getting to the point where I can expect him to let me hold onto his hand (although there is still once in a while that he tries to pull away but I will not let him).

    Side note: Before you say that it’s okay for a mother with a special needs child or multiple children under a certain age to use it, but any other mother is a terrible failure if they do- try telling my grandmother that.

    Also note that I say I used a backpack harness and not a leash- there really is a difference folks! Welcome to progress everyone: At one time carseats were not used. Care to guess how many children are still alive today because we started using them?

  126. by Louise

    On April 14, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    I used the backpack harnesses for my three when they were little. With 1 year old twin boys and a 2 year boy, all very active – I often had no choice. A triple stroller wasn’t practical everywhere we needed to go, and often they weren’t even allowed (like at the Children’s Museums!). With only two hands and three children who needed to hold them, the backpack harnesses were my saving grace. My kids loved wearing them, they were cute and fuzzy with animals and a tiny back pack area for them to stash a lovey. I don’t feel bad at all for having put my children on a “leash”, it kept them safe!

  127. by Natalie

    On April 20, 2011 at 9:18 am

    I agree with Judy, the use of leashes is just down right degrading for a child, and shows that the parent has NO CONTROL over the childs actions. Parents need to take control from the kids and disipline the kids as needed. If you cannot control the kids, don’t take them out. It is all on the parents to do their job!!!!!

  128. by Blair

    On April 25, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    I am all for the “leashes”. My little guy was a precocious walker, starting at 10 months and was running by 11 months. He simply wouldn’t walk when he could run. I would use the leash at the mall or any other time we were out to allow him the freedom to walk without the fear that he would hurt himself. I would allow him enough slack to run but kept it tight enough so if he fell I could quickly lift in time to avoid him slamming his face into the ground. At 10 months of age he was far too young to train and using the leash gave him a sense of freedom while allowing me to prevent serious injuries or risk him knocking over elderly shoppers. At the mall we were never greeted with scorn, but rather people would laugh at our little guy toddling away at full speed with daddy in tow.

    As for those people who suggest that children should instead be locked in a stroller or kept inside until they are fully trained I would suggest that both those alternatives are far more confining and demeaning than letting a little guy toddle with both hands free but still under the safe control of his parent.

  129. by Funrun

    On April 27, 2011 at 1:26 am

    Non sine dis animosus infans.

    And until you have such a child, hold your tongue on how others keep him/her well cared for.

  130. by sasy

    On March 3, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    I agree with all the other parents, when having more than one child it is a necessity having a leash i never though I would ever use one, my 23 months old is unstoppable he runs away. I been resarching for a leash,I am actually going to buy one.

  131. by Julia

    On April 23, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    To all the comments about how you are a bad parent by using a leash, what do you do when you go to Target etc…do you just let your child run around like a maniac while you shop? Are you against use the cart seat as well?

    It is my job as a parent to keep my child safe, and if it means using some type of leash, then so be it. I have a an older special needs child and a very active toddler. I can only fit one stroller in my car at a time (I have a special needs stroller too). If we go somewhere and I have to use the stroller for my toddler, I usually have my oldest child hold on to the handle and “help me”. She still has bolted. Should I be judged as a “failure as a parent” because I want to use some type of leash (a wrist to wrist leash) to keep her with me? She is non verbal, so even if she did become lost she couldn’t tell anyone anything about who she is and who I am.

    I think all of the people who make horrible judgmental comments need to worry about their own parenting and as for Judy the original Author, you are welcome ANYTIME to come and take both my kids out by yourself and see how easy it is, then re-write your judgmental little article.

  132. by jeffro

    On May 10, 2012 at 9:23 am

    The worst part of all of these comments is the use of the word “necessary”

    Do you honestly think it’s necessary? People in the 50′s 60′s 70′s 80′s 90′s didn’t use them, and we turned out alright, and the former years were much more hazardous for unattended children.

    Let me toell you something I had (have) terrible ADHD and as a child would run everywhere My mother had 5 kids to deal with. My grandmother put me on a leash back then (attached to the wrist IIRC) and I don’t think I saw her for a year or so. I stand with common sense on this one…if you can’t manage your children, don’t leash them. Start teaching them so they don’t run. That’s your job as a parent.

  133. by jeffro

    On May 10, 2012 at 9:26 am

    And to all the parents that say their kids “love it,” I can’t imagine anything less pertinent. My kid loves eating candy, but that doesn’t mean he should have it all the time.

  134. [...] year, Judith Goldberg, author of the “Judy on Duty” advice column for Parents magazine, wrote: “Leashes are for dogs. You wouldn’t put your child in [...]

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  136. by Would You Leash Your Kid? | Screw Cable

    On June 28, 2012 at 5:16 am

    [...] year, Judith Goldberg, author of the “Judy on Duty” advice column for Parents magazine, wrote: “Leashes are for dogs. You wouldn’t put your child in [...]