Thursday, October 8, 2009

Opinions, Please: Toddler Leash

The impending chaos of being responsible for two young lives is starting to sink in ... a little ... as much as it can when I still have 12 weeks of pregnancy to go. One young life is tucked safely in my uterus for the time being; leaving me only one toddler to chase after and keep safe. Soon I will be outnumbered. I will have one hand for each of them ... and hopefully a brain cell to split between them :) I am sure I won't truly have a clue until a good six months from now.

Anyhoo, these thoughts have been whirling all week. A few days ago, I encountered a mom of two - wearing a newborn in an Ergo while her toddler stood nearby with an adorable monkey strapped to his back. Turns out that monkey is actually a harness attached to a leash. Ugh! That word leash doesn't sit all that well with me ... leashes are for dogs, right? But I must admit, I was struck by the "brilliance" of such an idea ... at least on the surface ... before I started to think about it some more. And the word leash kept squirming its way into my thoughts of safety and piece-of-mind.

Perhaps it is important for you to know that one of my biggest fears is that Natalie will be hit by a car. Even typing those words - admitting it out loud - makes me sick to my stomach. It's the vision that I run through my mind just about every night before I fall asleep. It's awful. Part of the reason for my paranoia is that Natalie does not seem to share my fear of quickly moving vehicles. She absolutely loves the freedom of walking on her own, of running down the sidewalk, but she is fast (really, really fast) and does not heed the word, "Stop." She follows all other directions very well. She listens to me in just about every other instance. But with the wind blowing through her hair, she cannot be bothered to listen to my efforts to keep her safe.

With my contraction-filled pregnancy, I've been depending on Natalie to walk - rather than being carried - and hold my hand. She will also sit in the stroller without much complaint. But for times like when we're walking into the store and don't have a cart yet, she walks and holds my hand. For the most part, that goes very well, which has me thinking that perhaps a stuffed animal harness (and leash) could be a good option for me when baby number 2 comes along.

So I started doing some research online ... figuring out where to buy such a product and that sort of thing. What I came across are angry, judgemental blog posts and heated forum discussions. Seems there's quite a bit of controversy surrounding the use of harness/leashes for toddlers.

At this point, I am very much "on the fence" about the toddler harness/leash. I am hoping some of you have opinions, insights, advice, experiences to share about this topic.


Sara said...

oh, this is a hard one. I say do whatever helps you feel safe and sane. I have discovered the saying is true; If mom isn't happy, nobody is happy. The kiddos will feel your stress and react to it (as I am sure you already know). I know all moms have eaten their "I would never do that" words so who cares what anyone else thinks. Do what is best for you and your family. It would give Natalie her "freedom" but you would feel much better knowing you have the control. Good luck!

jamieplant said...

I dont think you should worry about what anyone else says or thinks. If it makes you feel that Natalie is more safe/secure with a "leash" then use it. I had a hard time using it initially but then I realized that saving my child from some frightening incident is much more important that caring about some random person's opinion of a "toddler leash".

Chi-town momma said...

It is scary to worry about your children's safety, however don't resort to the leash until you experience your new life! Some days you will feel like you can't handle 2 kids and others you will feel like it is totally manageable. Having BGV in a carrier will let your hands be free to chase after NHV. Some days I was so caught up in playing with B, I temporarily forgot that T was even strapped to me! Back before our first nuggets were born, we feared what we didn't know...same thing holds true when #2 comes. While we know how to be a mom, being a mom to two is in some ways starting from scratch. Give yourself some time to adjust before you strap a monkey leash on NHV ;) Hugs!

Epiphius said...

I had the same concern. My mom actually made an adorable backpack for L's birthday and I asked her to modify it to be a harness. Which sounds much better than a leash. Although now that I've had 2 for almost 2 months, I'm not sure that we'll use it as a harness. One of my compromises is that there are times when L has to hold my hand. No options. Those times are basically when we're near cars or in a big crowd. Times where the safest option is for her to hold my hand. However, at the park or headed to it, or if there aren't cars around, then she can run. You might see if you can borrow one to see how NVH does with it. I think you'll be okay as long as you have a good carrier for BVG2. :)

Please know that there's no judgment attached to this. Mearly my experience.

Janelle said...

The leash is not something I will use only because it's another "baby accessory" and I'm trying to avoid buying more stuff. I did the same thing with those covers for shopping carts. I understand the reason behind getting them, but it was another thing that I didn't think I would use that often. I would use a blanket instead, but now I rarely go shopping with the boys. With 2 little munchkins we just don't go places that require me to chase after them. But I also have 2 that don't run off very often so I don't have to be as concerned (don't worry I'm still concerned about their safety and well being) . As everyone else has what you feel is best...and leave opinions about it to others....I can't believe there are blogs about such a ridiculous topic. (It would probably be best to borrow one to see if it works...then buy one if you find you use it all the time)

thegrowingcunninghams said...

Before kids, I too was so against the idea of a leash / harness...until I had multiples. It's simply a question of safety and when I'm outnumbered three-to-one, I resort to what ever means neccessary and for us that has meant the backpack harnesses. If your peace of mind and Natalie's safety are in question, then don't worry about what others say. Hugs to you!

Ali said...

we have the monkey "leash" we used it maybe twice, only because my son would not care that it was on him and would run and when I would pull it he would simple fall forward and this soon because a game for him. Now he takes the tail off and plays with it saying "i have a monkey on my back, helps it is attacking me"..... I just had my second about a month ago, I love sticking her in the Bjorn (spelling?) then both hands are free, we also have a sit and stand stroller our car carrier goes in the front and my son can sit or stand on the back, he loves it, well that is until he broke his femur a week ago and now I don't have to worry about him running anywhere!
I always feel that you shouldn't worry about what others think, keeping your children safe is what is most important and what makes you comfortable is what matters.

Jen said...

Hey - my girlfriend only has one little man and he has this exact monkey backpack keepsafe... let's call it a keepsafe vs. a leash because two things: (1) my girlfriend's little boy LOVES his monkey backpack and wants to wear it all the time and (2) kids so easily scurry away, get lost, etc... I think you're absolutely right to worry a little and do whatever you need to get peace of mind.

Thinking of my little Jane, I have no doubt that I'll not only use a "leash" but handcuffs, chains, anything to keep her near me in fear of losing her :p


Evonne said...

This is a very controversial subject and I think it's because of the word "leash". I was very opposed to these until I had my son. I never actually bought a harness, but I did consider it because my son didn't seem to understand "stop" either.

You already said she holds your hand so continue enforcing that. Make sure Natalie knows there are no other options but to hold a hand. When the new baby comes, carriers are great - they keep your hands free. If it comes down to you feeling safer using a harness on Natalie, then get one. They are your babies and you need to do what you feel is best to keep them safe.

Emmett Joseph said...

I think you should do whatever makes you sleep better at night. In the end, all that matters is keeping your little girl safe. Even if you only end up using it two or three times, it may be worth it for your peace of mind.

Mommy Lisa said...

I got this cheap wrist thing - at Babies R Us - for like $3?

It was wrapped around my wrist and hers like a bracelet - some people may have thought my daughter and I looked handcuffed together, but at festivals and busy areas of the zoo I could keep track of her and not lose her in the crowd.

It is up to you, but when there are busy places to be it may be worth it...and you may not need it in your everyday outings.

Mommy Lisa said...

OH - and it was SMALL, so I could keep it in the diaper bag and pull it out if we truly needed it. No planning necessary.

Raising Z said...

my friends all swear by the sit and stand stroller...but a leash would be a whole lot cheaper. We have the same monkey leash, we bought it (even though I thought I would never have a leash) when we went on our cruise when Z was 18 months old. Between the airport and boarding the boat...I needed to have him close at hand. So many of the "leashes" are really cute and double as a back pack. I suggest you buy one for those times when you really need it, wear the baby as much as possible so your hands are free (that is my plan) and maybe look for a sit and stand on Craigslist :)

BTW...After all of my worry over the swine flu OB's office canceled the clinic because they didn't get the vaccine in and won't be getting it in until November 3rd!!! I asked what they were going to do about me because I will have already delivered and they hemmed and much fun!

Mira is triplet crown said...

I bought the backpack leashes. I rarely use them but in a crowded place? I need options. The kids LOOOOOVE putting them on and will wear them all over the house.

Here's what I object to. Moms with kids on leashes dragging them behind them against their will so they're stumbling, falling, trying to walk. I wouldn't do this to a dog. The kids are on leashes but get to lead the way, and if they get too far, they are stopped. Most of the time I dont even hold the leash until they get close to 'danger' like the street or it gets crowded. That all said I've used them maybe 3 times. But I will not hesitate to use them if Im' alone with three kids in a crowded place.

Anonymous said...

No judgement here. I am sure you will find it easier to have the baby in a carrier and then have two hands available for Natalie. I bought the monkey leash when my son was a year old. He HATED it! Full on tantrums when ever I even attempted to put it on. I say just be really strict on hand holding in parking lots, etc. A double stroller is also another option

Terri said...

I have that exact harness for G, and I absolutely used it when we travel. My biggest fear is someone snatching G, and especially in big crowds I tend to panic. This fear was multiplied when we were in Europe, and even though my hubby was embarrassed about the harness, I felt tremendously better having it. Most of the time we didn't "need" it, because he still walked close, but if it gives you peace of mind, who cares what anyone else thinks. It's your child, and your life.

Priscila said...

you will be totally fine! Its scary at first but you will be fine with 2...they will have an instand bond just like mom and child does!

Miss. Candy said...

It amazes me that people even frown at the idea of the leash for a toddler. Come on, people are all for a leash for their dog so they don't run away or get hit by car. Shouldn't a child be more important? I have 3 young children and we are always on the go. We have the dog version of the moneky for my youngest and it has been a great thing!! We too only use it during vacations or in croweded places. There are also a lot of places that do not allow strollers I have found. I watched my son almost get hit by car once from running off and had nightmares for years from the event. It was so close that I couldn't even scream stop, nothing would come out of my mouth. My daughter LOVES her backpack and keeps special traveling toys/snacks in it. We made it a fun thing! It has been a single mom of 3's best friend!!!

Natalie said...

Oh Dana,
I shared the same fears when pregnant with E. We actually used the "monkey backpack" on our first trip to Disney when GAP was 16 months and was(as is your NHV) "fearless". GAP was a runner too. When 3 people gave us "the look" there were 10 others asking where we got it and if they sold them in the park. Then, this summer when E was 15 months we used it on our vacation again. One mother had the nerve to tell us how "inhumane" we were treating our child. (who was happily running & climbing as boys do) Meanwhile, her 2 children were screaming & crying demanding to be let out of their strollers. Umm really? Do what works for you and your LO's. Who cares what others think as long as you know you're keeping your heart secure and safe.
Two is a whole new world & this will be one less thing to be worried about. NIP with 2 was enough stress for me! :) I didn't need to worry about losing someone on top of keeping the boobies covered!

Deann said...

I have to say too, do what give you peace of mind. You're not going to have her "on leash" all the time. The backpack is a cool idea! I think Leanne has one she might let you borrow and check out first before you buy it. Safety is SO much more important that what others think. Again, I know you, you're only going to use it when you have to, so don't stress too much about it :-) Happy Harness shopping!

SupahMommy said...

LOl.. YOU'LL BE just fine. Get it ... have it as a back up. But most important..before you get any bigger... start listening lessons with Natalie about STOP and heeding it.

Do some positive praise teachery stuff .. just walking in the park and practicing so that you feel a bit more confident.

You'll try all kinds of

I too found the baby carrier worked best and I was able to GRAB P'S hand... and not let go.
I HAVE a lovey duds... sling.. and it keeps her TOTALLY smooshed to my chest. SO THAT I really have MUCH freedom and movement to grab my kids.

You'll be fine. And just when you get it all down pat.. you'll be preggers again and screwed. :) lol!

IN the early days.. I needed a counterpart for ANY outing. Now.. I"m all good and you will be too.

Practice the heeding. Do what you wish with anything. SOMEONe WILL ALWAYS be judging you.


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