Also known as a toddler leash, a toddler rein is a safety harness for children to wear when they go out with a caregiver. This tool was created to help control toddlers at any time, as the harness does not allow them to run away. But, are these toddler reins a good idea and, are they safe? Let’s look at the pros and cons of toddler reins.
A toddler rein is a safety harness that helps the parent have control over where the baby is at any time.
Before buying a toddler rein, the parents should consider the pros and cons.
There is limited data about the safety of these leashes, so the use of these harnesses is controversial.
A safety harness does not substitute for close child supervision and should be used only in situations where the toddler’s safety is a concern.
What reins are best for toddlers?
While the benefits of reins for toddlers have not been yet confirmed by studies, there are three main types of leashes and parents can choose the leash based on the baby’s age.
- Basic harness. The basic harness and leash is similar to dog leash and is marketed for young and older children. The baby wears a harness around the body, and a leash is attached. The parent holds the other end of the leash.
- Leash backpack. Another option is a child leash backpack, more suitable for toddlers and preschool aged children. Instead of a harness, the child wears a small backpack. The leash is attached to the backpack and can be easily removed when not needed. The toddler reins are more appealing to the child, as the backpack is created in an animal or a character shape.
- Wrist link straps. One cuff is wrapped around the child's wrist and the second one around the parent’s wrist.
Harness leashes and backpack leashes may be a safer option than wrist straps because a strap may cause injury if the child pulls away quickly.
Toddler reins – benefits and drawbacks:
There is very little official information about the use of toddler reins. It is up to the parents and caregivers to look at the pros and cons and decide if they are a good option or not.
- The child is safe from risks such as running into traffic.
- Stops the child from wandering off and getting lost.
- Ease of mind for the caregiver when out in crowded places.
- Many choices of leash that come in attractive shapes, sizes, and colors.
- Lack of emotional connection due to the harness being used instead of hand-holding.
- Prevention of rule learning and following through vocal instruction as the harness uses physical control.
- Embarrassment for the child.
- Potential risk of injury from falling or getting caught in the harness.
What does the research say?
There is very limited data available on child harness safety. As a result, the risks of injuries are not known. The benefits of these harnesses had not been evaluated either. Overall, scientists believe these child harnesses need further evaluation and improvement to avoid misusing them. The American Pediatric Association currently provides recommendations about car safety seat harnesses, but not for toddler leashes.
Tips for parents considering a toddler rein
If you decide to use a toddle rein for your child, consider these tips:
- Talk to a doctor. Before buying a toddler rein, talk to a pediatrician. Discuss the pros and cons and evaluate if your baby could benefit from a harness leash.
- Check the brand. Check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (USPC) website and see if there is any recall for safety or injury reports for the particular brand and style of leash you want to buy.
- Read the instructions. Read carefully and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. The model should be appropriate for your baby’s age and size.
- Be gentle. Never ever pull or tug, which could lead to injury to the child.
- Practice. Practice at home before going out. Introduce the leash to the baby at home, to make sure they are comfortable with it.
- Comfort. Make sure the harness is not fastened too tightly and ask the child if they are comfortable.
- Supervise. Do not leave the child unattended. Keep in mind that the safety harness doesn’t substitute for close child supervision.
- Use sparingly. Use the leash only in environments and situations where the baby’s safety is a concern.
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