Wife, mom to two...love chocolate, trendy cupcakes, shoes, hot deals and throwing festive bashes...usually with chocolate.

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Toddler Leash

See this kid?


He looks like he’s just kicking it with his juice box. He’s not. He’s hydrating while planning his escape. In a blink of an eye, he’s going to chuck that juice box and bob, weave and roll out of that room into a crowd of people or just straight into traffic. He might toss a glance behind him just to track what type of job he’s done leaving you in the dust. Did I mention he’ll laugh like a maniac while he’s doing it?

He is a RUNNER.  Or shall I say BOLTER.  He’s fast, he couldn’t care less about stranger danger, or cars, and he definitely doesn’t want you to find him.

In other words, I love him, but he’s sort of a nightmare in a crowd.

To all the people who I’ve seen with a toddler leash or “harness” on their kid who I’ve possibly raised an eyebrow at, I apologize. He bolted so many times towards a parking lot at an outdoor birthday party the other day I was ready for a leash and a pole to hook it on.

I’m not talking about leashing him up in the backyard or letting my 4.5 year old walk him around the neighborhood, although I’m sure she would LOVE doing it. We’re going to Disneyland, and I’m worried. One glance at a Mickey Mouse ice cream sandwich cart and he could be 30 people deep in the Matterhorn line. And he’s not an only child. I don’t want to accidentally lose one kid who’s trying to keep up while chasing the one who’s trying to get lost.

He’s 35 pounds. He hates his stroller. He wants to walk by himself. He DEFINITELY hates holding hands. It’s a safety issue.

I haven’t ordered one yet. And I know I might get some stares. But I sort of feel like those stares are coming from people who have never experienced an impulsive and shockingly nimble toddler trying to break free in a crowd. You know when you open your wallet and see the empty slot where your credit card should be? That pit of your stomach feeling is about 8000 times worse if your child manages to break free in a crowd.

To leash or not to leash? Let’s hear it.

Keep them safe!

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Comments (19)

  1. Eryn 02/10/2014 at 1:06 am

    It’s not a leash, it’s a “child safety harness.” Or whatever PC term makes people feel better. Some kids need one.

  2. Tessa 01/09/2014 at 9:52 am

    Perhaps you’ve already figured out to leash or not but I wanted to let you know that I was just like your son when I was his age (according to my parents and older siblings) so I was DEFINITELY on a leash at Disneyland. We have a picture to prove it. Anyway my point is that now I’m a mom myself and would leash my own son if it meant safety and peace of mind. After all isn’t that what a vacation should be about? I was a leashed kid and didn’t turn out so bad either! Your child’s safety is more important than what onlookers may think. They wouldn’t be the ones panicking over a missing child.

  3. Brenda 12/29/2013 at 6:24 am

    I saw this and was thinking about getting one. Has anyone tried this and do they like it? http://next2meproduct.weebly.com/

  4. triplet mom 10/16/2013 at 8:11 pm

    I amazingly haven’t gotten one yet but definatly have wanted one since my now going to be 3 triplets were one… the triple stroller is heavy and heavier as they grow. now halloween is around the corner and i’m ready to get to the store and get one or three! …
    i am always alone with them so i NEED them 🙂

  5. Jessica 09/27/2013 at 10:08 am

    I am the mother of 4 and 2 were/are bolters. My son worse than my daughter. I was in the university library with my son when he was 3. His daycare was closed for a teaching conference (it was the university daycare) and I hadn’t lined up any daycare for him. We were both sitting at a table together and in the 10 seconds it took me to look in my bag for a book, HE WAS GONE!!! I searched the entire library for him and even had the various circulation desks looking for him as well. Nothing. I finally started searching for him outside. I found him with some female students a little way away from the library, but they weren’t the ones who found him. A professor came over and explained that he found him in a parking lot ACROSS CAMPUS!! It was the parking lot next to his daycare. In his head he was just going to school!!! This is just the worst example of many. Leashes are wonderful if you have a bolter. We haven’t needed one for my 2 year old daughter yet, but I fear it’s coming soon.

  6. CarrieAnn 08/13/2013 at 11:00 pm

    Ok, well, as a mother of 5, I received a monkey backpack leash as a baby gift with our 5th, from my mother in law. I thought it a joke initially, like the ‘present face’ parody by Garfunkel and Oats. The gift you give a mother of 5 under the age of six so you won’t lose one of them. I have to admit, I use to mock others who use them too. I did find it incredibly handy to strap the monkey to the car seat or stroller handle and had all the other toddlers hold the strap while we walked through parking lots and such. I found a safety strap at a dollar store that had two velcro bracelets with a curly cord(old style telephone type cord) in between. It had the absolute best use for not only tethering child wrist to mommy wrist with some freedom, it doubled as a fantastic tether for sippy cups to strollers, high chairs, etc. it took up very little room and was able to be pulled out to use in seconds.

  7. Susan 08/13/2013 at 4:59 pm

    I always thought they were inhumane and just an excuse for parents to not really watch their kids (sorry to all those I so ignorantly judged!). And then I had my 5th. 🙂 He has 2 speeds – fast and faster, is fearless, determined, stubborn, and an escape artist. I would use one for his own safety and my sanity (so I don’t loose my mind searching for my lost little boy who has no clue he’s lost, just found something to draw his attention away in the split second I close my eyes during a sneeze). I haven’t ever bought a leash for him, but I do stay home a LOT more than I used to and avoid any place I can that doesn’t have a shopping cart with a seat belt. No amusement parks, zoos, etc anymore because I am terrified of losing him.

  8. Lynn 08/13/2013 at 12:42 am

    I say, if you feel more comfortable, use the leash!! I am not a mom, but I am the older sister of a bolter!lol When my brother was little, he took off at the local fireworks show when my mom turned around to put something in the car. He was about a quarter of a mile away in the blink of an eye! Needless to say, she immediately bought a leash! He is now a daddy himself, and I think he would do whatever necessary to keep his son safe. His wife, however, said she would never use one. Luckily, my nephew stays right with you and insists on holding your hand. It will be interesting to see if what happens if they have more children! Ultimately, your peace of mind and his safety is the most important thing! Good luck!!

  9. Erica Fehrman 08/12/2013 at 6:04 pm

    We used the monkey backpack leash with both kids when they were 1-3 years old, usually at the airport or anyplace that was super crowded and we could be in a situation where our attention was not constantly on chasing a wriggly kid. It was just a safety precaution.

  10. D V 08/12/2013 at 3:41 pm

    I have ALWAYS leashed my toddlers and never got any negative feedback- in fact I got compliments. At one time I had 3 kids 3 and under and I leashed 2 of them. It was the ONLY way to do Disneyland safely. Get the leash and the peace of mind is worth any negative comments.
    DV Mother of 5

  11. Heather 08/12/2013 at 3:26 pm

    I use the backpack leash. Safety first. I’d rather a live child as apposed to a dead one and those who think its wrong to leash a child, well I hope they don’t use strollers or car seats because that is a form of restraint and leashing. DUH!

  12. Sabrina 08/12/2013 at 2:19 pm

    I thought a child on a leash was pretty awful until I had a ten month old, I was recovering from surgery and pregnant with horrible morning sickness. I had no energy to chase our girl and she was already walking and oh, so quick. Once, I got her out of the car to put her in the stroller and she dashed into the street. No way I could catch her in time if a car had been going through. I packed her up and went straight to the store for a leash. Some people say it’s inhumane and she’s not a pet, you’re taking away her freedom. What’s worse, being strapped into a stroller or able to move around in a safe manner. I’ve caught my kids with the strap too, so many times, when they trip, so they get fewer scrapes.

  13. Baye 08/12/2013 at 2:11 pm

    Leash! Every child is different. My kids were fine, but then I used a stroller as long as possible. They were on the laid back side and more than willing to let me do the work. My grandson, on the other hand would dart off, climb out, shimmy up or anything possible in a flash. Judgmental people suck. Do what is best for your child.

  14. MsKat 08/12/2013 at 1:47 pm

    I don’t even have any kids so my answer may surprise you. I think, depending on the child they really need a leash! They need to learn how to interact in public on foot instead of strapped in a stroller or shopping cart, and while lots of kids behave and stay close to their parents during this phase of their lives, not all kids do. I have worked retail off & on most of my adult life and all my late teens; some of these little kids are so busy and overstimulated and quick, they really reeeeeeally need a leash just to not destroy everything in their path as soon as their mom either blinks or looks at an item in the store. It’s not cruel to use one if it is being used properly according to directions, and could very well save a child’s life. I’ve seen kids who need one literally disappear in the blink of an eye…and not all people are out in this world to do good when they see a small child alone and separated from their adults. So round of applause to all those who use them when they are needed and ignore the naysayers (most of which do not have kids and are on the outside looking in).

  15. Melissa 08/12/2013 at 1:44 pm

    I have to say, I would be one of the moms giving you a dirty look if you put your child on a leash. He is not a pet! We have 5 children & never once have used a leash, nor even thought about it. When our oldest were 4,4,3, and 2 years old (4 year old twins), we took them to Disneyworld – meaning thru DFW and Orlando airports there and back and Disney for 4 days. Never was a leash considered. Our kids knew better than to run off. I know some kids are more prone to running off than others, and maybe we were just blessed that none of our 5 were, but I just can’t see ever using a leash on my child like I would my dog.

  16. Nora N 08/12/2013 at 1:27 pm

    Leash! I have one for my 18 mo old, but luckily he is still content on being strapped to his stroller. He also hates holding hands and sees 0 danger around him. Leash leash leash!

  17. Darcie 08/12/2013 at 1:13 pm

    I say leash!! I too was like you and thought how why would anyone put a leash on a child like a animal!! Well my 1st was a easy stuck to me never really wondered kid! My 2nd is 1 and we are going to Disneyland this week and I bought a leash! What’s worse dirty looks from parents who don’t understand or feeling like your life is over because you lost your kid in Disneyland because he or she bolted??? I will take the dirty looks any day over losing my little one!!

  18. Lynn 08/12/2013 at 12:54 pm

    LEASH!! For your peace of mind. My “bolter” is now 7 years old. He still refuses to hold hands. He triggered “Code Adam” at Sam’s Club more times than I’d like to admit because something would catch his eye and off he’d go. He is the middle child of 5.

  19. Melissa 08/12/2013 at 12:27 pm

    Leash!! You don’t want him to get lost in Disneyland of all places!! I admit to having the same judgements when looking at other moms. I totally get it now. I consider leashing my 5 year old from time to time.