Kid Leashes: Helpful or Hurtful?

kid leashI was young, my mom called me an escape artist and constantly had to hover over me and keep a firm grip on my hand. When I was about 6 years old, I wandered off in the Children’s Science Museum in Boston and in a sheer panic just bolted out the front doors onto the busy city streets, where a very kind woman grabbed me by the arm and, with a very concerned look, asked me if I was OK. I told her I was lost and she took my hand and brought me back into the security area where together we waited for my family.

As an adult looking back, that situation could have gone a very different way had that stranger been somebody else with different intentions. Shortly after this, my mom put me on a kid leash. I hated it. I was embarrassed. I didn’t know any other kids that were on a leash. But of course with hindsight being what it is, it could have very likely prevented something terrible from happening because I wasn’t able to wander and it kept me close. Deciding to use one for my daughter is another question. 

There seems to be two camps of opinion on the kid leash. Those who think it’s ridiculous and cruel and those who think it is an absolute necessity. Should our kids just be taught to stay close and hold hands in busy places? Are we asking too much of them to be mindful of staying in our eyesight?

Or is it something different altogether and that the nature of being a child is being explorative and curious and sometimes that can mean they end up being someplace they shouldn’t be.

There are lots of pros and cons on deciding to use a kid leash:

Pros :

  • It is really helpful if you have a bolter by keeping them out of busy streets and close to you in crowded places.
  • It offers the parent peace of mind and ultimately less stress when traveling, especially when you have more than one child.
  • If you have a child with special needs, it can be comforting for both you and them in helping them navigate new places.
  • If you wore your baby often, it may be a nice transition for both while your little one gains some independence.


  • Parents can become less attentive relying too much on the restraint to keep kids safe and close.
  • There is a certain level of embarrassment and ridicule that can come from wearing a kid leash. This is true for both the child and the parent.
  • Kids aren’t learning to keep physical boundaries for themselves and will eventually have to learn to do so without the use of the restraint.
  • The wrist leash can be dangerous if you have to yank on it quickly versus a harness that evenly distributes the force and likely prevents any injuries.

All parents are different, and all kids are different. Where some may feel that it is absolutely necessary to have their child in a restraint others find it appalling, who are we to discredit either point of view?

There are lots of things that, as a new mom, I am constantly researching, asking for advice, and pulling from my own childhood experiences. How we choose to ensure the safety of our children is a very personal matter and shouldn’t be judged either way. At the end of the day, we all just want what’s best for our kids and how we provide that is different for everybody.

Lisa is a baby-wearing, breastfeeding, cloth diapering new mama. She loves running, yoga, craft beer and exploring all things about natural parenting.

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