Ages 2-5DisciplineParenting FailsParenting Styles

My Toddler as a Dog: Or Why the Baby Leash is the Best Baby Product Ever!

Most baby products are as useless as a nasty mother-in-law.

A baby changing table is less like a means of changing a baby safely and more like a big thing that takes up space in the baby’s room and holds stuff you don’t really need. I think I used ours twice. The high chair was discarded in favor of letting the baby sit on the couch with a bib. I tried putting my baby in a snugli but my back said this was so not happening not then and not ever.

After years of children, my husband and I have decided on the best baby product ever. That is the baby leash. The leash consists of an adorable stuffed toy dog, two straps to attach it to the toddler and a leash. It is the world’s greatest baby invention.

Oh the car seat rules for safety. The stroller beats carrying a struggling toddler, a twenty pound purse and the ten library looks I labor under the delusion I’ll read one day. Baby spoons have proved surprisingly versatile both for letting the toddler feed herself and removing the last of the peanut butter or tomato sauce from any jar. The boppy got me through my first painful weeks of nursing.

But nothing, nothing, NOTHING beats my baby leash. My youngest is cute. She’s also under the impression that life should consist of knocking things off the shelves, saying hello to every single stranger on the planet, eating anything she finds on the floor and attempting to run into traffic. She can say please and thank you and charm everyone she meets with her smile. What she can’t do is figure out how to hold my hand or that the big giant car about to come barreling down our street isn’t her friend.

For that I have the leash. My glorious, glorious leash. My margin of parenting error. She gets to explore the front yard. I get to make sure she isn’t being hit by a school bus. Thanks to the baby leash I can take her to stores, avoid losing her in the mall and let her slide down the local hills when it snows with mommy in tow behind her and no trees for us to crash into.

For some reason this particular piece of baby equipment is controversial. Over the last year and half since we bought it, we’ve repeatedly had dirty looks thrown our way, obvious muttered comments and outright nasty remarks about lazy parenting. I am at a loss to understand the viewpoint on this one. And I get much of the criticism of many other baby products.

But this one? Are you freaking kidding me? Are people crazy? Why is the sight of a small child holding my hand the source of all that is good in the world but the sight of a toddler tethered to mommy in other ways really bad?

I suppose I should hold her hands but she looks at my fingers and just giggles. Carrying her is about as possible as carrying a hissing cat. She tolerates the stroller for about ten minutes, undoes the straps and crawls out with a gleeful look on her face. The leash is the only way I can get baby and anything else done at the same time when outside.

The truth is that toddler have no sense of self preservation at all. You could put them on an island and the sand crabs would beat them. Hell the crab grass would win. They’re cute and remarkably endearing but that’s about it for survival skills.

So baby leash it is. The toddler’s happy. I’m happy. And those who think I’m turning my daughter into a puppy all I have to say is woof. A very happy and safe woof!


Gadfly lives and writes in the USA.

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  1. I agree 100%! When my son hit 18 months, he refused to sit in the stroller, but he didn’t have the good sense to not run into the street. The baby leash saved us. We were able to take long walks, when otherwise we would have had to drive everywhere.

    And it does amaze me that people have no problem with kids being strapped into strollers, but look down on kids strapped to these leashes.

    The plus side is that we would often get compliments from Europeans, because these leashes have been used there for decades.

  2. I say leash away. I never used one with Pickle, but we didn’t go a lot of places that were busy. When we did, he would hold on for dear life.

    I have seen some parents who didn’t pay attention at all, that is where I get frustrated. If a kid is rushing out to trip adults with their leash and giggling when they do, it is not being used right. (Note: I also hate it when people are inattentive with pets on leashes in the same way)

  3. Mine are only crawling, but I fully expect to need/use a leash system when they start really moving quickly for the simple reason that they outnumber me and that they are FAST! It’s surprised me how many people are vehemently opposed to the leash because they equate it with pets. For me, there’s also the issue of encouraging my children to confidently and comfortably walk and explore–it’s always looked awkward to me when toddlers are small and have to hold their arms almost vertical to hold their parents’ hands while walking for any distance–their entire gait is thrown off because one side of their body is stretched up while the other is walking normally. Simply from a movement perspective, it makes sense to have a tool to let them walk normally with arms where they want them.

  4. I got all sorts of idiotic comments when I used a harness on my kids. Something I was very serious about using after my younger son suddenly ran into the street when he was just under two years old, fortunately the car stopped. I was often asked why I was treating my kid like a dog, to which I replied that he was more precious than any dog and I did not like it when he was almost run over. My job as a parent was to make sure the kids are alive at bedtime, the leash was one way to assure that. End of conversation.

    I used that harness on his older brother, but he was a bit more compliant. Though one time he refused to go up the front steps to the house while I struggled with the baby in the stroller. So I attached the leash to the street sign to keep him put for the whole minute while I carried the baby up the stairs (hillside house, the street level garage was five steps down from the basement!). My neighbor saw from a window, and since she saw the toddler attempt to run off she agreed with my decision.

    The funny thing was I was never ever given any grief when I used it on the ferry system. Especially at the dock for the foot ferry that had no railing.

    And just like TheNerd, it did get to the point with all of them that I only had to pull it out of the bag to get compliance.

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