Child Safety Harness Buying Guide
It happens in the blink of an eye. You turn away to pay for a purchase and your son slips out of sight in a crowded store. Your heart races as you search frantically, panicked thoughts filling your mind. Just as you think you might start screaming, your son pops out of the middle of a rack of clothing he was hiding in, with a gleeful laugh.
Most parents have lived through some version of that scenario. For many parents, particularly those with children with developmental issues or especially high-spirited children, it can be a frequent occurrence. A child safety harness, or child leash, gives you peace of mind when out with your young child in a crowded location. A safety harness is also excellent for children who are prone to dashing away, or children with developmental disabilities who might wander off in one moment of distraction.
Styles of Harness
There are several types of child safety harness available, allowing you to choose the style that best suits the needs of you and your child.
The simplest safety harness is a wrist tether. These consist of a band that attaches with a clip or Velcro around the child’s wrist, and a hook or loop on the other end for attaching to the parent’s wrist, the stroller, a belt loop or other secure spot. Wrist tethers are typically three feet long, giving your child enough room to walk freely without being able to slip out of sight.
A wrist tether is an excellent solution for the child who just needs a little reminding not to wander away from your side, or situations where there are several young children to keep track of.
The Baby Buddy Toddler Tether comes in several colors, and sells for $4.49 at Amazon.com. The wristband easily adjusts to fit your child’s wrist securely and comfortably.
A safety harness is the best choice for a child who is a skilled escape artist, is persistent in darting away from your side or has developmental issues that place him at greater risk for wandering away.
Typically, a child safety harness has an adjustable chest strap that fastens with a clasp or Velcro closure. Two adjustable straps fit over the child’s shoulders, connecting to the chest strap in front and back. A tether with a loop attachment for the parent’s wrist attaches to a clip on the front or back of the harness, depending on the brand. Most safety harnesses have a tether between three and five feet long.
The Munchkin Stay-Close Harness and Handstrap can be used as a safety harness, or you can detach the four-foot lead to use as a wrist tether. The Munchkin is $5.99 at Amazon.com.
A backpack safety harness has the same chest and shoulder straps as the regular harness, but adds a handy backpack that looks like a “big kid” backpack that an older brother or sister might take to school. Your child can carry special treasures in the pack, or a snack or change of clothes. The tether can be detached to allow use as a regular backpack as your child outgrows the need for a harness.
The Jeep 3-In-1 Backpack Harness can be used as a backpack harness, used as a traditional backpack by removing the tether or you can use the lead alone as a wrist tether. The Jeep 3-In-1 sells for $9.50 at Amazon.com.
Plush Animal Backpack
For kid-appeal, a backpack harness designed with a cuddly stuffed animal attached is the clear winner. Your child can choose from a wide range of plush friends, from a giraffe to a panda.
These safety harnesses fit like a regular safety harness, but have the added benefit of soft, plush-covered straps that match the attached plush animal backpack on the harness back. The lead usually clips on to form the “tail” of the plush animal. Most kids will be glad to strap on their plush friend, and will enjoy carrying prized belongings in the handy zippered pouches, while you get the peace of mind of knowing your child is close by.
The Eddie Bauer Harness Buddy Monkey is an especially adorable design, sure to be a favorite of any boy or girl who loves Curious George. The Eddie Bauer Harness Buddy is $11.99 at Amazon.com.
Another sure-to-please choice is the Gold Bug 2-In-1 Harness Buddy Giraffe. The friendly face and soft body will make the Giraffe Harness Buddy a favorite of boys and girls alike. The Gold Bug Giraffe Harness is $12.75 at Amazon.com.
Fitting A Harness
When purchasing a harness for your child, check the weight limit of the item. Some harnesses are made for children as small as 20 pounds; others can be adjusted to fit children 40 pounds or more. The straps should be snug, but not tight over your child’s chest, shoulders or wrist. Make sure the straps do not chafe or irritate your child, or cause their clothing to bunch up uncomfortably.
Using A Harness
The main concern most parents have about using a harness is encountering disapproving stares or comments from those who consider a safety harness similar to a dog’s leash. No one knows your child the way you do. Your child’s safety comes first. If you have any concerns about your child wandering off or losing you in a crowd, the reassurance of a harness will overcome the impact of negative comments.
When your child is wearing a harness, never allow them to drag or hang by the lead. Be sure that the lead does not tangle in a stroller frame, shopping cart wheel or any other potentially dangerous spot.
Never run while your child is wearing a harness, as the dangers of trips or falls is high.
When out in a crowd, traveling or in unfamiliar areas, there is no need to worry about losing your child or a stranger luring him away. A child safety harness is a simple solution to keeping your child safe and close by under your watchful eye.