Why I Chose the Harness

We’ve always known our son Judah was active. From the moment I could feel his kicks in my belly, I knew we were in for it. We joke that he only has one speed: RUN. And for a two-year-old, he is quite the sprinter. I didn’t realize just how fast he was until I got pregnant and keeping up with him got harder and harder.


After one particular trip to the zoo, I realized how quickly he could be gone. We were walking the trail that leads to the otters and dancing along with the Cajun music. Then all of a sudden it was like a switch flipped, and he darted through the rest of the trail like it was nothing. I yelled “Stop!” and took off running immediately after him and before I knew it, he was out of my sight. Heart.stopped.

Once I arrived at the otter exhibit, he was grinning with his hands pressed onto the glass and said, “Look mom! Otter!” (Like it was no big deal.) After disciplining him, I hugged him tight. Anyone could have been in there. He could have kept running through and then I really would have lost him. All these scenarios raced in my head, and I knew right then and there that my next purchase was going to be a harness—socially acceptable or not.

We are constantly teaching him safe boundaries, (It’s never OK to walk into the street, do not run away from mommy or daddy, always hold our hand when walking on the sidewalk, etc.) but some lessons stick better than others. I quickly realized that I have to take his safety into consideration until he truly grasps these concepts and can show us that.

There are many decisions we have to face as moms. I didn’t think harnesses were in our future since he generally enjoys his stroller and is overall an obedient kid. But sometimes you have to do what you believe is best for your family. And in Judah’s case, that involves a harness aka “leash of shame.” However, I was pleasantly surprised that he actually really likes the harness monkey (he thinks its a game) and he even named him Balfour. (Where does he come up with this stuff?)

It’s not something we break out day-to-day or will ever abuse (e.g, tug him or pull him along), but it’s a way to keep him safe in public situations where it’s better for him to walk. And if you have a fearless or actively adventurous child, you probably know just where I’m coming from and may even have a harness of your own.

Being a parent is tough, and keeping our kids safe can be tougher. So until Judah learns that its never OK to break free and run off, I’m sure I’ll be gathering lots of uncomfortable glances from strangers and maybe an unwanted comment here and there. But I’ll happily withstand it knowing that I’ll be sleeping better at night with my wild child snoring peacefully in the next room and Balfour hanging in his closet awaiting our next adventure.

Have you used a harness? Why or why not?

Jenny lives with her husband, Joel, and their sons, Judah and Jonas, in Zachary, a suburb north of Baton Rouge. She works part-time as an editor and her favorite part of the week is when she gets to exchange her pencil skirt for yoga pants and pretend to be a SAHM for a few days. When she’s not toting her sons around town or saving her toddler's life one head dive off the couch at a time, she is designing invitations, stationery, and logos for local moms, brides, and professionals. Jenny’s been married since 2007, and she and Joel welcomed Judah into their lives in April 2012 and Jonas in March 2015. She loves to squeeze in as many date nights as possible and spends her free time chronicling her family’s adventures and recent designs on her personal blog, the Gilberts.


  1. I have a harness for my little boy! I use to say how awful or that’s terrible. One trip to the airport and we got one!!! I would rather someone say I am mean for him wearing a harness than to loose my child forever! I would not have survived Disney if it were not for the harness!! I have no issue if you have a child that likes to run and get away!

    • Yes Elizabeth! Me too!! It just takes once for something tragic to happen is how I think of it. 🙂 I would think its a must in Disney especially, haha!

  2. We have one for each of our boys. They’re less than a year apart. I had double knee surgeries and am unable to Run after them when they take off. My little one has run since he learned to walk and together the encourage each other to take off. Ours are actual back packs and they love them. Usually I can get them to just hold my hands but when they do decide to try to take off I still have the strap on my wrist to keep them close. They’ve been a life saver.

  3. Before I was a mom, I would see other moms with their kids on leashes and say ‘I would NEVER do that’. But after becoming a mom to a very active HIGHLY independent boy I knew that I was going to need one. Especially, when he was still learning his boundaries. We used the leash for the most part between one and two years and a half years old. That was when my very independent boy was ‘so big’. He wanted to be able to walk like a big boy but like all children they get so excited about something they see and take off without a second thought. So it was a way for us to show him how to stay close to us and how we would get to the same place in just a moment if he waited.

    Honestly, I think it really IS handy. There are some places you just cannot take a stroller. My son has always loved his stroller. But, there were times it was better for him to walk in more crowded areas and with him being so tiny and able to dart through legs and people so quickly it was nice to know I had a solid grip on him.

    I don’t admonish mothers for leashes anymore, I get it, I’ve been there.

    My job is to keep him safe, and I was doing that.

  4. I have one for my 18month old. He doesn’t like having his hand held and when we got to the zoo or something he can’t see anything from the stroller. So I’ll let him walk around with the monkey harness we named Bobo! Usually if someone makes rude comments to Mr I notice they don’t even have kids. Say what you want about how I should just hold his hand but when holding his hand caus s him to have a meltdown tantrum because he wants to be a big boy like his brother, its not worth the fuss and the harness is worth the rude childless stares.


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