The Best Child Leashes to Buy in 2021

Neve Spicer
Written by Neve Spicer Updated on August 10th, 2021

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When you’re out in public with your little ones, keeping them safe and secure will be your main priority. However, while in places that include large crowds or potential hazards, or if you’re the only one wrangling with a few youngsters, doing so can be tough without a safety device like a child leash.

Of course, when buying important gear like this, it’s important to know if your pick will hold up to your child’s size and your usage needs; so check out our rundown of the best child leashes of 2021, as well as our handy guide to choosing the type that’s just right for your family.

Buyer’s Guide

What are the most important safety tips to follow when using a leash or harness for my child?

  • Make sure the leash is not fastened too tightly: Your child’s leash needs to be fastened tight enough that they can’t pull or slip out of it, but not so tight that it’s squeezing their skin. Leashes that are too loose can be dangerously ineffective, while those too tight can be uncomfortable and may lead to fussing and rejection of the device.
  • Never leave kids unattended while they’re in the device: While leashes and harnesses are perfectly safe with proper use and supervision, it’s not safe to leave your child in the device unattended. They could possibly, unintentionally, asphyxiate themselves with the strap, so the best safety practice is to remove the strap as soon as you’re done using it.
  • Make sure kids have a chance to practice their movement at home: Learning to use the leash and move in tandem will require some trial and error, and practicing at home first can take a lot of frustration and embarrassment out of the learning process. Practice adjusting the device to a comfortable and safe level of tightness, then walk around the yard slowly and safely, giving your child a chance to observe their range of movement and get used to how the leash feels.

What are my options when choosing a safety restraint for my child?

  • Harness: This restraint slips on like a life vest, and is secured with the use of adjustable straps and buckles at the front or rear of the device. A strap is attached to the back of the harness, which connects to a secured wrist strap worn by the parent or adult.
  • Backpack: As the name indicates, this restraint slips over the shoulders of your child like a backpack, offering some storage space for their (and your) on-the-go essentials. An adjustable connecting strap and buckle at the front of the restraint helps to stop it from slipping off your child’s shoulders. With these devices, the strap typically connects to the underside of the backpack and is attacked to a secured wrist cuff worn by the parent or adult.
  • Wrist strap: The most casual of these devices, this restraint is generally preferable for older kids who may no longer fit into (or wish to use) backpack and harness leashes. The restraint consists simply of two secure, adjustable wrist cuffs, one worn by the parent or adult, the other by the child.

How do I know if a child leash is appropriate for my situation?

  • Will we be dealing with a large crowd?: If you’re attending a big event like a concert, show, festival, or fair, keeping your child safe and close to you is priority number one; while carrying a walking-age child all day can be exhausting. A harness or leash will free up your arms while allowing your little one explore without safety concerns.
  • Will we be near something hazardous?: While they’re great fun for kids, trips to places like the zoo or a body of water can take a tragic turn if children are left unsupervised. If your little one is a runner who’s too small to know better and you’re planning a trip where that could become dangerous, a restraint enables you to both enjoy the day while keeping them safe.
  • Am I the only adult caring for multiple children?: Any adult who’s ever managed juggling more than one child at a time knows how difficult that can be. If you’re concerned for their safety, a restraint system might be appropriate.
  • Does the struggle to keep my kids in check prevent me from going out when I otherwise would?: If you’re finding yourself looking for ways to keep the kids entertained at home because going out is too chaotic, you may benefit from the use of a leash, harness, or wrist strap to keep them close and under control.
  • Are my kids old enough to understand basic safety?: When kids are small, they’re yet to learn how important it is to stay close to you. If you want your little one to have the freedom to walk on his or her own two feet without the danger of wandering off, you may appreciate using a leash or restraint.

Our picks of the best child leashes

Editors choice

Our opinion

Recommended age: 1 – 4 years
Restraint style: Harness
Color(s): Navy
Theme: None
Strap length: 14 – 25 inches

One of the more significant obstacles in finding a restraint system that works for your little one is their ability to tolerate the device. If they don’t like it, they’ll quickly let you know, and comfortable, minimalist picks like the Mommy’s Helper Kid Keeper (check price on Amazon) usually feel the least invasive to toddlers. The extendable strap can be adjusted from 30 to 42 inches, so it’s easy to give your kiddo more room to roam as they grow.

Putting on the harness takes just one simple over-the-shoulder motion, and padded straps make it feel just as snug as their car seat. The strap attaches to the harness with a clip that’s placed closer to your toddler’s neck, great for helping to prevent falls when using the harness with younger tots.

What we love
  • It’s a simple, non-invasive harness that often works for kids who reject other restraints
  • Both the strap and the harness can be adjusted, so it grows with your child; the strap is also attached near the top rear rather than the bottom, which is better for preventing falls in young children
Watch for
  • Adjusting the shoulder straps is a bit tight and can take some getting used to

Best for evening use

Our opinion

Recommended age: 2 – 12 years
Restraint style: Harness
Color(s): Blue and white
Theme: Elephant / reflective
Strap length: Up to 6.5 feet

After the sun goes down, reflective gear is highly recommended while keeping kids safe from harm. This Reflective Toddler Harnes(check price on Amazon) keeps safety in focus, offering illumination in dim light, and allowing both parents and children to easily spot the harness, wrist cuff, and shrinking chain strap. It’s a simple over-the-shoulder harness with some extra padding for comfort and adjustable buckles for a secure and proper fit.

The shrinking chain coils for easy storage, and is crafted from plastic-coated stainless steel, making it virtually unbreakable. It’s great for evening events where you’d rather skip the stroller, as kids can roam within a safe distance with no clunky gear to contend with.

What we love
  • The addition of reflective coating makes it easy to spot the harness, cuff, and shrinking chain, even in dim light
  • It allows you to skip the stroller at evening events without having to carry your little one all night
Watch for
  • The harness is a bit dense and not very breathable, so it can be hot when the weather is warm

Best budget buy

Our opinion

Recommended age: 1 – 3 years
Restraint style: Harness
Color(s): Black
Theme: None
Strap length: 48 inches

There’s nothing cheap about having kids, which means that finding budget-friendly, highly functional essentials like the Diono Sure Steps Harness (check price on Amazon) is a godsend. This simple black harness slips over their shoulders and features adjustable buckles which secure the shoulder straps to the required size. The impressively long four-foot safety strap connects to the rear of the device between your child’s shoulder blades, a great help in preventing smaller kids from falling.

The harness can be washed with regular laundry or spot cleaned with a quick wipe, thanks to its soft durable fabric, which feels comfortable to wear. Parents should note that, while this pick is an overall hit for durability, the main panel connects with Velcro, not buckles, which could prove less secure as kids grow.

What we love
  • The strap is a full 48 inches long, which gives kids plenty of room to roam
  • It is machine washable, but it’s also easy to spot clean
Watch for
  • The main panel of the harness connects with Velcro and not buckles, which means it’s not quite as secure for older kids

Best monkey backpack leash

Our opinion

Recommended age: 18 months +
Restraint style: Backpack
Color(s): Brown
Theme: Monkey
Strap length: 36 inches

When you’re out on the town with your tot, gear that combines utility, durability, and looks like fun is a clear winner. This sweet Monkey Backpack from Goldbug (check price on Amazon) doubles as a secure harness with a 36-inch strap and wrist cuff. Putting it on is easy; just slip the device over your child’s shoulders, then adjust and fasten the two front buckles.

The strap attaches to the harness via a clip that sits below the backpack, so they can easily take the lead while remaining safe. This also means that when your child no longer needs a harness, they can still enjoy the use of their backpack. Not only is the monkey a cute and soft security animal, but it also unzips to reveal a slim pocket for storing snacks and other essentials that are helpful on the go.

What we love
  • The adorable design, which both kids and parents will enjoy
  • It combines the security of a harness with the storage of a backpack, so one less piece of gear is required and your restraint is multi-functional
Watch for
  • It looks a lot like a toy, but it’s not safe for unattended play if the strap is attached

Best toddler harness backpack

Our opinion

Recommended age: 1 – 3 years
Restraint style: Backpack
Color(s): Green, grey, blue
Theme: None
Strap length: Approximately 36 inches

Parents of toddlers already know that venturing out of the house without the right gear is a recipe for disaster. A backpack harness with a bit of extra storage capacity, like the Brica By-My-Side (check price on Amazon), can make a big difference when you’re on an excursion with your little one.

The main body of this backpack unzips to reveal a spacious interior, and the mesh pockets on the front and sides have a forgiving amount of stretch; the front is ideal for a sippy cup or thermal cup with easy access. The 36″ strap attaches to the rear of the backpack so that it’s usable both in combination with or without the strap, while a swivel clip allows the strap to rotate in order to prevent tangling.

What we love
  • It’s a relatively spacious backpack, including one large and two small outer mesh pockets
  • It can be used with and without the strap for years of function, and a swivel clip prevents the strap from getting tangled in use
Watch for
  • The only microflora strain in this supplement is bacillus coagulans, so there’s no probiotic blend here, which is sometimes more effective
Our opinion

Recommended age: 4 years +
Restraint style: Wrist strap
Color(s): Blue, black
Theme: None
Strap length: 59″

If you’re looking for a restraint system that works for older kids, or prefer to keep things simple, a wrist strap like the Anti Lost Wrist Link (check price on Amazon) might be just what you’re after. There are almost no adjustments necessary, as simple hook and loop closures are used to secure the cuffs around the wrist of both parent and child.

The shrinking chain featured on this pick is a great space saver, as it coils into a loop for easy storage and can also extend to a full 1.5 meters in length for safe exploration. Both wrist cuffs are lined with a soft, comfortable, spongy material that won’t irritate, even when worn for extended periods during events. The durability of the connecting chain is also top-notch, as it’s made with plastic-coated stainless steel.

What we love
  • There’s no buckles to adjust or harness to accommodate, as these cuffs simply wrap around the wrist with a hook-and-eye closure
  • The shrinking chain makes the device easier to store, extends to 1.5 meters, and is made out of plastic-coated stainless steel for extra durability
Watch for
  • Older children may be able to figure out how to undo the hook and eye closure of the cuffs

Best for boys

Our opinion

Recommended age: 1 – 4 years
Restraint style: Backpack
Color(s): Blue, white, red, yellow
Theme: Outer space
Strap length: Approximately 48 inches

Cute, functional, multi-purpose gear is a wise investment for your toddler, and the Yisbo Outer Space Backpack Leash (check price on eBay), with  removable strap, has lots to love. The fun blue and white design looks like a rocket blasting into outer space, while the removable strap tethers to the rear of the backpack for security during outings.

The lightweight neoprene knapsack has comfortable padded straps that can be adjusted to size without irritating your child and is secured by front buckles that connect across the chest. You’ll also be able to stash their essentials in the backpack’s spacious zippered pocket, while a small mesh pocket attached to the front is perfect for storing smaller items.

What we love
  • The outer space theme will make the device more appealing to your tot, and it’s great for preschool or kindergarten when the tether is removed
  • There’s plenty of room for storing on-the-go essentials, so depending on their age, you may be able to skip the diaper bag altogether
Watch for
  • The neoprene may have a strong plastic odor when the product is brand new — letting it air out for a few days will remove this permanently

Best for girls

Our opinion

Recommended age: 1 – 3 years
Restraint style: Backpack
Color(s): Blue, green, rainbow
Theme: The Very Hungry Caterpillar / Elephant
Strap length: 32 inches

One of the most famous and beloved children’s books of all time is Eric Carle’s, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The characters from the worlds he creates, like this fun bright blue elephant, have captivated the imagination of children worldwide; here, the elephant takes the form of a combination backpack and safety harness (check price on Amazon) brimming with style and function. Your child’s fuzzy elephant pal has a light blue striped belly, ears, and rainbow feet, and unzips to reveal a spacious pocket for storing all their on-the-go favorites. The 32-inch strap connects at the rear and can also be removed, allowing the backpack to act as a comfort animal or stand-alone knapsack.

What we love
  • It has a fun elephant theme both kids and parents will enjoy
  • It’s multi-functional, acting as an independent backpack or combining with the harness for security on-the-go
Watch for
  • The harness portion of this item may run a little small compared to competitors

Most comfortable

Our opinion

Recommended age: All ages
Restraint style: Harness
Color(s): Red, black, white
Theme: Mouse
Strap length: 42.5 inches

Your child’s comfort level within a harness is the ultimate determining factor of whether or not it will work for them. If they feel uncomfortable during wear, your little one will be quick to reject it, therefore comfortable picks like this Anti-Lost Leash (check price on Sears) tend to be favored over those that look cute but are too hot, tight, or bulky when worn. This mouse-themed pick slips right over the shoulders and adjusts and secures at the front with buckled straps.

The strap can be detached whenever necessary, and tethers to the device between your child’s shoulder blades, safely preventing accidental falls in toddlers. It’s made of soft, durable cotton, so won’t bother your little one’s sensitive skin, and the lengthy 42.5″ strap gives them a wide range of space in which to roam.

At a glance
  • The soft but durable cotton construction is very comfortable, so it’s not likely to be rejected by tots
  • The strap is 42.5 inches, so there’s plenty of room for exploration

And the winner is…

As we’ve established, something that’s crucial in the successful use of a leash or harness is finding a pick your child feels genuinely comfortable with while wearing. If they’re straining, struggling, and fussing, a temper tantrum probably won’t be far behind, and for obvious reasons — who wants to be uncomfortably restrained?

A durable, minimally invasive harness that’s comfortable to wear and attaches between the shoulder blades, such as the Mommy’s Helper Kid Keeper (check price on Amazon), is best for safety and less likely to be rejected than one that weighs kids down or makes them feel overly boxed in.

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Neve Spicer
Written by Neve Spicer Updated on August 10th, 2021

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