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The Best Toddler Leashes and How to Use Them

Yes, they're ridiculous. They're also kind of essential.

A month ago, if asked to define “social distancing,” you would have surmised that it’s a new evasive dating tactic, like ghosting or orbiting or breadcrumbing. Today, thanks to the scary-fast spread of COVID-19, social distancing is not only a real-world concept, but also a legal mandate for a growing percentage of the population. However, for small children, social distancing simply doesn’t compute and because kids require exercise, you may now want to invest in a toddler leash. You can tether your child to you with a toddler backpack leash and let them get some air while still keeping them the required six feet away from strangers.

Toddler leashes can seem preposterous. We won’t preach otherwise. But damn, they’re also handy, because young children don’t understand the concepts of personal space or boundaries. Earlier this week, during what has become our daily outing, a semi-anxious stroll around the neighborhood, my 3-year-old spotted an elderly couple walking their tiny dog. Before we could corral her, she blitzed them faster than Jadeveon Clowney, and these poor octogenarians no doubt afraid of the virus — were forced to beat a hasty retreat around the corner. It’s just so hard to keep little kids from getting up in people’s grilles.

Yes, leashes for kids are absurd in theory. But in practice, they let you keep your children close to you, both in crowded situations, and during times that call for social distancing. The alternative is keeping them locked indoors, and if that’s your solution, may the force be with you. With the leash setup, you slip the backpack, or harness, on to your child, and you hold the tether in your hands. Don’t yank or tug on it. These are, after all, tiny humans you’re handling, not a wayward dog who likes to sniff butts.

Even when we’re no longer mandated to practice social distancing, toddler leashes aren’t an entirely ludicrous idea, as long as parents don’t yank forcefully on the leashes and cause a child to fall backwards. They can help parents keep an eye on their offspring, especially in environments where children can wander off during the one moment a parent looks away.

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All joking and scare tactics aside, Michael Rappaport got it right in the expletive-filled PSA he recently posted to Twitter: It’s our job as parents to keep our kids safe, and in the present climate, this means creating a generous buffer between them and others. This can be incredibly difficult, and there’s no telling how long we’ll have to keep it up, but it’s the right thing to do. If there was ever a time to employ a child leash or to simply keep an extra close eye on your child every time you step outside for some socially-responsible fresh air it’s now.

This kids' leash is a backpack, with a handy tether to hold on to your child.

The best kind of kiddie leash doesn't look like a leash at all. Instead, it's a cute monkey so it's perhaps less insulting.

This all-in-one backpack and safety harness has a detachable wrist tether.

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