If you like the idea of your newly walking toddler roaming around and discovering life but are worried about their safety and protection, then you need to get yourself a pair of baby reins.
Some people are on the fence about baby and toddler reins, feeling like they have their child on a lead as they would their dog, but other mums swear by them - and the pros far outweigh the cons. A child harness can prevent many accidents from occurring.
In this article
What are baby reins?
Baby or toddler reins are a safety harness your child wears with a strap that you can hold to make sure that they don't wander too far away from you. At toddler age, they have zero awareness of danger, so baby reins can give them the freedom to explore but within a safe distance from you.
Read next: The best baby carriers to keep your baby safe and happy
Are baby reins a good idea?
Baby reins are safer than holding your child's hand as there's less risk that they will snatch away from you, or that you will unwillingly hurt them when pulling them out of danger. For example, if you're in a car park and you suddenly see a car coming, you can pull your child safely out of harm's way with the reins instead of yanking their arm.
Using baby and toddler reins will also help keep your child standing if they're wobbly on their feet or prone to taking a tumble.
They're designed to be comfortable for your child to wear when running or walking around, although there is a risk that they could rub your child if not fitted correctly or if they're in direct contact with your child's skin. Look out for red patches and if they do occur, adjust the straps to make them more comfortable or try using a different type of baby rein which could help.
If you have one of those tots who seems to have discovered running before walking, then you'll know that far from being cruel and unfair to the child, baby reins are an essential item for keeping your baby safe. You can keep your child near to you and keep them safely distanced from other families, excitable dogs or outdoor dangers.
Read next: Baby Steps! Your Toddler’s Walking Milestones
What are the different types of baby reins?
All baby and toddler reins are similar in design as a safety harness that you can hold onto or attach to your person. However, there are different styles which mean baby reins can be worn around the child's chest, waist or as a backpack. All can be extremely helpful when you are travelling to an unfamiliar place or when you are in especially crowded areas such as shopping centres, fairs, or theme parks.
Backpack toddler reins come in fun designs and can come with detachable reins so the backpack can be worn on its own. Having a fun backpack will give your toddler the chance to carry some of their own bits and bobs like a favourite toy or snack. We love these cute bumblebee backpack reins we spotted on Instagram (thanks to @mrskskitchen):
Waist and chest reins in particular will give an active toddler a secure fit and can be a more affordable option. From practical and brightly coloured to stylish leopard print, there are plenty to choose from. We love these snazzy, leopard-print reins that caught our eye (thanks to @iammelteaser):
What are the best baby and toddler reins?
Scroll down to see our choice of the best toddler reins you can buy in the UK:
A simple rein system, with brightly coloured straps that can be washed easily. You can use the anchor straps for pushchairs or just as simple walking reins.
Tested by Sophie Knight, mum to Eli, aged two: "I wanted a simple pair of reins for nipping out to the shops now my little boy is happy walking around but I don't want him to go too far. This set fits the bill and is very no-frills. Eli likes the bright colours and is happy to wear them. The clip can be a bit stiff and fiddly when you're wrestling to get him back into the car quickly and safely, but on the whole I'm happy with these, and it's great that you can wash them. He has a rucksack with reins too, but these are great for short walks out and about. I like choosing Clippasafe as a brand for safety gear as I know I can rely on them."
Instead of just being reins, this is a rucksack for your little one with reins attached. Suitable for children aged from 12 to 36 months; it's adjustable at the shoulders and also the chest. The rein/strap is removable so it can be used later as a simple backpack. You can find it in 10 different designs.
Tested by Sophie Knight, mum to Eli, aged 2: "We have this bag in the rabbit design, which I love because when Eli's walking towards me, I can just see these little rabbit ears poking over his shoulders! I love this as it's a small enough rucksack for him to be happy to carry, and you can either stuff it full of wipes and nappies, or his packed lunch when we're off on adventures. The reins are an added bonus and gives me peace of mind (although it does look a bit like I'm walking the dog). It's not just useful but it gets lots of comments from people when we're out and about thanks to the fun design. Plus having a character makes Eli more eager to wear it."
Fully adjustable as your child grows, the Cuggl Harness can be used to keep a hold of your little one as they toddle on their own, or to secure them safely by the side of the pushchair as you push it along. Reins are detachable so you can quickly release your child at the park or playground, or if they get tangled.
Argos review: "I bought these reins for when I’m out with my 19 month old grandson as like all children they don’t like to hold hands for any length of time. This way he has freedom and I have the peace of mind and security of him being safe. The holding strap is a good length. I would definitely recommend this product."
These walking reins and harness stability and support to your little one as they get used to walking in the big wide world. With easily adjustable waist and shoulder straps and detachable walking reins, this harness can grow with your little one and their ever changing needs, from 6 months to 4 years.
Boots review for the pink reins: "I bought these around a month ago for my daughter and after a couple days wearing them she absolutely loved them, they are perfect for busy areas and have encouraged my daughter to stay close to me."
A fun way to keep active little adventurers safe while you're out and about, this clever design will allow you to teach them to walk by helping with balance and confidence while keeping them safe and secure by your side.
This is a fuss-free harness that is super easy to use, as it comes with a cute range of animal designs that your child will want to wear. It can also grow with your kid, so you don't need to invest in a new one every few months. It fits from 6 to 48 months so this makes it a great investment.
Amazon review: "These are great, they attach securely and around her whole middle for consistent and even manoeuvring. Training rein is fab. She has spent far less time falling over with the great support of these reins. Helps they are on both sides opposed to one rein on top etc."
If you want your little one to rock a bit of sass as they wobble down the street, check out these gorgeous leopard-print reins from Onk.
Contributing editor Sophie Knight said: "I personally am obsessed with leopard print in my own wardrobe, so these get a big tick from me!"
This is a different kind of baby rein, with a comfortable wristband for both child and parent. If you don't really like the idea of using traditional baby and toddler reins, this is can be a safe alternative. The Lictin wrist link will give you a wide range of motion for maximum flexibility and comfort.
Amazon review: "This is an amazing wrist link! Not only is it incredibly soft and comfortable to wear but it's so strong. The connecting coil is metal cord encased in plastic so there no chance of it snapping. The adult wrist fastening is strong velcro coming back over itself whereas the child wrist is nothing short of genius! It's two layers of velcro going in opposite directions so my daughter will peel up the first one thinking that she's opened it yet she's still securely fastened in by the second layer underneath it!"
These cute teddy bear reins can be used by children up to 4 years old. There's a quick release button on the reins so you can free your child fast if you need to, and you can also use it as a safety harness for a highchair or a stroller.
Amazon review: "Had these in the past and just bought for two new toddlers. These reins are brilliant robust and the children love the little teddy on the front. Unlike the modern single line cute animal reins these allow you to "catch" a falling child and stop them hitting the floor. Fab for the toddling period where they are not so steady on their feet. They can later have a little more freedom on a single line when they are more stable. Personally I think these are the best reins out there and definitely the safest and best value for money."
These unique and practical toddler reins double as a backpack pod for your child to pack their favourite plaything or picnic. The cute ladybird design will encourage your toddler to wear this with pride and you can keep them safely in distance with the detachable walking reins.
ASDA review: "Bought for my 1 year old who is already walking. Perfect fit and lightweight, lovely bright design and cute antenna. Easy to put on and tighten up, little one likes wearing it too."
A cute character backpack for young toddlers that includes detachable safety reins. Gives independence to your toddler but also ensures their safety whilst walking around.
Amazon review: "Really pleased when this arrived. Wasn’t sure what to expect, it being one of the cheaper backpacks I had looked at. It’s a nice little size, perfect for my 18 month old with enough room for a couple of nappies and some wipes. The rein is just long enough for her to walk close by."