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10 of the best baby and toddler reins

Help keep track of your little explorer on busy days out with these reins, harnesses and backpacks

The best toddler and baby reins
Published: August 13, 2021 at 10:40 am

Once little ones start to walk and toddle about, keeping them close by in busy places can be a tough task. If you’re worried about managing your miniature escapee, baby reins or toddler reins might be worth considering.

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Although not everyone chooses to use them, for lots of parents and caregivers, toddler reins are as essential on a day out as kids’ sun hats or a baby changing bag. Thankfully, there are plenty of different styles and designs suited to various ages. They can also be useful when your child is first learning to walk, to provide a little extra reassurance and support.

Best toddler reins at a glance

  • Best toddler reins for training: Trunki Toddlepak, £17.99
  • Best toddler reins for simplicity: Clippasafe Walking Harness, £6.99
  • Best toddler reins for independence: LittleLife Toddler Backpack With Reins, £19.99
  • Best toddler reins for older children: Lehoo Castle Anti Lost Safety Wrist Link for Toddlers, £12.99
  • Best toddler reins for a lightweight feel: LittleLife Dinosaur Safety Reins, £13.99
  • Best toddler reins for a pretty design: Mothercare Padded Harness - Butterfly, £9
  • Best toddler reins for little squirrels: Hey Duggee Kids Reins with Backpack, £16.99
  • Best toddler reins for added storage: Red Kite Ladybird Pod Pack & Reins, £16
  • Best toddler reins for reliability: John Lewis Anyday Baby Harness, £8
  • Best toddler reins for stylish prints: Onk Baby Reins, £14.99

What to look for when choosing toddler reins

Type – Baby or toddler reins generally come in three styles: backpacks, chest harnesses and wrist straps. Each has its purpose but you'll probably want a more secure harness for a younger child, while a backpack or wrist strap is more suited to confident toddlers or older children.

Longevity – You probably won't need to use training reins for very long, so looking for something that has multiple purposes can extend use. Some harnesses have training reins that convert to looser, longer reins as a child grows more confident. Backpacks with detachable reins do double-duty long after your child has grown out of the reins.

Storage – Backpacks allow children to carry some of their own items along with them and are often made in extra fun designs which children may be excited to wear. They also act as built-in storage for the reins themselves. With a harness or wrist strap, you'll need somewhere to store it when not in use.

Security – A chest harness can often provide a more secure fit for wriggly little ones, and in general they are the design most popular with parents of early walkers. But not every child will be happy to be strapped into one. A rucksack is not as secure but kids tend to be happier to put them. Pick one with a chest clip for more support and security.

Discretion – There are a number of reasons why you may choose to use reins with slightly older children, and for those a wrist strap is the simplest and most discreet option: think of them like permanently holding hands, with the extra reassurance of knowing that if they try to wander off, they won't get far.

Are toddler reins a good idea?

Toddler reins can really divide opinion and using them is completely down to personal preference.

Some parents and caregivers feel reassured that their child can have the freedom to walk by themselves, while an adult still has control over how far and where they can go. Others can feel that it is restricting for their child to wear reins, or worry they may be uncomfortable. Many would rather simply hold the child's hand. It all depends on your family's own circumstances: if you live in a busy area and have an adventurous toddler, you may find reins are a must have.

Training reins, designed for the early walking stages, can help minimise falls and accidents, but they could also interfere with your child's balance and muscle development if they come to rely on them. If you do decide to use training reins, make sure your child has plenty of time to practice walking without them as well.

Here are 10 of the best baby and toddler reins for 2021

1.Trunki Toddlepak, £17.99

Best for training

Trunki Toddlepak

Age suitability: 6 months to 4 years | Type: chest harness

From the team that brought us the Trunki ride-on suitcase come these toddler reins, which fit over your child’s shoulders and around their chest for a comfortable, supportive fit. They're designed to take a child from training to toddling, with convertible straps that make them suitable for training from as young as 6 months.

As you'd expect from a brand like Trunki, child-friendly design is at the heart of these reins and they come in a whole host of colourful animal designs, including Leeroy the Lion, Betsy the Bear, Dudley the Dinosaur and Ollie the Owl.

I tried these with my toddler son and was impressed by the security of the straps and easy adjustment, as well as the padding in the breathable canvas material, but did find that clasp on the back is a little stiff and counterintuitive at first: some reviewers have reported this is impossible to undo, but once you've got the knack and know where to press, it's simple.

Available from: Boots, Amazon and Trunki

2. Clippasafe Walking Harness, £6.99

Best for simplicity

Clippasafe Walking Harness

Age suitability: 6 months to 4 years | Type: chest harness

If you're looking for something simple and streamlined, Clippasafe's classic harness does the job without any clunky additions or cutesy design elements. The simple woven straps can be adjusted to fit children up to 4 years old, and their slim appearance means they don't add bulk over a winter coat or snowsuit.

The reins can be used doubled for toddlers, or clipped just to one side to give older children some freedom without them wondering too far. Used this way, there's a parent loop for comfort. There are a number of colours available, from classic black through to a rainbow coloured strap. Reviewers loved the sturdy design and really rated the portability: they're easy to throw in a rucksack or the bottom of a pushchair for a day out.

Available from: Amazon, Clippasafe and Hello Baby

3. LittleLife Toddler Backpack With Reins, £19.99

Best for independence

LittleLife toddler backpack

Age suitability: 1-3 years | Type: Backpack

If you're looking for reins that don't look like reins, this LittleLife backpack is the perfect option. Your child will have no idea their fun new bag is also a safety device. The rucksack has a 2L capacity (perfect for snacks, a drinks bottle or other toddler essentials) and comes with detachable reins that clip onto the handle at the top. The reins have a wrist strap for the parent, and are a convenient option for toddlers who are more steady on their feed and keen to show off their independence. As one reviewer, parent to a 14-month-old boy, said: "he gets the freedom he wants and I get him close by and can help keep him upright when he trips."

The bag is available in a whole host of cute animal designs, from dragons to sea creatures, and there's a chest/waist strap to keep the bag securely fastened (particularly when the reins are attached). It's also worth noting you can can purchase extra sets of reins for £6.99, so if they get detached and misplaced, all is not lost.

Available from: Jojo Maman Bebe, Amazon and LittleLife

4. Lehoo Castle Anti Lost Safety Wrist Link for Toddlers, £12.99

Best for older children

Lehoo wrist reins

Age suitability: 2-7 years | Type: Wrist link

Once a child gets past the early toddler stage, they may well get tired of traditional reins, but some families look for a little extra support for longer. A wrist strap like this one gives an added layer of safety while holding hands or walking close to a child. This model is suitable for kids up to the age of 7, with a stretchy cord that'll extend up to 2.5 metres.

The Lehoo Castle wrist strap also has a lock and key fastening, meaning curious children can't just unclip the wrist strap on their own (they key sits within the parent strap, so you have no risk of losing it). The cord is PU-coated high density steel wire, ensuring plenty of strength.

This product is a particular hit with parents of children with special educational needs, with one parent saying, "My little boy is Autistic so has a tendency to run off, with this on it gives him a good and safe distance to wander."

Available from: Amazon

5. Littlelife Dinosaur Safety Reins, £13.99

Best for lightweight feel

littlelife-dinosaur-reins

Age suitability: 1-3 years | Type: chest harness

The apron-style harness on this set of reins offers plenty of support for your child while remaining soft and lightweight. The whole thing folds down for storage, and the cute design will appeal to little explorers who may need some persuading to slip on a less fun harness. If the dinosaur design doesn't suit there's a unicorn and a lion in the same range too.

Adjustable straps with padded panels ensure a comfortable fit, and the parent rein has a loop for hands-free use. It is worth noting that some reviewers have noted that the straps are quite small and it's better suited to younger toddlers or smaller children and may not fit a 3 year old.

Available from: Jojo Maman Bebe, Amazon

6. Mothercare Padded Harness – Butterfly, £9

Best for pretty design

Mothercare butterfly toddler reins

Age suitability: 1-4 years | Type: chest harness

With its bold pink colour and butterfly motif, this cute harness definitely stands out, but it delivers on more than just looks. The simple but well thought-out design includes multiple adjustment points and clips, and the reins are fastened on at either side (compared to single point fastenings on some other designs) which allows for maximum control for parents and comfort for kids.

With a waist adjustment that goes all the way up to 70cm, this is a great option for use over bulkier Winter clothing, or for larger or older children, although you will need to bear in mind the limited shoulder depth (max 18cm). If the butterfly design doesn't appeal, it also comes in a blue dinosaur option.

Available from: Boots

7. Hey Duggee Kids Reins with Backpack, £16.99

Best for little squirrels

Hey Duggee backpack

Age suitability: 1-4 years | Type: Backpack

If your little one is addicted to the exploits of Duggee and the squirrel club, this backpack is bound to win them over. In fact, one reviewer said of their child, "he insists on wearing the backpack whenever he goes for a walk." Featuring all the gang in a big Duggee hug, the combo of rucksack and safety harness features a safety clip on the front, a top handle, and detachable reins.

It's designed for small wearers so the bag itself is a pint-sized 24 cm x 20 cm x 7 cm, but that should be enough to hold some toys, snacks and other toddler essentials. The reins are easy to clip on and off at the top, allowing parents to keep hold of their kids in public spaces, but it's not as secure as some styles and is probably better for occasional use when kids are more confident on their feet, rather than as a training tool.

Available from: Amazon

8. Red Kite Ladybird Pod Pack & Reins, £16

Best for added storage

Red Kite ladybird backpack

Age suitability: 1+ years | Type: Backpack

The cute pod-style design of this backpack really does make it look like a little ladybird, but it's also a practical design that gives your toddler quick access to whatever treasures they've chosen to pack, with a full circular zip that opens all the way around.

The reins can also be stored inside the pod itself, or clipped onto the straps to give parents a little extra peace of mind. The bag has padded and adjustable shoulder straps, but there's no chest harness or clip, meaning you will need a willing wearer for these to work properly. Hopefully, the fun design will ensure your child is happy to slip it on and leave it on.

Available from: George at Asda

9. John Lewis Anyday Baby Harness, £8

Best for reliability

John Lewis Anyday Toddler Reins

Age suitability: Not supplied | Type: Chest harness

Part of John Lewis's Anyday range of affordable but reliable products, these reins do everything you need without any of the potentially unnecessary bells and whistles. They're compact and easy to pack in a bag or pocket, and the two-point clips ensure you have good control as a parent, while your child never feels like they're being dragged.

The clip on the back ensures a child can't undo these themselves (sometimes an issue with the chest clip on a rucksack) and the adjustable straps ensure a comfy fit. As a bonus, remove the reins and the harness can be used with some high chairs to keep your child fastened in.

Available from: John Lewis

10. Onk Baby Reins, £14.99

Best for stylish prints

Onk baby reins

Age suitability: 16 months to 4 years | Type: Chest harness

If you consider style to be just as important as function, Onk baby reins offer the best of both worlds, with a simple and practical design that's been tested to the relevant UK safety standards, available in a whole host of fun prints, from different coloured leopard spots to stars, camouflage and the Union Jack.

The reins are quick and easy to adjust using the four gliders, and have a central clip to get them on and off easily. They're actually reversible too: you can put the clip at the front or back depending on your preference, then attach the reins to the appropriate rings at the back. The strap isn't the longest we've seen, although the reins are designed to last until age 4.

Available from: Onk

About the author

Gemma Cartwright is Consumer & Commerce Editor at MadeForMums, and a journalist with over 15 years experience in lifestyle, fashion, entertainment and tech. She is mum to an 18-month-old toddler.

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