Once children 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 while out and about in busy or crowded areas, baby reins or toddler reins might be worth considering.
Although not right for all families, for lots of parents and caregivers toddler reins can be 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 and stages. Some models 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 early walkers: Trunki Toddlepak, £20
- Best hands-free training backpack: Bebamour Animal Toddler Backpack with Reins, £15.99
- 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, £9.99
- Best toddler reigns for prints and colours: ONK baby safety reins, £16.99
- Best toddler reins for detachable rein harness: Boots Baby Padded Harness & Reins, £12.49
- Best toddler reins for a lightweight feel: LittleLife Dinosaur Safety Reins, £13.99
- Best toddler reins for a pretty design: Mothercare Padded Harness - Butterfly, £10
- Best toddler reins for little squirrels: Hey Duggee Kids Reins with Backpack, £14.49
- Best toddler reins for reliability: John Lewis Anyday Baby Harness, £8
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 or toddler 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.
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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 on. Pick one with a chest clip for more support and security.
Discretion – There are a number of reasons why you may choose to use a support or strap with 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.
Here are 10 of the best baby and toddler reins
1.Trunki Toddlepak, £20
– Best for early walkers
Age suitability: 6 months to 4 years | Type: Chest harness
From the team that brought us the ever popular 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.
Parent tester Claire uses the lion version with her toddler (pictured above) and said, "I love how secure they are and the shorter handle is great for more control when needed, for example when they're paddling in the sea." Parent tester Elisa also uses these reins and agreed that they helped her keep control of her toddler and prevented her from having to run after him which she expresses is difficult due to her disability. She also went on to say, "It looks great and washes really well. I'm currently using it now to hold onto him as he's learning to ride a bike."
Pros: Comfortable, supportive, adjustable straps, suitable from just 6 months, cute designs, breathable, short handle for security, washes well
Cons: Clasp on the back a little stiff
2. Bebamour Animal Toddler Backpack with Reins, £15.99
– Best hands-free training backpack
Age suitability: 2-5 years | Type: Backpack
This adorable toddler backpack with reins has a handy velcro wrist strap which parent tester Erika who uses these reins with her toddler (pictured above) says, "Is very handy as we can be pretty much hands-free, which is great, especially when my husband has the dog in tow too!"
The mini backpack has adjustable straps, a safety chest buckle and a top grab handle. It's just the right size for your toddler to feel independent but not be able to weigh the backpack compartment down. Erika loves the fact that the reins can be unclipped so the backpack can be used on its own when their older too.
The reins are easy to attach, just clip them at the bottom of the backpack. The backpack can also be used as a handy bag for parents, if you would rather not have the design on show, you can turn it inside out and wear it as a plain bag to keep any essentials.
They come in a variety of animal designs, including an orange fox, grey bear and yellow bear.
Pros: Hands-free wrist strap, cute design, adjustable straps, chest buckle, backpack for storage, removable reins
Cons: Can open clip from the front
Available from: Amazon
3. LittleLife Toddler Backpack With Reins, £19.99
– Best for independence
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 feet and keen to show off their independence.
Parent tester Fern, uses these reins with her toddler (pictured above) and highly recommends them. "We loved out LittleLife Unicorn Backpack! Our little girl felt grown up wearing it rather than restricted, as she could carry some toys or whatever she fancied. It always looked nice and comfy and was easy to hold".
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.
Pros: Backpack offers independence, detachable reins, wrist strap option, cute animal designs, chest/waist strap, can by reins separately if lost
Cons: Can release strap from the front
4. Lehoo Castle Anti Lost Safety Wrist Link for Toddlers, £9.99
– Best for older children
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.
Pros: Great support for older kids, lock and key fastening
Cons: May be uncomfortable on child's wrist
Available from: Amazon
5. Onk Baby Reins, £14.99
– Best for prints and colours
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, and 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.
6. Boots Baby Padded Harness & Reins, £12.49
– Best for a detachable rein harness
Age suitability: 6 months to 4 years | Type: Chest harness
This basic elephant design harness is an easy way to keep your child safe whilst ensuring they're comfortable thanks to the padding within the harness.
It's suitable from 6 months and with the adjustable straps, it can be used up to 4 years. Unlike some of the other reins included in this list there is no chest strap or clip at the front that your toddler can undo.
Parent tester Hannah uses this with her toddler (pictured above) and found her son seems happy wearing them and the lead is quite long to give them just the right amount of freedom to explore. She went on to compliment the harness, "It's easy to adjust, the reins just come off so you can put the harness on before going into the car or pram then just click the reins on."
Pros: Detachable reins, padded, suitable from 6 months, no clip at the front, quite long lead, adjustable
Cons: Quite plain design and long reins may not be suitable for situation
Available from: Boots
7. Littlelife Dinosaur Safety Reins, £13.99
– Best for lightweight feel
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. However, it does come up quite small and may be better suited to smaller toddlers.
Pros: Lightweight, folds down for storage, cute design, adjustable straps, no clip at the front, padded, loop for parent
Cons: Comes up fairly small
8. Mothercare Padded Harness – Butterfly, £10
— Best for pretty design
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.
Parent tester Elaine uses these with her toddler. "It fits sunggly round the back and chest, the shortened vest style shape means it doesn't dig into her shoulder or across her chest. The rein webbing is quite sturdy and I felt it attached securely. I also thought it was great value for the quality and gorgeous design."
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.
Pros: Beautiful design, adjustable, high control with fastening both sides, good quality, great for over bulky clothing, no clip to undo at the front
Cons: Limited shoulder depth
Available from: Boots
9. Hey Duggee Kids Reins with Backpack, £15.49
– Best for little squirrels
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. 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.
Pros: Great character design, backpack storage, detachable reins, padded, adjustable
Cons: Not as secure as some other style, clip to undo at the front
Available from: Amazon
10. John Lewis Anyday Baby Harness, £8
– Best for reliability
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.
Pros: Simple design, affordable, reliable, compact, good control, no clip on the front, adjustable, versatile
Cons: Simple design
Available from: John Lewis
Pic credit: Product website and MFM tester pics
How did we choose our 10 of the Best?
When testing and selecting toddler and baby reins we considered factors such as comfort, ease of use, design, value, safety and added features such as backpack storage.
Our Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our independent reviews, testing undertaken during the MadeForMums Awards, and feedback from our home testing panel and Top Testers Club. Each year thousands of products are put through their paces by hundreds of parents across the country on behalf of MadeForMums, to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations.
Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10, instead it is a carefully selected group of tried-and-tested products, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement. We don't just tell you what is best, we help you discover what is best for your family.
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, have an adventurous toddler, or have multiple children, 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.
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