Children's Walking Harnesses / Reins -- United States

Figure 1.--Here we see an American mother using a saftey harness. We believe this photograph was taken about 2004.

The modern children's walking harness appear to be less commonly available in America than in some Ruropean countries, especially Britain. We have no information on the 19th century. What we thought was a child's saftey harness in 1900 Sears catalog turns out to be more likely a play for children's games of horsey. We do not recall seening many parents using saftey harnesses during the post-World War II era. A HBC reader who wore one has a todler, however, tells us that they did exist. We note a Chicago mother using one at a parade in 1958. The move to the suburbs after world War II may have reduced the need for saftey harnesses as it was a relatively secure environment. We have noted increasing numbers of saftey harneses in the 1990s and 2000s perhaps reflecting an increasing parental concern with saftey and security.

A HBC reader tells us, "My mother tells me that I was in a harness as a toddler. I have no conscious memory of being in a harness, but I do remember that when I was 5 I saw a toddler in a harness while I was in the grocery store with my mother. I was alarmed by it, but also intrigued. I pointed it out to my mother, and she told me that she had used a harness on me when I was that age. I remember being glad that I was too old to be harnessed. About a year later our next door neighbors had relatives visiting from Germany, including a small boy in lederhosen. The leather suspenders with buckles and chest strap made it look like he was wearing a harness, but with no one holding a leash on him he had his autonomy. My 6-year-old brain tried to make sense of this mixture of being harnessed and being autonomous."


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Created: July 24, 2003
Last updated: 7:14 AM 7/6/2010