Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Parents...keep that toddler leashed!

I have heard them called many names. The... this won't hurt a bit "Snuggly Wuggly". The... it is just another safety device  "Toddler Harness" And my favorite and by far most accurate "Restraining Device." You might think that leashing your child like rabid dog is just morally wrong (unless you have a toddler trying to hurl themselves in front of moving cars like a rabid dog.) Whatever your feelings toward this strange parenting accessory, the toddler leash is not a modern invention.
In the above eighteenth century French fashion plait, this young lass is clearly not taking any chances with her pet garcon. Granted, the leash has less to do with losing her son in a crowded mall and more to do with keeping him from muddying his new sailor suit. The eighteenth century toddle leash was called leading strings and it was aimed at helping children learn to walk.  Much like the boys in dresses in last week's post, Rousseau was vehemently against using such a leash because he felt it prevented a child's motor development. But again, I doubt Rousseau had to keep a toddler trying to run under the wheels of a vicious stage coach.

Sources and Further Reading:
Blum, Stella. Eighteenth Century French Fashion in Full Color, New York: NY, Dover Publications, 1982.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Collected Writings of Rousseau, Dartmouth College Press, 1990


Amy DeTrempe said...

I've heard the phrase leading strings before, but never gave it much thought. I find it very interesting that things have not changed so much.

Mindy said...

Years ago, I had one for my youngest while we were traveling. I was afraid she would get away from me in the airports. We had to go to St. Louis airport to New York airport, then to London airport, then the the Hamburg Germany airport. It really helped while trying to juggle a 6 year old, 2 suitcases, and a 2 year old,,,by myself.

Amy said...

I have a monkey leash for my 3 year old. It's been a lifesaver at airports, malls, the boardwalk, and etc. Like Mindy, I traveled alone with my daughter from Philadelphia to Tampa. If I hadn't had Monkey (as we call it), I probably would have lost her a dozen times over and spent my sister's wedding day looking for my girl in Tampa International Airport.

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

This is also a good illustration of the padded "pudding" used to protect the garcon's head - proving, too, that those leading strings didn't always contain a child determined to bash head-first into life.

Bearded Lady said...

Amy - Yes. Fashion is very cyclical. But (said in my old lady voice) they just don't make toddler leashes like they used to.

Mindy- I use mine in any crowded area and just ignore the dirty looks.

Amy - that's funny. I have convinced my toddler that it is a "tail".

Susan - I must be half asleep. I forgot to mention his head padding. I kind of wish that one would come back in style. My baby is constantly using his head as a battering ram.

Barbara Johansen Newman said...

This is what you have to do when you have a toddler who will run to the next state if give the option, who refuses to hold hands (and gives you the rubber legs when he does) and is too big to carry around. Been there, done that, and got the dirty looks from all the judgmental mothers at the town pool who maybe would have preferred I let him jump into the deep end and drown.

The irony is that I have a picture of myself being "leashed" in the same way!