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The use of reins should be for safety first, rather than being lazy. Young children are just not aware of the dangers of world such as busy roads, rivers and ditches so in a lot of circumstances it’s either use the reins, risk an accident or make them sit in a pram or buggy. The latter isn’t going to help them practice and get better at walking.c
But, is there a risk of using them too much to the detriment of the child? We think so.
When should reins be used?
Most parents may not even use reins at all, this should be considered. Children learn better when there is a consequence to avoid (falling) and they also learn HOW to fall safely. But, there are some situations where using reins can be beneficial
- When they are learning walkers and not established walkers in an area with some danger
- When they are going to walk in areas with clear and present dangers such as busy roads, canals, ditches
- When walking in crowded areas such as city centres and shops
- When they have an injury which could be made worse with a fall, such as a healing wound
- In buildings with stairs without baby gates
A note here to say that it is your choice to use reins and if you feel it’s the best for you and your child then use them. However, we feel that reins can be unnecessary in some situations such as:
- When they are toddling at home
- When they’ve become established walkers in a safe environment
- When holding hands is better
- Because you aren’t in the mood to keep an eye on them
What are the drawbacks of using baby reins too much?
We’ve covered in a previous article how falling builds resolve, determination and provides an incentive to NOT fall. Using the reins too much can create a false sense of security that they CAN’T fall and that there won’t be consequences if the do. On top of that, using the reins negates any reason to learn to walk while holding hands, which they should be doing for years after becoming established walkers.
Using reins to learn to walk is similar to using stabilisers on a bike – it keeps them safe from toppling over but it does not teach them how to stay balanced on their own. Children who learn to ride with a balance bike tend to move to pedal bikes much quicker.
Lastly, never use the reins to keep them close because you can’t be present to keep an eye on them. This is to the detriment to the child as they could be roaming free. This can quickly become a bad habit and not too dissimilar to giving them a screen to stare at just for you to stare at your own phone.
There is a balance to be struck for parents to use the reins where necessary and to resist the temptation when not. Baby reins are a very useful tool for those who want it but it’s worth considering how many children do perfectly fine without it.