Couple of years ago I vowed never to use toddler reins again.
Then Max came along. My beautiful, extremely strong-willed baby, who turned into a toddler with a very independent spirit. He has been keen to run after his siblings ever since the moment he developed a recognition of who they actually were.
Coinciding with Max’s acts of independence I’ve been seeing these extremely cute animal daysacks on other toddlers. The toddlers were so happy to be on reins which attached their little rucksacks to their parents; safely, protected. I needed one of those!
After some research, I found these daysacks were made by LittleLife, a favourite brand of ours. (Our LittleLife Arc travel cot has served us well for years.)
The hardest thing was choosing the design. If you haven’t spotted these backpacks on kids, they are incredibly cute!
We ended up going with the shark design, because it had an attached hood too.
We’ve had the daysack for over 6 months now. It’s traveled with us to Northumberland and France, to the beach, through the forest, to a farm and even roaming around Oxford.
My little 2 year old grabs his little daysack off its peg whenever he wants to go on an adventure. So adorable!
We help put it on him, but then he insists on clipping the front harness together. I’ve loved watching him master this skill over the past months- from fumbling with it for ages to confidently going “click”.
Are toddler reins a good idea?
So, I haven’t actually changed my mind: I find toddler reins, on their own, slightly degrading. However, the built-in harness and backpack of the LittleLife toddler pack provide so much more functionality for both the parent and the child that empowers the child and the parent.
A toddler backpack with reins gives your toddler an item that helps them, not just restrains them. There is pride, ownership and independence represented by this little backpack.
Over the past months, we have used the reins sparingly and each time we do, I will warn Max that I am using them and explain why, sometimes multiple times. (Otherwise, all hell breaks loose when he feels restrained against his will.)
The reins, built-in harness and backpack act as an additional grab hold for a toddler eager to go over all sorts of terrain and test his skills. It has saved him from many falls.
What is the best size for toddler backpacks?
I see way too many toddler pack that are too big. The LittleLife back pack is just the right size.
How do you know what size a toddler backpack should be? The ideal sized toddler backpack will NOT reach under the waist of your toddler, width-wise it is no wider than body of your toddler. Additionally, it’s important for it to have good, wide shoulder straps for distributing any weight. The size of the backpack is important because a toddler’s body and balance are still developing.
A built-in harness, like that of the LittleLife toddler pack, will provide a better weight distribution too.
What to keep in a toddler’s backpack?
Is it safe to put a backpack on a child? Yes, it is, but keep in mind how much weight you add to the backpack (in addition to the sizing mentioned above): Distribute the weight of contents evenly and make sure the backpack is no more than 10-15% of their body weight.
For our little and big outings the daysack perfect for putting in Max’s water bottle (250ml/ 8.5oz) , a snack and a fruit, a light raincoat and maybe a small toy. (Once or twice he has even carried his own nappy and a travel pack of wet wipes in there. )
He really takes pride in packing it himself.
The rucksack is sized well for a 18 month to 3 year olds*. The shoulder straps adjust easily.
*Yes, it has been briefly tested by a 3 year old too: One day, my friend’s 3 year old decided it was her time to take the shark for an adventure. Max approved for all of 5 minutes, when he demanded it back, escalating to full-blown tantrum. I’m guessing he likes his rucksack
More thoughts on the LittleLife backpack and toddler taming with reins
Despite all the benefits of the toddler backpack, I have failed with the reins again! Max just won’t often tolerate them, even if they are loosely connecting me to him. (If I’m honest, I think we started using it too late. Max had the experienced freedom to run when he is not asked to hold my hand. And to be fair to him, he is relatively good at listening to me saying when it is dangerous to let go.) Luckily, the reins unclip and can be tucked away in the compartment with the hood, but still provide me with a grab-hold.
The other feature that has not worked for us is the hood: Max just won’t tolerate it beyond a couple of seconds. The elastic on the hood does seem a bit tight. … and that is probably the only flaw I can find with this product.
This week is Child Safety week. Reading different articles on the topic prompted me to write the review about LittleLife’s toddler daysack.
I love Sharkie!
Even though we’ve ended up not using the reins, it comforts me that I can always grab the daysack’s sturdy handle if I need to stop Max in his tracks; there is little chance of him slipping from my grip, because of the harness built into the rucksack.
(As I found out LittleLife also do a version of the daysack which doesn’t have the reins, but has a grip handle for those toddle like Max.)
A friend joked about it being an expensive little rucksack (The cost starts from £16.99, Sharkie is £19.99) if I’m not able to use the reins. However, I don’t agree. The quality of materials and the strength of the harness incorporated in the rucksack brings a real sense security for me.
The product will serve several children, so make sure you reuse or resell yours.
Consider buying used, but if you can’t find one, they are available here: Check out the different cute designs! (link to LittleLife’s Amazon store)
From us a big thumbs up for LittleLife’s shark daysack! No doubt you will see it in photos again and again on our travels.
Have you ever used toddler reins? How did you get on with them?
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