A father receives backlash online for using a child leash for his five-year-old quintuplets. Zoey Hart, Dakota Faith, Hollyn Grace, Asher Blaze, and Gavin Lane were born in May 2017 to Jordan and Briana Driskell. Briana had undergone multiple fertility treatments, including intrauterine insemination (IUI), and her doctors said there was only a four to eight percent chance she’d have triplets or other multiples.  Today, the parents are overjoyed with their beautiful children and share their cuteness online. But video clips and pictures of the quintuplets out and about stirring up the debate on child leashes.
Father is Slammed for Quintuplets Video
“Kids are so curious — they want to run off and explore,” said Jordan, 31. “For our own peace of mind and sanity, we use a leash. It also allows us to leave the house and do fun stuff as a family without being stressed.” He explained they had a six-seat stroller but it was impractical. “It was just too bulky and ridiculous to take anywhere. The other thing is, they want to walk when we go somewhere crowded. A leash gives them the opportunity to do that—but we’re still in control. They love it.“
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However, many people online didn’t agree. They criticized the father, saying “they are kids not dogs,” asking why he didn’t just train them to stay next to him, and “don’t have that many kids if you can’t handle it.” But many people are not opposed to child leashes. Including parenting and youth development expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa, who adds that bystanders should hold back on their judgment.
“This is creative problem-solving. This isn’t treating kids like animals,” said Gilboa. “The alternative would be just staying at home.” She added that this could be a helpful option depending on the individual case. “It’s a great system for a parent with a neurodiverse child or a child who hasn’t nailed all their listening skills. Ninety-nine point nine-nine percent of moms and dads want what’s best for their kids and they’re doing it to solve a problem. Just because you can’t identify the problem, doesn’t mean it’s not there.” 
But for neurotypical kids, they should be off the leash by age eight or nine. “By that point, you want to have another method in place to keep track of your kids in public,” Gilboa said. “It would be awkward to be on a leash in seventh grade!”
The Debate on the Child Leash
However, not all experts stand behind child leashes, including Benjamin Hoffman, M.D., F.A.A.P., chair of the injury prevention council at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). He said, “We don’t have data on injuries associated with the leashes, but we also lack information about why parents use them, and what any benefit might be… I’ve personally witnessed parents pull back forcefully on a leash, resulting in a fall, often backward. I worry about injuries to the head and limbs in that scenario. As a pediatrician, I would never recommend them. I would rather see a child in a stroller than on a leash.” Overall, injuries involving child leashes tend to come from misuse, such as tugging or dragging the child.
In all cases, a safety harness never takes the place of close adult supervision. Still, some experts stay neutral on the subject. “It’s a personal decision,” said Adam Spanier, M.D., professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and a pediatrician at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. “This might be a product for a child that tends to wander off if not closely supervised, for crowds to avoid getting lost, for children with developmental delays, and for children with impulse control issues.” But he does not personally condone them because of the potential hazard Dr. Hoffman points out, plus, “there could also be some psychological distress, depending on the child’s age.” 
Safety Tips and Considerations
For parents who are interested in trying a child leash, here are some important points to consider:
- Choose a harness or backpack-style leash instead of the ones attached to the wrist.
- Ensure you get the right size and it fits well. Check the manufacturers’ instructions for details.
- Do thorough research on the brand and style; look up reviews from other parents, and check the Consumer Product Safety Commission for any recalls.
- Consider all of the individual details of the outing and the child’s needs to determine if a leash is the safest option.
- Remember that the leash is meant to be a learning tool, to teach kids to stay beside their parents in public. The tether should be used to teach in a loving and calm manner.
- For whatever reasons you choose to use a child leash, it’s likely you’ll face judgment for it, from friends to strangers. So keep in mind if it’s the best option for the parent as well.
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- “High-five! First-time parents welcome quintuplets in Kentucky.” Today. Rachel Paula Abrahamson. May 15, 2017
- “Is it OK to leash your child? Dad gets shamed for using leash with 5-year-old quintuplets.” Today. Rachel Paula Abrahamson. August 2, 2022
- “What You Need to Know About Kid Leash Safety, According to Pediatricians.” Good Housekeeping. Marisa Lascala. April 10, 2019