We are going to Disney World in three weeks, and I am wondering if anybody has some suggestions on how to keep track of a wandering toddler. My son is 2 1/2 and is as fast as a rocket and inquisitive. (He just escaped out my front door - what a scare!). I have heard about wearing bright shirts. Did anybody put ID on their children? How? What are your thoughts on harnesses? I'd like to say he'd stay in the stroller but he's at the age where he wants to do things himself. All your suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
Kelly from Bensalem, PA
I'd go ahead and rent the stroller anyways! I am sure after 1 or 2 or 3.......hours of walking around he will be more than happy to use the stroller!
Donna (Mom of 5!)
By Kim in Upstate NY (Guest Post) 05/23/2006
We just returned from Disney and I would have to say the harness thing is more of a weapon than anything. Unless he is right next to you, it is getting wrapped around other people. It is so busy there. I agree about renting the stroller. it makes carrying things easier also. I think if you have more than one adult keeping an eye on him, it will not be too bad. it is such a big place, I am sure he will stay close out of fear.
We put all of our contact info in my son's shoe and in his pocket. I printed out business card sized pieces and did it that way.
If you are staying at Disney, the child's Disney ID also has all your info on it. Just make sure he knows that if he is lost what to do. It is never too young.There are tons of obvious staff around also.
Have a great time.
I would purchase a harness. When my first son was born he would always stay right with me and I never understood the parents that put the harnesses on their kids. Then I had my second child. After losing him at a festival of about 500 people, I bought the harness. I used it to take him to the zoo or anywhere there would be large crowds. I actually had people ask me why I would do that to him. After explaining my reason they would understand.
As for my son and the harness, at first it took him some time to get used to it. He wanted to pull against it like a dog would. After I explained that he should just walk next to me normally he got the hang of it. I would put it on him even in the stroller with the loop around my wrist. As we all know they are very quick. Good luck and have a great time.
By jean (Guest Post) 05/23/2006
Please use the harness. Buy it and get your child accustomed to it before you go. I have three children, and the firstborn did not need it. Then came two and three, who did. Also, dress all of your family alike, i.e red shirt, blue shorts. Rent the stroller for ease of carrrying stuff, and eventually for carrying your young "rocket."
Put ID inside his shoe, and also in his pockets, or taped to the back of his shirt. Use clear packing tape, about 2" wide. If you take it off at the end of the day, it will not cause problems. Do not wash the shirt with ID still attached. ( Don't ask me how I know.) Use your name on the ID, as putting the child's name would not be a good idea.
I am a strong believer in harnesses. I used them with both of my children and often had to deal with rude people making comments but after having one save my son (almost 3 at the time) from getting hit by a mad dash into the street while we were walking at the mall, I didn't care. I do suggest the harness that fits around the child's torso and zips/hooks in the back rather than the type that just connects on the wrist. Kids are smart enough to get out of those if they want too! Whichever style you use, keep the lead length short while in heavy crowds to avoid getting tangled with others and or having the child get out of site. Plan several "breaks" to less crowded areas (Yes, there are some if you look for them!) and let the length out for a bit more freedom for a happier child.
I agree with the previous comments about NOT putting the child's name on the name tag. Parents names are enough to have you paged or to identify the child as yours. If you are staying in a Disney hotel, put the hotel name on the tag also. That way if (s)he does become lost, the staff will leave a message for you at the hotel.
Just an additional tip, inquire about "parent passes" on some of the more popular rides. (Start with the info office or hotel desk.) If one parent stands in line, they can ask for this pass from one of the Disney employees along the line. Once they have ridden, they give the pass to the other parent who then gets to "jump" the line as if they had waited too. We found out about this feature in the last 2 hours of a 3 day visit. Oh, the time we could have saved had we but known!!! Enjoy your trip.
I agree with all others...use the harness! And have an umbrella stroller with you, especially one that has a mesh bag for goodies! The harness will not wrap around people if you keep it wrapped on your hand AND hold his hand. My boys were taught to hold hands outside, and if they don't they get the stroller or are carried (and then sometimes, for safety and sanity, you just have to call it a day!) When I had to fly alone with my oldest (two times, one at two years, then at three years when I was pregnant) he wore the harness, then I attached a luggage tag (like at the airport counter) with MY NAME and cell phone number. I also had that attached on the stroller. But some predators will trick a child, and may try to take it off, so that is why you must hold their hand for safety!
For Safety, make a picture of him first thing each morning so if he should become lost you would have immediate access to a current picture in what he is wearing.
Also, I was told once that kidnappers sometimes change everything but thier shoes so to always remember what kind of shoes you put on him that day.
Do be safe but have fun too.
By Patsy (Guest Post) 05/23/2006
Hi there...I have been to Disney World...if you cannot have your eyes on this child "every second", you should NOT be taking him there!
If you lose him, it could take a long time to find him, ruining your day & many others in the panic.
Children are abducted daily, likely in places like this. Make sure he is with one of you always, & never wandering AT ALL. This is not a little playground we are talking about. You will need the harness AND the stroller. It is a LOT of walking if you are going to enjoy it. We were there with another couple. We got disconnected from them & didn't find them again till the day was over...these were ADULTS! If you haven't been there dozens of times, you cannot find anyone in that sea of people. Hope this helps to impress upon you, that he may be a toddler & a wanderer. This is one place that he cannot be left to wander, because he wants to. Have fun!
By Millie (Guest Post) 05/23/2006
My 26 yr. old still talks (with fond memories) about how I rigged up a special harness for her when we traveled. I had a matching pr of rainbow colored suspenders clipped to the matching belt with a leash attached to that. This allowed her to have her freedom and in my comfort zone for her safety. Yes we still held hands but little ones can slip away so quickly!
By cindy (Guest Post) 05/23/2006
USE THE HARNESS. We uses it at places like the zoo, ciircus etc... I used the one that went on their chest and zipped up in the back. It gave me peace of mind and them the feeling of freedom. I never got a negitve comment from people. When one of mine forght the idea we told her it was either the harness or stroller of course whe chose the harness and never gave us a hard time again.
By Mysti (Guest Post) 05/23/2006
When I took my 4 year old to Six Flags I wrote "If lost, please call ... then my cell phone number." I wrote it with a Sharpie marker on blue duct tape. We didn't lose Caleb...weren't planning on it, but it's always best to prepare for worst case scenario.
while on vacation at Myrtle Beach ,Sc we always use a leash. There are leashes made for toddlers and small children ,I think Walmart or Kmart carries the kind we have. Be perpared to get alot of looks both of approval and disaproval. The main thing is keeping your child safe ,while allowing him/her to enjoy themself..JAN in NC
By Doggy (Guest Post) 05/24/2006
Absolutely use a harness. My boys were 2, 3, and 5 the first time we went to Disney. Keeping them together was challenging. Also, a neat trick is to put your child in brightly colored or patterned socks. If he dashes out of view, you can drop to the ground, check little legs and locate your child through the crowd.
If your child cannot be counted on to usually stay with you now, you might want to rethink your plans and perhaps do Disney when he's a little older
By terry (Guest Post) 05/24/2006
A harness is essential for this type of child! My first child was quick, fearless and into every type of mischief. He was too hyper for a stroller. His harness saved the day, even at the mall!
By guest (Guest Post) 05/24/2006
Put that kid in a stroller. I've always hated leashes - they are so degrading. My children have always liked their freedom too, but at this age you have to show the boundaries and at a theme park especially. He will learn that that's where he needs to stay if you don't always give in to him when he throws a fit. His safety comes before his happiness. Go several places befor you go to the theme park and make him stay in the stroller and let him out only when you desire to. If you can't keep track of him definitely wait a few years to go to such a busy crowded place - it will still be there.
Look into a toddler alarm. They make alarms now where you get a remote and the toddler gets the other half. You set how far of a distance they can get from you before the alarm is activated.
i never cared for harnesses. my son just got tangled up in it and got tangled into other things and got mad and refused to use it.
By Cindy Lou (Guest Post) 05/25/2006
First of all, make sure you have a current photo of your son, preferrably with the outfit he is wearing that day. I used a dog leash on my son when he was that age, I just hooked it on the back of his pants and let him roam. My son is now 30 so you can imagine the looks I got back then, but it worked...I did not have to chase him or worry that he may wander off.
The strollers end up being expensive to rent at Disneyland and Disney World (they are $10 a day or more and in a week's time...do the math....you could have bought a stroller for what they charge). Bring your own....if you are flying, you will need it at the airport and you can take your child in the stroller right up to the plane....ahead you tell them that you need to check it and they give you a tag to attach. Right before you board....pull over to the side, take the child out and fold up the stroller and leave right outside the door of the plane....when you arrive at your destination, the stroller will be right outside the door of the plane waiting for you. You will really need for that child to be confined in the airport. I suggest using it in the parks. We did with our two children and they were even bigger but didn't object to being in the double stroller. In the interest of safety, I highly suggest you take one and USE it! I am not only afraid of our kids getting away from us but also that there is a bad person just waiting for his chance to snatch them! Better be safe than sorry plus little kids get tired so they really don't mind being wheeled around!
Oh and by the way, a harness would be a good idea too and I hate for them to be called leashes. You are not treating your child like a dog...it is for SAFETY....AND if anyone gives you a dirty look or makes some snotty comment just tell them you care more about the safety of your child then what their opinion is! We bought one for our son but can't remember now why it didn't work. He is very rascally and was worse then and my husband found that even with the harness and the tether, he could still get into mischief. I think they just velcro on too and most kids are smart enough to figure out how to get out of them!
I agree, some people look at kids in a harness and make rude comments about the parents having their kids on a leash, but I think a child's safety is far more important than what people might say. I think he would enjoy himself more and see more if he was up and walking around. A stroller can be just as much of a pain to use as anything else.
I would try the harness, and if it doesn't work out, you can always put it away and rent a stroller. I hope your family has fun on your trip......Michelle
By timmel (Guest Post) 05/25/2006
I used to think that baby harnesses were awful and only bad parents would need them. ha But after visiting DisneyWorld I don't see how parents of toddlers could do without them. Even good parents and good kids!
Harnesses are great! A good parent would use one instead of putting an active child in a stroller not being able to explore.
By (Guest Post) 05/17/2007
It bothers me to hear your concern going to such a busy place but, anyway use the stroller with baby strapped in. You must have your mind and senses alert, even thou, it is meant to be a place for fun. These sick preditors have no mercy and thrive on carelessness and any unaware party. I'm not trying to rain on your parade but please think of the unthinkable and keep that baby safe please.
By Sandy (Guest Post) 05/18/2007
Use the harness. Write a tag on yarn necklace and put it inside his shirt (or pin it inside his shirt) each day. Bring plenty of these necklaces, as they do get wet, etc. Write his name, age, birthdate, your names, address where you are staying, home address, phone number to contact you, on the tag. Take along a recent photo of him in your pocket. Give him a whistle to blow if he loses you. Make note of what he is wearing and keep the note in with the photo. Tell him to find a Mickey Mouse (or other costumed character) if he is lost. Make sure he knows his full name and yours, too. Address, too, if he can memorize it. Teach him that if someone he doesn't know tries to take him, it's okay to kick that person and try to get away while shouting, "This is not my Mom. This is not my Dad."
I have an escape artist, too. Many people express their opinions of some things we do to keep him safe, but I don't care if they don't like it--my son is still around, thank God, despite himself!
By Nancy (Guest Post) 06/13/2007
I have been to Disney several times with my children. There is a great product called "whos shoes ID...a tag that attaches to the toddler's shoes. A toddler can be taught to show somebody their shoe and ask somebody to contact their parents. Another thing we did was to make sure that our daughter knew what her Daddy's cell pone number was, and what a cast member (Disney worker)'s tag looks like. We often played "find somebody who works here" where she had to find as many people who were safe to talk to. The other thing that we told her was to "find another mommy with little girls like you" and ask for help. Chances are a mother with small children would be more likely to help her find help than to hurt her. We have never had a problem yet, but I have seen one panicked parent in tears talking to security, and that was enough to scare me!
A friend of mine is going to Disneyland with her three kids, 7, 5 and 8 months. She weighed all the options and got each of her kids ID bracelets with both parent's cell phone number printed on them. She got them online from a medical ID bracelet site and they were pretty cheap, I believe.
Have a great time.
I have also seen people put jingle bells on their kids' shoes, so that they can be HEARD. But I don't think having them on a leash of sorts some of the time would do them any harm - much less than getting lost!
By CindyM56 (Guest Post) 02/05/2009
I used to be appalled at the idea of a child on a leash when I was a young mom. Now that I'm older and all the kids are grown and I have grandbabies that can sprint faster than the speed of light, I'd never go to a place like Disney World without a leash! Put it on your child and to you know where with what people say or think! It's your child, not theirs. What they think, is their business.
You might be interested in taking a look at the AmberStick device at www.myicedrive.com . It is a device that keeps everything you need to help authorities identify your child on a Flash USB drive on your keychain or backpack.