Website: Children's Harnesses by Elaine, Inc. www.childharness.ca
and my other blogs about weight loss: Weight Loss Made Simple
and parenting my 2 boys: My Boys Can...

Showing posts with label Toddlers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Toddlers. Show all posts

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Price increase coming for my Child-to-Adult Harnesses

Well crap, this is not the sort of announcement I enjoy but it's inevitable I suppose. My prices have remained the same for the past 5 years but surprise surprise, my expenses have not and now I'm really feeling it. An adjustment is LONG overdue so in the next few weeks, maybe by mid-April, I'll be changing my prices.

My Child-to-Adult Harness for chest measurements of 26 inches or less will be $70 ($65 for the harness + $5 (at cost) for snap hook for the lead), up from $55 ($50 for the harness + $5 (at cost) for the snap hook for the lead).

My Child-to-Adult Harness for chest measurements over 26 inches will be $90 ($85 for the harness + $5 (at cost) for the snap hook for the lead), up from $80 ($75 + $5 (at cost) for snap hook for the lead).

My Child Harness price will remain unchanged at $35 for the harness + $2.50 (at cost) if you order a detachable lead.

As always, when dealing with me you are getting exceptional customer service to match an exceptional product made for exceptional children.

So that's it for the bad news. Don't shoot the messenger. If you or someone you know was thinking of ordering one of my Child-to-Adult Harnesses, please encourage them to do so during the next 3 weeks before my new prices take effect.

Thanks so much. Elaine

Saturday, 12 March 2011

A close(r) look at my Child Harness design

A few days ago I had a Mom order a couple of my Child Harnesses for her twins. She told me she already had  harnesses for them but they were the kind where the strap went around their waist so every time they pulled and got to the end of the lead, they tipped over face first. She said she was excited when she found my design because the lead attaches higher up. 

Her comments got me thinking that maybe I should post an explanation about how and why I came up with my Child Harness design. All this info is on my site but it seems like it's worth repeating.

Some features of my Child Harness are no brainers. The really long lead for example. I'm tall. My baby was short. There was distance between us. The store bought harness I had almost yanked him off his feet the first time I tried it. When I developed my own design, a long lead was just common sense.

Coming up with the O-ring between the shoulder blades for the lead attachment was very much a eureka moment. I wanted the lead to attach ABOVE the child's centre of gravity, and the O-ring with the 2 support loops was the perfect solution. Like that other Mom, my store bought harness also had the (short) lead attach around the waist and when my little guy pulled on the lead, his big fat head tipped him over face first. That only happened once because I immediately reconstructed the harness so I could clip the lead to the leather higher up. No big deal. I had made a couple of changes to a store bought harness and I sort of had a product that worked.

Then it broke. In 2 places actually, but the hand strap was where it broke first. (The adjustment point on one shoulder strap was the other.) I was so annoyed. I don't know how long I'd been using it but since my son was only 2 1/2, I needed it for a whole lot longer and the last thing I wanted to do was buy another harness of the same design.

So in one afternoon I had my own design laid out, supplies purchased and a harness sewn up on my Mom's 1940's Singer machine.

The rest, as they say, is Children's Harnesses by Elaine, Inc.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

When to stop using my Child Harness with your child

Over the past 4 years I've had about 2 customers ask me when I stopped using my harnesses with my own boys.

The short answer is; when they were about 5 years old.

My boys had always worn harnesses and they only felt safe when they were wearing them so as they grew they would ask to wear them even though it wasn't necessary. My boys decided when to stop wearing their harnesses and because I trusted their behaviour, I left the decision up to them.

But in reality, there is a transition period that happens between using the harness every day with your child and leaving the harness at home for good.
  •  initially, when you first use my Child Harness with your toddler they discover that they can run only as far as the end of the lead. Before they were able to run as far at they wanted (which is why you ordered the harness!!), now there is a limit to their range. But they soon figure out that the harness gives them an immense amount of freedom and control over one aspect of their lives: they decide when they walk or ride and they are no longer strapped into their stroller against their wishes.
  •  next, your child will quickly associate the harness with outings. Putting it on is just like putting on their shoes or their jacket. It's part of the routine and they don't question it. The exciting thing is the outing and that's all they care about. For me, this phase lasted until the boys were about 4, 4 1/2.
  •  as your child grows and matures, you'll have more confidence in their ability to stay close to you during your outings, especially if those outings are to familiar haunts like the grocery store or the mall during a quiet time of the week. You're not dealing with an unpredictable 2 year old any more but you're also not dealing with someone who listens to you ALL the time. The harness is a good precaution in case there is a disagreement between you and your child and your obstinate 3 1/2 year old decides to take off on you. 
  •  as they mature even more, disagreements between you and your child become discussions of reason and compromise. You know their flight risk is close to zero so if they ask not to wear the harness, you agree. But you take it with you "just in case". My Child Harness is not bulky like an animal backpack harness, it bundles into it's own stuff sack so it's easy to tote along.
  •  transitioning into the phase of not using the harness at all is a signal to your child that they are mature and trustworthy and you take great pride in their behaviour to act responsibly when you are out together. You'll likely find yourself carrying the harness with you needlessly for months, then decide to leave it at home that one time when disaster strikes. That happened to me and from then on I always carried their harnesses with me, no matter where we were going and no matter how long.
You are the best judge of your child's behaviour. You will know when the harness is no longer necessary. If that happens to coincide with your child's opinion as well, so much the better. But in the meantime, it's a good idea to toss the harness in your bag with your keys when you leave the house. It may seem like this phase lasts forever but before you know it, they'll be asking for those keys.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Dorel car seat recall. Check the model number of your child's car seat.

Today on CBC radio they announced that Dorel Juvenile Group is voluntarily recalling approximately 800,000 child car seats. The harness strap at the base of the seat may not keep it's tension when your child is buckled in.

The seats in question were manufactured between May 1, 2008 and April 30, 2009.

If the name Dorel doesn't sound familiar, it didn't to me either. That's because they sell their seats under different brand names such as Cosco, Eddie Bauer, Safety 1st, Maxi-Cosi and Schwinn.

Here is the link to the CBC article: Dorel recalls 800,000 child car seats

and here is the link to the Dorel Juvenile Group's website: Dorel Juvenile Group Safety Notices

* You DO NOT return your car seat to the retailer.*

If you completed and mailed in the registration card when you purchased your car seat and your model is affected by the recall, you will be notified by mail. But if you didn't register your purchase, slip out to your car right now and write down the model number of your car seat. Then go to the Dorel website to see if your model has been effected. They have developed a fix so it's a matter of making sure that kit is sent to you as soon as possible. They have a link on their site so you can order your repair kit.

Friday, 11 February 2011

How about giving a gift of safety this Valentine's Day?

It's true that the chocolate and flower industries have the corner on Valentine's Day but this Monday how about giving a zero calorie, long lasting gift of safety instead?
No generation gap

Sound unromantic?

I suppose it does. But don't blame me for suggesting it, I'm just applying to Valentine's Day what I see in my business all year long. Need proof? Well, I have a ton of grandparents buying my Child Harness for them to use with their grandchild. Or they have me send the harness directly to the child's parents because they know their little grandkid is tearing up the streets and wearing down Mom and Dad. Then there's all the case workers who pay for a Child-to-Adult Harness for a child with special needs. This gift of safety is inevitably a life-changer for the whole family.

I can attest to the fact that there is a lot of giving going on all the time, not just on Valentine's Day. So if you're wondering what to do on the 14th, ask yourself this: how badly can you screw up if you give a gift that won't cause a complexion disaster, wide hips, or hyperglycemia and might actually be used every day of the year to keep someone you love safe?

Now that's what I call a gift from the heart.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Going cheap with your kids is a good idea. But not all the time

Providing for children is expensive. From before they arrive until long after they've left, it seems an endless flow of money is directed their way.

This is why figuring out ways to save money when raising kids has become an industry of it's own. There is a plethora of websites and blogs and online stores with deals and coupons and tips on what you should do and where you should shop and cost-cutting measures you should take. All with the attractive goal of saving you money.

I've been a big money-saver myself. I have a lovely friend with older boys who passes on clothes her own kids have outgrown. Some of the things she gives me are brand new (really) and some are destined for the rag bag. Like my own kids, her's have their favourites so some items are worn until they don't fit any more while others remain in the drawer until they don't fit any more. What my own kids don't like or outgrow goes off to the local Value Village.

Going cheap on clothes makes sense on a whole bunch of levels. They outgrow things so quickly it's usually just one season of wear on those shorts and t-shirts, winter coats and snow pants. A few years ago I found a high-end winter coat at Value Village that lasted my oldest son one winter and my younger son 2 winters. When I donated it back to Value Village it was still in wonderful shape. But that's quality for you.

One's enthusiasm to go cheap with the kids can fall off the rails though, when we try to apply it to other areas like food or safety. Feeding those growing bodies with cheap food of little nutritional value has an extremely high health cost in the end. 

But what about going cheap with a safety harness when so many are available at such great prices? 

Believe it or not, I'm in the middle on this one. Part of me wants to call you crazy if you even consider buying any harness other than mine but the reality is those cheap harnesses do have their place. If you're going to use it only a few times, I mean literally a few times, then cheap is good. Cheap should be fine. After all, it's only for that one trip or that one outing or that one visit to the grandparents. It's new from the box so you certainly shouldn't have any issues with it for the few times it'll be used.

But if you think there is even a remote possibility that you'll be using that safety harness more than a few times as your child grows from 18 months to 3 1/2 years of age, in my opinion it's better to go with quality. And when it comes to quality you get what you pay for. Don't go cheap. Get something that will pay for itself in peace of mind alone. Get something you can trust not to come apart during the years you'll be using it. Get something that's say made by me.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Do you write your cell phone number on your child?

Is he wearing a cell phone #?
I'll confess that I don't belong to any parenting forums but a few years ago when I first started my business, I wandered into one to see what the word was about harnesses. I quickly learned that the safety strategy of the day was to write your cell phone number on your child's neck before leaving the house. The idea was, if you lost your child they would surely be found by a Good Samaritan who would call your number and wait for you to come and collect your little one. This strategy was overwhelmingly preferable to using a harness with your child.

I got out of that forum and went into a few others and the word was the same. Writing your cell phone number on your child was hugely better than even CONSIDERING using a harness. Never use a harness. No no. Geepers, what would people say about you? What would they think?

 Sure I'm biased toward harnesses and obviously I'd be delighted if every little kid had one, especially one of my Child Harnesses LOL, but I must admit I was completely thrown by this whole "write your cell number on your kid" idea. It's a wonderful strategy if you could be assured that your child would be found by someone like me or you. Well, maybe not me because I don't have a cell phone so I'd have to track down someone who did so you could be called and told we have your child. But you wouldn't mind waiting a bit longer while I did that would you? 

Or would you? 

And this is where I know I differ from the women in these forums. I would be a complete and utter wreck if I lost sight of my boys in a crowd. Incoherent, hysterical, likely vomiting with worry. I can only imagine - actually, I don't want to imagine - my reaction if something like that ever happened. But the Moms in these forums were so cool about everything! Don't stress! Write your cell number on your toddler, it will all be fine! No big deal. If you get separated, you'll get called! Just don't ever use a harness!

Ok, but why not use a harness so you don't have to worry about losing your child in the first place? 

Call me crazy but I like to repair the fence while the horse is still in the barn. 

Friday, 21 January 2011

Traveling with your Toddler? Maybe you should pack a Child Harness

If you are planning a trip for March Break you may want to consider packing a Child Harness for your little one.

Since you don't use a harness at home, why would you need one when traveling? A couple of reasons come to mind. 

If your trip involves taking a flight, you'll likely have to arrive at the airport early which may translate into an extended period of waiting before your flight boards. Furthermore, if  your child's stroller has been checked with the rest of your luggage, you won't have it with you while you wait. But filling in that time by going for a walk is an excellent opportunity for everyone to get some exercise, especially your little one, and having them on a harness while doing so will keep everyone together.

Traveling is exciting for all family members, including yourself. There is lots to see and do. But you're likely to have a heightened sense of paranoia in a new place and looking around to enjoy the sites while keeping your eyes on your walking toddler may be more stressful than you thought. Having them safely on a harness at your side will allow you to walk with your head up and your eyes a-gander most of the time.

Whether you're at home or away, your child's stroller still morphs into a magnet on wheels for all sorts of stuff that comes from nowhere. Before you know it it's carrying everything BUT your child. But that's fine if you have a harness for them. They can walk and you can continue to shop. When they're tired, they can lay on top of everything to keep it from falling off.

Where you're headed should also be a consideration when thinking about whether or not a harness would come in handy. If you're visiting a major theme park such as Disney almost every child you see will be wearing a harness so you'll blend right in.

small stuff sack
If you have never used a harness with your child but are thinking of getting one specifically for a trip, it would be a good idea to order it in advance so everyone has a chance to get used to it prior to departure. My Child Harness comes with it's own stuff sack so it's easy to tote along and toss in your purse - NOT your luggage!! - to have on hand whenever the occasion arises. It may quickly become an essential item that you won't leave home without.

Friday, 14 January 2011

When Mommy has a Disability

In this day and age of political correctness, I'm out of touch with the current terms used to refer to adults who, well, in the olden days like 5 years ago would have been referred to as 'handicapped'. So I hope I'm not upsetting anyone by using the term 'disabled', especially if it's been replaced by something more vogue for 2011.

What does ANY of this have to do with Child Harnesses you ask?

Well I'm pleased to say that I've had a number of parents with disabilities order my Child Harness so they could keep their busy little toddler with them while they were out doing their errands.

In fact, a Mom who had one hand ordered a Child Harness so she'd be able to take her little one swimming. It worked out so well that she ordered another harness to use just for walking.

Then there was the Mom who was a Paralympian (for Canada no less). She used her wheelchair when she traveled and she needed a harness so her daughter could walk through the airports while she rolled.

Other Moms have been in wheelchairs or on braces, some have needed harnesses with leads they could attach to their waists, some were able to hold onto the lead themselves. But whatever their circumstances, they were all women getting on with their lives and using whatever they needed to do so.

 
You Go Girl.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Closing the Generation Gap

Call me cautious, but when my 80+ year old Mom wanted to take the boys out on her own, I was strapping them into their harnesses in a jiffy. 

And if she had been 60, I'd have done the same. My oldest was a temperamental little guy and all sorts of mundane and normal things could set him off. If he decided he was going "this way", forces of nature could not change his mind.

The point is, with the boys on their harnesses, they could go for walks with Nana, go over to the park, go shopping and basically be out of my hair and I could relax knowing that Mom wouldn't have to chase them down if any "episodes" occurred. (Please don't spend any time imagining an 80 year old woman running after a 2 1/2 year old...)

Thanks entirely to their harnesses, my boys were able to spend quality time alone with their Nana.

An increasing proportion of my customers are grandparents who are the child's main caregiver during the day while Mommy is at work. These grandparents, being a rather clever bunch, realize their sprinting days are over and conclude that using a harness with their grandchild is a simple solution to problems that may arise when venturing outside.

They are closing the generation gap with a Child Harness that keeps their loved one, who is already close to their heart, close to their side.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Choose your Lead Length, Choose your Freedom

Among the many advantages to making my own Child Harnesses and Child-to-Adult Harnesses is I can usually bend to the whims of my customers.  

And my clever customers know enough to ask.

A few years ago I had a Mom ask for a 9 foot lead for her Child Harness.

Why not! It had never occurred to me to offer leads of different lengths. But where she was going, there would be plenty of space for her little one to roam and More Freedom for him would be ideal if I could only provide a 9 foot lead....

After that, I changed my order forms to give customers the option to order whatever lead length they wanted.

And the requests have been many. I particularly loved the Smart Mommy who ordered a 15 foot lead to use at the beach. She'd be able to watch her son and read while he played in the sand but stayed safely out of the water. Lots of my customers who are going on a cruise usually order a 7 foot lead to use with their Child Harness. I've had schools order 10 foot leads for their Child-to-Adult Harness so the child could safely play on the outdoor equipment but not bolt from the school property.

I love my business for many reasons but it's particularly rewarding when my customers come up with ideas and suggestions that make my (fantastic!?) product even better for Customers Yet To Come.

The Evolution of my little harness business. Who knew?

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Introducing your toddler to their new Child Harness

Typically, parents who order a Child Harness from me do so because they have a toddler on their hands who wants nothing to do with the stroller. Why ride when you can run around and best of all, away from Mommy?

These toddlers have been Free Range Children for the most part but now Mom and Dad are having a more difficult time keeping tabs on them and a harness becomes a must. There may even have been a few incidents in public where an actual and heart-stopping separation has occurred between Mommy and said Toddler before a Happy Reunion sees said Toddler firmly anchored back into the dreaded stroller.  

So what happens when these little people suddenly have to wear a harness?

You'd be surprised.

First of all, after a short trial period which usually takes place in the livingroom after dinner, the toddler has adjusted to wearing the harness and has accepted it fully.

What? 

You got it. Sorry I don't have anything more dramatic to relate.

But if you think about it, it makes sense. Toddlers WANT TO WALK (see my earlier post, The Importance of Walking) and chances are good that they haven't been able to do much walking for the past little while. Why? Because they're quick on those little feet and it's very tricky keeping an eye on them so they've been forced to ride ride ride.

But hey! What's this! A comfortable little strap to wear and I can do all the walking I want! For them, that's all they care about. They have regained their freedom, they have regained control over when they walk and when they don't, they have their Get Out Of Stroller ticket and it's fantastic. They've become a Free Range Child again and it's thrilling.

And it's rather thrilling for Mommy too.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Do you have an Animal Backpack Harness?

Do you use an animal backpack harness with your toddler? If so, do yourself a favour RIGHT NOW. Go get it and check it over.

Have a look at the stitching where the arms attach to the body and where the buckle does up in the front.

Inspect the back where the tail is attached.

Have a look at the plastic snap hook on the lead and the d-ring attachment on the body.

Everything ok? Any rips or tears? No? GREAT! Put it away and rest easy.

See any loose threads? Seams coming apart? Then get that needle and thread out RIGHT NOW and do some mending. You owe it to yourself and your child.

You see, I've never personally used an animal backpack harness. I know it's a popular seller and I'm sure that for 95% of people out there, it's a great harness that does the job perfectly. But it feels like the remaining 5% have become customers of mine specifically to replace an animal backpack harness. One Dad told me he was tired of him and his wife sewing it back together. Another told me it lasted "about an hour" on his 2 year old. I had a guy call me from Arizona with a rush order to replace an animal backpack harness because the plastic snap hook broke when his son was going down some metal steps. His 3 year old went face first down the stairs and was "a real mess with blood everywhere" by the time he hit the bottom. (They paid $59 in overnight shipping to get my harness the next day.) Now I've just had ANOTHER customer tell me the plastic snap hook broke on their son's animal backpack harness and they were very much looking forward to getting mine. 

All I'm saying is if you have one, check it over.

I had a leather harness for my son and I never DREAMED that he'd end up breaking it at the tender age of 2 1/2. I never checked the harness, it never occurred to me that I should. It was leather for heaven's sake, I should have been able to trust it. But the lead came apart in my hands just as we were heading out the door. I still shudder to think what would have happened if it had come apart when we were on the street and he was doing is usual tugging.

I don't want to come across like I'm saying anything bad about the animal backpack harnesses. That's not my intention at all and that's not the message I want to send. But I've had SOOO many customers replacing one that I almost feel obliged to tell you that and to share some of their stories. 

You're using a harness with your child and for that I'm Cheering You On big time. Just do yourself a favour and make sure it's still in good condition!!

Thursday, 6 January 2011

A Peck of Dirt

When we were growing up, we almost never got to stay home from school. There had to be vomit, spots or a temperature over 102F. If one of our friends had the measles, all the Moms were on the phone to each other making arrangements to send their kids over to the sick kids' house to play. Same with chicken pox.

Summertime was spent in bare feet. Oh the joy on the last day of school when the shoes came off for good! Once our soles toughened up, no gravel road could slow us down. Grass, sand, dirt, stones and wonderful mud. All underfoot, all summer long. Feet as black as pitch by September and all the scrubbing in the tub before the first day of school was a ritual that always marked the end of summer.  

In those days there wasn't the obsession with cleanliness that seems to be everywhere today. Lysol spray and handiwipes and disinfectants and sterilizing toys once a week and NEVER eating anything that fell on the floor God forbid. Mom always said we needed our peck of dirt and that was definitely our thought too.

When I designed my own Child Harness, it had to have a long lead so my boys could have all the room they needed to explore the ground beneath their feet. I wanted them to be able to get close to the earth and follow the bugs with their fingers, make patterns in the dirt and pile up the sand at the park. They had to have the freedom to walk a distance away from me and crunch through the fall leaves at the side of the road. Their harnesses kept them with me while they explored our world and acquired their own peck of dirt along the way.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

The Importance of Walking

Sometimes re-stating the obvious is a good idea. We all know that walking is an easy and effective form of exercise but how many of us are denying ourselves AND OUR CHILDREN of this simple pleasure? How many of us leave the kids at home and drive around doing our errands because it's easier and faster? And if we take them with us, how many of us CARRY our child to the car, then when we get to where we're going, lock, strap and buckle them into a stroller TO RIDE while we march off behind like their Prison Warden?

Let my kid walk? Are you crazy? They're too slow and it's TOO MUCH WORK TO WATCH THEM!

Walking is a critical and essential part of childhood development. Practicing those gross motor skills gives that young brain a workout far greater than any of us adults can match. A 3 year olds' brain is twice as active as an adults (I read this today in a neurologic magazine). When a child learns to walk, it's a brand new skill for them that's exciting and fun and thrilling to practice! How do you react now when you learn something new? How many hours straight did you play Guitar Hero? What about Wii? Remember the first time you rode a bike without anyone holding onto the back? You didn't want to stop. Ever.

When a child graduates from crawling to walking, it's a new skill that they desperately want to practice. And for the sake of their development, they NEED to practice walking. But unfortunately the trend of denying them this important pleasure is evident everywhere.

Having your child on a Child Harness will not help you do your errands any faster. In fact, it's guaranteed to slow you down. But maybe that's a good thing. Go at your child's pace for a change. Absorb the colours and lights and sounds and smells around you just like your child is doing. Let them walk safely beside you, let them burn off that extra energy, let those neurons in their brains fire away, let them practice their new skills of balancing, walking and running.

And when they get tired, you've got their stroller and their favourite blanket right there waiting.  

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Are you using your child's clothing as a harness?

We've all seen it.

The Hood Harness. The toddler walking along with the parent holding the hood of their child's jacket with the zipper done up to the top and cutting right across the throat. Usually the parent is bent over because the Hood Harness always has a very short lead.

Or the Sweater Harness. This harness tends to lose it's shape during the first outing.

The Grab the Back of the Shirt Harness has a majical lengthening lead as it sheds buttons in the front.

Believe it or not, child's clothing as a harness remains one of my biggest competitors. But like using your blender to mix cement for the walkway, it's not always a good idea to use whatever's on hand when proper equipment is available.

If you are clinging to a small toddler, their wardrobe is kindly asking you to take a look at my Child Harnesses and if you have a larger toddler or someone with special needs in a death grip, you may want a look at my Child-to-Adult Harnesses. Sweaters and jackets and shirts all over the place are cheering you on.