I have a very active 18 month old son. Everytime we go to the mall, the zoo, or anywhere out, he wants to walk freely and not be strapped in his stroller. I don't like him walking freely because I don't want him to dart off quickly. I think I have solved the problem by purchasing a 2 in 1 Harness Buddy by Eddie Bauer at Target for $9.49. I have seen very similar products online for $15.00-$25.00 plus shipping so I feel I got a really good deal. In fact, the ones I saw online looked identical but had a different name. I trust the Eddie Bauer name so even though I paid less, I don't feel I got less quality.
The Harness Buddy is also a cute little monkey backback with an open pocket. The Harness Buddy fits like a backpack and has 2 buckles on front to keep it on. The tail of the monkey is long enough (30-36 inches) for parents to hold on to. There is a loop around the end of the tail to fit over your wrist. The tail has a latch so it can be removed if the child just wants to wear the monkey as a backpack.
When my daughter was small, I saw parents with similar items and I thought they were cruel. However, she never wanted to walk freely so I never realized why a parent would want one. Now that my son is very active, I realize why parents use them. It fits comfortably and my son actually likes to wear it around without the tail. It keeps the child close to the parent without them getting away. Now, I don't think they are cruel at all. They are for safety and both my son and I like it.