Leading strings

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Child's costume with leading strings, 1790s.

Leading strings are strings or straps by which to support a child learning to walk. In 17th and 18th century Europe, they were narrow straps of fabric attached to children's clothing which originally functioned as a sort of leash to keep the child from straying too far or falling as they learned to walk.

Leading strings served two functions: reducing bumps and bruises in children who are just learning to walk, and restraining young children who might injure themselves by walking or running into unsafe places. Baby walkers and playpens are now commonly used for this purpose, or a child harness in older children.

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