How to Determine If Your Child’s Backpack is Right

Have you ever thought about the backpack your child is carrying? This year, before you send your children to school, take a minute to examine the backpack your child carries.  It can be a heavy load and a lot for those little shoulders and backs.

Little girl walking with her pink backpack

Is your child carrying too much?

Doctors and Physical Therapists recommend a child carry no more than 15% of their body weight to reduce risks of lower back pain and falling.

What should I look for when purchasing a backpack?

Purchase a lightweight pack so as to not add extra weight to your child’s load and look for wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back for additional comfort.  Multiple compartments also work well to help distribute weight throughout the pack.

According to the American Physical Therapy Association, backpacks, when worn properly, are a better choice over messenger bags and briefcases.

Consider a backpack with wheels.

What can kids do?

Use their desks and lockers to the fullest during the day.

Don’t carry items unnecessary to the school day’s activities.

Bring home only the books needed each night for homework.

Bend at the knees and grab the pack with both hands to get up onto the shoulders

Use both shoulder straps and waist strap

Put heavier items in the main compartment and close to the back.

What can parents do?

Weigh your child and their pack and make needed adjustments

Watch to see if your child is struggling with their pack, the straps may just need to be adjusted.

Look for red shoulder marks, changes in posture or pain when wearing the packs.  Ask about tingling or numbness.  According to a study done by Lands End, 27% of mothers report their child has “….complained of back, shoulder or neck pain at some point…..”

Sources: APTA.org, kidshealth.org and Landsend.com