Choosing the Right Backpack for Your Child

It’s that time of year again. Kids are heading back to school and the search is on for school supplies. But have you thought about what your kids will use to haul around those supplies? You should. That’s because backpacks, when too heavy or worn the wrong way, can leave students with aching backs and shoulders, tingling arms, weakened muscles, and even stooped posture.

So, what can you do as a parent? The American Occupational Therapy Association uses the catchy phrase: “Pack it light. Wear it right.” This means:

  1. When buying a backpack for your child, make sure it’s the right size for his/her back. Choose a lightweight one with two wide, padded straps and a waist belt.
  2. Adjust the shoulder straps so the pack fits snugly to your child’s back. The bottom of the pack should rest at the curve of the lower back.
  3. Your child should never carry a backpack that weighs more than 15 percent of his/her body weight.
  4. Lay the heaviest items in the backpack first so they will be closest to your child’s back.
  5. Arrange books and supplies so they don’t move around in the backpack.
  6. Make sure the items your child is carrying are absolutely necessary.
  7. If the backpack is too heavy, kids can carry books, lunchboxes or other items in their hands to lighten their loads. Or, consider buying your child a book bag on wheels if the school allows it.

These tips should help reduce risk of injury to your child, and should help them travel comfortably and safely.

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