Backpack Safety 101
Does your child pull their backpack off as soon as they step off the bus or out of school, and request that you carry it for them? As a rule, a child’s backpack should not weigh more than 10% – 15% of their body weight, but many kids are carrying bags much heavier than that. If your child is complaining of a sore back, they struggle to put their backpack on or they learn forward to walk once they get it on, their backpack is most likely too heavy. Read on for some tips to ensure they have the right backpack for their needs and their body type, and they are packing light.
Get the right backpack.
- Discuss what will need to go in the backpack to ensure you get the right size
- Your child’s backpack should not be wider than their torso
- The backpack should not hang more than 4 inches below your child’s waist
- Padded shoulder straps are a necessity
- A padded back will help prevent objects from poking your child in the back
- Waist and chest straps will help your child distribute the load of their backpack when it’s packed
- Consider the weight of the backpack itself and choose one made of a lightweight material
- Two straps distribute the weight of the backpack evenly, be sure your child is using both
- Adjust the straps to ensure a good fit for your child (remember the backpack should not hang more than 4 inches below the waist)
- Help decide what should come home every day, and what can be left in their locker
- When they must bring home a full pack, encourage your child to use their chest and waist straps
- Pack the heaviest items on the bottom, and make use of the multiple compartments to better distribute the load
To ensure you child is carrying a sensible weight, pick up their backpack once in a while, or weigh it on the bathroom scale. Make adjustments as needed to help keep your child’s back in great shape!
If your child is complaining of pain that doesn’t go away, make an appointment with your child’s pediatric provider. They’ve got your back!
Originally published October 2019