It’s that time of year when parents and their kids are stocking up on supplies before the first day of school. A key part of the school routine is a backpack. Kids need their backpacks five days a week and some are carrying heavy loads of books, lunches and gym clothes. Before the school bus rolls up for the first day, it’s important to ensure your child has a backpack that fits properly and that your child wears the bag appropriately.
Shriners Hospitals for Children has prepared a Choosing A Backpack tip sheet to help guide parents and children in the selection and proper use of backpacks.
What should parents look for when buying a backpack?
- A backpack should be no wider than the child’s chest.
- A backpack should be made of a lightweight material so as not to add extra weight.
- Backpack straps should be wide and padded to help with weight distribution and comfort.
- A backpack should have several compartments as they allow for better weight distribution.
- A backpack reflector offers added safety during early morning walks to the bus stop.
What is the proper way to wear a backpack?
- A backpack should be worn no higher than the base of the neck.
- A backpack should be worn no lower than 2-4 inches below the waist.
- Always wear both shoulder straps of the backpack.
- A backpack should fit snugly to reduce strain.
- If a backpack is heavy, use the waist or chest strap for added support
How best to pack a backpack?
- Distribute items throughout backpack compartments.
- Place the heaviest items closest to the child’s back to prevent back strain.
- Hand-carry heavy books.
- Clean out the backpack daily.
How heavy is too heavy?
- Backpack weight should not exceed 15 percent of a child’s weight.
- For a 50 pound child, that’s 7.5 lbs
- For a 100 pound child, that’s 15 lbs
Why is wearing a backpack properly so important?
Wearing a backpack properly helps to prevent:
- Poor posture
- Muscle fatigue
- Pain in the neck, back and shoulders
- Increase of injuries from falls
To get kids on board with using and wearing their backpack appropriately, select a few options that meet your child’s size and needs and let him or her choose the one he or she likes best.