Head Back to School with the Right Backpack

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.

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Please call our Referral Center to schedule an appointment, call (916) 453-2191 or via email at ncal.info@shrinenet.org. A Referral Coordinator will partner with you to gather the necessary information to allow our physician leadership to evaluate the best path for your child.
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