Finding the Right Backpack for your Child

The Dangers of Carrying a Heavy Backpack

Is your child complaining about back pain? How about numbness and tingling in hands or arms? Or that their shoulder is hurting?

A heavy backpack, incorrectly placed on a child's shoulders, may pose a health risk for your child. Constantly carrying a loaded backpack can result in poor posture, strained muscles and joints in the shoulders and neck and inevitably, back pain. If the backpack is too heavy, the weight will pull the child back. As a natural reaction, the child will bend forward at the hips or arch the back to balance. The spine has 33 vertebrae with disks in between to act as shock absorbers. The heaviness of the backpack may cause the child's spine to compress.

Another way that a child can hurt himself is by carrying a heavy backpack incorrectly by slinging the bag over one shoulder instead of both. This forces the child to lean more towards the opposite side to compensate. The constant leaning from the heavy backpack causes strain on the shoulder and neck and could result in lower and upper back pain.

Doctors and physical therapists recommend that your child carry no more than 10-15% of their body weight in their backpacks. Children are very active, running around with a heavy bag of books increases the chances that your child may trip or slip and causing himself or others injury.

Look for a Backpack with the Right Features

One of the most important things you can do is to shop for a backpack that's appropriate for your child. Bring them along because you need their input as well. If they're old enough to understand let them know that you are looking not only for style but that you have concerns for their health. Have them look for the features below and make them understand how these features would go a long way towards making them comfortable. Once your kids get involved, they'll be enthusiastic about looking for a backpack that they like and meets your criteria. At the store, don't hesitate to try on the backpack that interests both of you. It's only through trial and error that you and your child will find the right bagpack that she likes and meets with your standards.

  1. Choose a backpack that is made from lightweight material and is durable. Don't get anything heavy such as leather because that will just increase the load unnecessarily.
  2. Make sure the backpack has wide, padded shoulder straps. This will make the backpack comfortable to carry. Having a narrow shoulder strap will dig into the shoulders and may cut off circulation.
  3. A padded back helps to protect the child's body from pencils or pens or other tools that may jostle and poke him or her in the back. The padding also provides more comfort for the child.
  4. Multiple compartments in a backpack help to distribute the weight evenly. So having pockets on the sides, the top as well as the bottom is better than one compartment.

You Might Be Interested In...

TETON Sports Bookbag Backpack
TETON Sports Bookbag Backpack

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JanSport Unisex Big Student Backpacks

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Help the child prepare for school by making sure that they are only carrying what they need to have that day. There's not much that you can do when it comes to schoolbooks, but make sure that he or she is not overloaded with school supplies that they don't need.

  • Make sure that your child is not carrying unnecessary stuff; the video game player and video games can be left at home.
  • Help prepare for your children's schoolwork the next day by making sure that they have only the books that they need for the subjects that day. If he or she is bringing more than necessary, it's a sign that your child may not be finishing their homework in a timely manner.
  • Teach your kids to carry their backpack appropriately on both shoulders instead of one. In addition, teach your child to lift the backpack with bended knees and handling the backpack with both hands instead of one.
  • Place textbooks at the center of the backpack so that it rests on your child's back instead of away from it. Even the weight by using all the compartments of the backpack. These strategic placements will help to distribute the weight and lessen the load on your child's back and shoulders.

Starting the school year with the right habits will go a long way to keeping your child healthy and fit.

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Comments 4 comments

JBeadle profile image

JBeadle 6 years ago from Midwest

Good advice. I can't believe how heavy my 15 yr old daughter's backpack is. I blame the school for some of it as they don't want them leaving books in their lockers for fear they will be stolen. Lockers are so small these days too. All crabbing aside though - we'll take some of the tips to try and lighten that load. It is (as you said) really bad for their health and posture.


Flightkeeper profile image

Flightkeeper 6 years ago from The East Coast Author

I do too JBeadle, what use if the locker if they can't use it. Some of these poor kids, especially the ones is junior high look like they are carrying way too much.


Wendy Krick profile image

Wendy Krick 6 years ago from Maryland

Great tips that every parent should read.


Flightkeeper profile image

Flightkeeper 6 years ago from The East Coast Author

Thanks Wendy, parents need to do a backpack check before the kids leave for school.

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