Most children don backpacks when going to school. You might not give much thought to your child’s backpack, other than making sure they have their books and other supplies inside. But it’s important to pack their backpack safely.
With the tips below, you can be confident that your child’s backpack is properly and safely loaded.
How Heavy Should The Backpack Be?
The most common issue with children’s backpacks is they’re simply too heavy to be carried safely. Many doctors recommend a backpack should not weigh more than 10-15% of your child’s weight.
A typical third-grader weighing 75 pounds shouldn’t carry more than 10-11 pounds in their school backpack.
What Happens If The Backpack Is Too Heavy?
If the backpack is too heavy, it may lead to strain on the shoulders and neck, and even back problems that can affect their development. Carrying a heavy bookbag also can inflame the growth cartilage in the shoulders.
Over months and years, the child’s posture could be damaged if they’re always leaning forward to hold the backpack.
How To Load The Backpack
Loading a backpack safely isn’t hard. The first thing to remember is to only allow the child to carry items they absolutely need that day. They don’t need to carry everything with them every day.
You can reduce the chances of them carrying too much by only buying a small or medium-sized backpack. If your child has a huge backpack, they’ll probably fill it with unnecessary items:
- Put the heaviest books in the bottom of the back; this will keep most of the weight at the bottom of their back so it’s easier to carry.
- Put their books and other materials in the pack so they will move as little as possible when the child walks.
- Check every day what they take to school and bring home. Over time, it’s likely the child’s backpack will get fuller and fuller. Help them eliminate anything that isn’t necessary.
- If the pack is really heavy or jammed, it’s ok for them to carry a book in their hand.
- If it gets too heavy too often, think about getting a wheeled book bag, if their school allows them.
Tips For Wearing A Backpack
When you buy their backpack, go over its safe use with your son or daughter:
- The weight should be evenly distributed on their back, so they should use both shoulder straps at all times. Slinging it over one shoulder will make them lean and can injure the spine in the worst case.
- Buy a pack with plenty of padding on the shoulder straps. The neck and shoulders contain many nerves and blood vessels, so bare straps can cause discomfort. They may even experience tingling in the hands if the straps don’t evenly distribute the weight.
- The bottom of their backpack should rest on the lower back. If the pack extends several inches below the waist, they need a smaller one.
Last – Never Overload
The most important thing to remember is to never overload the backpack beyond 10-15% of your child’s weight. Anything more than that will force the child to slouch or lean over to support the weight.
Remove anything that isn’t absolutely necessary for that day. For example, if your child has science three days per week, there’s no need to carry their science books every day. Removing one or two books can reduce the weight by two or three pounds.
By following these backpack safety tips, your child will have a healthy and happy school year.