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Children with backpacks getting off the bus

Choosing a Safe Backpack for Your Child

By Dr. Suzanne Brixey, General Booth Pediatrics

Backpacks are a great way for students to carry books and supplies, but when not worn correctly or packed too heavy, they can cause severe back, neck, and shoulder pain, as well as posture problems.

Use these guidelines when choosing the safest backpack for your child.

Your Child's Backpack Should:

  • Fit closely to the body. Straps should be tight enough to ensure the pack rests evenly in the middle of the back and doesn't sag down to the buttocks.
  • Have two wide, padded shoulder straps and a waist strap to help distribute the weight.
  • Have a padded back for maximum comfort and to keep sharp contents from injuring your child.
  • Be made of a lightweight material such as canvas.
  • Have multiple compartments.
  • Have reflective material so children can be seen in low light.

Pack Smartly

A child's backpack should weigh no more than 10% to 20% of their body weight. Help your child determine what can be left at home or school to help lighten the load. Heavier items, such as textbooks, should be packed first and placed closest to the center of the back, and lighter items should be packed last.

To Prevent Injury:

  • Teach your child to use both shoulder straps. Slinging the backpack over one shoulder may increase curvature of the spine.
  • Encourage your child to keep some items in their school locker or desk, if possible.
  • Remind your child to bend at the knees – not the waist – when wearing their backpack.

And finally, encourage your child to tell you if they're in pain or are feeling any discomfort caused by their backpack. See your pediatrician if your child is experiencing back or shoulder pain.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.