It’s that time of year again!  Following another summer break, kids are about to head back to school-seeing old friends, and making new ones.  One thing that is often overlooked in backpack safety.  Did you know that a backpack shouldn’t be more than 10-15% of your child’s weight? For kids in elementary school (especially the youngest grades), this generally would be equal to 1-2 textbooks.  The stress from heavy backpacks can be a lot for the developing spine. However, there are a couple of things that you can do as parents, as well as teach your kids, to help decrease the stress from the backpack. 

  1. Only pack what is necessary!  Trust me, I know at certain times of the year this can be difficult.  For example when they need heavy coats and hats and mitts in the morning, but by the end of the day the sun is out and it is T-shirt weather.  Or, if it is going to rain that day and they may need rainboots, splash pants and an umbrella.  Just do your best to pack accordingly
  2. If your child does have heavy or larger items that they need to transport back and forth from school, make sure to pack these items closest to their back.  This will help with balance and prevent increased compensation from leaning forward if they were packed farther away from their body.
  3. Make sure to get a backpack with adjustable straps, including a waist and/or chest strap.  Allowing the backpack to fit snug against the body with the weight distributed through the pelvis, will decrease the strain on their back.
  4. It is important that both shoulder straps are used when wearing a backpack.  This again will distribute the weight more evenly, and prevent leaning to one side to keep their balance.