Health Advocate Blog

Helping kids avoid being overburdened by backpacks

Your little scholar carries a lot of weight on their shoulders. Textbooks, notebooks, binders, lunch and other school necessities can quickly create a heavy backpack. While all of the gear may be necessary, over time heavy backpacks can have negative effects on your child’s back and body. Backpacks that are too heavy can increase their risk of injury, result in curvature of the spine, cause pain, and result in poor posture. At the same time, if their bag is too large and heavy, they can also bump other kids! Keep your kids and their friends safe with these tips.

Buy a light backpack. Choose a simple, lightweight backpack to ensure it’s not heavy from the get-go. Avoid one-shoulder or messenger bags. Look for backpacks that have:

  • Two wide, padded straps to protect shoulders
  • A waist belt to distribute weight evenly
  • Padding where their back touches the backpack for comfort from things that may poke through

Check the size. Size matters when it comes to children’s’ backpacks. A backpack that is too large can be unsafe. The National Safety Council recommends avoiding backpacks that are longer or wider than your child’s torso.

Pack smart. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the weight of a child’s backpack should be no more than 10-20 percent of their body weight. Try these packing tips:

  • Place your child’s gear throughout the compartments to ensure the weight is distributed properly
  • Only pack necessary items
  • Encourage your kids to utilize their desk, cubbies, and/or lockers to store things that do not have to come home each day
  • Teach them to only bring the books home that they’ll need to do their homework

Show them how to wear it properly. Kids like to look cool by wearing their backpacks on one shoulder. However, that’s an unsafe way for them to wear it. Both shoulder straps should be worn and tightened so that the bag is close to, and positioned in the middle of, their back.

For Health Advocate members

If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to our Wellness Program, contact a Wellness Coach for more tips to help keep your kids safe and healthy