According to the U.S. Product Consumer Safety Commission, 5,062 children sought medical treatment for backpack injuries in 2017, including a number of injuries caused by bags exceeding 40 percent of a child’s body weight. Still, parents can help their kids stay safe and comfortable with just a few precautions.
- Distribute Weight Evenly. Load heaviest items closest to your back and balance materials so that you can easily stand up straight.
- Choose a Bag with Padded Shoulder Straps. Check that your packed backpack feels comfortable. If it doesn’t, determine what you can leave at home that day to lessen the load. You’ll also want to consider what kind of material the backpack is made of – nylon and synthetics are light yet durable.
- The Bag Should Sit High on the Back. Make sure the height of the backpack extends from approximately two inches below the shoulder blades to waist level, or slightly above the waist.
- Wear the Bag Only When Needed. Take your backpack off, keeping it close to you on the ground or on a bench.
If your child is complaining of neck, shoulder or back discomfort after they get home from school, it could be a sign of a problem. You may want to take steps to reduce the weight of the backpack or attempt to reduce the distance the child carries the backpack, lessening the strain on their little bodies.