There are a wide variety of backpacks on the market, but it is important to choose the one your child will take for school to prevent him from developing bad posture or back pain.

Criteria for a good backpack

To choose a backpack that is well suited to your child, you had better take your child to the store. Here’s what to check:

  • The backpack should be as small and light as possible. If your child is in kindergarten, he will not have many things to carry in his backpack on a daily basis.
  • The backpack should not be wider than your child’s back or exceed the height of their shoulders. The bottom of the backpack should also be just at the top of his buttocks.
  • Shoulder straps should be adjustable and padded against the shoulders. The width of the shoulder straps should be 5 cm. It is also necessary to choose a backpack with a belt that attaches to the waist to better distribute the weight. A bag with a padded back also offers more comfort.
  • Backpacks with pockets located on the sides are a good option, as they help distribute the weight while keeping the bag close to the body.
  • Bags made of a lightweight, washable, resistant, and waterproof fabric such as canvas are preferred. It is better to avoid those made of cotton, jeans or leather.
  • For children who have to walk for a long time, backpacks with wheels and a retractable handle (as for suitcases) are a preferable
  • Shoulder bags should be avoided because they do not distribute the weight well and lead to bad posture.

Backpack for Your Child

How to properly wear a backpack?

When your child is carrying a backpack on their back for the first time, adjust the shoulder straps to pull the bag up just above their buttocks. Also make sure that the bag is not too heavy. Your child should be able to stand up straight and walk naturally, with their hands free on either side of the body. If he strains to put his bag on his back, or if he has to hold his shoulder straps with his hands, it means the bag is too heavy or the weight is poorly distributed. This is also the case if he walks leaning forward or sideways or if he complains of back pain or tingling in his hands.

Remind your child to always fasten the backpack belt to their waist and avoid carrying their bag on one shoulder. This can lead to a deviation of the spine over time.

Maximum backpack weight

When filled, the backpack should weigh no more than 10% of your child’s weight. So, if your child weighs 22 kg (50 lbs), they should not carry more than 2.2 kg (5 lbs) of school supplies.

Also, show your child how to properly distribute the weight in their bag by placing their heavier books as close as possible to the back and putting irregularly shaped or pointed objects outwards.

Here’s what you can do to lighten your child’s backpack:

  • Put an empty bottle of water in his bag and tell him to fill it at school, if possible.
  • Get your child used to carrying only the materials they need (e.g. lesson books and homework sheets). He could also use the pencils in the house instead of bringing his pencil case every night unless he needs it at the daycare.
  • Occasionally clean the backpack to remove anything that is not useful.
  • Do not put the lunch box in the backpack. Let your child carry it in their hands.

Consequences of an ill-adapted Backpack

A backpack that is too large, too heavy, or poorly adjusted can cause children to develop bad postures to walk with their bag. If they walk a lot with a backpack that is too heavy, their body will get used to it. They may then develop bad postures even when they walk without their bag.

Over time, carrying a heavy backpack and poor posture habits create an overload on the joints and muscles. Muscle tension may develop, and children may experience back shoulder, and neck pain.

If your child complains of such pain, check their backpack and change it as needed. If the pain persists, consult a doctor. He can refer you to another health professional if he deems it necessary because back pain could have another cause than wearing the backpack.

However, just because your child isn’t complaining doesn’t mean everything is fine. As children’s bodies adapt well, it is often only years later, sometimes even in adulthood, that the consequences of a poorly adapted backpack will be felt more. That’s why it’s important to make sure the size, fit, and weight of your child’s backpack are correct.

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