When you move your child’s backpack after it’s dropped at the door, does it feel like it contains 40 pounds of rocks? Maybe you’ve noticed your child struggling to put it on, bending forward while carrying it, or complaining of tingling or numbness in the arms. Backpacks that are too heavy can cause a lot of problems for kids, like back and shoulder pain, and poor posture.
While we wait for solutions like digital textbooks to become widespread, there are things you can do to help prevent injury. While it’s common these days to see children carrying as much as a quarter of their body weight, it is recommended that a backpack weigh no more than 5% to 10% of a child’s weight.
When selecting a backpack, look for:
-An ergonomic design.
-The correct size never wider or longer than your child’s torso and never hanging more than 4 inches below the waist.
-Padded back and shoulder straps.
-Hip and chest belts to help transfer some of the weight to the hips and torso.
-Multiple compartments to better distribute the weight.
-Compression straps on the sides or bottom to stabilize the contents.
Remember, a roomy backpack may seem like a good idea, but the more space there is to fill, the more likely your child will fill it. Make sure your child uses both straps when carrying the backpack. Using one strap shifts the weight to one side and causes muscle pain and posture problems. Help your child determine what is absolutely necessary to carry. If it’s not essential, leave it at home.