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What's the correct backpack weight for a child? The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) says that when full, your child's backpack should weigh no more than 10 percent of what she weighs. A too-heavy backpack makes kids bend forward to support its weight on their backs rather than on their shoulders. That can lead to upper-body pain and poor posture.
The ACA also recommends asking these yourself these questions when selecting a backpack:
- Is the backpack the right size? As a rule of thumb, a backpack should be no wider than your child's torso, and never hang more than 4 inches below your child's waist.
- Are the shoulder straps padded? Padding prevents the straps from digging into your child's shoulders.
- Are the shoulder straps adjustable? These help you fit the backpack on your child's body.
- Does it have a padded back? This adds comfort and helps prevent items in the backpack from digging into your child's back (although you'll want to position pointy or bulky objects away from the back area).
- Does it have compartments to keep the contents in place? Using compartments helps you position items in a way that distributes the weight evenly.
Even if you've selected a good quality, right-sized backpack, how your child wears it is also important.
Make sure your child:
- Uses both straps to carry the backpack.
- Has the shoulder straps tightened so the backpack fits her back and doesn't dangle.
- Uses chest, waist, and compression straps if available to distribute the weight more evenly. The National Safety Council (NSC) recommends looking for an ergonomic backpack with these kinds of straps.
Another way to keep backpack weight to a minimum is to pack smartly. The NSC suggests only packing items that are absolutely necessary, with the heaviest items placed closest to the bottom and center of the backpack. Encourage your child to leave everything else at home, in their school locker, or in the classroom.
Rolling backpacks are not recommended by the ACA unless your child cannot carry a backpack. That's because these can clutter corridors and create trip hazards.
Read on for more tips about backpacks and other items you'll need to get your child ready for:
- Grade school
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