Choosing the Right Backpack for Your Child

Spare your kids the aches and pains associated with heavy backpacks and do your homework about healthy book bag habits.

By Reader's Digest Editors

Does your 7-year-old really need a backpack that’s bigger than his 3-year-old sister (and weighs just as much)? Oversized and overstuffed backpacks can lead to a long list of health problems, from bad posture to knee injuries to poor blood circulation in the arms and hands. Spare your kids the aches and pains and do your homework about healthy backpack habits.

1. Size it up.
A backpack should ideally sit between the base of the neck and the lower back. Straps should rest comfortably on the shoulders, and should be tightened so that the pack doesn’t sag low on your child’s back (even if they tell you it looks cooler that way).

2. Look for padding.
Padded shoulder straps and padding along the back will be more comfortable for your child and alleviate some of the pressure on her spine and shoulders.

3. Don’t overload it.
Research has shown that backpacks weighing more than 10-15% of a child’s body weight can adversely affect his health — and cause him a lot of pain while doing so. If your child’s teacher requires that he carry a load that may be causing him harm, schedule a conference to discuss your concerns. You can also consider switching him to a rolling backpack instead.

4. Keep an eye out for signs of a heavy load.
If your child has trouble putting on or taking off her backpack or slumps forward or leans back while wearing it, or complains about it hurting, something’s not right. Marks on her shoulders and tingling or numbness in her arms and hands are also warning signs that her backpack is an unhealthy burden.

5. Pack wisely.
Instead of stuffing everything into the bag willy-nilly, arrange books and other items in order of heaviest to lightest. Pack the heaviest things closest to your child’s back where his body can best support them. He may think the hip belt is hopelessly unhip, but securing it helps distribute the weight of the bag which means a more comfortable carry for him.

Source: Kiwi Magazine

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