Does your child complain about an aching neck, back, or shoulders? It could be their backpack. While they are a necessity for almost every child, they can be a real pain if they are worn incorrectly or overloaded. Tomorrow (September 26th) is School Backpack Awareness Day. Take a few minutes to evaluate your child's backpack using these tips from the American Occupational Therapy Association.
1) A child's backpack should weigh no more than 10% of their weight. So if your child weighs 90 pounds, they should only be carrying 9 pounds on their back. If your child's backpack is heavier than this regularly, consider a wheeled backpack (some schools allow them, while others do not).
2) Keep the heaviest books or other items closest to the child's back, and arrange things so items aren't sliding around.
3) Does your child really need to carry everything back and forth each day? My son is famous for loading his backpack up with just about everything he can think of. Occasionally, we have to do a clean out!
4) Encourage your child to wear the backpack using BOTH straps. While most kids tend to sling them over one shoulder, this can cause pain because the child is leaning to one side.
5) Backpacks with padded straps are best for the neck and shoulder. Adjust those straps so the backpack fits snugly to the back.
6) If there is a waist belt, use it. It helps keep the weight more evenly distributed.
7) The bottom of the backpack should be no more than 4 inches lower than the waistline.