Is Your Child's Backpack Breaking His Back?

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My little guy started preschool this week. Sob!
On his list of school supplies, nestled among classics like crayons and glue, was "a regular size backpack".  Getting a new backpack was probably the highlight of my school years, but I also know now that some were too heavy and too big for me, contributing to back pain and stress on my developing spine. Wanting to prevent this for my kiddos, I took advantage of my chiropractor's back to school backpack checks.
Here are a few things I learned, which might help you as you judge whether your child's backpack is the right size and weight for him/her.
1. No more than about 4 inches below his waist (so it should not be slapping your child's bottom- several children in my son's class have this going on, especially with the attached lunchboxes)
2. No more than 10% of your child's body weight for beginners and young wearers; no more than 20% for older children and teens.  (For my 35 pound preschooler, this is about 3 pounds)
3. Be sure to wear both straps! Using only one strap puts too much strain on one shoulder, plus it makes the child lean, adding stress to the spine.
With all this in mind, we chose a SkipHop toddler backpack for our son, in which he only carries one extra outfit, wipes, and his take home folder with a small communication notebook tucked inside. He carries his lunch in a lunchbox that is not attached to his backpack. Sometimes, he puts his drink in the drink pocket of his backpack. We will be doing our best to make sure we clean his projects out everyday, as well, so that he's not carrying anything more than he needs.
This is all pretty easy to follow now, but I can't imagine when he is a big middle schooler or high schooler what he'd do to help his back when he has heavy books to carry for homework.
(MANY THANKS to Louisville Family Chiropractic for sharing this information with me and keeping my son's back healthy!)
If you are looking for more tips, please check out this blog by a pediatrician:
How do you manage to keep your kids' backpacks manageable and safe?