Parenting Skills: Buying a Safe Backpack for Your Child

Whether you are buying a backpack for your child to use at school or for other reasons, it is important to consider just how safe it is going to be to use it. From the moment your child places the backpack on, your child is at risk of injury.

Unfortunately, carrying a backpack filled to the brim with heavy textbooks and all of the other paraphernalia that kids have a tendency to lug with them can lead to strained muscles and joints. It can also lead to back pain or poor posture.

In most instances, sore or strained muscles are the result of carrying too much weight on the back or shoulder for a prolonged period of time or carrying the bag inappropriately. The best way to prevent this type of injury is to instruct your child about the potential dangers of carrying too much stuff in their backpacks.

In general, we recommend that children should not carry more than 15% of their full body weight. Children with delicate frames or sickly natures should carry no more than 10% of their body weight. If your children are young, you can incorporate rules restricting the type of items that they can carry in their backpacks with the expectation that they will listen to you.

Quite often, when the damage to the muscles or joints is not severe, it is easily reversed when children stop carrying excessive weight around in their backpacks and begin to carry the backpack properly. The weight contained in a backpack should be evenly distributed upon the child’s body in order to prevent injuries to the back, neck, or shoulders. The muscles contained in the back and abdomen should be able to support the weight of the backpack, but they can only do so if it is worn properly.

If a child wears the backpack incorrectly, on one shoulder only, it can lead to straining of the muscles and a tendency for the child to lean to one side. If this type of behavior goes on for too long, it can lead to bigger problems including poor posture and nerve damage.

Tips for Buying a Safe Backpack for Your Child

  • Avoid backpacks with narrow straps that can dig into the shoulders and cut off circulation when the backpack is too heavy.
  • Avoid backpacks with long, trailing straps that can get caught in school bus doors, building doors, and fixtures. If you do purchase one with long straps, simply trim them to a more suitable size.
  • Purchase a backpack that is suitable for your child’s body size and frame. Getting one that your child will grow into only encourages him to put more stuff into it, increasing the weight he is carrying.
  • Look for a backpack that is durable, yet lightweight so you don’t add any unnecessary weight to your child’s carrying load.
  • Purchase a backpack that is padded on the back for extra comfort and to protect your child from any sharp edges on the items contained in the backpack.
  • Consider a backpack that features a waist strap or belt. The added strap helps to keep the backpack securely in place, so that the weight remains evenly distributed.
  • If you purchase a backpack that features multiple compartments, it may be easier for your child to distribute the weight more evenly.

After you buy your child’s backpack, make sure that you inspect it thoroughly every so often to ensure that no safety flaws have arisen. Torn backpacks are a safety threat to your child and should be replaced.

Summary: Buying a backpack for your child can become a tug of war between parents and their children. Make sure that you go armed with the knowledge you need to purchase a backpack that will keep your child safe from harm.

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