Backpack Safety Tips

Wearing the Backpack

While it may look cool to wear a backpack on one shoulder, it can potentially be very damaging to a child's back. Make sure your child follows these guidelines when putting on her backpack.

  • Always wear both shoulder straps. Wearing a backpack on one shoulder can lead to muscle spasms in the neck, shoulders, or lower back, and could even increase the curvature of the spine.
  • Tighten the straps until the pack is close to your child's body. The backpack should never hang more than four inches below the waistline. A backpack that hangs too low increases the weight on the shoulders, causing your child to lean forward when walking.
  • Pack light. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 percent of your child's body weight. A heavier backpack will cause your child to bend forward in an attempt to support the weight on his or her back, rather than on the shoulders.
  • Use all the compartments. Spread the items out throughout the backpack. Put the heaviest things closest to the center of the back.
  • Bend down by bending both knees. Teach your child to bend at the knees instead of the waist while wearing or picking up a heavy backpack.

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