How to Properly Fit Your Child with a Backpack

It’s back to school time and that means it is the perfect opportunity to check the fit of your kiddo’s backpack. Wearing a backpack improperly can really put a lot of unnecessary strain and tension on a child’s spine. Did you know that the American Institute of Pediatrics recommends a child’s backpack should not weigh more than 10 – 20% of their body weight? That’s about 4 – 15 pounds. If they are caring something heavier than that, you may want to look into a rolling backpack. If your child is wearing a regular backpack, you want to fit it so that the straps are tight enough to keep the backpack flush with the back and not let the bottom of the pack sit below the waist.

In this video, Dr. Nelson shows you exactly how to fit your child’s backpack and provides tips on the style of backpacks that can better distribute weight so your child can carry all of their school supplies and books safely.

Don’ts of backpack wearing:

  • Do NOT wear a backpack on only one shoulder
  • Backpacks should NOT have big gaps between the back and the backpack
  • DON’T wear the backpack too low so that it sags below the hips

How to fit your child with their backpack:

  1. Make sure the backpack is empty when doing the initial fitting so it’s as light as possible
  2. Tighten the straps so that the bottom of the backpack does not go below the waist
  3. Make sure the straps are tight enough that there is no gap between the back and the backpack
  4. If you have a chest strap, it should go mid-way down the sternum

Best features of a backpack to distribute weight:

  • Look for a backpack with thick padded or cushioned shoulder straps
  • Get an appropriately sized backpack to your child’s body size
  • Backpacks with a chest strap or waist strap are going to better distribute weight and not leave it all on the shoulders


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