Safety & Backpacks – Choose the Right One for Your Child

A backpack is likely to be one of the first back-to-school accessories you’ll buy for your child. But have you ever thought about the safety concerns of backpacks? Many parents don’t really think about this aspect of backpacks; after all, many of them just bought whatever backpack had the coolest colors and went with that!

However, some of those same parents still visit their doctors over vague back pain and misalignment problems that may stem from the incorrect use of backpacks in their school days. And the safety issues of backpacks go beyond the realm of correct posture and muscle strain. Here are some things to consider when you go out to buy your child’s backpack this year.


Sources recommend that backpack straps should be reinforced with wire. This helps protect them against being cut or torn. The straps should also be wide in order to distribute the backpack’s weight more evenly. Sharp, rough strap edges are also a potential safety issue as they can cause irritation on exposed skin. Padded, wide straps are considered ideal.


An overly-heavy backpack can affect a child’s balance, increasing his or her chances of falling. If there are stairs and other students involved, such a fall could cause multiple injuries. So look for a backpack that has large compartments and pockets close to the body and smaller compartments on the outer areas.


A backpack should be as light as possible while still being durable. Keeping the weight down helps reduce the chance of injury and muscle pain, and it just adds more unnecessary weight if the backpack itself weighs a lot. When you’re trying on the backpack, your child should hardly feel it on his or her shoulders when it’s empty. Experts recommend that students carry no more than 10 to 15 percent of their body weight on their backs.


While it may seem like a good idea to get the biggest possible backpack to allow for the most items, a smaller backpack may be a better choice. With extra space, students may be tempted to stick all kinds of things in their backpacks and not bother to take out superfluous items that add weight. Try to choose the smallest backpack that is still practical and meets your child’s needs.

Injury to Others

Backpacks can cause injury to students who aren’t even wearing them. Backpacks with lots of loose straps, big zippers, and other dangling accessories can hit others when your child takes his or her backpack on and off. If a backpack is heavy and bulky, it’s hard for a student to know just where it is, making it more likely for the backpack to hit others as your child moves through a crowd.

Wear It Correctly

Chiropractors and other experts say that backpacks should be worn on both shoulders, even if kids think it looks “cooler” to wear it on one shoulder. So when choosing a backpack, choose one that fits easily over both shoulders and is easy for your child to get on and off both arms.

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