While summer is in full swing, it’s never too early to start considering your child’s next backpack. As children grow, so does the amount of supplies and books they carry each day.

Backpacks can serve a very useful and needed purpose. However, carrying a backpack that is too heavy or is worn incorrectly can lead to serious neck, back and shoulder pain, and can even lead to bad posture.

When buying your child’s next backpack, there are several important features you should consider:

  • Lightweight – Look for fabrics and sizes that won’t add too much weight or overwhelm your child’s body. Limit your child’s backpack weight to 20 lbs. whenever possible, especially for younger children.
  • Wide shoulder straps – Avoid straps that are too narrow — they may cause tingling, numbness or weakness in the arms and hands.
  • Padding – Look for padding on the shoulder straps and back. This gives your child a barrier between their body and the contents of their backpack.
  • Waist belt – Try a backpack equipped with a waist belt. This will help distribute the weight evenly and provide extra support.
  • Rolling backpack – A rolling backpack will take the weight off your child’s back completely, but consider the layout of your child’s school. For example, a rolling backpack may cause challenges if your child’s school has stairs.  

You know your child best, and if they begin to experience continuous pain in their neck, back or shoulders, it’s important to talk to your child’s physician about ways to treat or reduce their pain.