Norwalk Reflector: The importance of selecting your child’s backpack

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The importance of selecting your child’s backpack

By Kirra Day • Aug 13, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Well, it’s that time of year when parents and children are preparing for the return to school and have ultimately started “Back to School” shopping. One item that is usually at the top of the school supply list is a new backpack.

You want your child to be able to help select one that fits their style and personality. It may be a certain color, style or character that your child wants.

But, what are some things you should keep in mind when you are helping your child search for the perfect backpack? According to the National Safety Council, when selecting a backpack, you should also look for:

• An ergonomic design

• The correct size: never wider or longer than your child's torso and never hanging more than four inches below the waist

• Padded back and shoulder straps

• Hip and chest belts to help transfer some of the weight to the hips and torso

• Multiple compartments to better distribute the weight

• Compression straps on the sides or bottom to stabilize the contents

• Reflective material

While it might be tempting to shop online to avoid the lines and crowded stores, backpacks are an essential tool for children to carry books and school supplies. It is best to have your child try on the one he wants before purchasing it to make sure it feels comfortable and can be adjusted to fit well. Backpacks should be designed to help distribute the weight of the load between some of the body’s strongest muscles — the back and abdominal muscles.

Remember, it is also important that backpacks are used properly. Backpacks that are too heavy or are not worn correctly can cause issues for children and teenagers. According to, here’s some tips to follow when using a backpack to prevent injury:

• Make sure your child uses both straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles and also might increase the curvature of the spine.

• Straps should be tightened so that the pack is close to the body and two inches above the waist.

• Remind your child to pack light. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of the student’s total body weight.

• Make sure items are distributed so that all the compartments are used. Students should pack heavier items closest to the center of the back.

• If possible, students should plan out the day so that they can stop by their school lockers often. This will prevent the need to carry all of the books needed for the day.

• It is always a good rule to bend using both knees. This is especially important when wearing or lifting a heavy backpack. Never bend over at the waist.

Hopefully, these tips will help to ensure your child has a safe and productive school year.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Kirra Day has been a licensed physical therapist since 1988 and began her career at Fisher-Titus Medical Center in August 2006. She is part of the Fisher-Titus Pediatric Therapy Team and sees children from birth to 21 years of age. She also performs wheelchair fittings, as well as assistive technology evaluations and planning on various types of equipment.

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