How Many is Too Many for a Child’s Backpack?

As any school areas think trading heavy textbooks for e-reader tablets, local health experts know the impact an overloaded backpack can have on a child — stiff necks, sore arms and aching backs. But parents can help prevent these potential pains in a few simple ways.

“Parents are usually shocked at how much their child’s backpack really weighs,” said Dr. Cara Barone, a pediatrician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s Palo Alto Center (and a mother of two). “As a general rule, to prevent pain, your child’s full backpack should support no more than 10 to 20 percent of his or her body pressure.”

How a student wears his or her backpack is often just as great as its overall weight.  Dr. Barone emphasizes the sense of how the back fits and it worn.

“Make sure the backpack is correctly fitted to the child so weight is spread evenly across the back and joint area.  Sometimes a backpack by a lumbar band can improve.

It is positively not a good idea to wear the backpack fixing from just one shoulder or side of the body — this will most definitely cause and increase strong pains,” Dr. Barone cautions.

How much is too much?

Here’s a way to calculate the greatest amount of weight your child should tote:

Child’s weight x .15 = max backpack weight

For example…

  • 50-pound child should take a maximum of 7.5 lbs
  • 100-pound child should take a maximum of 15 lbs
  • 150-pound child should take a maximum of 22.5 lbs

Tips to Lighten the Strain on Your Child’s Back

  1. Buy a backpack with wide, filled straps to reduce pressure on the shoulders and collarbone.
  2. Carry the pack on both shoulders to increase the weight evenly; tighten straps so the bag lies about two inches above the waist
  3. Bend both knees instead of bending over when winching a heavy bag.
  4. Consider a backpack by wheels or a waistband belt to better take the weight off the back.
  5. Encourage your child to use his or her closet if they are given at school.
  6. Leather is fashionable, but it’s heavier than nylon.
  7. Pack the heaviest items closest to the center of the back to minimize further strain.

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