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Backpacks need to be picked carefully for our children. They can cause irreversible damage to a child’s back if not pick appropriately.

Retail stores have begun to stack the new bags on the shelf. Before you do pick one out, think carefully. Each year, National School Backpack Awareness Day takes place on the third Wednesday of September. Backpack Day is a great opportunity to showcase occupational therapy services in your community. In the past, AOTA has encouraged members to host backpack weighing events at local schools.

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Kids may pressure you to buy trendy designs and dazzling colors, kids backpacks deserve more consideration as a practical item used every day. Decisions based on construction, usable features and safety aspects should outweigh price or fashion factors to ensure that the pack fits well and protects your child’s health. One size does not fit all. Young kids are very different and each body changes from year to year and deserves some special attention. The bottom of kids backpacks should align with the child’s lower back and not drop beyond four inches below the waistline. Shoulder strap anchor points should rest one to two inches below the top of the shoulders to avoid extra stress

Here are easy things to keep in mind while picking one out.

  • Never let a child carry more than 15% of his or her body weight. This means a child who weighs 100 pounds shouldn’t wear a loaded school backpack heavier than 15 pounds.
  • Load heaviest items closest to the child’s back (the back of the pack).
  • Arrange books and materials so they won’t slide around in the backpack.
  • Check what your child carries to school and brings home. Make sure the items are necessary to the day’s activities.
  • On days the backpack is too loaded, your child can hand carry a book or other item.
  • If the backpack is too heavy, consider using a book bag on wheels if your child’s school allows it.

Wearing a pack:

  • Both shoulder straps should always be worn. Wearing a pack slung over one shoulder can cause a child to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort.
  • Select a pack with well-padded shoulder straps. Shoulders and necks have many blood vessels and nerves that can cause pain and tingling in the neck, arms, and hands when too much pressure is applied.

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