MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For 7-year-old Ethan Haug, picking out a new backpack for school is easy.
Like most kids, Ethan Haug goes after his favorite character — he had it narrowed down to “Star Wars” or Legos — while his mother went looking for something durable and functional.
“I think this year we’re going to have to invest in a bigger backpack, ’cause I think more folders and books will be coming home this year,” said Deana Haug. “We might need some more room.”
More books mean a heavier load to and from school.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you carry less than 10 percent of your body weight in your backpack. These days it seems kids fit a lot more in there somehow” said Dr. Angela Fitch.
Fitch sees children who come in with back pain caused by heavy backpacks. Her advice is to make sure children are wearing backpacks that fit properly.
To keep from putting too much pressure on the back, Fitch says the backpack shouldn’t hang lower than 4 inches below the waist.
Look for thick comfy straps, the top of the strap should hit one to two inches below the shoulder.
If you think your child might be carrying around a lot of books this year, look for a waist or chest strap to help balance the weight.
“Just make sure it’s something your child really loves,” Shop Smart Magazine editor Sue Perry said, adding that if they don’t like their backpack, they won’t use it.
If you’re debating on whether you should spend more on a backpack, Perry says go for it.
“An everyday item you use all year round. I think it’s worth springing more money for the better constructed and that the straps don’t dig into their shoulders and that it fits securely.”
Deana Haug agreed, saying, “I think it’s worth it to buy the well-made backpack to make sure they can do a good job of supporting the kiddies have in their backpacks.”
Consumer experts also suggest buying a backpack that’s waterproof and reflective in case your child is walking to the bus stop when it’s dark.
Fitch says parents should remind their kids about wearing both shoulder straps because often kids will throw their bag of one shoulder, which is not good for their back.