Homework can cause any child to feel weighed down. But if your child goes to school lugging a backpack overloaded with textbooks, binders, and other supplies, the load could hurt his or her back. And over time, too much weight on a young back—or wearing a backpack improperly—can lead to severe pain in the back, neck, or shoulders, as well as posture problems.
How Much Is Too Much?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children carry no more than 10 to 20 percent of their body weight on their back. However, the lighter the load, the better. Some studies suggest that backpacks weigh no more than 10 percent of body weight.
Lift your child’s burden of a heavy backpack by making sure a backpack is designed to minimize back pain. For example, your child’s pack should have:
- Wide, padded shoulder straps
- A padded back
- A waist belt
- Compartments for distributing weight evenly
Lighten the Load
Encourage your child to carry only the supplies needed for a particular day and leave extra items in a locker or desk.
Here are some other important tips:
- Place heavier items in the back of the pack.
- Instruct your child to bend the knees and lift with the legs when putting on a backpack.
- Position your child’s backpack on both shoulders and make sure it rides at the height of the waist or hip.
- Find out if your child’s school allows rolling backpacks. Some schools discourage their use because they are a tripping hazard.
- Call a doctor if your child has back pain that lasts for more than a few days or gets worse.