The biggest back to school balancing act for the elementary school years is the backpack and lunchbox combo. Your child’s backpack needs to be large enough to hold everything your child needs to bring to school and back. For kindergarten a lunch bag might be enough, but it is a good idea for grade one and up to have a backpack with room for schoolwork, library books and the lunchbox. The biggest problem with a lot of kids backpacks is that they are too large and do not have a chest strap and waist strap to help keep the backpack at a good level for children’s backs. Even just a chest strap helps to keep the backpack from sliding down the child’s back making it uncomfortable and heavy.
To help you out of this back to school dilemma, today I’m highlighting a few of my favourite backpacks, which you can easily buy at two stores right here in Vancouver.
Back to School Backpack Picks
The first backpack I will recommend is the MEC Kinder Book Bag. It is small, has a padded back and the all important chest and waist straps. It costs $32 and comes in 4 colours. It is new this year and is smaller than my next recommendation for older kids: the MEC Book Bag Day Pack. This bag is slightly bigger and has a laptop sleeve built into the main part of the bag. My son has an older version and it has taken a beating and still looks new. The only drawback to this pack is him asking for a laptop to go in the sleeve.
I must admit that I love matching backpacks and lunch boxes and there are no cuter patterns, especially for girls, than Pottery Barn Kids. My son is in love with the Robot themed Mackenzie backpack. These backpacks come in a preschool size, small, large and even larger with wheels. All sizes have matching lunch boxes that can be strapped to the outside of the backpack. I love how versatile these backpacks are. While they do not have a waist strap they do have a chest strap and plenty of room for anything your child might need to carry from library books and lunch to extra clothes. Even the preschool pack has a small pouch for an MP3 player along with an opening for the headphones.
Backpack Fitting Tips
If you do purchase a backpack for your child, chiropractor Dr. Stephanie Bonn of Coco Chiropractic has some things to consider to make the best choice for your child for back to school.
- Ensure that your child’s backpack is appropriately sized with the bottom resting in the curve of the lower back and the top just below shoulder level.
- Look for packs with wide, padded shoulder straps as narrow straps can decrease the circulation, causing numbness and tingling in the arms and weakness in the hands.
- Find a backpack with a waist strap to distribute the load properly and maintain balance and stability.
- Make sure that the packed backpack does not exceed 10% of your child’s weight as excess weight will cause rounding of the shoulders and an increase curve in the upper back region as well as neck, shoulder and back pain.
- Be sure your child uses both shoulder straps – by slinging the pack over one shoulder, your child will lean over to counterbalance the uneven weight and curve the spine abnormally which may cause a postural scoliosis.
- Pack the backpack for even distribution with the heaviest contents next to the lower back.
- Consider purchasing a backpack with built in back support or wheels for back to school.