August 24, 2018

Keep an eye on your child's backpack — for safety

A pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente provides some tips on what parents should look for when choosing a backpack for their child.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 14,000 children are treated annually for backpack-related injuries.

Eleonora Kleyman, MD, a pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center, encourages parents to pay special attention when choosing backpacks for youths.

Backpacks that are worn incorrectly, not fitted properly or are too heavy, can cause backaches, shoulder pain, poor posture and neck injuries.

A full backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 15 percent of a child’s body weight. To put this in perspective, if a child weighs 75 pounds, his or her backpack should weigh no more than 11 pounds.

Dr. Kleyman suggests these additional tips:

  • Fit the backpack closely to the body, resting it in the middle of the back.
  • Don’t let the backpack sag. Avoid it falling more than 4 inches below the waistline.
  • Place heavier items closest to the center of the back.

Last minute tip on rolling backpacks:

Although some parents may be tempted to purchase a rolling backpack, users tend to overload their rolling backpacks and if the pack has to be lifted continuously, it can cause wrist and/or shoulder strain.

Backpack Tips - Look for wide, padded shoulder straps, a padded back and a waist strap. Be sure to wear both straps. Make sure it's made of a lightweight material and has multiple compartments. When full, the backpack should weigh no more than 15% of your child's total body weight; 7 lbs. for a 40-pound child, 9 lbs. for a 59-pound child, 11 lbs for a 76-pound child.

Text version:

Backpack tips

Wear both straps!

Wide, padded shoulder straps

Padded back

Waist strap

Lightweight material

Multiple compartments


No more than 15% of child's body weight

For a 40-pound child, 15% is 7 lbs

For a 59-pound child, 15% is 9 lbs

For a 76-pound child, 15% is 11 lbs