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Big Kids

24th Aug 2019

Back to school: How to tell if your child’s backpack is too heavy to carry

Across the country, we are all starting to get ready for September and back to school.

Uniforms are being bought, school books covered and pencils sharpened in preparation.

But now some experts are warning that as your children head back to school this autumn, they are lugging far too much weight around in their backpacks – and that this can cause some pretty serious damage to their backs, necks and shoulders.

According to, big backpacks bulging with books are “causing injuries: neck, back, shoulders, knees even,” explains child safety expert Kate Carr. In fact, in the US, at least 14,000 children are treated each year for backpack-related injuries.

But how do you know if your child is carrying a bag that is too heavy for them?

Well, experts say there are some guidelines you should try to follow.

Backpacks should be no more than 10 to 15 percent of your child’s body weight.  In other words, a 50-pound kid’s backpack should weigh no more than seven and a half pounds.

The problem? At one US school Carr had investigated, she found kids lugging backpacks weighing 16, 19 and even 20 pounds.

Also, she explains, it’s not just how heavy the backpack is that can cause damage, but also the way in which your child carries it.

So parents, check this before your kids head out the door soon for that first day back to school:

To portect their backs, the top of the backpack shouldn’t be lower than their shoulders, and the bottom shouldn’t hang lower than 2 inches below their waist.