Back to School Guide: Backpacks and weight

August 6, 2013 2:40:01 PM PDT
School is back in session, which means your kids will be bringing home lots of books. But you have to keep an eye on how much is in their backpack.

Dr. Ellen Rome is a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital. She says your child should not be carrying more than 10 to 15 percent of his or her body weight.

"You can physically put the backpack on the scale and figure out if it's more than 10 to 15 percent of the kid's body weight," she said. "If it is, figure out if you need to have books at home and books at school, how can you minimize what the kid is lugging around every day."

Dr. Rome suggests buying a backpack that is the appropriate size for your child. To better distribute the weight, children should always use both straps. They should also use the waist strap, if it's available.

Explain to your children the dangers of carrying a backpack that's too heavy, and tell them to let you know if they're experiencing back pain, tingling or numbness.

Dr. Rome says to minimize the risk, you can also try a backpack with wheels.

"Another creative solution is to get a rolling backpack," she said. "Make it a style-statement. Let them put as many stickers or whatever else on to make them feel special carrying that rolling backpack."

Dr. Rome says if your child is experiencing discomfort when they're putting their backpack on or taking it off, don't ignore it.

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