The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Perfect Preschool Backpack Size 

 August 5, 2023

By  Keith Terrell

Imagine you are standing on a high mountain looking down on the vast landscape below you. Now envision this landscape as the market for preschool backpacks—dizzyingly large and overwhelmingly diverse. A daunting prospect, for sure. 

A good rule of thumb when choosing a backpack for preschoolers is that it should be no longer than the child's back, with maximum dimensions of 11 inches (height) x 9 inches (width) x 3 inches (depth), and weigh no more than 5-6 ounces. Doctors recommend that children carry no more than 10-20% of their body weight in a backpack, with the latest guidelines recommending 10% as the maximum. Parents can determine the right backpack size for their child by taking two measurements of their child's back or by following a backpack size chart. It is better to choose a slightly smaller backpack than one that is too big and could hurt or cause discomfort to your child.

But don’t be afraid! We are here to be your Sherpa, your guiding hand in this critical adventure of selecting the perfect preschool backpack size for your little mountaineers. It's not an easy task: if it's too big, you risk backache for your child; if it's too small, the most important things simply won't fit inside. Welcome to our guide to choosing the right preschool backpack size.

Guidelines for Selecting Preschool Backpack Size

Choosing the right size of preschool backpack is crucial to ensure that a child can carry their belongings safely and comfortably. There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a backpack, such as the child's age, height, weight, and personal preferences. Parents should also bear in mind that the size of the backpack affects its weight and load capacity.

According to doctors, children should not carry more than 10-20% of their body weight in a backpack. The latest guidelines recommend lowering this limit to 10%. This means that parents need to choose a backpack that is light and an appropriate size for their child.

Using the wrong backpack size can lead to various health problems such as muscle strain, a misaligned spine, fatigue, skin pressure, and headache. A backpack that is too heavy or too big can make it difficult for children to maintain proper posture, which can lead to long-term health problems. In addition, carrying a heavy backpack puts unnecessary strain on the child's back and shoulder muscles.

For instance, imagine a small toddler carrying an oversized backpack with heavy textbooks. The shoulder straps press on the child's sensitive skin and make him restless and irritable. This discomfort can lead to tantrums or complaints about going to school or daycare.

Therefore, parents must choose the size of the backpack in relation to their child's height and weight. A backpack that is too big can hang low on the back and put pressure on the shoulders, causing poor posture.

  • Studies show that backpacks should not weigh more than 10% of a child's weight to avoid the risk of musculoskeletal injuries. This means that lighter backpacks are better for smaller children.
  • Pediatric experts point out that the ideal backpack size should not be larger than the child’s back. As a rule, maximum dimensions of 11 inches (height) x 9 inches (width) x 3 inches (depth) are recommended for toddlers.

Measuring Child's Back for a Perfect Fit

The right measurement ensures that the child can carry his or her backpack comfortably and easily.

To measure your child's back accurately, they must stand upright and stretch their arms upwards. The distance from the shoulder blade to the hip bone gives the exact measurements needed to choose the perfect backpack size.

Parents can measure the top of their child's shoulders by placing a ruler (flat against the body) where the top of arms meet the shoulders. This ensures that the backpack straps don't cause discomfort or cut into sensitive skin.

A well-fitting backpack sits symmetrically on the child's back, with the bottom no lower than two inches below the waist and the weight distributed evenly. If a backpack sits too high, it can affect posture by pulling your child backward, which can lead to loss of balance or falls. However, if the backpack doesn’t sit low enough, it can put strain on the lumbar spine, affect balance and posture and significantly increase back pain.

For example, imagine a scenario where you choose an oversized backpack for your toddler without properly measuring its size and calculating load capacity. The backpack's armholes would be too far up and rub against your shoulders or neck, whereas if you were wearing it correctly, they would dig deep into your child’s sides.

Therefore, parents need to make sure that they take measurements to buy or order preschool bags that are tailored to their child’s needs.

Considerations for Three-year-old Preschoolers

When it comes to buying a backpack for your child, age is one of the most important considerations. While preschoolers may not be carrying too many items in their backpacks, an ill-fitting and heavy backpack can lead to serious health problems.

Three-year-olds can carry larger toddler backpacks up to 11 inches long or some smaller children's backpacks. At this age, children usually need more storage space for school supplies such as lunch boxes, coloring books, crayons, and extra clothes. When choosing a backpack for your three-year-old, make sure it is lightweight and fits the child's back size.

Always remember that your child's well-being should come first. We want our children to enjoy going to school or going on trips with their friends and family without suffering pain or discomfort from backpacks that are the wrong size.

For instance, let's say you give your three-year-old a heavy bag with many books and toys inside; their shoulders will be strained throughout the day. Over time, this muscle strain can lead to serious postural problems, which can have debilitating consequences later in life.

While it is true that every child has a different carrying capacity, it's better to be safe than sorry by following the recommended guidelines. However, some parents might argue, "My child is strong enough to carry a heavier load; why should I restrict them?" It's important to remember that prevention is always better than cure. And besides, we want our kids to stay healthy in childhood and reduce the risk of lifelong health problems.

Importance of Comfort for Preschoolers

For young children, wearing uncomfortable items can easily ruin their day. When buying backpacks for preschoolers, adorable designs and colors are not enough. Backpacks need to fit well and be comfortable enough to wear all day if needed.

If backpacks don't properly fit or padded shoulder straps dig into your child's shoulders, you risk muscle strain and discomfort. In addition, discomfort can lead to irritability toward the end of the day. This is because toddlers cannot express themselves verbally or attend to set tasks efficiently if they feel uncomfortable.

Choosing backpacks with additional features, such as lightweight construction and padded straps, makes a significant difference in comfort.

For instance, think of wearing an unbearably tight pair of shoes- how uncomfortable would you feel? Why should we put our little ones through discomfort when purchasing poorly fitting backpacks?

Some parents may see it differently and ask: 'Isn't it better to buy a more durable bag that can hold everything,even if it is a bit uncomfortable?' While a durable bag is necessary, choosing one that fits well and won't cause discomfort in the long run will lead to better health and posture habits. It's important to find a balance between durability and comfort rather than focusing on just one factor over the other.

Making Use of Toddler Backpack Size Chart

Shopping for backpacks for toddlers and preschoolers can be fun as there are numerous designs and colors to choose from. Shopping for backpacks for toddlers and preschoolers can be fun as the right product for their little ones.

The most important measurements to consider are the height of the backpack. Backpacks for preschoolers should be no longer than the child's back and no more than 11 inches high, 9 inches wide and 3 inches deep. Also note that anything larger or heavier than these parameters can cause health problems for your little ones.

To choose a backpack that is the right size, you should measure two areas on your child's body: from the neck to the hip bone and then from the shoulders to below the waist. These measurements will help you find a suitable backpack size for toddlers.

One important thing to remember is that it may be better for a toddler to get a backpack that is a little too small than one that is too big. A fitting miniature package can reduce the pressure on a child's spine and thus minimize or prevent spinal stress caused by unbalanced body movements.

It should be noted that a backpack that is too tight may not hold all the items your child needs. Instead, choose a backpack that fits comfortably and has enough space—this way you can use both compartments and position the backpack so that the weight is evenly distributed.

Ensuring Proper Fit and Adjustments

Choosing the right backpack size is important, but it's only one part of ensuring that your child wears their backpack safely. Another important part of this process is making sure the backpack fits your child's body properly. A poorly fitted backpack can cause discomfort and even injury, defeating the purpose of choosing the perfect backpack.

When my daughter started preschool, I made sure to choose a backpack that met all the size specifications recommended by doctors. But when she started wearing it, I realized that I had no idea how to properly adjust it to her petite stature. As a result, my daughter complained of shoulder pain and refused to wear the backpack after a few days.

Some parents may be tempted to loosen the shoulder straps to make the backpack more comfortable for their child. However, this can do more harm than good. A loose backpack will slip on the child's back when they move, putting strain on the child’s muscles.

When adjusting the shoulder straps, make sure that they are tight enough so that you can only put two fingers between the strap and your child's shoulder. Too tight an adjustment can also cause discomfort and even restrict breathing.

In addition to adjusting the shoulder straps, there are other adjustments you should make to ensure your child's safety and comfort when wearing a preschool backpack.

Key Takeaway

When choosing a backpack for your child, it's not only important that you choose the right size but also that you fit the backpack properly to your child’s body. The most important aspect of fitting a backpack for preschoolers is adjusting the shoulder straps so that the backpack fits snugly against the child's back and the weight is distributed evenly across both shoulders. Some parents might be tempted to loosen the shoulder straps to make it more comfortable, but this can do more harm than good and lead to muscle strain and injury. Don't forget to make other necessary adjustments so that your child can wear their backpack safely and comfortably.

Backpack Position and Shoulder Straps

After you have adjusted the shoulder straps to fit your child's body well, it is important to pay attention to where the backpack sits on their back. The position of the backpack can also affect your child's comfort and safety, as well as how easily they can carry the weight.

When my daughter was in preschool, I noticed that some parents allowed their children to wear their backpacks low on their backs so they could easily reach for the contents. However, this can put strain on the child's back and shoulders and restrict their movement.

Think of it as carrying a heavy purse on one shoulder for a long period of time. This causes muscle tension on one side of the body and can even lead to long-term damage if not corrected.

To ensure proper positioning, the bottom of the backpack should sit at or slightly above your child's waist. In this way, the weight is evenly distributed on the child’s hips and shoulders without putting additional strain on them.

Some may object that a backpack that sits too high on the back looks strange and may even be uncomfortable for the child. However, it is important to prioritize safety over appearance and make the necessary adjustments to ensure that your child feels comfortable wearing a preschool backpack.

Once you have positioned the backpack correctly, make sure that your child uses both shoulder straps. Using only one strap can lead to uneven weight distribution and put unnecessary strain on one side of the body.

With these tips in mind, you're now equipped with everything you need to select and adjust a preschool backpack that will keep your child safe and comfortable during their daily activities.

About the author

Keith is a one bag traveler and the owner of Backpacks Global. His go to backpack is the Osprey FarPoint 40.

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