What to consider when buying that backpack

Pediatricians explain what's best for your child's safety, health

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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Two pediatricians from Cleveland Clinic have advice for those of you heading out to buy a new backpack for school. For kids, the character or color may be top priority, but for parents, there's more to consider.

Dr. Sara Lappe (luh-pay) says what's displayed on a child's backpack, especially an embroidered name, could make them an easy target for predators.

"If their name is spelled out on their backpacks someone that doesn't know your child, "Hey Joey, come this way with me" or something like that, so they may use that name on the backpack to be able to convince your child they know them, when they really don't," she warned.

How a backpack fits is another factor parents should consider. The first thing you should look for are backpacks with two wide straps. Two straps will help distribute weight evenly and the width of the straps will prevent them from digging in and causing pain. In addition, the back of the backpack should be padded.

It's also important to remember that a loaded backpack should not weigh more than 10-20 percent of your child's weight. So, for a 75 pound child, that's about 11 pounds in the backpack.

And Dr. Richard So says how that weight is packed makes a difference, too.

"You want to have the heaviest books close to your child's back rather than further back, that might make your child lose their balance," he explained.

If you're unsure about the size of your child's backpack, a good rule of thumb is to check and make sure the backpack is hitting 2 inches above the hips.

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