Your child may think school is a pain in the neck, but it shouldn’t cause actual neck pain.
A recent Consumer Reports study at three New York schools found that the sixth graders carried backpacks that weighed, on average, 17.2 percent of their body weight — some clocked in at more than 30 pounds. Excess weight or improperly used backpacks can cause health problems, so make sure your child is safe by heeding the following advice from Consumer Reports.
• Make sure your child uses all of the straps on the backpack to limit pressure on any one area of the back, and try to limit backpack weight to about 10 percent of your child’s body weight.
• Look out for back pain, which can indicate stress, a herniated disc in the spine, arthritis or even tumors and infections.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when buying a backpack:
• The bottom of the backpack should ideally match up with the curve of the lower back and fall more than four inches below the waistline.
• Wide, padded shoulder straps distribute weight most effectively. Abdominal straps also help.
• Backpacks with reflective material will make your child more visible on the trip to school.
• Look for signs of poor quality such as loose threads, frayed fabric and zippers not covered by fabric flaps.
Here are the top Consumer Reports backpack picks in a variety of height ranges:
For kids 4 feet to 4 feet 9 inches tall:
• Lucky Bums Dragonfly 15 ($44)
• Kelty Grommet Junior ($32)
• Disney Hannah Montana Undercover Pop Star ($15)
For kids 4 feet 10 inches to 5 feet 8 inches tall:
• JanSport Big Student TDN7 ($40)
• LL Bean Original Book Pack TA49165-CR ($25)
• Bakugan Battle Brawlers — Blue ($16)
For kids 5 feet 9 inches and taller:
• The North Face Jester ($55)
• JanSport Boost ($70)
• Lands’ End FeatherLight ($40)
The overall best buy
• Nike Core ($40)
• Under Armour Varsity ($50)
• Eastsport Basic with Organizer ($15).