Choose a school bag for your child that is right for their size.
The width of the bag should be suitable for the size of the child. A child should not use an adult's bag. The bag should sit at waist level or just slightly above the waist.
Which school bag to choose
You should choose one of the following school bags for your child:
- a ‘cross-body’ bag with a wide padded adjustable strap
- a rucksack type bag with 2 wide padded adjustable straps and ideally a waist belt to take some of the load
Safely using a school bag
When packing the bag, heavier items should be placed closer to your child's back, lighter items should sit further from the body.
Your child should not carry their school bag:
- on one shoulder
- in their hand
Your child should:
- put the school bag on the ground when they can
- bend their knees and squat down to pick up their bag if it's heavy, lifting the bag close to their body
- use a locker if they have one and try to only carry books needed for the morning or afternoon classes
- try to get everything needed in one bag rather than carrying several bags
- use a bicycle bag rack or pannier bag to carry the school bag if they cycle to school
- stand up straight when they have their bag on their back and stand with weight evenly on both legs
- not slouch while wearing the school bag
Check the weight of your child’s bag
Around 30% of school-age children have back pain or neck pain. Carrying a heavy schoolbag for long periods on immature spines could put your child at increased risk of back problems in adulthood.
Your child should not carry more than 10% of their body weight. This is the same as around three medium-sized books and a lunchbox.
Signs your child's bag is too heavy
Warning signs that your child's bag is too heavy include:
- a change in their posture when wearing the bag
- struggling when putting on or removing the bag
- pain when wearing the bag
- tingling or numbness in arms or red marks on the shoulders
See your GP or a physiotherapist if your child complains of back pain.