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We Know Kids
The Willows Pediatrics Blog

Willows Pediatrics Sends You Back To School … Healthfully and Safely!

Whether your children have been home for the summer or away at camp, when mid-August hits everyone’s minds can’t help turn to “back to school” time! Along with the excitement of buying school supplies and finding out which teachers your children will have comes a bit of planning and preparation. Today Willows Pediatrics would like to address two big school-related issues: backpacks and school lunches.

On the subject of backpacks, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is working to educate students and their parents about the dangers of wearing backpacks that are either too heavy or worn improperly. Overly-heavy backpacks or those worn on one shoulder can cause pain in their neck, shoulders and back as well as posture-related issues.

Children should carry no more than 15% or less of their weight in a backpack. So, for a 50-pound child, that’s about 7.5 pounds. Heaviest items should be loaded closest to the child’s back. To help your child keep to the weight recommendations, encourage him or her to only carry the work that is needed for that day. In addition, take advantage of online textbooks and websites that can be used instead of heavy books.  If the backpack is too heavy, a child can hand carry additional items.

When wearing the backpack, both shoulder straps (preferably well-padded ones) should be worn.  Make sure the straps are adjusted so that the pack fits snugly to the child’s back. And, if the pack has a waist belt, use it!

Now, onto the subject of school lunches! We’ve already addressed the importance of breakfast in this blog, and now we’d like to remind you that your children need good fuel to get through the school day. A nutritious lunch comprised of foods from the five major food groups—vegetables, fruits, protein, grain and dairy—is ideal. Whereas a lunch full of prepackaged, processed foods and sugar (including those found in soda and juices) will simply not sustain your child for a day of learning. Here are some suggestions courtesy of the AAP for packing a healthy lunch:

  • Make sandwiches with whole wheat bread, not white, and avoid processed lunch meats.
  • Pack whole fruits or vegetables like carrots or celery sticks.
  • Include dips like hummus, guacamole or ranch dressing for vegetables.
  • Instead of packing chips and cookies, try whole wheat pretzels or crackers.
  • Replace soda and juices with fat-free milk or water.

We hope you’ll find these suggestions helpful, and there are many more great lunch ideas available all over the Internet. The good news is that it only takes a few minutes to pack a whole lot of delicious, healthy food into your child’s lunch bag.

Image by o5com via Flickr.com