The age at which a child receives their first sports backpack is typically thought to be preschool or kindergarten. But there's a good case to be made that toddlers are ready for their first backpack even before that inaugural preschool naptime. Giving your toddler their first backpack at an earlier age is a great way to prepare them for the bookbags, sports bags, and tech bags they'll be carrying in no time at all.
Think of giving your toddler their first backpack as a sort of pre-preschool. Just a major purpose of preschool is to acclimate them to the realities of socialization, a fixed schedule and time away from parents that will mark their experience in elementary school, the gift of an early backpack will help them prepare for their role at preschool and encourage them to think of themselves as students. Plus, they’ll love packing up their backpack and carrying around all of the treasures, even before they start school.
Obviously, the contents of a toddler backpack will be quite a bit lighter than those of an elementary or even preschool student. To help prepare them for that student role, add a favorite picture book. Include a notebook and crayons or colored pencils in a pencil pouch–so that they can "take notes" (aka, doodle), as well as a kid's lunch box full of their favorite snacks and a stuffed animal. You might also be able to include some other little things like a diaper and wipes in case they need a change.
Teaching your toddler to take responsibility for their own items will help them even more as they prepare for school.
You'll want to select a smaller backpack for toddlers, both out of consideration for their needs and their developing body strength. In our book, a small backpack would be roughly 16.5" long, 12.5" wide, and 6" deep. If you can, make sure the backpack has good padding and adjustable straps. You’ll want it to be comfortable to wear. You’ll also want to make sure you can adjust the backpack to fit your child. If the bag is way too big, your little one might not like wearing it.
Monograms are a great way to put a fun twist on a toddler backpack, and at the same time encourage your toddler to value it and see it as their own. For that reason, we think toddler backpacks present a great chance to get creative with our "make it personal" embroidery options. You can customize it with your toddler's favorite animal, dinosaur, or perhaps a symbol indicative of a future career path, like an astronaut helmet or microscope. You could always put their initials too, though, they might not be able to read them yet.
When it comes to toddlers, comfort and support are key. As mentioned above, the best toddler backpack will have padded shoulder straps and a foam padded back panel to ensure that their first experience with a backpack isn't one that will leave them feeling sore or stressed. A cool design that fits their personality is a plus! So, if you can sit down with them and show them a few pre-selected backpack options, it might help them love it more. If they pick their backpack, they’ll also feel more ownership when it comes to the backpack. So, they’ll take better care of it in the long run.
The factor that most determines whether or not your toddler is ready to start carrying a backpack isn't age but walking ability. If your toddler's steps continue to veer on the wobbly side, you may want to hold off on giving them a backpack for now. But if they can walk stably on their own, they're ready to add a challenge and take on their very first backpack.
A toddler backpack will look adorable on your little one. More than anything, though, they’ll love having a way to carry around all of their treasures. This is great training for the future. So, maybe when they start preschool, and they are feeling a little unsure they’ll have their backpack as a safety blanket and reminder of home.