The age at which a child receives their first sports backpack is typically thought to be pre-school or kindergarten. But there's a good case to be made that toddlers are ready for their first backpack even before that inaugural pre-school naptime. Giving your toddler their first backpack at an earlier age is a great way to prepare them for the bookbags, sportsbags 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-pre-school. 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 pre-school and encourage them to think of themselves as students.
Obviously, the contents of a toddler backpack will be quite a bit lighter than those of an elementary or even pre-school student. To help prepare them for that student role, add a favorite picture book. Include a notebook and crayons or colored pencils 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'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.
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.
When it comes to toddlers, comfort and support is key. You'll want to make sure that you find a backpack with 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.
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.