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Lynsey Eidell
Contributing Writer

The Best Toddler Backpacks for Daycare and Beyond

Whether for trips, daytime adventures, daycare or pre-k, these pint-size packs are perfect for tiny backs.

Your little one may not be slinging textbooks over their shoulders just yet, but a backpack is still a must-have toddler accessory. Whether your little Einstein is heading to daycare, preschool or camp, they’ll need a pack to carry supplies, snacks, artwork and notices (and maybe even a toy or two). Luckily, there are plenty of toddler backpacks out there for you and your little one to choose from—and each one is cuter than the next.

Of course, being adorable isn’t the only criteria to consider when searching for the best toddler backpack. Here are some other factors to think about before settling on a bag for your tot:

Size. Toddler backpacks need to be compact enough for a young kid to carry but roomy enough to hold all the essentials. Check to see if your child’s daycare or preschool has any specific size requirements for backpacks, since some ask that bags be big enough to hold a standard letter size sheet of paper. A good range is anywhere between 10 to 15 inches tall.

Safety. The American Academy of Pediatrics calls attention to several features that help make toddler backpacks safe for your little one to carry—including two wide shoulder straps, a padded back and a chest strap. Also note where the name label is located. Ideally, it’s placed on the interior of the backpack so your child’s personal information isn’t on display for strangers. The same goes for any personalization or monogramming on the front of the bag: It’s safer to stick to initials instead of your child’s first name.

Care. Spills, stains and messes are inevitable, so a toddler backpack that’s machine washable—or at least easy to wipe down—is a must.

With that in mind, here are our favorite toddler backpacks to carry your little one from the playground to preschool.

1

Skip Hop Zoo Insulated Toddler Backpack

If there was a popularity contest among toddler backpacks, this one from Skip Hop would win hands down. (Nearly 1,800 reviewers on Amazon give it 5 stars.) It’s not hard to see why: It’s the perfect size to hold all the snacks, crafts and supplies a toddler needs without being too large for them to carry on their own. Plus, it features a separate front pocket and side bottle holder for when your tyke gets hungry or thirsty, has an interior label for your child’s name, and is easy to wipe clean. It’s also ridiculously adorable. WIth 20 different animal options, your child is sure to find a favorite.

Buy it: $20, Amazon.com

Photo: Courtesy Skip Hop
2

The North Face Youth Sprout Backpack

Need a backpack to take your tyke from the classroom and beyond? This toddler backpack, designed specifically for 2- to 4-year-olds, is an ideal choice. It’s got all the features you need for a school setting (multiple compartments for storage, internal name label), plus a foam back panel and a sternum strap to make carrying it as comfortable as possible. It’s perfect for travel, adventures and learning, of course.

Buy it: $34, Amazon.com

Photo: Courtesy The North Face
3

Bag&Carry Toddler Backpack

Have lovey, will travel. That’ll be your child new mantra, thanks to this adorable (and ingenious) toddler backpack. It comes complete with a plush bear or puppy in the front carrier compartment (or it can hold your little one’s other favorite stuffed animal), while the main zipper compartment can accommodate supplies and snacks. The combined cuteness for kids and convenience for adults makes it a win-win.

Buy it: $21, Amazon.com

Photo: Courtesy Bag & Carry
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4

SoYoung Toddler Backpack

Earth-conscious parents will love this eco-friendly, nontoxic pack. Beyond being PVC-, phthalate-, lead- and BPA-free, the SoYoung toddler backpacks use raw linen as its primary material—which originates from flax that’s grown pesticide-free and requires 90 percent less water than other fibers. Two other features parents will appreciate: at 13 inches long, it’s big enough that papers and projects won’t be crumpled, and it’s machine washable (because, let’s face it, toddlers are a messy crew).

Buy it: $40, Amazon.com

Photo: Courtesy SoYoung
5

Yodo Harness Backpack

Any toddler gear that’s multifunctional earns an A+ in parents’ eyes, and this bag from Yodo offers a trio of features that send it right to the top of the class. It triples as a toddler backpack (complete with the AAP-recommended chest buckle), lunchbox (with an insulated main compartment that keeps food warm or cold for up to three hours), and safety harness (featuring a 50-inch tether to help keep even the sneakiest escape artist close and accounted for in crowds). Triple the features, triple the love.

Buy it: $17, Amazon.com

Photo: Courtesy Yodo
6

Beatrix New York Little Kid Backpack

Little kids are notorious for being rough on their things, so any backpack you choose needs to be able to withstand some serious wear and tear. Luckily, the toddler backpack from Beatrix New York is as durable as it is adorable, thanks to a fabric combo of sturdy nylon and laminated canvas. And with celebrity fans like Harper Beckham sporting this pack, your little one is guaranteed to be the most “posh” one on the playground.

Buy it: $25, Amazon.com

Photo: Courtesy Beatrix
7

Gymboree Parkland Glow Drops Backpack

With a size (nearly 11 by 16 inches) that will take your little one all the way into grade school and a cool abstract pattern, this heavy-duty toddler backpack is one that’s built to last (and be passed down to siblings). Complete the set with a coordinating pencil case and lunch box to fully outfit your toddler for the classroom.

Buy it: $38, Gymboree.com

Photo: Courtesy Gymboree
8

Sesame Street Elmo Backpack

For decades, little kids have been Sesame Street-obsessed—and now they can carry that obsession with them into the classroom. Crate and Kids’ new Sesame Street line features a full array of toddler backpacks featuring the show’s characters, from Cookie Monster to Big Bird to the beloved Elmo. Beyond appealing to a toddler’s love for Sesame Street, the backpack also caters to parent’s by offering multiple compartments, adjustable padded shoulder straps and an interior name label.

Buy it: $29, CrateandKids.com

Photo: Courtesy Crate & Barrel
9

Pottery Barn Kids Fairfax Pre-K Backpack

When it comes to options, Pottery Barn Kids has one of the widest backpack selections on the market, offering an array of patterns, colors, sizes and customizations. Their preschool backpack (for children up to 42 inches tall) is an ideal fit for little ones, and includes features like reflective piping, a padded back, reinforced stitching and external buckles (to attach a lunch box or jacket) put it in a class above the rest.

Buy it: Starting at $30, PotteryBarnKids.com

Photo: Courtesy Pottery Barn
10

Fjallraven Kanken Kids Backpack

There’s a major Kanken backpack craze going on right now—you can spot them on the backs and arms of trendy adults around the world. Well, rejoice, fashion-forward parents: The Swedish brand also offers a kid-size version that’s perfect for your little tot. In fact, the company was founded in 1978 with the specific goal of preventing back problems among school children. The adjustable shoulder straps on these toddler backpacks are tailored to fit small backs. These packs also feature a chest strap, large zip compartment, front pocket and two side pockets and a reflective logo. Ultra-durable, they’re made from a vinylon fabric that withstands dirt and wetness.

Buy it: $70, Fjallraven.us

Photo: Courtesy Fjallraven
11

JanSport Half Pint Mini Backpack

When a reviewer claims she’s been using the same JanSport Half Pint since she was 2 years old (and she’s now 38), you know you’ve found yourself a quality backpack. The classic style, top-notch construction and adjustable straps all help this toddler backpack withstand the test of time, making it one your child (and any siblings) will carry for years—or even decades.

Buy it: $25, Jansport.com

Photo: Courtesy JanSport
12

Wildkin 12-Inch Backpack

A main compartment large enough to hold projects, papers and other preschool take-homes? Check. A food-safe front compartment that doubles as a lunch box? Check. More than 20 vibrant, fun patterns for your little one to choose from? Check. Really, there are few boxes the Wildkin 12-inch preschool backpack doesn’t check, making it a solid all-around choice for your little one.

Buy it: $28, Amazon.com

Updated September 2018

Plus, more from The Bump:

The Best Lunch Boxes for Toddlers and Big Kids

Checklist: What to Pack for the First Day of Preschool

10 Adorable First Day of Preschool Photos

Photo: Courtesy Wildkin