The Best Toddler Backpacks for Daycare, Preschool and Beyond

Whether for trips, daytime adventures or school, these mini packs are perfect for pint-size backs.
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Contributing Writer
July 19, 2022
the best backpacks for toddlers 2022
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Your little one may not be slinging a knapsack full of giant textbooks over their shoulders just yet, but a toddler backpack is still a must-have accessory. Whether your little Einstein is heading to daycare, preschool or camp, they’ll need a bag to carry supplies, snacks, artwork and notices (and maybe even a toy or two). Luckily, there are plenty of kids’ mini backpacks out there for you and your child 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 bookbag for your tot:

  • Size. Toddler backpacks need to be compact enough for a little 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 a young child 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 monogrammed backpacks for toddlers: 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 those things in mind, here are our favorite toddler backpacks to carry your little one from the playground to preschool.

Image: STATE Bags

STATE Bags Mini Kane Backpack

STATE is a brand best-known for its super-chic bags and generous mission—they donate a portion of their proceeds to a range of charitable initiatives. Adults love the standard Kane backpack, and kids will adore having their very own Mini Kane too. The bookbag is 11” tall with large pockets and a top loop that’s easy to hang up in preschool cubbies or lockers. The straps are soft and padded, and the neon accents are almost too-cool for school. Pair it with the matching snack pack.

Buy it: $78,

Image: Skip Hop

Skip Hop Mini Backpack With Safety Harness

If there was a popularity contest among toddler backpacks, this one from Skip Hop would win hands down. Seriously, you see them everywhere. That’s because it’s the perfect size for the tiniest of travelers. It’s roomy without being too large for them to carry on their own, features a separate side bottle holder for when your tyke gets thirsty, and has an interior label for your child’s name. Plus, the padded, harness-style straps promise comfort and extra security. There’s even a removable tether you can hold to stay connected to your child. It’s also ridiculously adorable—with a bunch of different animal options, so your toddler girl or boy is sure to find a favorite.

Buy it: $19,

Image: The North Face

The North Face Kids’ Sprout Backpack

Need a backpack to take your tot to 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, etc.), plus a foam back panel and a sternum strap to make carrying it as comfortable as possible. And get a load of that cute critter print! It’s perfect for travel, adventures and learning, of course. Still not convinced? Read one of the many five-star reviews!

Buy it: $35,

Image: Bixbee

Bixbee Animal Pack Owl Backpack

Bixbee’s small, animal-themed options are some of the best kids’ backpacks out there, because they’re ergonomically designed for children ages 3 to 5. That means your tot can take it from preschool to kindergarten with ease. The patented horizontal design is extra-comfy to tote around, and the padded, contoured shoulders prevent the straps from slipping. Best of all, the brand donates a school bag (filled with supplies!) to a child in need for every bookbag they sell. Oh, and if you’re shopping for a matching toddler backpack and lunchbox, Bixbee sells lunch bags too.

Buy it: $32,

Image: Stephen Joseph

Stephen Joseph Shark Sidekick Backpack & Lunch Pal

Like all the best daycare and preschool backpacks, Stephen Joseph’s toddler-size bags come in an assortment of adorable designs kids love. (Because your little scholar is way less likely to lose or complain about a bookbag they adore.) This shark-print version comes complete with a matching lunchbox. Plus, it’s easy to clean by hand and has adjustable, cushioned straps.

Buy it: $52,

Image: Hunter

Hunter Kids Peppa Pig Muddy Puddles Backpack

Splash out on a designer toddler backpack from the British outerwear brand Hunter. Your child will be super excited to show off the fun Peppa Pig design. And you’ll love the quality construction and water-resistant material that makes wiping it clean a breeze. This kid-size bag has padded straps, and features a large top-zip compartment and a smaller one in the front, great for stashing playground treasures. It’s also available in pink and blue too.

Buy it: $70,

Image: Maisonette

Dabbawalla Bags Rocket Toddler Harness Backpack in Blue and Red

Your little explorer will be ready to jet off on the exciting adventure of learning with this rocket-inspired backpack. Designed for ages one to 3, it’s made from non-toxic, recyclable materials. It has cushioned, adjustable shoulder straps, a safety harness and a sternum strap for added comfort. Two interior mesh pockets hold snacks and stationary, while the main zipper compartment can accommodate larger school supplies. The combined cuteness for kids and convenience for adults make it a winner in our book. Worried your little one will misplace it? For an extra $10 you can add a monogram.

Buy it: $40,

Image: Herschel

Herschel Heritage Backpack

Herschel is known for its effortlessly cool grown-up designs—but did you know that they make kids’ backpacks too? Offering the same signature look as the classic Heritage bag, but sized for children ages 3 to 4, this toddler backpack is perfect for a trip to the playground or the first day of preschool. It has a roomy main compartment, a front storage pocket, an interior name tag and a removable sternum support strap. And it comes in plenty of cute prints and patterns to boot.

Buy it: $40,

Image: Cat & Jack

Cat & Jack Toddler Girls’ Rainbow Denim Backpack

Next up on our list of the best toddler backpacks is this fun rainbow design. Created for kiddos ages 3 to 4, this cute denim bookbag is super-spacious and lightweight. The top loop makes it easy to hang up in the classroom, while the cloud-effect front pockets ensure your sweetie has plenty of space for snacks and knick-knacks. All that for $15? Bargain!

Buy it: $15,

Image: JanSport

JanSport Half Pint Mini Backpack

You know you’ve found yourself a quality toddler backpack when it’s loved by kids and adults alike. Reviewers assure potential purchasers that this mini backpack fits 2-year-olds perfectly, but it’s durable enough for your kid to keep for years to come. The classic look, top-notch construction and adjustable straps all help this toddler backpack withstand the test of time, making it one your child will carry for a long time.

Buy it: $25,

Image: Obersee

Obersee Preschool All-in-One Backpack for Kids with Insulated Cooler

This preschool backpack is made for children ages 3 and up. It’s got pockets for folders and water bottles, and even has a separate insulated front compartment that’s perfect for storing lunch and snacks. It’s a solid 10” wide with built-in lumbar support, padded straps and a chest buckle.

Buy it: $30,

Image: Yodo

Yodo Kids Insulated Toddler Backpack with Leash Safety Harness Lunch Bag

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 works as a toddler backpack (complete with the AAP-recommended chest buckle), lunch bag (with an insulated main compartment that keeps food warm or cold for up to three hours) and safety harness (featuring a 50” tether to help you keep even the sneakiest escape artist close and accounted for in crowds). Triple the features, triple the love.

Buy it: $24,

Image: Pottery Barn Kids

Mackenzie Navy Solar System Glow-in-the-Dark Backpacks

Pottery Barn Kids has some of the best kids’ backpacks on the market, with an array of patterns, colors, sizes and customizations. Their mini Mackenzie backpack is perfectly toddler-sized and includes features like padded straps and water-resistant fabric. It holds a snack, a change of clothes and a toy, which is pretty impressive for a mini backpack. Ready to hear the real standout feature? The space-inspired pattern glows in the dark! Moreover, you can personalize this bag with your kids’ initials.

Buy it: $45,

Image: GOT Bag

GOT Bag Mini Daypack

A main compartment large enough to hold projects, papers and other preschool take-homes? Check. A bottle compartment? Check. Adjustable chest and shoulder straps with reflective details? Check. Really, there are few boxes the mini day pack by GOT doesn’t check, making it a solid all-around choice for your little one. Aside from the basics, this bag is made from recycled ocean plastic and has a water-resistant coating to protect your kiddos school supplies.

Buy it: $39,

Image: Crate&kids

Crate&kids Lucky Stars Blue Small Kids Backpack

Last up on our list of the best toddler backpacks is this pick from Crate&kids. The durable material is made from recycled water bottles, adorned with a scattering of neon stars. Thick padded straps offer supreme comfort, while a nifty top handle means it’s easy to grab when you’re rushing out the door. Inside, you’ll find a roomy compartment (complete with a name tag) and a padded pocket that’s perfect for storing a tablet. For an extra-special touch, you can pay to have it personalized with your child’s name.

Buy it: $39,

Plus, more from The Bump:

The Best Lunch Boxes for Toddlers and Big Kids

Checklist: What to Pack for the First Day of Preschool

Cute First Day of Preschool Signs to Mark the Milestone

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