The Best Toddler Backpacks for Daycare, Preschool and Beyond
September 1, 2020
Your little one may not be slinging 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 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 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 your 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.
Skip Hop Zoo Collection Toddler Leash and Harness Backpack
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, your toddler girl or boy is sure to find a favorite.
Buy it: $18, Amazon.com
The North Face Sprout Backpack
Need a backpack to take your tot 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: $35, Zappos.com
Bag&Carry Cute Toy Toddler Backpack
Have lovey, will travel. That’ll be your child’s new mantra, thanks to this super-cute (and ingenious) toddler backpack. It comes complete with a plush bear, monkey 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: Starting from $22, Amazon.com
Crate and Kids Exclusive Personalized Doodle Backpack
This playful, eye-catching preschool backpack is made for children ages 3 and up. It’s got pockets for folders, water bottles and even a headphone insert for when they get older. It’s a solid 12 inches wide (so it’s not too big but it’s not too small either) and can be customized with your kid’s initials. Crate and Kids sells tons of other awesome designs too, including a metallic faux-leather bookbag and an adventure-lover’s mountain-print bag.
Buy it: Starting from $50, CrateandBarrel.com
Yodo Upgraded Insulated Toddler 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), lunch bag (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: Starting from $17, Amazon.com
Bixbee Small Animal Pack Backpack
Bixbee’s small, animal-themed packs are some of the best kids’ backpacks out there because they’re specially (read: ergonomically) designed for children ages 3 to 5. That means your tot can take theirs from pre-K to kindergarten with ease. The patented horizontal design is meant to be extra-comfy to tote around, and the padded, contoured shoulders prevent the straps from slipping off. Best of all, the brand donates a school bag (filled with supplies!) to a child in need for every bookbag they sell. There’s nothing like feeling and doing good. Oh, and if you’re shopping for a matching toddler backpack and lunchbox, Bixbee sells lunch bags too.
Buy it: $30, Nordstrom.com
Stephen Joseph Mini Sidekick Backpack
Like all the best daycare and preschool backpacks, Stephen Joseph’s toddler-size bags come in an assortment of adorable designs little boys and girls love. (Because your kid is way less likely to lose or complain about a bookbag they adore.) These bags are easy to clean by hand and have adjustable, cushioned straps. And while they’re sized just for toddlers, if you’re stressed about fit, some styles are available to “try before you buy” on Amazon Prime Wardrobe!
Buy it: $20, Amazon.com
Rockland Junior My First Backpack
Your child will be super excited to show off the fun design printed on the outside and inside of this adorable backpack. And you’ll love the microfiber material that makes wiping it clean a breeze. This kid-size bag has wide, padded straps and features a large top zip compartment and a smaller one in the front, great for stashing playground treasures. Design details like rubber zipper pulls (perfect for little hands) and kids-cup-sized mesh side pockets put the focus on functionality.
Buy it: $21, Target.com
Pottery Barn Kids Fairfax Mini Backpack
When it comes to options, Pottery Barn Kids has one of the best kids’ backpack selections on the market, offering an array of patterns, colors, sizes and customizations. Their mini Fairfax backpack (for children up to 42 inches tall) is perfectly toddler-sized and includes features like reflective piping, padded straps and water-resistant fabric. It holds a snack, a change of clothes and a toy, which is pretty impressive for a kids’ mini backpack. Get it personalized with your kids’ monogram and a fun patch of their choice.
Buy it: Starting from $30, PotteryBarnKids.com
STATE Bags Mini Kane Backpack
STATE is known for their super-chic bags and generous mission—they donate a portion of their proceeds to a range of charitable initiatives. Adults obsess over the standard Kane backpack; your kid will obsess over their very own Mini Kane. The 13-inch-tall bookbag has a top loop perfect for storing in preschool cubbies or lockers. The straps are soft and padded and the patterns are too-cute.
Buy it: $65, Nordstrom.com
JanSport Half Pint Backpack
You know you’ve found yourself a quality toddler backpack when it’s loved by kids and adults alike. Reviewers assure that this mini backpack fits 2-year-olds perfectly, but it’s durable (and stylish!) enough for your kid to keep well into adulthood. 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, Amazon.com
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. Lots of 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: $26, Amazon.com
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, some of which may be sponsored by paying vendors.
Updated August 2020
Plus, more from The Bump: