14 Best Toddler Backpacks for Daycare, Pre-K and Beyond

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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profile picture of Lynsey Eidell
Contributing Writer
March 20, 2022
toddler girl standing on the sidewalk with backpack on her back
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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 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.

Image: Courtesy STATE

STATE Bags Mini Kane Backpack

STATE is a brand best-known for it’s 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 perfect for storing in preschool cubbies or lockers. The straps are soft and padded, and the neon accents are almost too-cool for school.

Buy it: $78, StateBags.com

Image: Courtesy 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, SkipHop.com

Image: Courtesy Bixbee

Bixbee Animal Pack Owl Backpack

Bixbee’s small, animal-themed options 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 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: $30, Nordstrom.com

Image: Courtesy 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 adorable teddy-bear pattern! It’s perfect for travel, adventures and learning, of course.

Buy it: $35, TheNorthFace.com

Image: Courtesy Yodo

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 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 keep even the sneakiest escape artist close and accounted for in crowds). Triple the features, triple the love.

Buy it: $19, Amazon.com

Image: Courtesy Stephen Joseph

Stephen Joseph 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 little boys and girls love. (Because your kid is way less likely to lose or complain about a bookbag they adore.) This rawr-some lion-print version comes complete with a matching lunchbox. Plus, it’s easy to clean by hand and has adjustable, cushioned straps.

Buy it: $42, Nordstrom.com

Image: Courtesy Pottery Barn Kids

Pottery Barn Kids Mackenzie Navy Solar System Glow-in-the-Dark Backpacks

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 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! Plus, you can personalize this bag with your kids’ initials.

Buy it: Starting from $40, PotteryBarnKids.com

Image: Courtesy 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 (and stylish!) 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 (and any siblings) will carry for a long time.

Buy it: $32, JanSport.com

Image: Courtesy Bag&Carry

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 1 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 makes it a winner in our book.

Buy it: $38, Maisonette.com

Image: Courtesy 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. Plus, it’s available in pink and blue too.

Buy it: $70, HunterBoots.com

Image: Courtesy Obersee

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

This playful, panda-print preschool backpack is made for children ages 3 and up. It’s got pockets for folders, water bottles and even has an insulated front pocket that’s perfect for storing lunch and snacks. It’s a solid 10” wide (so it’s not too big but it’s not too small either), with built-in lumbar support, padded straps and a chest buckle.

Buy it: $30, buybuyBABY.com

Image: Courtesy Herschel

Herschel Heritage Backpack Kids

Herschel is well-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. Plus, it comes in 11 cute prints and patterns.

Buy it: $40, Herschel.com

Image: Courtesy Wildkin

Wildkin 12 Inche Backpack for Toddlers

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” preschool backpack doesn’t check, making it a solid all-around choice for your little one.

Buy it: $30, Amazon.com

Image: Courtesy Cat & Jack

Cat & Jack Toddler Girls’ Rainbow Denim Backpack

Let’s round up our list of the best toddler backpacks with 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.

Buy it: $15, Target.com

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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