The Best Backpacks for Toddlers for School and Daycare

by Bethany Braun-Silva

The Best Backpacks for Toddlers for School and Daycare
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It may not seem like it, but a backpack is a must-have item for toddlers. While they may not be off to school full-time just yet, and they certainly don’t need to carry a bunch of items,  the best backpacks for toddlers are great for travel, daycare, camp or everyday use. They also give toddlers a sense of independence and ownership that they crave at this age. Encouraging toddlers to pack a few items on their own,  like a toy or a snack, can set them up for a great day (wherever they’re going) and also encourage their development.


Plus, aside from being practical, many toddler backpacks are just downright adorable. From animals to cute prints, your little one will have a blast picking out their very own backpack. But there are a few things parents must consider in addition to cuteness. Toddler backpacks must be safe, since they will be carried on little, developing bodies. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that backpacks have wide, padded straps and a padded back. They also suggest that the backpack itself isn’t too heavy so it doesn’t add to the weight of what’s being carried. With all that in mind, here are our top picks for toddler backpacks.


Best Overall: Skip Hop Zoo Backpack


Best Sporty Backpack: The North Face Youth Sprout Backpack


Best Hiking Backpack: Mountaintop Toddler Backpack


Best With Side Pockets Dragon Dinosaur Toddler Backpack


Best Waterproof: KK Crafts Waterproof Preschool Backpack


Best Animal Backpack: Bixbee Animal Pack 


Best Disney Backpack: Mackenzie Aqua Disney Princess Backpack 


Best Traditional Backpack: Vaschy Preschool Backpack


Best Travel Backpack: Sesame Street Cookie Monster Rolling Luggage


Best Backpack With Harness: Yolo Toddler Backpack With Harness


1 of 10 Image Credits: Skip Hop

Best Overall

Skip Hop Zoo Backpack


Perhaps the most popular toddler backpack on the market, the Skip Hop Zoo backpack has an insulated front pouch to keep snacks and drinks cool for hours. The canvas material makes it super easy to clean and the mesh pocket can fit a juice box or water bottle. The straps are padded and comfy. At 11” x 5” x 12h”, it’s just the right size for your little one. Plus, it comes in a number of different animal designs like butterflies, owls, monkeys and zebras.

What Reviewers Are Saying:
I am such a fan of this backpack. My little one is 2 - so I don't like bringing the diaper bag (too big), but I don't want to throw a diaper in my purse (too small) we need some things when we go out, but not a ton. So, we bought this.

This adorable backpack has already served us well, and my 3-year-old hasn't even started school yet! It's the perfect size for her to carry herself, and even when it's loaded up with activities, a blanket, extra clothes, wipes, and a full water bottle, she can handle it.

This is a great little backpack. Quality materials, stiching and details all add up to a super cute and functional product. Perfect for a water bottle, some snacks, a pack of wipes and a few diapers/training pants.

2 of 10 Image Credits: Amazon

Best Sporty Backpack

The North Face Youth Sprout Backpack


This backpack was designed for kids ages 2-4 in mind. It has youth-specific shoulder straps and a main compartment that is big enough for a change of clothes, snacks and a small toy. It also has a handy smaller outer compartment. It features two mesh pockets on either side for storing a water bottle—or a maybe even a small stuffed animal! It also has reflective strips should you and your toddler take any late-night walks. We’re kidding of course, but those strips will really come in handy when you’re searching for the bag in the dark in the back of your trunk or closet.

What Reviewers Are Saying:
I picked this out for our 20 month old son. I had looked and looked through every bag I could find for a small child and I could not be happier with the choice.

Fits just enough for a preschooler and I love the pattern. Well made and my daughter loves it! Zippers work well and compartments are great!

This is a very small backpack but it's perfect for a toddler for preschool. It's a good size too for a Yumbox or Bentgo for lunch. The quality of the backpack is very good.

3 of 10 Image Credits: Amazon

Best Hiking Backpack

Mountaintop Toddler Backpack


Parents love this backpack for the ergonomic chest strap, which helps distribute some of the weight off of your child’s back and shoulders. It has a padded, mesh back for extra support and circulation, read—no sweaty backs! It also has a inner wet clothes compartment, which makes this the perfect backpack, not only for hiking, but for the beach, too.

What Reviewers Are Saying:
After buying several toddler and preschooler backpacks, this is the first one that gets a things thumbs up from both mama and kid. I love the chest strap for keeping the pack in place but also because it is easy to buckle and unbuckle. The straps are padded and the pack has a very durable construction.

This is a pretty solid backpack for our two year old. It’s a great size against his back and doesn’t sit awkwardly. When I looked around for a backpack for him, I notice a majority of them didn’t have chest clips. That’s one of my favorite features because it helps make adjusting real easy and keeps the backpack on him.

These are quality backpacks that are made extremely well. They are the perfect size for a toddler to haul around toys and lovies or could fit an outfit change and a couple of diapers and snacks for a day trip.

4 of 10 Image Credits: Amazon

Best With Side Pockets

Dragon Dinosaur Toddler Backpack


Kids will roar for this backpack. Its roomy design allows for it to carry quite a few things, while it’s also lightweight, so it shouldn’t feel too heavy, even when packed to the brim. This backpack is great for school or daycare as it can easily fit a lunch box and a change of clothes with room left over. Plus, the design and “spikes” are super cute, too!

What Reviewers Are Saying:
I absolutely love this bag. My son turned one and I wanted to throw away his baby diaper bag. I ordered this bag and I love it. It’s not a normal size book bag but just right for what I was looking for. I’m able to put at least 2 outfits in there just in case for accidents, his cups and anything else I want him to have.

I have a toddler who is obsessed with dinos and this was perfect for him. He's 3 and wants to be just like big brother so we got him his very own backpack to take to Grandma’s house.

‘The bestest backpack ever,’ that’s what my grandson said when we I gave it to him. He loved and could name the dinosaurs. He put it on and said ‘Grrrrrrr!’ Great colors.

5 of 10 Image Credits: Amazon

Best Waterproof

KK Crafts Waterproof Backpack for Toddlers


Unicorns are definitely having a moment, so this backpack is on-trend and totally functional as it's made from waterproof neoprene. It has a roomy main pocket, two spacious easy-to-open side pockets and one zipped front pocket that can be used as a pencil pouch or snack pocket. The bag is also quite durable and easy to spot-clean. Plus it’s glittery and fun!

What Reviewers Are Saying:
This backpack is adorable. I bought as a gift for 5 year old and it did not disappoint! Greatly made and great detail.

Perfect size and adorable. Well made and good quality. Very detailed and worth the money. My daughter gets tons of compliments anytime she’s wearing it on her back.

I got this for my daughter for Christmas. She absolutely loves it! I love that the material is easy to clean. Just wipe with a damp cloth. Seems to be well made and detail is so cute! It's small enough for her to carry (she's almost 4) and still big enough to put all her things for daycare or a weekend trip in.

6 of 10 Image Credits: Nordstrom

Best Animal Backpack

Bixbee Animal Pack


This backpack was made to support kids and designed to avoid putting pressure on the spine. It also has a high sponge mesh back cushion, which is comfortable and breathable to reduce sweating . The neoprene fabric is eco-friendly and won’t irritate your child’s skin. It’s also waterproof and won’t get damaged by an open water bottle. The 3D animal designs are fun and kids can pick from an octopus or owl.

What Reviewers Are Saying:
Adorable backpack! Well made. It does seem waterproof as we had coffee spill all over it and after I rinsed the outside (while zipped), the inside stayed dry. Our 2 yr old son loves it and doesn't want to take it off.

Ordered this for my nephews 2nd birthday and he adores it. Perfect for his little back very light weight and well made.

Good quality product for toddlers. My grandson loves it. Can fit several pull-ups and juice or a baby blanket.

7 of 10 Image Credits: Pottery Barn Kids

Best Disney Backpack

Mackenzie Disney Princess Backpack


Can’t decide which Disney princess is her favorite? Well, with this backpack little girls don’t have to.. The mini version of the Mackenzie Backpack from Pottery Barn kids is roomy and sturdy with padded shoulder straps and back panel. plenty of pockets for your little one to stuff with her large collection of her Disney toys. The exterior straps can even hold the coordinating lunch pail. Plus, there are many matching accessories to go with adorable and whimsical bag!

8 of 10 Image Credits: Amazon

Best Traditional Backpack

Vaschy Preschool Backpack


This backpack looks like it was made for older kids, but it is just the right size for your toddler. It features easy-to-open-and close zipper tags, a main zippered pocket, two side pockets for water and top loops for hanging it. It has an inner pocket that’s perfect for storing a tablet, while the main pocket can hold books, toys and a change of clothes with ease. Vaschy’s Preschool Backpack comes in a number of cute and thoughtful designs.

What Reviewers Are Saying:
Adorable! It's perfect size and so well made.While the design of this backpack is certainly eye-catching.Got this backpack for my daughter who is 3 years old.

This backpack is so cute! We chose the Cute Fruits design. The colors and design are perfect for a little pre-k to kindergartener.

I bought the backpack for my 3-year-old before our 3 summer trips. We gave it to her early so she could ‘get used to using it.’ Silly me, I thought we'd have to bribe her to use it. Not the case! She LOVES wearing her backpack and loves to pack it with what SHE wants.

9 of 10 Image Credits: Crate and Barrel

Best Travel Backpack

Sesame Street Cookie Monster Rolling Luggage


While this technically is a piece of luggage, it can also double as a school bag. If your child needs a lot of things for school and camp, this is a great option because they can roll it on their own and don’t have to carry anything heavy on their back. It’s made just like a backpack with a large main pocket, a convenient inner pocket and a smaller outer pocket. It has a mesh side pocket and a super fun design on the inside!

10 of 10 Image Credits: Amazon

Best Backpack With Harness

Yodo Toddler Backpack With Harness


This toddler backpack can be used with or without the safety harness. If you’re traveling to Disney World, or another theme park, this is a great option for keeping your kid right by your side in a large crowd while the BPA-free insulated lining keeps drinks and snacks cool. Your toddler can also use the chest strap for added comfort and support.

What Reviewers Are Saying:
My son is a 5 yr old autistic child with impulse control so he bolts all the time. He's the size of a 9 yr old 4 ft tall and almost 70 ibs. This harness is awesome it's nice and sturdy.

This backpack is SO stinkin cute! My son is 2 but small for his age so this backpack fits him well with room to grow. The zipper is smooth so he can zip and unzip it by himself without any difficulty and the side pockets stretch enough to hold a sippy cup.

This little bag is so great for my one year old to feel like a big boy as he is walking into daycare. On weekends I can typically put a few diapers, wipes and a few other items in there and use it instead of our old, oversized diaper bag.