11 Best Toddler Backpacks For Daycare, Preschool, + Everyday [Boys and Girls]

Toddler backpacks offer a great opportunity for kids to learn responsibility while also being functional in a daycare or preschool setting. However the options are endless with so many sizes, features, and colors to choose from! It can feel totally overwhelming to figure out the best toddler backpack for your family and little one's needs.

We've rounded up the best toddler bags based on safety, the right size, quality, versatility, and of course, durability. Plus we are answering all the FAQs about toddler backpacks!

Top Picks for the Best Backpacks For Toddlers

Read full reviews of each below, plus more picks for various situations:

Table Of Contents
  1. Top Picks for the Best Backpacks For Toddlers
  2. 13 Best Toddler Backpacks For Daycare, Preschool, + Everyday [Boys and Girls]
  3. Best Tiny Toddler Backpacks Character/Animal Themed:
  4. FAQS About Toddler Backpacks:
  5. Final Thoughts
  6. Best Backpacks for Toddlers

Overall Best Toddler Backpack: Skip Hop Toddler Backpack Zoo Collection

Aside from Skip Hop being a household name parents know and often trust, their toddler backpacks have you covered on every front at a moderate price point (largely the reason it beat out Pottery Barn Kids).

It comes in a ton of a animal options in their Zoo Collection including: a narwhal, dragon, owl, fox, dinosaur, dog, unicorn, llama, butterfly, shark, Yeti, flamingo, giraffe, and monkey to name a few! You are sure to find one that your child will love.

The exteriors are water resistant, and quite durable. They offer adjustable straps, a mesh side water bottle pocket or quick access snack pocket. And the zippers all have a tab that make it easy for toddler fingers to pull. Plus each bag has a write-on name tag feature inside. The straps are also padded and adjustable.

Lastly, you're guaranteed to find the perfect size amongst their collection. Beyond their standard 11″ H backpacks, you can get it in a slightly smaller size with a chest strap / safety harness and removable leash, or larger options as your child grows.

NOTE: SkipHop's leashed backpack is NOT insulated and we consider this the best child leash backpack instead.

We recommend the little kid and toddler sizing, because they're roomier, and the front pocket is great for quick access snacks whether your traveling or just sending your child to daycare or preschool.

These backpacks are wildly popular thanks to their durability and wide range of adorable animals. Additionally, each of their bags also has a matching lunch box for purchase.

  • Comes in every animal option
  • Insulated pocket option
  • Child harness/safety leash option
  • Built in name tag
  • Easy pull zipper
  • Side pocket for snacks
  • Neither size option fits standard file folder
  • Child will likely outgrow by 1st grade

Best Personalized Toddler Backpack: Ten Littles Recycled Backpack

We are HUGE fans of Ten Littles shoes and are just as obsessed with the bright colors of their recycled backpacks that your toddler can completely personalize with stickers (in the search bar type “stickers” for even more options from dinosaurs, safari themed, farm animals, and more!!) each school years.

It's made from 100% recycled materials that are non toxic and Oeko-Tex certified.

Inside is a name tag spot (safer that way) and waterproof lining. There is even a tablet sleeve slip pocket (though we usually use this for a spare change of clothes).

The zippers are large enough for little fingers and are a sturdy easy-glide experience as they work on fine motor skills.

The side mesh pockets can actually hold a water bottle or snack cup and there's a large front pocket. It's one of our favorite backpacks thanks to the large capacity with more than enough room for our preschooler's school supplies, lunch, water bottle and a change of clothes!

What your toddler will love the most: personalizing with their stickers! Just like Ten Little's shoes, you can get weatherproof stickers so your child can really make it their own. These can be taken off and swapped out as their interests change too!

It's a lightweight ergonomic fit that parents and kids can get behind!

NOTE: For safety reasons when selecting a toddler backpack, we do NOT recommend your child's name embroidered/emblazoned on the front exterior of a bag. Learn more about toddler backpack safety here.

  • Large name tag spot inside to pass down to siblings
  • Personalization toddler's can actually appreciate and update as their interested change
  • Large side and front pockets
  • Waterproof inner lining
  • Easy zippers
  • Lightweight and ergonomically designed
  • Sustainable materials
  • Swapping out stickers could get pricey

Best Budget Backpack: Abshoo Little Kids Backpacks for Boys and Girls Preschool Backpack

The chest strap helps children balance the bag on their back and ensure that it does not weigh them down too much. It’s never a good idea to load a toddler backpack up, but some young children will have a hard time with any weight at all.

The Abshoo Little Kids Backpacks do a great job redistributing weight and making it easier for kids. The exterior is super durable and water resistant.

We've had ours for 2+ years and multiple machine washes with zero issues. But it does come with a 12 month warranty which is nice!

This backpack is available in several different colors and designs including unicorns, foxes, pandas, sharks, dinosaurs for girls and boys, puppies, mermaids, and rocket ships!

  • Good quality and durability 
  • Comfortable backpack 
  • Chest strap for balance
  • 1 year warranty
  • No solid colors
  • Can't fit standard sheet of paper unfolded
  • Side pockets a little small for some water bottles

Highest Quality + Best Designs: Pottery Barn Kids

Next to SkipHop, Pottery Barn Kids are probably the other most popular backpack in preschools and daycares for good reason. At a relatively moderate price point you'll get amazing features like padded straps, a top carrying handle, side mesh pockets, and easy open zippers.

Kids will love choosing their favorite print or character – most of which come with matching toddler lunch boxes that clip onto the backpack too!

The added buckles on the front make it one of our favorite travel backpacks as small children can use them as a mini busy board while waiting or they double as a road trip toy.

From ballerinas to rainbows, dinos and diggers, and even your favorite Disney, Paw Patrol, or Lego’s characters you’re sure to find a backpack your toddler will become obsessed with!

NOTE: Double check sizing before you purchase as their backpacks come in mini, small, large, and x-large but only the mini sizing is suitable for toddlers!

Pottery Barn also offers personalization if you wanted to embroider your kids initials – we'd skip their full name though for safety reasons!

  • Highest quality and durability
  • Comfortable backpack 
  • Chest strap for balance
  • Extra buckles for engagement
  • Larger size options as child grows
  • Embroidery options
  • No insulation
  • Can't fit standard sheet of paper unfolded

Best Children’s Leash Backpack With Harness: Yodo Kids Insulated Toddler Backpack with Safety Harness Leash and Name Label

Worried about your child running off? This toddler backpack comes with a built-in safety harness chest strap and removable tether leash making it a great option.

The interior lining is BPA free, FDA compliant, and insulated making this backpack double as a lunch bag itself! It can easily be wiped clean, and is stain resistant.

The back is nicely padded and has a built in name tag. Plus there are two mesh side pockets for quick access drinks or snacks.

Toddlers will also love getting to choose between the dog, dinosaur, shark, or unicorn 3D design!

  • Insulated inside
  • Chest strap for safety harness
  • Detachable leash
  • Great size for daycare or young preschool children
  • Small size may not be great for older preschool aged kids
  • No front pocket; but a spacious main compartment

Most Durable Toddler Backpack: Mountaintop Kids Toddler Backpack

Everything about this bag is built for the young kids, and it certainly has the durability and the quality to withstand what a toddler can do to a backpack. It gives us North Face and L.L. Bean vibes! We love this particular bag because it can quickly grow from toddler to preschool and potentially even a kindergarten backpack. 

Plus it has a chest strap, included name tag, and a mesh padded area to help cool the child if they have their bag on for quite some time while hiking or outdoors.

You will love this bag for adventures, school, and travel. The Mountaintop comes in a variety of colors and prints from blue, black, green, purple, pink and outer space and rocket ship options just to name a few.

  • Available in many colors
  • Easy to label 
  • Comfortable for a child 
  • Can work for preschool as well 
  • Durable
  • Compartment is small for carrying actual school books 

Best Toddlers Rolling Backpack: Yodo 3-Way Kids Toddler Rolling Backpack with wheels

Is it luggage or a backpack? It's BOTH! That's right, you can use the straps so you're toddler can wear this rolling backpack like any other small sized backpack. Or if it gets too heavy, they can put it down and hold the handle. Kids are sure to love the wheels.

Plus it offers a smart design from the quick access pouch up front, to the mess side pockets for bottles or snacks. There's also a name tag spot and easy grasp zippers for toddler fingers. If you want to encourage regular backpack wear, you can use the hide-away wheel cover feature too.

The Yodo bag provides lots of room and can really grow with your child. Plus it comes in fun styles like a dinosaur, monkey, owl, shark, and unicorn to name a few!

NOTE: This is a larger backpack and we'd suggest the “small” size when checking out. Even the “small” size may not be suitable for smaller toddlers to wear on their back initially. See our sizing guide/tips at the bottom of this post!

  • Backpack to roll feature
  • Grows with child
  • Easy access pockets
  • Great for travel too
  • May be too big for some toddlers to wear on back initially
  • No insulation (keep in mind for travel snacks!)

Most Trendy Toddler Backpack: Sunwel Cutest Cartoon Toddler Sequin Bow Mouse Ears Bag Mini Travelling School Shoulder Backpack

If you're a parent who loves dressing your kids in the perfect Instagrammable aesthetic – but also wants them to feel good, the the Toddler Sequin Bow Mouse Ears mini backpack is an excellent compromise!

It's super cute, comes in 4 colors (black with a red bow, hot pink, this gorgeous powdery blue with pastel pink ears, and a baby pink on pink options we love). 

It's overall water resistant, has a quick access front pouch, and a couple of spots you could attach a child leash too if you were to take it with your to Disney!

NOTE: This is one of the smallest backpacks on the list and will likely not fit a lunchbox if using.

  • Based on a classic trend that will never go out of style
  • Comes in several colors
  • Many Disney obsessed adults rock this themselves as a backpack purse (multi-purpose potentially)
  • Durable
  • Can't fit lunchbox
  • Straps may be long for small toddler

Best Toddler Backpack And Lunchbox: CCJPX 3PCS Toddler Backpack for Boys Dinosaur Bookbag and Lunch Box Set

While this is listed as a toddler backpack for boys by the seller, I have to disagree as do the other reviewers. Girls LOVES dinosaurs and blue this works just as well, no matter what gender.

It's BPA, Phthalate, lead, and cadmium free. The backpack itself is on the larger side, though it still does not fit a standard folder it does fit an iPad.

It also has a large front pocket and two side pockets for a water bottle or snacks. The exterior is super durable and the lunch bag is insulated. Plus it comes with a pencil case. We find that it's the perfect mix of price, durability, and versatility when it comes to backpack and lunchbox sets.

  • Durable
  • Lunch box included
  • Convenient pockets
  • Fits papers
  • Doesn't fit a folder

Best Mini Backpacks For Toddlers: Nike Brasilia JDI Mini (most colors too!)

The Nike Brasilia JDI Mini Backpack can make a great option for toddlers that will grow with them and provide long term family use if a parent or older sibling wanted to wear to the zoo or on an outing.

This backpack offers the larger dimensions than many on the list. Making it a big enough choice to fit a file folder while still being lightweight enough for a toddler.

It boasts a large main compartment, with an inside pocket for small item storage. Plus a front pocket and side pocket for quicker access items. The shoulder straps and back panel are padded, providing extra comfort for your toddler or you too! also comes in the most solid color (including two pink toddler backpack) options of any backpack on this list!

  • Durable
  • Fits a folder
  • Convenient pockets

  • No name label
  • Price can vary widely depending on color

Best Tiny Toddler Backpacks Character/Animal Themed:

We wanted to include a section of really cute character and animal themed toddler bags that deserve an honorable mention, but don't offer quite as many features as the previously mentioned ones. We'd say these are great if style over functionality is your focus and suggest reading about how to choose the best toddler backpack for your child for more tips if you're unsure:

Dinosaur Backpack: Orezi Dinosaur Toddler Backpack For Preschool and Daycare

Boasting 7 different Dinosaur toddler backpacks for boys and girls, this brand really needed a spot on the list! Plus it has many features we love including a durable, machine washable material that's easy to clean, a roomy main compartment, two mesh side pockets, and a front pocket. It does not fit a standard file folder though.

More Dinosaur tiny toddler backpacks:

Best Plush Toddler Backpack:

These are absolutely adorable, and super cuddly. Most of them have a stuffed animal attached to the backpack via a harness which means this doubles as a backpack and stuffed animal. This could be great for big siblings who watch parents baby wear or a child attached to their furry friends as they can swap out which stuffed animal they bring with them! However keep in mind that they won't be the easiest for a toddler to keep clean and expect to wash them frequently.

Best Space Astronaut Toddler Backpacks:

These feature many brands we already talked about so most come with a chest strap or child leash option, mesh side pockets, a front pocket, and are easy to wipe clean and durable.

Best Shark Toddler Backpacks:

I think we can all blame “Baby Shark” for our toddlers demanding shark themed mini backpacks! Which are actually a lot harder to find than you'd think! Here are some of the best that we found (most of the brands we talked about earlier!):

FAQS About Toddler Backpacks:

How do I choose the best toddler backpack for my child?

When choosing the right backpack consider size, safety, durability/ difficult to care for, organization, and versatility.

The majority of toddler backpacks come with adjustable shoulder straps with padding, at least one small pocket, and a mesh side pocket. However not all of them have insulation, offer a washable lightweight material, or your child's favorite character.

You'll want something extremely lightweight as toddlers should only carry roughly 3 to 4 lbs on their back and easy to wash because spills are pretty much guaranteed with littles.

We find any of thecute backpacks from Skip Hop and Pottery Barn Kids check off all these boxes.

What size is a toddler backpack?

Toddler backpacks shoulder really be no longer than the length of the child's back. You can measure this if you are unsure.

Typically though, you are looking for something between 10 to 15 inches; with most toddler backpacks coming in around 12 inches tall. The perfect fit for toddlers is around 11L and it should never be heavier than 10 to 15% of your child's body weight according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. They also recommend wide shoulder straps and a chest strap to help distribute the weight.

What safety features should I consider in a toddler backpack?

Weight is the biggest safety concern when it comes to a toddler backpack. You don't want to overload the bag with stuff and cause issues.

With that said, some parents prefer a chest strap or harness to redistribute the weight and ensure their child is wearing it probably. This is also crucial if you plan to add a tether or child leash to the bag for crowded outings.

Lastly, for safety reasons, it's recommended to keep their name tag on the inside (2). This way no random stranger can call their name out and say you sent them to pick you up. On that note, we also encourage creating a code word in the family, or something similar. Have your child always ask for this, even if they know the adult, before going anywhere with another adult if you are not present or there to send them off.

What materials should I look for?

You'll want something durable and easy to care for. Something easy to wipe clean or that can be machine washed is helpful. We also suggest considering insulation if you plan to use it for food or beverages frequently.

What features are most important when choose a toddler backpack?

We suggest thinking about how you plan to use the backpack and going from there.

Think about how your toddler will use the backpack. Is it just for daycare? Do you want it to last into kindergarten or elementrary school? If so, it should ideally fit a standard folder.

Or do you prefer to use it as a diaper bag that they are responsible for wearing during outings or travel? Consider compartments or organization solutions for clean and soiled clothes in this case.

Do you plan to use it for travel? Crowded spaces? A harness/leash or rolling option may suit you better.

What do you put in a toddler backpack?

The needs of your toddler backpack will be unique to your child. Here are a few things we have used a toddler backpack for. Although if you ask your toddler, they will likely give you lots of ideas about using the backpack!

  • Lunch or drink for daycare or preschool
  • Toy to keep the child occupied
  • Change of clothes
  • Drawing paper or stickers
  • A book to read
  • Blanket or stuffed animal 
  • Wipes

We suggest calling your child's daycare or preschool to see if there are any size requirements/suggestions for toddler backpacks based on assignments.

Does my child need a backpack for preschool?

It depends on your preschool and how long your child is there every day.

Some preschools are going to ask you to skip the backpack because of space limitations in the classroom. However, this also depends on the length of the day that the child has. If your child is there for an extended program, the school may encourage a backpack to keep track of all of their belongings.

On the flip side, many schools encourage a backpack to foster responsibility (key montessori concept), keep the child's lunch, blanket for naptime, or a change of clothes.

How do I label my child's backpack?

Most toddler backpacks come with a label affixed to a discreet part of the bag where you just write your child's name in.

One of the best ways to label a toddler backpack is to use a luggage tag. These are easy to put on, can attach to several different areas, and are known for being quite durable. If the airlines don’t lose your luggage tag, chances are your toddler can make it through a day at daycare with the luggage tag still intact. 

Final Thoughts

Toddler backpacks help preschool aged kids learn responsibility for their belongings whether they are traveling, going on an everyday adventure, or attending a daycare or preschool. They also work great as diaper bags that your child is responsible for instead of you!

Our top pick is a tie between Ten Littles Personalized Recycled Backpack and Skip Hop Toddler Backpack Zoo Collection. Both offer the most toddler friendly features and styles from mesh snack pockets to easy grasp zippers. They're durable, organized, and easy to clean and offer chest straps and padded ergonomic designs.

Another great backpack and close runner up is the Mackenzie Pottery Barn mini backpack. The extra front buckles make for a fun activity while toddlers wait or travel, and the popular character prints and glow in the dark designs are sure to capture little one's hearts!

But we really think you can't go wrong with any on this list!

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The best toddler backpacks for boys and girls heading off to daycare or preschool! Featuring dinosaurs, astronauts, zoo animals, sharks, unicorns, and more!