DIY: Toddler Backpack Sternum Strap

My son, Wyatt, started his first year of a two-year kindergarten this year, but the magic of preschool just keeps on giving. Just the other day, I learned that he knows how to match and roll socks. Neither my husband nor I ever taught him how to do it. He knows how to do it because he watched one of his older preschool buddies match and roll her socks. As he put it, “After I saw her do it, I just knew how to do it myself.” 

Sock rolling skills aside, one of the most important things that my son learned in preschool was how to hike. He has strong hiking legs now and can walk very far for a small person. Even though he may complain bitterly on the uphills, he and I both know he can make it to the top.

One of the things that helps him hike is his backpack. Not only is it practical, because it allows him to carry his own water bottle and other small items, but it’s fun for him just to have one. That is, it’s fun to have one that fits and works. When he was younger, I couldn’t find any backpacks in his size that had a sternum strap. A sternum strap is the little clippy strap that goes across your chest to hold your backpack’s shoulder straps together and prevent them from slipping off your shoulders. It really helps to keep your backpack on, especially if you’re a little kid.fullbackpack

When I was shopping for Wyatt’s first backpack, I found several sturdy, water resistant, toddler-sized backpacks, but none of them had a sternum strap. And I learned that while you can get adult-sized sternum straps separately, child-sized ones are harder (impossible?) to find. So I made my own.

Here’s how I did it:


You’ll need approximately 2 feet of 1-inch wide Velcro, a few pins, and either a sewing machine and matching thread OR a needle, matching thread and maybe a thimble if you have wussy fingers like I do.


  1. Take a roll (or length) of Velcro where the hooked and soft sides are still stuck together. Cut a piece that’s longer than you think you’ll need. A foot should be plenty, but the exact length will depend on how wide the shoulder straps are and how closely together you want to be able to fasten the shoulder straps with the sternum strap.
  2. Rip the Velcro apart. Loop one of the lengths around one shoulder strap, with the textured, grippy side facing the shoulder strap, and pin the end so the shoulder strap is now inside a loop of Velcro. Make sure that the loop you create around the shoulder strap is just tight enough that the Velcro can move up and down the shoulder strap with a bit of resistance. Now do the same thing with the other length of Velcro on the other shoulder strap. You should now have two long tabs with their grippy sides facing each other that you can fasten together as a sternum strap. Securely stitch the pinned ends.
  3. Cut the Velcro tabs to the desired length. Bonus: they don’t fray, so you don’t have to finish the ends. My tabs are about 3 inches long.
  4. Go forth and hike!


If you’re looking for more DIY inspiration or are interested in seeing what Kelly White is exploring lately, check out her blog, String and Twig

Comments 1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.