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Weighted lap pads are becoming increasingly popular as a natural and affordable way to help both kids and adults relax and self sooth during the day.
So if you’re thinking of getting one and are looking for some weighted lap pad guidelines to follow, the truth is there aren’t any ‘official’ ones. However, there are a number of commonly accepted principles, which occupational therapists generally use as a ‘rule of thumb’.
Let’s take a look…
What is a weighted lap pad?
Similar to a weighted blanket, just on a smaller scale, a weighted lap pad contains weighted pellets or beads to give it extra weight. The weighted lap pad rests on the user’s legs, where it applies gentle, therapeutic deep touch pressure (DTP).
DTP has been shown to help the body naturally ground and calm down and can be extremely beneficial for children with sensory processing disorders, autism and ADHD, as well as adults with anxiety, PTSD or conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimers.
Whilst a weighted blanket is generally used more as a sleep aid, weighted lap pads tend to be used during the day as a calming aid in the home, school or workplace.
Here are 5 generally accepted weighted lap pad guidelines to keep in mind:
5 weighted lap pad guidelines
1 – Use the weighted lap pad weight ‘rule of thumb’
Therapists & manufacturers generally recommend a weighted lap pad is around 5-7 % of a user’s body weight.
For children, specifically, Alisha, a registered Occupational Therapist at Your Kids Table, recommends:
As a general rule of thumb, weighted lap pads are for children that are growing normally without any significant health concerns at age 3 or older. Use 5% of your child’s body weight as a guideline to determine the appropriate weight the lap pad should have. For example, if your child is 60 lbs. then a 3 lb. lap pad would be a good fit. Discuss any concerns or exceptions to these “rules” with your child’s doctor.
A weighted lap pad should also never be too heavy for the user to move off their lap themselves.
If unsure, always consult a licensed therapist or medical professional for advice.
2 – Consider sensory requirements
Weighted lap pads often prove incredibly calming for many kids & adults with sensory processing conditions, as the extra weight helps provide extra stimulation (or proprioceptive input) sensory seekers crave.
For those highly sensitive to sensory stimuli, however (i.e. they seek to avoid it and shy away from touch and things like heavy blankets), the weight of a lap pad may feel too much and end up overstimulating the tactile system. Your Kids Table offers some practical tips to help you decide if a weighted lap pad may be suitable for a child with a sensory condition.
Another thing to consider is the weighted lap pad fabric. Sensory seekers often love the tactile feel of Minky Dot fleece fabrics, whilst those sensitive to touch or heat may prefer a smoother, more breathable, cotton fabric.
3 – Use a weighted lap pad for short periods
Weighted lap pads are not designed to be used all day, but rather at times when a person feels anxious, is having difficulty calming down or needs to focus better. Some examples might include before bed, during mealtimes, on a car trip or plane journey or in a classroom or desk based environment.
Always respect a child who doesn’t wish to use a weighted lap pad.
4 – Don’t use in conjunction with another weighted aid
Weighted lap pads are designed to be used at a weight that’s appropriate for the person using it. So avoid using a weighted lap pad in conjunction with other weighted aids or the weight could become too heavy and intense.
5 – Keep washability needs in mind
Whilst not technically a guideline, another factor you’ll likely want to consider is washability.
If you plan to use a weighted lap pad at meal times, for example, you may want to invest in a lap pad thats wipeable. On the other hand, if your child struggles to focus in a classroom environment and seeks extra sensory stimulation, a sensory Minky Dot lap pad may be a better choice.
Whilst most weighted lap pads should be washable, always check product details to be sure, especially if you plan to use a washing machine or tumble dryer.
Weighted Lap Pad Guidelines – A Final Word
Weighted lap pads are an increasingly popular sensory aid to help children and adults calm down, transition better from one activity to another, or improve focus.
Smaller and more portable than weighted blankets, weighted lap pads rest over the user’s legs and can be used almost anywhere – be it the home, classroom, office or dentist’s chair.
Whilst no official weighted lap pad guidelines exist as such, occupational therapists generally use the guidelines above as a rule of thumb.
If you are unsure whether a weighted lap pad is right for you or your child, always consult your therapist or doctor for advice.
Disclaimer: The content on this site is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Talk to a doctor or healthcare provider before undertaking any type of therapy.