Weighted Lap Pads: A Heavy Blanket that You Can Carry Around
Weighted lap pads are a great sensory tool that helps kids and adults with sensory issues, ADHD and ADD, autism and hyperactivity. Aiding to improve their focus, attention, or ability to relax and calm down.
Unlike heavy blankets, weighted lap pads are more versatile and can be used almost everywhere. Find out if this sensory tool is as effective and as useful as manufacturers claim below.
What Are Weighted Lap Pads?
They can be seen as just “heavy pillows” that come in different sizes and shapes to fit across a child’s or adult’s lap.
A rectangle shape is the most classic one, albeit circles, tubes, bolsters, and animal shapes are popular as well.
While the shape may be important to the child, you should pay attention to the weight. The lap pad should be heavy enough to cover your child’s lap and help them reap the maximum benefits from this sensory tool.
Adults and children who usually need weighted lap pads have:
- Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
- Anxiety or depression
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD)
- Alzheimer’s disease or dementia
- Tactile defensiveness
Weighted lap pads have been shown to have tons of benefits. They help your child stay calm and relaxed while studying, eating, or traveling. Adults with any aforementioned disorders can benefit from this tool as well.
A weighted lap pad offers targeted deep touch pressure input when your little one seats. This reduces the likelihood of misbehavior, tantrums, and meltdowns.
Why are Weighted Lap Pads Useful?
Weighted lap pads are most commonly used at home and in classrooms to help children stay seated and focused. Preschool teachers also have used lap pads to keep kids in seated positions for circle time.
The lap pads promote refocusing, calming, and regulation. Plus, they’re portable. Adults with or without mental disorder use weighted lap pads in the workplace to increase productivity.
Unlike weighted blankets, weighted lap pads are perfect for school, family outings, picnics, restaurants, and traveling. They are easy to carry around and won’t be that noticeable – unless you choose an animal shape!.
If your child is fearful of crowded places, struggles to stay seated in class, or has trouble sleeping and staying organized, a weighted lap pad can help them regulate their body and mindstates.
Due to its powerful ability to calm the nervous system, these therapeutical items can help to prevent aggression, tantrums, and sensory meltdowns. Plus, it helps improve the body awareness.
Weighted lap pads are generally combined with a sensory diet plan to enhance the seated attention and posture. The key is choosing the correct weight. The wrong weight can either have no effect or cause harm to the legs.
There are also weighted lap pads with sensory attachments. They have anchors sewn on the surface with attached fidgets. You can utilize various attachment devices, including key-ring loops, carabineers, and clips.
When and How to Use a Weighted Lap Pad?
Similar to the idea of weighted blankets, a heavy lap pad is created to provide helpful sensory input to people with disabilities. However, it’s crucial to know how to use a weighted lap pad correctly to avoid the side effects.
First of all, don’t use it all day long. Take breaks. Use it when your child has trouble sitting still or you want them to relax and calm down. Stick to a 20-minute time frame, but be sure to remove the lap pad when your child says it’s too heavy or uncomfortable.
If you’re going to use a weighted lap pad to calm down your toddler, stick to a 5-minute time frame. If you’re only considering using this sensory tool, here’s when you can benefit from it, especially with a hyperactive kid:
- Bedtime, but this is not recommended for kids under 3.
- Grocery shopping, if your child is sensitive to the environment, sound, or lights of a store.
- Social settings, such as a birthday party.
- Teeth brushing, for kids who have difficulty standing.
- In a sensory tent or any quiet spot.
- While relaxing on the couch.
- While cutting nails.
- During haircuts.
- When changing activities (if your child hates trying something new).
- Car trips.
- When visiting a library, daycare, or school.
- When learning activities.
These are just a few examples and it really depends on your child’s lifestyle.
How to Choose the Right Size and Weights
There are many weighted lap pad options available on the market these days. As a general guideline for choosing the right weight and size, there are two things to consider:
First of all, a weighted lap pad should be around 12” x 30” or 12 ”x 18” in size. Secondly, it should be around 5% of your or your child’s body weight. For instance, if your kid is 60 lbs., opt for a 3 lb. lap pad.
Apart from weight, make sure you consider the following factors:
- Material: Choose the texture or fabric that isn’t overly distracting. It must be soothing and calming for you or your baby.
- The outer layer construction: Decide if you want a button, zipper, velcro, or sewn closure.
- The weight distribution: The interior should be constructed in boxes or channels to ensure the weight is distributed evenly.
- Washability: Since weighted lap pads are often used during mealtimes, washability is critical as well. Decide if you want a machine washable, waterproof, or wipeable cover.
Weighted Lap Pads and Tactile Defensiveness
Some kids and adults react negatively or adversely, or show an escape-like behavior when someone or something is touching, hugging, or kissing them. That’s because they have trouble processing sensory information as a result of a poor functioning tactile system.
Tactile defensiveness is highly common in people with autism spectrum disorder. The question is, “Are weighted items and sensory tools are effective for people with tactile defensiveness?”
Well, there’s no right answer since everyone is different. However, numerous studies suggest that weighted items stimulate the joints and muscles, improving anxiety modulation, and self-regulation.
Moreover, weighted items, including lap pads, help to dampen tactile defensiveness. But it takes some experimentation before you choose the one that won’t irritate your child. Before you place the lap pad on your child’s laps, be sure to let them know about it.
Do Weighted Lap Pads Actually Help?
Again, everyone is different. What works for someone may not work for others. From personal experience, I can say that the lap pads help in so many life situations. I’ve worked with children that have sensory needs, and I often had to decide who of them got to use the weighted lap pad for each day.
Due to its calming and soothing effect, a weighted lap pad helps children who:
- Have trouble sitting still
- Can’t nap and have difficulty falling asleep
- Have trouble focusing on an activity or a task
- Are anxious or irritated
- Have frequent tantrums and meltdowns
- Have trouble transitioning between activities
- Have overall bad behaviors.
The lap pads might not provide all the therapeutical needs for kids who display any of these troubles or that have sleep issues. In this case, a weighted quilt can be more effective.
Weighted lap pads are effective, compact, portable, and versatile. The key is finding the one that will calm and soothe your child rather than irritate them. Depending on your or your child’s symptoms, it’s recommended to choose a weighted lap pad with your or your child’s doctor.