What You Need to Know About a Weighted Lap Pad
Have you heard someone say, “weighted lap pad” and wondered what that was? Weighted lap buddies are being used by children, adults, and seniors. They are also used by people at home, school, and work. In this blog post you will learn all about weighted lap pads, with answers to the following questions:
- What is a lap pad?
- What are weighted lap pads used for?
- How much weight should be used?
- Where is a weighted lap pad used?
- How long should a weight be used?
- How to be safe using weight.
- What are all the phrases used to describe a weighted lap pad?
- What should I consider when buying one? A buyers checklist.
What is a lap pad?
A lap pad describes something that is made of material, is thick, mostly soft, and has some weight to it. The word lap is used because it is designed to fit on your lap. Therefore, it is larger than most stuffies or stuffed animals but smaller than a weighted blanket for example. A lap pad is also not necessarily used as a toy, although children do often use them. Nevertheless, so do adults and seniors too. A lap pad fits on top of your lap, it is not something that you sit on. Finally, lap pads generally have some weight to them.
What are weighted lap pads used for?
A weighted lap pad, animal, or buddy are all used as sensory tools. People who experience sensory overload use sensory tools. As well, people who have sensory sensitivity do too. They want to help feel more calm or organized and less restless or unsettled. For example, this blog post explains more about sensory overload. Furthermore, a little bit of weight, spread across your lap, can feel calming. For instance, think about the comfort of having a pet or a cat lay on your lap, a weighted lap buddy can feel just like that.
They can be used for:
- a distraction
How much weight should be used?
You might think, “the heavier, the better”. However, this is not true. Your body can feel even the smallest changes in weight. Most importantly, a good rule of thumb is no more than 5% of body weight. For example, a child who weighs 70 lbs. would not use a weighted lap animal of more than 3.5 lbs. Nevertheless, the weight that is even less than 5% of body weight helps. Usually, weighted lap pads come in pre-set weights. However, it is OK to be under 5% of the person’s body weight, but for safety, it is important to avoid going over.
Where is a weighted lap pad used?
A weighted lap buddy can be used just about anywhere. Furthermore, they are easily transportable, although their weight may make them heavy to carry from place to place. However, due to the additional weight, though even small, a child may not be able to carry it independently throughout the day for example.
Examples of where a child might use a weighted lap animal:
- sitting at the dinner table during a meal
- sitting at their study desk doing homework
- in the car or on a bus when traveling
- flying on a plane,
- at the hairdresser or barber
- sitting in the shopping cart
- at school during circle time
- at their desk in the classroom
- in a movie theatre while watching a movie.
Examples of where an adult might use a weighted lap pad:
- at their desk at work
Examples of where a senior might use a weighted lap buddy:
- while sitting in a chair or wheelchair
How long should a weight be used?
There are no fixed times that weight should be used, but it is important to note that the body and brain adjust to the feeling of weight over time. On the other hand, do not expect a weighted lap buddy to be useful and effective for long periods. Thus, it is best used intermittently. Finally, a suggestion is to use it for 20-minute intervals.
How to be safe using a weight.
It is important to be safe while using a weighted lap pad. They are not safe for people of all ages and people of different abilities and like anything, can cause harm if used unsafely.
Here are some safety tips:
- infants and toddlers should not use weighted lap animals or pads. Specifically, infants and many toddlers do not have the muscle strength, muscle coordination or awareness to move something even a little bit heavy. Therefore, weighted lap animals or pads can pose a suffocation risk to an infant or toddler, or even an older child or person who lacks muscle strength, coordination, or awareness. Finally, safety always comes first.
- consider using a weighted lap buddy with pre-school and school-age children, adults, and seniors. However, only if the person has the strength, coordination, and awareness to use it safely and not put themselves at risk of injury.
If you are unsure if your child or the person you are considering using a weighted lap pad will be safe then consult your occupational therapist or your medical doctor.
What are all the phrases used to describe a weighted lap pad?
Throughout this article, you will have already read different descriptor words. Thus, it is important to know that a weighted lap pad is not the same thing as a weighted blanket or a weighted vest. These sensory tools will be discussed in later blog posts. Nevertheless, you may also see weighted lap pads called a weighted lap animal or weighted lap buddy or simply a lap pad. Likewise, animals and buddies are typical in the shape of an animal or character.
You can use this buying checklist to help you choose the one that is right for you or your situation.
- Is this for a child, adult, or senior?
- Will it be used with more than one person? For example in a classroom setting, in a nursing home?
- Is color important?
- Does the type of material cover matter?
- Does style matter?
- Do I want it to look like a toy? A weighted toy-like animal that is bigger? Or smaller?
- Something to go around shoulders?
- Or do I want it to simply blend in?
- What size lap pad am I looking for? There are pads that are a little larger, not quite blanket size.
- What is the weight of the person?
- Thus, what weight should the lap pad be? Is this less than 5% of the person’s body weight?
- Should it have a washable cover?
- Should it include a fidget component?
- Is the weight distribution important?
- Will the person using it be safe? E.g. will they have the ability to remove the lap pad?
- What am I trying to achieve by using one? How will I measure my success?
Christel Seeberger has been an occupational therapist for more than 25 years, helping people of all ages who experience sensory sensitivity and sensory overload. Christel understands how sensitivity and overload feel, she has hearing loss and wears hearing aids. Christel founded Sensory Friendly Solutions in 2016 to bring together people around the world looking for sensory-friendly living and the individuals, businesses and organizations who create sensory friendly experiences.