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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 being 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 weighted lap pad be used?
  • How to be safe using a weighted lap pad.
  • What are all the phrases used to describe a weighted lap pad?
  • What should I consider when buying a weighted lap pad?  A buyers checklist.
  • What are some examples of weighted lap pads?
Weighted lap pad examples

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 is used as a sensory tool. And sensory tools are used by people who experience sensory overload, or who have sensory sensitivity and want to help feel more calm or organized and less restless or unsettled.  This blog post explains more about sensory overload. A little bit of weight, spread across your lap, can feel calming.  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:

  • calming
  • grounding
  • relaxation
  • self-soothing
  • a distraction
  • focusing

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.  A good rule of thumb is no more than 5% of body weight.  So a child who weighs 70 lbs. would not use a weighted lap animal of more than 3.5 lbs. Nevertheless, weight that is even less than 5% of body weight helps.  Usually weighted lap pads come in pre-set weights.  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.  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
  • at the 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 weighted lap pad be used?

There is no fixed times that a weighted lap pad should be used, but it is important to note that the body and brain adjust to the feeling of weight overtime.  So do not expect a weighted lap pad to be useful and effective for long periods.  It is best used intermittently.  A suggestion is to use it for 20-minute intervals.

How to be safe using a weighted lap pad.

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.   Infants and many toddlers do not have the muscle strength, muscle coordination or awareness to move something even a little bit heavy.  Weighted lap 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.  Safety always comes first.
  • consider using a weighted lap buddy with pre-school and school age children, adults and seniors, but 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.  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.

You can use this weighted lap pad buying checklist to help you choose the one that is right for your 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?
  • Does color matter?
  • Does the type of material cover matter?
  • Does style matter? Do I want it to look like a toy or simply blend in?
  • What size lap pad am I looking for? What is the weight of the person?
  • 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. 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?

What are some examples of weighted lap pads?

There is a line of weighted lap animals that come in different sizes and weights.  Some also come with extra covers to protect them.  They are in the shape of different animals.  They can also be worn across the shoulders or limbs.  And because they are filled with small beads and have a somewhat stretchy cover, they have a built in fidget for hands to knead.

Frog

Frog cover

Lizard

Lizard cover

Dolphin

Snake

Here is an example that is a simple rectangle and comes in different colors.

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Are you interested in weighted lap pads because of a sensory issue? Do you experience sensory overload in daily life?  Maybe you or someone in your family has sensory sensitivity. Did you know you can search for sensory friendly places and events in the Sensory Friendly Finder.

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