What You Need to Know About a Weighted Lap Pad

Have you heard someone say, “weighted lap pad” and wonder what it was? Children, adults and seniors all use them. People use them at home, school, and work.  In this blog post you will learn all about weighted lap pads.

What is a lap pad?

A lap pad describes something that is made of material, 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 as toys too.  Nevertheless, adults and seniors also use them.  A lap pad fits on top of your lap.  It is not something that you sit on.

What are weighted lap pads used for?

You may be curious as to what a weighted lap pad does. A weighted lap pad, animal, or buddy are all used as sensory tools. Typically, people who experience sensory overload and sensory sensitivity use sensory tools.  These sensory tools help people feel more calm or organized . They help to eliminate feelings of restlessness, otherwise known as sensory overload. Furthermore, it has been found that a little bit of weight spread across your lap, can help you feel calm.  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 to:

  • calm
  • ground
  • relax
  • self-sooth
  • distract
  • focus
Infographic outlining tips to safely use a weight-lap pad.

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 to have a lap pad that is no more than 5% of your 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.  It is also critical that the person using the weighted lap pad have the cognitive (thinking) and physical abilities to be able to remove it from their lap.

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 one place to another.

Children use weighted lap animals:

  • to sit at the dinner table during a meal.
  • to sit at a desk for homework.
  • while sitting in car or on a bus when travelling.
  • when flying on a plane.
  • at the hairdresser or barber.
  • when sitting in the shopping cart.
  • to sit at school during circle time.
  • to sit at a desk in the classroom.
  • when in a movie theatre while watching a movie.

Adults use weighted lap pads:

  • at their desk at work

Seniors use a weighted lap buddy:

  • while sitting in a chair or wheelchair

How long should a weight be used?

There are no fixed time frames to use weight. It is important to note that the body and brain adjust to the feeling of weight over time.  Do not expect a weighted lap buddy to be useful and effective for long periods.  Therefore, it is best used intermittently.  Consider using it for 20-minute intervals.

How to be safe using weight.

It is important to be safe while using anything with weight. Weighted lap pads are not safe for people of all ages. Nor are they safe for people of different abilities.  That is the same for weighted blankets or weighted vests. They cause harm if used unsafely.

Here are some safety tips:

  • Infants and toddlers should not use weighted tools or toys. Infants and toddlers do not have the muscle strength, muscle coordination or awareness to move something that is even a little bit heavy.  Therefore, weighted lap animals or pads pose a suffocation risk to an infant or toddler.
  • They can post a suffocation risk to an older child, adult or person who lacks muscle strength, coordination, or awareness.
  • Consider using a weighted lap buddy with pre-school and school-age children, adults, and seniors.  However, only use them 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 someone will be safe using a weighted lap pad, consult your occupational therapist or physician.

What are all the words used to describe a weighted lap pad?

Throughout this article, you will have already read many different words.  Therefore, it is important to know that a weighted lap pad is not the same thing as a weighted blanket or a weighted vest.  Nevertheless, you may also see weighted lap pads called a weighted lap animal, weighted lap buddy or simply a lap pad.  Likewise, animals and buddies are typically in the shape of an animal or character.

Checklist of questions to ask:

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 or 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?
  • Do I want a weighted toy-like animal?
  • 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?
  • How much does the lap pad weigh?
  • Does it weight 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 it?
  • What am I trying to achieve by using one?

Choose a weighted lap pad that is right for you!

Maybe you are interested in weighted blankets instead?

Looking for other sensory tools or products that might help? Learn more in these blog posts.

Parents, weighted lap pads are great to include when packing to send your child to camp, too!

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