There is a lot of research that demonstrates the importance of the human touch. From a developmental standpoint, babies literally can’t survive without human touch. In fact, even in the first hour after birth, skin-to-skin contact has been shown to help regulate the temperature, heart rate, and breathing of newborns, and it also decreases their crying. In addition to that, there have also been studies using PET scans that have found that the brain calms in response to stress when a person’s hand is held, and the effect is more powerful when the hand being held is that of a loved one.
Humans are social beings who can feel loneliness when left alone for a long time. This can cause severe damage to the mental and physical well-being of a person. It directly impacts a person’s life span and may lead to mental decline and conditions like Alzheimer’s and depression. With this, physical touch is very important. However, there are times when we cannot give physical touch due to our busy schedules, especially for our elderly loved ones. But this is where weighted lap pads come in handy.
Weighted lap pads can mimic the effect of a hug and provide the user a feeling of calm, tranquility, and even happiness. In general, weighted lap pads are pads made of soft material which has a specific weight to them. They are designed to fit the size of your lap, hence, the name. If you want to learn more about them, you’re in the right place. In this post, we are giving you more information about weighted lap pads and their benefits.
What are Weighted Lap Pads?
A weighted lap pad is also known as a lap blanket. It is a small, heavy blanket the size of a tray. It is heavy as it is often filled with things that give it weight, such as glass beads or poly pellets. Weighted lap pads are sensory tools that are used to improve a person’s attention, focus, and ability to calm down and relax.
A lot of people who have sensory processing challenges find using weighted lap blankets helpful for them to sit still for longer periods, self-regulate, concentrate well, organize better, spend more time on a task, and transition well from one task to another. This is because a weighted lap pad can provide a form of Deep Pressure Touch (DPT) therapy that is convenient and unobtrusive.
DPT can soothe the body and calm the mind as it works on the body in three ways. First, it can calm the “flight or fight” response by switching off the sympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system. Second, it triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows the heart rate and breathing to help the muscles relax. Lastly, it causes the body to release a number of hormones and neurotransmitters that make you feel happy and reduce anxiety. This results in the body feeling less anxious, and the mind is focused and calm.
The DPT of a weighted lap pad lying across the knees also provides the body proprioceptive input. It helps an individual know where the body is in space, which can help him sit up straight for longer.
Who are Weighted Lap Pads Best For?
The Deep Pressure Touch therapy that a weighted lap pad can provide is beneficial for different types of health conditions. These include individuals who are on the autism spectrum, those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), those who have anxiety, those who have sensory processing issues, and those who suffer from dementia.
However, note that weighted lap pads are not for everyone. It’s because individuals who struggle with tactile input may not find it helpful. These people include those who do not like the feel of certain types of fabrics, those who hate wearing extra layers of clothes, and those who dislike the feeling of a heavy blanket on them.
Benefits of Using Weighted Lap Pads
If you are wondering how a weighted lap pad can help your loved ones, below are the different benefits that they may get it:
When people are unable to do their normal activities or connect with people the same way they were used to, it can affect their brain, body, and behavior in a lot of ways. It’s because there is a connection between the sense of touch and the state of excitement or calm in the brain. But a weighted lap pad can apply pressure gently, which helps treat stress and anxiety by stimulating the vagus nerve, which is the main nerve of the parasympathetic system that is responsible for relaxing.
A weighted lap pad mimics the firm but gentle pressure of a hug, which, based on studies, effectively reduces cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone and increases oxytocin levels. Since it is not possible to hug or cuddle your loved ones all the time, the use of a weighted lap pad may help.
Aids with Self-Regulation
Weighted lap pads have a calming effect that can help with self-regulation, which can make stressful activities more enjoyable. They are perfect for those who are looking for self-comfort while at work, reading in bed, traveling, or any time you need. They can also be used by children during mealtimes, learning activities, or helping them deal with activities that irritate them, such as haircuts and cutting nails. Since weighted lap pads have a powerful ability to calm the nervous system, they can also help prevent sensory meltdowns and tantrums.
Helps Increase Productivity
There are also a lot of people who use weighted lap pads in the workplace to increase their productivity. It is a great tool for people working at the desk as it helps to ground the legs while getting focused, and it also corrects your position.
Aids with Sensory Overload
When a person has sensory overload, the senses are extremely heightened. Even a little stimulation can overload the nervous system. There are also some people who have hypersensitivity, wherein sounds may be extremely loud or the light extremely bright. They may also be extremely aware that tactile input and touch from another person are not always welcome sensations.
Weighted lap pads may help both children and adults with tactile sensitivity to experience the benefits of touch without becoming overstimulated. The gentle pressure from the weighted lap pad may help calm the nervous system and tell the body that there is no threat. In the long term, it may also help the body better cope with tactile stimulation.
Helps Ease the Symptoms of Restless Legs
A weighted lap pad also encourages stillness in the legs, which decreases the impulse of the legs to move. It can be used while sitting down or when lying on the bed, especially if the symptoms are stronger at night while sleeping. It applies pressure therapy, which calms the nervous system and acts as a massage.
Helps Elderly People Suffering from Dementia or Alzheimer’s
Weighted lap pads may help ease the restlessness, anxiety, and insomnia of elderly people who have dementia or Alzheimer’s. During the day, a weighted lap pad may provide a calming and soothing effect for them, and they come in a compact size that is ideal for carrying around. However, before using a weighted lap pad for your elderly loved ones, make sure that they do not have any respiratory or circulatory problems.
Aids Children and Adults on the Autistic Spectrum
Based on a study, children on the spectrum benefit from deep pressure in a lot of ways. Parents of children with autism report a significant reduction in tension and anxiety and the feeling of security after pressure therapy. People with autism usually have sensory processing disorders, and weighted lap pads may help them. Individuals on the autism spectrum usually have low levels of serotonin and produce less melatonin, which is responsible for having a steady mood and better sleep. By providing deep pressure therapy using a weighted lap pad, the cortisol levels associated with stress can be reduced, and serotonin will be released in the body. In turn, their melatonin levels will be steadier and allow them to fall asleep faster and deeper.
Things to Consider When Buying a Weighted Lap Pad
If you are thinking of giving your loved one a weighted lap pad, there are a lot of options to choose from, which can sometimes make it challenging to pick the best one. Weighted lap pads come in a lot of styles, fabrics, and manufacturers. Their construction and contents also vary. There are also some who choose to DIY weighted lap pads by using beans, rice, glass beads, and sand. But retail-produced ones are usually more sophisticated, featuring fabric channels that distribute the weights evenly across the entire lap pad.
To help you select the best-weighted lap pad for your loved one, below are some of the important things that you need to consider:
It is important to choose the right material the weighted lap pad is made of. Consider what will be calming or soothing to your loved one but not overly distracting. You also need to make sure that the fabric that covers the weighted lap pad is preferred and not aversive. Avoid choosing those that are made of denim if your loved one cringes at the thought of wearing jeans.
In addition, it is also best to consider how the outer layer of the lap pad is made. Does it have Velcro, zipper, sewn, or button closures? This is important as it may affect the durability and washability of the weighted lap pad.
You also need to consider whether the cover is machine washable, wipeable, or waterproof. Your loved one may be prone to spill or drool over the weighted lap pad, which will make you want to wash it often. Therefore, ensure that you have options when it comes to cleaning up the weighted lap pad. If the inside of the pad is not washable, choosing one with a waterproof layer under the cover material is important.
You also need to find out how the weight of the lap pad is distributed. It is better to choose weighted lap pads whose interiors are constructed in channels or boxes as these contain the weight evenly. Weight distribution is important to consider as the weights will shift with use, which can make the lap pad lopsided and awkward.
Type of Weights Used
As mentioned earlier, weighted lap pads may include different materials inside, such as glass beads, sand, and beans. It is better to choose one that can be washed. Also, consider how much weight your loved one needs to keep them comfortable. As a rule of thumb, 5% of the body weight should be ideal.
Different Types of Weighted Lap Pads You Can Buy Today
To further help you choose the best weighted lap pad for your loved one, we have researched and gathered a few great weighted lap pad options. You can use the information below to help decide which product will best suit your loved one’s needs:
Little Chubby One Weighted Lap Pad: This weighted lap pad is only 3 pounds, which can be soothing for children. It is made with soft fabric that is comfortable to touch. The seams are double-stitched on every edge to stand up even to tough playtimes and explosive tantrums. The material also features small raised dots to provide sensory input and encourage tactile exploration for fidgety hands. It is portable and perfect even when traveling.
Huggaroo Weighted Lap Pad Lamb: This one is another perfect weighted lap pad for children. It is a cuddly lap pad that is best for calming kids. It is 3.6 pounds, which can provide a feeling of calm and comfort for children during stressful situations. It is machine-washable and made of 100% hypoallergenic polyester. It is filled with non-toxic and odorless polypropylene pellets.
BARMY Weighted Lap Pad with Removable Cover: This weighted lap pad promotes comfort and relaxation for adults. It is 6 pounds in weight and 48×24 inches in size. It has a removable and washable cover, making it easy to clean. The cover is also dotted and cooling for a more soothing experience. It contains microbeads inside small compartments for even weight distribution. It is durable and portable and can be used anywhere, such as at home and during stressful events, to help keep calm, grounded, and secure.
MAXTID Weighted Lap Pad: This weighted lap pad is best for people who are suffering from anxiety or restless leg syndrome. It is made of a velveteen fabric with glass beads filling. It weighs 8 pounds and can be used anywhere, such as in the car, at the desk, while sitting on the floor, or in waiting rooms. It is also a great travel blanket for adults.
SensaCalm Sensory Weighted Lap Pad: This weighted lap pad is made of 100% cotton. It contains hypoallergenic and non-toxic weighted glass beads. It weighs 2 pounds and measures 12×18 inches. It is designed to help ease wiggling and attain focus and calm. It is machine and dryer safe on low settings. It can be used by both children and adults.
A weighted lap pad is indeed a great tool for people who are suffering from neurocognitive disorders or sensory overload. It promotes regulation, refocusing, and calming. Weighted lap pads are a convenient way to get the benefits of Deep Pressure Touch therapy, which can help people to focus, sit still for longer, concentrate, and transition from one activity to the next. Therefore, if your child is on the autism spectrum or if your senior loved one suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s, a weighted lap pad may help them remain calm and relaxed during stressful events. We hope this post helped you learn more about weighted lap pads and their benefits.
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