Today I have Jamie of Miss Jaime OT sharing this great tutorial for a DIY weighted lap pad. Welcome Jaime!
Weighted items are often requested by teachers to help kids who are fidgety, restless, and unfocused. As
the district OT, I am in charge of keeping track of all our “OT items” and giving them out as needed. One
item that teachers ask for pretty often is a weighted lap pad.
Weighted items, including vests, lap pads, and neck wraps, are known to help children to focus by providing Proprioceptive input. Proprioception, which is deep pressure touch, is soothing to a child because it can help a child to realize where their body is in space and produce a relaxed, calm feeling.
Since I love to craft and I love a bargain, I decided to create a Do-It-Yourself weighted lap pad. It literally cost $3.00 with items from the Dollar Tree and about fifteen minutes of effort. I like to sew but I'm sure if you are a non-sewer, you could use hot glue. (I haven't tried that so forgive me if it doesn't work).
How to make a DIY Weighted Lap Pad
You need to buy:
- 2 washcloths or microfiber hand towels (I found these adorable ones with little animals) $2.00
- 1 bag of beans (the bigger the better) $1.00
What to do:
1) Line the washcloths up with the seams together. Face the outsides (pretty sides) so they are touching.
This way when you sew the first three sides together, they will be sewed neatly like a pillowcase.
2) Sew the first three sides together with a quick “loop around” stitch. I'm sure that there is a “sewing” name for this, but I don't know it.
3) Tie off your third side with a strong knot. Flip your cloths inside out so the pretty sides (for me that also means the animal faces) are facing out now.
I tried this two ways. First, I put my bag of beans into a zip lock because I wanted to make it less likely that the beans would burst open and make a mess. (Hate messes!) I stuck my beans into the slot and sewed the fourth side shut. DONE! Voila!
But: After I was done, I decided I wasn't really happy with it. The ziplock plus the plastic of the bean bag resulted in a little bit of a noisy, crunchy lap pad. Which could be distracting instead of calming and focusing.
So I decided to make another one- this time no plastic bags. I figured that I'd better just sew the sides really tight to avoid a bean burst. So I went back to the dollar store and the big bag of beans I bought last time were gone, I had to buy two smaller bags. I also decided to try it with a seam down the middle, to keep the beans evenly distributed. This was much better!
1) Start off with your two pretty sides together, sew around three sides.
2) Measure the halfway across the middle mark.
3) Sew a line straight down, separating your pillow into two long sections. Make sure your bags of beans
4) Open the bags and fill each section with beans. Sew the top closed.
$3 to $4 bucks for a weighted lap pad! I'm not sure that this is better than/as good as an expensive
weighted lap pad from a catalog, but it's definitely a good way to figure out if your kid or your student
responds to weighted item, so why not try it? Do you have any good DIY crafts? Please share!
Jaime Spencer is a pediatric Occupational Therapist with fifteen years experience in Long Island, New York. She currently works in a public school with students Kindergarten to 5th grade. She also has ten years experience working in a sensory gym with preschool age children.
She has a Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Utica College of Syracuse University and a Master’s Degree in Special Education from Adelphi University. She was recently certified in Assistive Technology from California State University Northridge.
Jaime Spencer is the author of the Occupational Therapy blog www.MissJaimeOT.com