How to make your own weighted lap pad!

Weighted lap pads, and other weighted items are often used by occupational therapists. They are a helpful tool that promote regulation and body awareness by providing proprioceptive input to the body. Some children may feel more comfortable and relaxed when using a weighted item because they have more information about their body which helps them feel regulated. The following blog post will tell you more about the proprioceptive system and how to make your own lap pad for use at home!

What is the proprioceptive system:

The proprioceptive system is primarily contained within our joints.  Based on the pressure or stretch our joints feel moment by moment our brain is able to understand the location of all of our body parts in relation to the environment.  Is your knee straight or flexed? If you reach your arm backward will you hit the wall? This information allows us to safely interact with the world around us without tripping or bumping into things. A weighted lap pad provides this same type of input as our body registers the weight. For some children, proprioceptive input helps calm and regulate them to allow them to complete tasks.

What you will need to make your own lap pad:

  • Rice, beans, or small pellets
  • Measuring cup and scale
  • Pillow case
  • ½ yard of fabric
  • Fabric marker or chalk
  • Scissors
  • Needle and thread
  • Clothes pins


  1.    Measure out equal amounts of rice, beans, or small pellets. It is recommended that the lap pad weigh 10% of the child’s body weight. It should never exceed 15% of the child’s body weight. If you have any questions or concerns, speak with your child’s physician.
  2.    Take half of a pillowcase and fold it over to make a pocket.  Separate it into 4 equal portions by drawing lines with a fabric markers or chalk.   
  3.    Sew along 3 of the sides and along the lines to form closed pockets with one side open to insert the rice, beans, or small pellets.
  4.    Fill the pockets with rice, beans, or small pellets.
  5.    Sew the top of the pillow case to close.
  6.    Cut 2 pieces of fabric to wrap the pad in. Using the pad to measure, draw a line around the pad with fabric markers or chalk –  leave a few extra inches on each side to make a cover for the lap pad.
  7.    Cut equal length slits into the edge of the fabric, about 2 to 2.5 inches long. Use clothes pegs to hold the fabric together to get unified slits on both pieces.
  8.    Place the lap pad inside the two pieces.
  9.    Tie a small flap from each side together with a knot to close the pad.

When and how to use a weighted lap pad:

Weighted lap pads are useful in many settings! Occupational therapists use them when working with children who are seated at the table or on the floor. They can be used for school work, meal time, or when taking a break.

***Weighted lap pads should always be used under the supervision of an occupational therapist and a physician***

Weighted lap pads should be used for at most, 20 minute increments at a time. A child should be allowed to remove them at any point during use. If you have questions or concerns regarding the use of weighted items, please consult your child’s physician.

Contact Chicago Occupational Therapy or call (773) 980-0300 to learn more about our services and how we can help your child flourish and grow.