At CDC, occupational therapists often recommend weighted items for children. Weighted items have many benefits. They can help to improve attention and increase the level of alertness for participation in activities. Weighted items can decrease anxiety by providing a calming, relaxing effect and are therefore a great tool for emotional regulation. These items can be vests, blankets, lap pads, shoulder pads or plush toys, which are purposely filled with materials such as sand, rice or beans, to make them heavier.

The reason for these benefits is that the weight provides deep pressure to the body’s muscles and joints. Deep pressure is a form of proprioceptive (sensations from joints and muscles that underlie body awareness) and tactile input that is calming and decreases over-stimulation. When a child is calm, they are more likely to attend, process information in their environment and learn!


Some precautions to keep in mind:

  • Weighted items should not be used as a restraint and they should be easily removable.
  • The actual weight of the items should not exceed 5 – 10% of the child’s body weight – consult an occupational therapist for more information.
  • If used for prolonged periods of time, the stress that weights place on the muscles and joints may cause fatigue and adverse effects on behaviour.
  • Consult with an occupational therapist! They will help to identify which item and weight would be most appropriate for your child.