How to select the right Ironwear® Youth / Children's Weighted Vest:
Over the years Ironwear® has created a number of weighted vests for children and selecting the right one can be confusing. This section is designed to help you through the selection process.
1. Size of the vest:
Unlike children's clothing, the Ironwear® vests are designed to be very adjustable and when selected correctly the same vest can fit the child well for many years.
♥︎ Jr. Harvard Vest (youth small - youth medium)
♥︎♥︎ Med. Speed Vest (youth medium - youth large)
♥︎♥︎♥︎ Jr. Speed Vest (youth large - adult small)
♥︎♥︎♥︎♥︎ Jr. Uni-Vest (youth large - adult medium)
★Jr. Cool Vest (youth extra-small/medium) - This is the smallest vest that Ironwear® makes and it fits most children from 2 years to about 8 years old.
In the photograph you see two brothers dressed in orange wearing the same Ironwear® Jr. Cool Vest®. One is about 3 years old and the other is about 9 years old (6 years difference). In the design of a weighted vest it is very important that the shoulder sit in the exact right place to support the weight and not extend to far out and impede their arm movement. Because small children's heads extend out over their shoulders the Jr. Cool Vest® design is very special because it opens up to allow the child's head to pass through and then closes up to position the vests in the exact right spot on the child's shoulders.
★Jr. Harvard Vest (youth small - youth medium) - This
Med. Speed Vest (youth medium - youth large)
Jr. Speed Vest (youth large - adult small)
Jr. Uni-Vest (youth large - adult medium)
Use of weights, weighted vests, and weighted garments for children
Children should only use weights under adult supervision. A child’s training program should be developed with the caregiver in conjunction with the child’s doctor, licensed therapist and/or licensed trainer. Each child’s needs and training program may be different and may evolve in its own unique way.
Children can use weights for both for Awareness Training™ and Body Training™ to improve their behavior and their physical condition, but improper use of any tool including weights can be detrimental to the child’s health and well-being.
Selection of weights for children
Great care should be taken in the selection of weights for children. Children’s weights must be much safer than the weights used by adults. Children’s weights must protect the child, caregiver, other people, and other objects from possible damage. Children’s weights must be durable, easy to use and simple to clean.
Hand, wrist and ankle weights should be very soft and not have any sharp or rough edges. The weights must be soft enough to minimize the impact on the child or others if the weights are dropped. Children’s weights should not include any metal bars or rigid hardware nor should the weights be made of any loose material such as metal shot or sand, which might escape into the child’s environment.
Weighted garments should uniformly distribute the weight over the child’s body and match the body’s natural weight distribution. If the weight is not evenly distributed, the weights may create a balance issue for the child. By having an even weight distribution the child’s properception with and without the weights can be improved.
Weighted garments should fit the child properly and not inhibit the child’s use of their body. The weighted garment should be thin and bend easily so the child can do the same activities with or without the garment.
Weighted garments should be adjustable so that the amount of weight can be easily adjusted for the changing needs of the child and for different activities and exercises. Also the increments of weights should be small so that the amount of weight can be adjusted slowly as needed.
Weighted garments should breathe so the additional layer of weights does not cause the child to overheat. If air can flow through the garment it can be used in warm or cold weather and over or under other clothing.
Weighted garments should grow with the child. Children grow quickly and the garment should adjust to the growth of the child both in size and in weight. The garment and the weights should be useable for a number of years, not just a few months.
Wearing weights is a form of Weight Lifting
It is important to understand that wearing weighted garments is a form of weight lifting and many of the principles that apply to effective weight lifting also apply to wearing weights.
Select the activity or exercise first and establish a baseline without weights from which improvement is sought. Carefully introduce the child to the activity and then slowly integrate the weights in an acceptable way.
Select the amount of weight carefully and base the amount of weight on the individual’s abilities, the activity, the equipment used and the time or routine that will be done. Remember every one is unique.
Design the child’s activity program with and without weights and vary the routine. In order to make positive gains activities must be done with and without weights. The more weight that is used the longer the body needs to recover to benefit from the exercise. Constant lifting or wearing of weights does not give the body time to recover and will only strain the child.
Rest, test, record and change. Monitor and test for improvements. Check the baseline and make changes as needed to maintain improvements or correct problems.
There are a rapidly growing number of children with sensory integration issues. As a result these children have problems controlling their own physical behavior. Awareness Training™ uses weights and weighted garments as a tool to add resistance to the child’s movements to help make the child more aware of the position of their body and help them control unwanted movements. The weights can be a great non-invasive tool to help the child feel more comfortable, secure, and in control. Awareness Training™ for example may be prescribed treatment for Autism (Pervasive Development Disorder), ADD, ADHD, and in some cases Hyperactivity.
Awareness Training™ use of weights involves the selection of an activity and the establishment of a baseline, the determination of the amount of weight to be used, the determination of how often the weights will be used, and the testing of effectiveness.
Activity Selection – Introducing a child to weighted gear
The effective introduction, weighting, and daily use of weighted gear must be done carefully. The weighted gear must be seen in a positive way the child. The wearing of a weighted gear should not be used or seen as a reaction or punishment to the child’s behavior.
The challenge is to make wearing the weighted garment desirable to the child. Awareness Training’s™ goal is to give the child a tool they can ask for and use themselves to help improve their own health and behavior.
Weighted gear should be introduced in a non-threatening way. For example, a weighted vest may be introduced when the child gets dressed as just another piece of clothing, a tool to help them in the same way as shoes protect their feet or a coat helps to keep them warm. Weighted gear can also be introduced as part of an activity such as going to school, riding in a car, or at playtime.
Introducing weighted gear as something normal, fun and helpful will make it easier for the child to embrace and benefit from the tool. Weighted gear should not be seen by the child as something they must wear because they are different.
Caregivers and children can both benefit from wearing weighted gear together
Caregivers and the child can both benefit from wearing weighted gear. For example both the caregiver and the child can wear weighted vests. Weighted vests are a great way to improve adult and children’s physical condition, improve their strength, and increase their calorie consumption. Top athletes around the world use the same type of weighted gear to train. Help the child to understand that even the best athletes use weighted gear to improve their physical condition. Both the caregiver and the child both wearing weighted gear at the same time can help the child accept wearing the weighted gear.
Start slowly, if possible use an adjustable weighted gear system and start with the lowest amount of weight possible or even no weights in the garment. Let the child get comfortable and accept the garment first and then start adding the weights.
The amount weight and the amount of time that a child should wear a weighted garment during an activity may be unique to that child and depends on many factors starting with the condition of the child and the nature of the activity and their physical and emotional reaction to the added resistance to their movements.
Do not for example first give the child a highly loaded vest and then expect the child to react positively when they can no longer move as easily. Often the effective amount of weight must be found experimentally and may change over time. For this reason it is important to try to use the minimum amount for weight possible.
Determining the amount of weight for an activity
Determining the proper amount of weight the child should use for an activity requires special attention. Different activities often require different amounts of weight in the garment to make the garment an effective tool. Typically, the higher the energy level of the activity the lower the amount of weight that is necessary to have the same effect.
Start by selecting a known activity that has a specific time. Start without a garment and then the garment without weights to establish a baseline and then slowly increase the amount of weight and monitor the effect. Every child is unique and the amount of weight needed to effect a change may be different for each child. Weighed garments will also more effective for some children than others.
Once an improvement can be observed lower the amount of weight and determine at what point the effect disappears. The goal is to determine the lowest amount of weight possible to evoke improvements. The tendency is often to continue increasing the amount of weight to find the maximum level of improvement. However, great care must be taken not to take the weight level to the point of straining the child where there are diminishing returns for the additional weight.
WEIGHT LIFTING COMPARISON, DETERMINING THE AMOUNT OF WEIGHT. If you go to the gym and start exercising on a new machine you must first determine the appropriate amount of weight for you to use. You feel the effects for different amounts of weight and you select the amount of weight appropriate for you on that machine doing that exercise (activity) for a specific amount of time or repetitions. In comparison selecting the appropriate amount of weight for someone else, especially a child, can be much more difficult, because you cannot feel the effects directly and you must base your decisions on their reactions.
Determining the amount time weighted garments should be worn
There are two main variables to review to determine the amount of time that weighted gear should be used for a particular child’s activity: first, the amount of weight and second, the intensity of the activity. The higher the amount of weight the shorter the amount time. The lower the amount of weight the longer the time. The higher the intensity level, the lower amount of weight or the shorter the amount of time the weight should be used. So the longest time comes with the lowest intensity level and the lowest amount of weight.
The appropriate and effective amount of weight that should be used for a particular activity or exercise is unique to the child and may vary from day to day. Care and constant monitoring may be necessary to obtain and maintain desired improvements.
Rest is important
The child should not wear weights constantly nor should they always wear weights for a particular activity. The child’s body needs rest time, time without wearing the weights, for a number of reasons:
The child’s body needs time to recover and integrate the effects of the weights. The muscles, and supporting systems need time to strengthen. The mind needs time to process the changes in proprioception, the child’s ability to unconsciously sense the position of their body. In weight lifting different muscles are worked on different days so that the muscles have time to recover and get stronger. Constant lifting does not give the body time to recover so no gains are made and often injuries occur.
In order to maintaining the effectiveness of weighting the child’s body, the child’s body should be given a routine rest. If the weights are used constantly the child’s body gets accustomed to the weight and the effect may be lost.
Routine monitoring of the same activities without the weights can help to determine if the child abilities or baseline has changed and if any changes should be made.
About the author
IRONWEAR’s ™ founder, Arnold Cook, has five children and a wonderful wife. He started developing medical products for children over 30 years ago, and was the first to create hand weights and weighted vests for children. The first hand weights were created to help children maintain their hand on the paper so they can improve their writing skills, and the first weighted vests were developed to help children improve the control of their motor functions.
IRONWEAR ™ has continued to create new products for children and currently produces a line of children’s weights including hand, wrist, and ankle weights, as well as medicine balls and weighted vests. To make weights safer and more comfortable, IRONWEAR ™ created the first soft polymer weights. The patented Flex-metal™ weights bend with the body’s movements and act as padding in the case of a fall.
IRONWEAR’s ™ latest children’s vest design, the Jr. Cool Vest™ has just been released. The Jr. Cool Vest™ was created to make wearing a weighted vest more fun, comfortable and effective for children.