Weighted blankets are gaining popularity for their uses in helping people cope with anxiety, stress, and sensory processing disorders. The science behind the weighted blanket is that it provides well-needed deep touch pressure to an individual who needs calming or relaxation because it creates a feeling of being hugged or held.
Although there has been a recent hype in weighted blankets in the last few years, this type of deep pressure therapy has been used by occupational therapists for years.
Before you purchase a kids weighted blanket, here’s a list of things you should be aware of before you buy one.
What are weighted blankets?
Weighted blankets are blankets that are weighted heavier than typical blankets. Weighted blankets typically weigh between 2 to 13 kilograms.
The weight is distributed throughout the thickness of the blanket giving equal pressure all around. The deep pressure provided by a weighted blanket can reduce anxiety, stress, and even help with sensory issues.
What are weighted blankets made out of?
There are two types of weighted blankets.
One type of weighted blanket is typically made using poly pellets or glass beads that give it its weight, and are then wrapped in a soft fabric cover. These soft covers can be cotton, bamboo, or minky touch.
Another type of weighted blanket is knitted weighted blankets. Knitted weighted blankets are typically made from cotton and polyester.
Weighted Blanket Benefits
Weighted blankets apply deep pressure touch to an individual. Deep pressure stimulation (DPS) or Deep Pressure Touch (DPT) helps produce a calming effect on the nervous system.
Deep pressure helps move you from a sympathetic nervous system (i.e. fight or flight) to a parasympathetic nervous system (i.e. rest and digest) (“What is Deep Pressure Stimulation?”, 2021).
Therefore, weighted blankets work for those who have trouble with calming and relaxing.
Who Are Weighted Blankets intended for?
Weighted blankets are intended for individuals who have sensory disorders, ADHD, or anxiety issues. The blanket provides deep pressure input which produces a calming effect. These individuals may also like the feeling of wearing weighted vests.
However, a weighted blanket can be used with children and adults who enjoy the additional weight from the gravity weighted blankets to fall asleep. It is a personal preference and great for those who enjoy the additional deep touch pressure when they are sleeping. Some other people do not enjoy the additional weight and can find it restricting, therefore weighted blankets are not suitable for these individuals.
What conditions does a weighted blanket help with?
Deep pressure stimulation is often used as therapy for those with anxiety, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and sensory processing disorder.
Weighted blankets can also help those who have difficulty getting or staying asleep.
For those with sensory processing disorders, the added weight of a weighted blanket can help them feel grounded and safe. It can also improve sleep because most people naturally associate the feeling of being held with relaxation and sleepiness.
Weighted blankets are also beneficial for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) because of the soothing sensation of deep touch pressure they provide.
How heavy should a weighted blanket be?
It is recommended that the blanket be 10% of an individual’s total body weight. The child using the weighted blanket should have the physical strength and ability to remove the blanket off their bodies without any major difficulties.
Where can I use a weighted blanket?
Children and adults can use weighted blankets while watching TV, reading books, at school, or even during stressful times.
Can I sleep under a weighted blanket?
Weighted blankets are also made for sleep, as deep pressure stimulation can produce a calming and relaxing effect.
At what age can my child use a weighted blanket?
Weighted blankets are not recommended for children under the age of 5 years old due to safety concerns.
It is important for the weighted blanket to be less than 10% of your child’s body weight. When using a weighted blanket, it is important to supervise children at all times when they are in bed.
Can my child sleep with a weighted blanket?
Yes, generally weighted blankets are safe for children of all ages provided they follow the manufacturer’s weight guidelines. However, please read the below safety concerns to consider before buying a weighted blanket for your child.
What are some safety concerns when using a weighted blanket for a child?
There are some additional safety concerns to consider before using a weighted blanket with a young child, especially during sleep.
Although some children may benefit from having deep pressure to help them sleep, children are at higher risk when they are sleeping.
First, we want to make sure the child can remove the blanket when they are sleeping or very tired. It is important for your child to have the right weight blanket. Heavy weighted blankets can make it hard for your child to remove, especially when they are tired.
In addition, weighted blankets may cause suffocation, especially if your child enjoys hiding under blankets or have their blankets over their heads.
A blanket that is way too heavy for the child may also reduce circulation and therefore can be detrimental for the child.
Should I buy a weighted blanket for my child?
If your child is over the age of 5 years old, it is important to consider the above safety concerns before buying a weighted blanket for your child.
If your child has sensory processing disorder, difficulty with sleeping, ADHD, and ASD, then it might be worth looking getting a weighted blanket for your child.
If you still are not sure if your child will benefit from a weighted blanket, talk to your doctor or Occupational Therapist.
Can I use a weighted blanket all year round?
Some weighted blankets have a removable lining so you can use it in winter and summer. Other weighted blankets have cooling technology so you can use the same weighted blanket all year round. Before you purchase it, it is important to consider whether you can use the same blanket all year round or not.
Can you wash a weighted blanket?
Depending on what type of weighted blanket you get, there are different ways to wash your weighted blanket. Look at your manufacturer’s recommendation on how to best wash your weighted blankets.
Some of them allow you to separate the inner lining from your weighted blanket so you can wash them separately.
Where can you buy them?
Weighted blankets are available for purchase online through many websites. They are also available in different fabrics and sizes including regular bed size (twin, twin XL, full, queen, etc.) and therapeutic blanket sizes (child/youth).
The blanket should be big enough for the intended user to stretch out.
Alternatives to Weighted Blankets
If you are worried about using a weighted blanket with your child, there are some alternatives that you can consider.
If your child is having trouble with sleep, then you can use a lycra bed sheet. It does not provide additional weight but the stretchy lycra sheet can also produce a deep pressure effect.
If your child required deep pressure input through weighted objects but weighted blankets may not be suitable (e.g. in the classroom environment), you can consider the following items:
- Weighted toy
- Weighted lap bag
- Weighted vest
- Compression garment
However, before using these strategies, it is important to talk to your Occupational Therapist to see if it is appropriate for your child. There are other considerations that are not mentioned in this article when using deep pressure therapy items such as a weighted vest.
Please note: The above is not considered to be specific advice and should be used in conjunction with an assessment by an Occupational Therapist. Ready Kids does not provide medical advice.
What is Deep Pressure Stimulation?. (2021). Retrieved 26 October 2021, from https://www.appliedbehavioranalysisedu.org/what-is-deep-pressure-stimulation/