Owner of MommyDaddyKids and mother of two, Meagan is passionate about her family and sharing real-life advice with everyday people.
Weighted blankets are only one of the many fads to hit the parenting community, but what are they? Read on to learn all about the benefits of weighted blankets and how they are helping children sleep better and feel more rested during the day.
What Is A Weighted Blanket?
Weighted blankets are exactly what the name suggests; a blanket made heavy from various materials that have been sewn into the middle. They come in different sizes and patterns, and can be purchased from several companies.
What Do Weighted Blankets Do?
The pressure of the blanket stimulates the brain, causing it to release chemicals that create a calming feeling (serotonin). Science has proven that people respond positively to deep touch, and it's likely that's what this product delivers to the user.
Weighted Blankets for Kids
Anyone can enjoy the advantages of using a heavy blanket, but children may benefit the most. Parents of special-needs children find them especially useful. Children respond to the "hugging" feeling these blankets provide, and parents love how much better behaved their kids are after a good night's sleep.
Signs Your Child May Benefit From a Heavy Blanket
So, we know what weighted blankets are used for, and we know who can benefit from them, but before you spend your hard-earned money, you would probably like to know if your child would benefit from it. While there is no absolute answer, there are signs you can look for that suggest your child would respond well to one.
- Does your child like wearing heavy clothing such as sweatshirts or sweaters?
- Does your child often crawl under piles of pillows, blankets, or clothing? Do they fall asleep better when being snuggled?
- Does your child like to crawl into tight spaces such as boxes or behind the couch?
- Does your child have problem's sleeping or staying asleep?
Obviously, not all children will display these signs, and even if you answered "no" your child may still benefit from a heavy blanket, but if you answered "yes," your child may be one of many who could benefit the most.
Why Should You Use Them?
Children are constantly growing and developing, and to put them on medication could severely impact their fragile system. Many parents have been advised to give their children melatonin to help them fall asleep, and while this is still a somewhat natural solution, it could cause their brain to stop producing it instinctively and interfere with their sleep/wake cycle. Weighted blankets are a great, non-invasive, alternative to sleep medication.
Can They Help Children Sleep?
Multiple studies have been done to measure the effectiveness of heavy blankets, and if they, in fact, do help children sleep. Everything considered, they do seem to help children relax and fall asleep easier at night. There is no risk associated with them, so as long as you are educated and use the right weight, it's worth trying one with your child.
How Can They Help Children With Special Needs?
Children with ADHD, anxiety, or autism can each use this blanket for a variety of reasons. It can ease anxiety, have a calming effect, and give children on the spectrum the deep touch they crave but sometimes cannot stand from physical touch.
What About Children Without Special Needs?
They can still enjoy the relaxing touch this blanket provides. Heavy blankets used to be primarily used in various therapy sessions, then by parents of children with autism, and over time other parents heard about the improvement in moods these blankets provided and wanted in on the action. Today, parents everywhere utilize these special blankets when tucking their children in at night.
Are They Just Used for Sleep?
No, in fact, many parents use these blankets throughout the day to help their child calm down. Below you'll find a handful of the ways in which heavy blankets can be used:
- Children who suffer from frustration, or angry outbursts, could benefit more from a few minutes with a heavy blanket instead of the typical five minutes in the corner punishment.
- When your child starts showing signs of anxiety or being overwhelmed, have them sit with their weighted blanket for a couple of minutes.
- Help your child focus while doing homework or another task-orientated project.
How Heavy Should My Kids Blanket Be?
A heavy blankets weight should be specific to each child. It's recommended that a weighted blanket be ten percent of a person's body weight plus an added pound or two.
|Child's Weight||10% plus 1-2||Blankets Weight|
(10% of 30) + (1 or 2)
(10% of 50) + (1 or 2)
(10% of 80) + (1 or 2)
How To Wash Them
Washing a weighted blanket does not have to be difficult, but really depends on the type of blanket it is, the material it's made from, and what it's stuffed with. Your blanket should come with washing instruction, or have a tag with cleaning directions on it.
It's typically suggested you wash them in cold water and air dry, but larger blankets may need to be taken to the dry cleaners.
Will It Be Covered by Insurance?
You're not going to be able to go online and take your pick of blankets, but some doctors can write prescriptions for generic heavy blankets. If your child has severe anxiety issues, trouble calming down on their own, behavioral problems, or problems sleeping at night, it's worth asking your doctor about a prescription.
Should I Try A Heavy Blanket for My Child?
Thousands of children get prescribed medication each week, which adds to the millions already taking them. What if we could find a way to reduce the amount of mind-altering chemicals our children had to take? They have, and you can, because heavy blankets have been proven to help children calm down, sleep better, and be more rested during the day. If you're thinking about medication for your child, or you're tired of the strict behavior plans currently in place, why not try a weighted blanket? There are zero risks, but could possibly bring great rewards.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2018 Meagan Ireland