My step-son has a lot of behavioral issues, so I like to stay on top of the different trends and advice for kids with ADHD and Autism. The other day I came across an item that I had heard about briefly but never took much interest in, until I realize what they do. I wondered how many parents -like myself- had never heard of weighted blankets before and decided to share the information.
What is a weighted blanket?
It’s exactly what the name suggests, a blanket that weighs more than the ones you typically use at home. You can find them in different weights and sizes, which is important depending on what you’re using it for.
They were traditionally used for various forms of therapy, but parents caught wind of how well they worked, and they became more popular in the parenting communities. Still, there are many parents who don’t know what they are, but could benefit greatly from using one.
What are they used for?
Heavy blankets can help people who are suffering from a variety of different conditions:
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Behavioral Issues
- Aggressive Outbursts
- and much, much more!
How do They Work?
The pressure a weighted blanket provides simulates deep touch and triggers chemicals in the brain that promote relaxation and sleep. People crave deep tissue touch because it feels good and causes the brain to produce a “feel good” chemical such as serotonin.
When used at bedtime it can help children fall asleep faster, and stay asleep through the night.
When your child begins feeling anxious they can sit with their blanket to calm down, and feel more relaxed.
If your child is having a tantrum, or behavioral outburst, five minutes with their blanket could be more useful than five minutes in a corner.
Why Do They Work?
They work because of the way our body reacts to the comforting feeling of deep touch. How do you feel when you’re given a hug, or while snuggling with a loved one? It’s the same idea, without the burden of having to sit with your child while they fall asleep, or holding your child when they’re out of control.
There are many children who cannot communicate their desire for deep touch because they cannot communicate effectively, or they do not have the vocabulary yet to express this. These are the children who tend to act out because they’re seeking the punishment they know will follow. If your child knows you will hold them tightly every time they show self-harming behavior, they may do it more often just to elicit that response.
A weighted blanket could provide the pressure they want without the hassle of acting out. Instead of throwing a tantrum, they could simply grab their blanket for a few minutes.
Could a Weighted Blanket Help My Child Fall Asleep Better?
Yes, it has been proven, through numerous studies, that weighted blankets can help children who have a hard time falling asleep at night. Obviously, all children hate bedtime, but will typically fall asleep when their bodies finally give up. Some children have a really hard time transitioning from being rocked to sleep and falling asleep on their own. A weighted blanket could provide the comforting “snuggled” feeling they need to soothe themselves into dreamland.
How Heavy Should My Weighted Blanket Be?
There is a simple formula you should follow when deciding how heavy of a blanket to purchase for your child. It should be 10% of your kid’s weight, plus a pound of two.
- If your child is 30 lbs, you should use a 3-5 lb blanket.
- If your child is 50 lbs, you should use a 5-7 lb blanket.
- If your child is 70 lbs, you should use a 7-9 lb blanket.
Use this same method for all children. Adults should follow the same formula, but can choose a heavier blanket when necessary. However, do not do this with a child because too heavy of a blanket could be dangerous or uncomfortable for them.
Are They Covered By Insurance?
If your child has a condition that a weighted blanket could be used for your doctor may be able to write a prescription for one. You won’t have your pick of blankets, but it would still be effective.
Can I Make One Myself?
Yeah, there are dozens of tutorials online that teach how to make your own weighted blanket. You can even find ones that do not require sewing, which is nice for those of us who are sewing machine challenged.
Should I Try A Weighted Blanket For My Child?
If you could replace medications or strict behavior plans with a simple blanket; why wouldn’t you? Just make sure to follow the instructions for use and proper weight chart.
Tell us about your experience with weighted blankets, or opinions. We want to hear from you! Join a growing community of parents and let us know what you think below!
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