Have you heard about weighted blankets? Wondering if you or a loved one would benefit from a weighted blanket? Trying to figure out where to buy one? Confused about the right weight choice? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this is the blog for you!
Weighted blankets are a growing trend. What used to mainly be used by occupational therapists in treatment sessions has now become a trendy gift item. Many major retailers now offer these blankets, making them easily accessible to the general public. Before jumping on this bandwagon, it is important to know the benefits and potential safety hazards of this growing trend.
Weighted blankets have many benefits for people of all ages and abilities. These blankets provide deep pressure tactile input to the body. This type of sensory input stimulates the release of serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransimitters are known to make people feel more relaxed and calmer. Using a weighted blanket during sleep is believed to help an individual fall asleep quicker and experience more deep sleep throughout the night. Keep in mind, though, that weighted blankets have this effect on many people but not all. Every individual is different.
When selecting a weighted blanket, finding the right weight is crucial! This is especially true when selecting a weighted blanket for an individual who is weak or for someone who has a physical or cognitive disability. Selecting a weight that is too heavy for a child can cause the blanket to turn from a calming tool to a physical restraint which may put an individual at risk for suffocation. Weighted blankets should be 10% of a child’s weight. For instance, a child who weighs 50 lbs should use a blanket that is 5 lbs. Exceeding 10% of their body weight can become dangerous as the child may have difficulty removing the blanket from their body. If you are selecting a blanket for an individual with special needs, it is best to consult with an occupational therapist about finding the right weight.
Weighted blankets can be used more than just to sleep, though! For children with autism and sensory processing deficits, using a weighted blanket during seated tasks or during “heavy work” activities can be a great addition to a sensory diet. If a child is having a difficult time attending to tabletop tasks, placing a weighted blanket in their lap during these tasks may help slow their body and mind down to better focus on the task at hand. Furthermore, if a child is seeking out heavy work in an unsafe way (I.e., unsafe climbing or crashing), you can encourage the child to get their sensory needs met by putting the weighted blanket in a basket and having them push it around the house to collect their favorite toys. Consult with an occupational therapist if you are unsure if a child you know would benefit from a weighted blanket and for creative ways on how to use the blanket beyond just for sleeping.
If you think you or someone you know would benefit from a weighted blanket, they are now very easy to find! You can find them on Etsy, Amazon, and at local retailers (i.e., Kohl’s, Target, Wal-Mart, Costco). If the cost is deterring you from committing to this beneficial item, don’t be discouraged. They are easy to make if you have access to a sewing machine. Making your own can be a money saver and it can be a fun way to add a personal touch to the blanket! Follow the link below to see an easy way to make your own weighted blanket!