Occupational therapists have been making use of weighted blankets to assist kids with anxiety and sensory issues for quite a while, but in the last few years, they’ve become much more than just an OT tool. As they’ve become available to the general public, they’ve exploded in their popularity.
Many parents with kids struggling with ADHD are finding them hugely helpful in helping their kids learn to self-soothe and calm down. If your child has ADHD, a weighted blanket may be just what he or she needs!
Before we explain further, however, it’s important to know that infants and toddlers should not be using weighted blankets. It can be extremely dangerous. If your child is out of the toddler stage, keep reading to learn more about weighted blankets.
What Are Weighted Blankets?
Weighted blankets provide extra pressure on the body which, in turn, relieves stress and creates a sense of safety and serenity. Some are filled with glass beads or plastic pellets while others have extra layers of fabric to make them heavier. You’ll find all sorts of designs, weights, and sizes to meet the personal needs of your child – or adult!
So, where can you buy this marvelous invention? Just about anywhere! You’ll find weighted blankets in department stores, chain drugstores, and online specialty stores. Or if you’re feeling especially crafty and thrifty, you can even make one yourself!
How Weighted Blankets Work
OT’s use a technique they call “deep touch pressure” (DTP) which increases the amount of serotonin the brain releases. Some call this neurotransmitter the “happy” chemical because, well, it makes you feel calm and safe – happy!
If you have ADHD or a child who has it, you know that it’s not easy for those with ADHD to feel calm. Some of the difficulties associated with ADHD are dealing with stress, winding down at night, managing emotions, settling down after an outburst or overexcitement, and coping with feelings of anger.
Some kids with ADHD also have sensory issues and, as a result, they seek out physical stimulation to help themselves calm down.
Conditions like autism and anxiety can also bring up challenges like these, so a weighted blanket could bring a lot of relief in helping kids self-regulate and feel more at ease.
What to Know Before Buying a Weighted Blanket
So, if you’re as convinced as I am of the benefits of weighted blankets, you should know a few things before gallivanting off to buy one!
- First of all, they can be extremely dangerous for young kids. As we said earlier, many are filled with pellets or beads, so if they fall out of the blanket, they are a choking hazard for toddlers and infants. Check your blanket carefully to ensure the seams are secure. Also, be sure that the blanket doesn’t cover your child’s head!
- The price can get pretty steep. Depending on the variety you choose, you could be paying anywhere between $65 for a lighter-weight twin blanket to $150 for a heavier one. The larger and the heavier, the costlier.
- It’s all about preference. The weight of the blanket depends on what your child wants. Another child of the exact same age and weight may have entirely different preferences than yours, and that is perfectly normal. In fact, many kids like their blankets heavier than you would think.
- Observe your child to get an idea of what he or she may like. See how many blankets your child likes to sleep under at night and feel how heavy it is. Take note, also, if your child tends to prefer tighter hugs, heavier clothing, or dressing in layers. However, no matter what your child wants, it is absolutely necessary for their safety that they are able to easily move under the blanket to avoid suffocating.
- Figure out what fabric you want. It’s not just about weight and size. You’ll find that there are many options for the fabric on the outside as well. This is especially crucial if your child has sensory issues. For example, sensory seekers may love how fuzzy chenille is while those who avoid touch will find it unbearable.
You also might want to research how easy it is to wash the fabric. You don’t want to get stuck with a blanket that is too difficult to wash!
- Not everyone should have a weighted blanket. While it works for may kids, it does not for all. It’s worth a shot, but a weighted blanket still may not be the solution. Some kids may feel claustrophobic or overheated while others just don’t like something heavy on them while they sleep. It will only work if it helps your child to relax and feel at ease.
Making Your Own Weighted Blanket
As I said before, you could make your own weighted blanket if you’re feeling up to it. It helps you to customize the blanket to your child’s preferences, save money, and maybe even have a fun activity to do with your child! It’s a perfect way for your child to learn how to seek out solutions to their own problems as well as engage in a focused activity.