What’s Therapeutic about a Weighted Blanket?

What's Therapeutic about a Weighted Blanket

The first time I heard about weighted blankets, I had an instant “Ah-Ha!” moment. As a child I used to love to climb under the blankets on my parents’ bed.

I still love a cool, heavy blanket. The pressure, weight and comfort create a calm secure feeling. Weighted blankets have received accolades for providing benefits to children with special needs, particularly those with sensory processing disorder, autism and ADHD.

Weighted blankets can help at every age, and many adults can benefit from the calming pressure of a weighted blanket.

How does a therapeutic blanket work? 

Our joints contain receptors called Golgi tendon organs. For most of us they work efficiently, communicating with our nervous system to keep us informed of the whereabouts of our joints in space.

For example, if I close my eyes and lift my right arm up, I can tell you approximately where my arm is, how high, its location and so on. For those who are not in tune with their bodies, for whatever reason, a weight can stimulate the Golgi tendon organs and improve awareness. In addition, weight creates a sense of calm as the skin receptors are stimulated. The sensory receptors located just at the skin surface respond well to weight and pressure. Of course material can make a difference and though most of us prefer a soft material, weighted blankets are made from a variety of textures.

Now that you know why someone may benefit from using a weighted blanket, we thought you might like a few suggestions for using one.

  1. Rest time. Keep a full size weighted blanket in your pre-school room or for rest time for kids who need the extra pressure and weight to calm down. Just a few minutes of weight works wonders. And, you can fold the blanket in half or quarters for more intense impact.
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  2. Bedtime. Sometimes a weighted blanket with a soft furry slipcover  can be just the trick for a great night’s sleep. Be sure to monitor that your child can move easily under the blanket and can remove it, if they want to. Toddlers and infants should never be put to bed with a weighted blanket. Older children should be able to easily get out from under the blanket.
  3. On the Road or On Task.  Fold your blanket or Mega Weighted Lap Pad into quarters during car trips or flights – or to keep on task and focus. Some extra weight and pressure can make travel time or homework time less stressful and more peaceful for everyone.
  4. Playtime.  Roll your child up like a burrito or hot dog using the Lycra Sleeping Bag for the bun. The extra pressure and weight can be just the sensory break needed to make it through the next few hours of a hectic day, or as a warm up before camp or school.
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  5. Sleepover. Send the Heavy Sleeper Weighted Sleeping Bag to grandma’s or a friend’s house as a calm-me-down for a sleepover. The other kids may just want to use it as well. As with a weighted blanket, a weighted sleeping bag is only intended for children who can easily maneuver it.

 

Most blankets can be washed in the machine, but be sure you check. Some blankets can be used with a slipcover to make cleaning easier.

Choosing the correct weight for a weighted blanket really is a personal preference. Some therapists recommend 5% of body weight but most parents tell us that their children prefer more as the weight of a blanket is evenly distributed.

Last but not least, monitor the use of a weighted blanket and check in with your child to see if it’s the right amount and time of use.

2 years ago by 4

4 thoughts on “What’s Therapeutic about a Weighted Blanket?

  1. Hi Aviva, regarding the weight of blankets. We found research that shows that the blanket should be at least 10% of the body weight to be effective. Also we found a maximum of 25% to be safe. (And let’s be honoust, 5% probably equals the weight of a normal blanket…).

    In the same study, there were no effects on blood pressure, pulse rate and pulse oximetry (oxygen saturation) using a 30 lbs. blanket on adults.

  2. These are helpful guidelines. Any suggestions to help toddlers settle down and sleep through the night, if they are too young/small to try a weighted blanket?

    • A weighted blanket can be used with your toddler under supervision before bedtime (while reading a book, telling a story) to help calm down and then removed to sleep. You can also try some lavender therapy (with a diffuser), soft music, warm bath and a good massage.

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