Hands down the weighted blanket was the best thing we ever bought to help our son with sensory issues. There would have many more meltdowns and many more nights without sleep if we had not invested in this invaluable.
Here are 5 reasons I think you should have a weighted blanket.
1. Calm the Hyper Child
Does your child move constantly? Is he always slamming into things and fidgets endlessly in a chair? The pressure of a weighted blanket can help satisfy his need for proprioceptive input. Use the blanket during dinner to help him stay at the table. Drape it over him while he sits on the couch reading or watching TV. Any chance you can, use the blanket to feed his sensory needs and you will see it will calm him right down.
2. Help Get to Sleep and Stay Asleep
Does your child have difficulty falling asleep? Once she finally falls asleep does she wake up several times in the night? Are you exhausted trying to manage a newborn schedule when your child is no longer an infant? Both of you will get better sleep if you put the weighted blanket on your child when she goes to sleep. My son was 4 when we first got the weighted blanket, and sleep was a huge issue for him. He would wake up 2-3 times per night. The FIRST night we used the weighted blanket he slept through the night, and he continued to sleep through the night every day after that. It was a miracle!
3. Sit Still in the Classroom
Do you notice that your child just can seem to stay still in a chair? Is he always moving back and forth or some part of his body? They make lap blankets that drape over the legs, and these are an awesome tool to help wiggly kids sit still in class. Having that extra pressure helps him get the proprioceptive input that he is seeking when he moves all the time. This is a simple fix to solve a big classroom problem!
4. Come Down from a Meltdown
Your child has spun out and the tears and words keep spilling out and you feel helpless to calm your child down. If you can convince your child to sit down, throwing the weighted blanket over her will immediately help to calm her sense of overload. If you feel your child is starting to move into meltdown mode, that’s an even better time to employ the weighted blanket. Be sure to bring it in the car on outings just in case you need this emergency solution.
5. Daily Grounding
Is your child often anxious? Does he do better with piles of blankets on him or when you give him giant bear hugs? It’s possible your child needs more grounding. Being ungrounded means being out of touch with the body, usually in a daydream-like state. This can cause an underlying anxiety that colors everything the child experiences. Spending at least 20 minutes a day under the weighted blanket can help ground the child. This can help the anxiety and provide some quiet time in the day.
How are the blankets made?
There are 3 ways these blankets are made:
- One big pocket. Some blankets are made as one huge pocket and filled with small plastic pellets called Poly Beads. This construction is not ideal because the weighted beads tend to go to one side or the other instead of being evenly distributed.
- Many small pockets. Others make blankets that have sewn-in squares, and each square is filled with a small amount of beads. This distributes the weight evenly and ensures there will not be a major leak if one side develops a hole. One disadvantage of this construction is the larger sized blankets may be too heavy for a residential washing machine. You may have to take it to a commercial laundrymat to find a machine that can handle it.
- Removable pockets. The blanket itself is made with many small pockets, and then the beads are sewn into mini pillows. Each pocket on the blanket has a mini pillow inserted, and now you have an evenly distributed weighted blanket. This requires more work in construction, but it makes it much easier to was the blanket.
Where do you get a weighted blanket?
Unfortunately you cannot just walk into a store and buy a blanket off the shelf. The blankets are custom made, usually by special ed moms who learned the value of this tool. They offer them in different sizes, weights and you get to choose your own fabrics. The weights need to be chosen based on the size of the child, so it is best to order a custom blanket for your child.
One of my favorite places for weighted blankets is Weight on Me. It’s a store run by a Special Ed Mom who has learned first-hand how valuable this tool is. She has chosen to create them for other mothers. She has many patterns and designs to choose from. She uses the many small pockets and removable pocket construction, so there are many options to choose from. The best thing is they actually post a photo of your blanket when it’s on its way, so you and your child can get excited knowing it’s coming. I’ve ordered several blankets for our family and as gifts, and everybody has been 100% happy with them.