I am not a medical professional. All information in this post is from my own personal experience and research. Please seek advice from your Occupational Therapist or Health Care Professional.
What is a Weighted Blanket?
Weighted blankets are blankets filled with evenly distributed weight. Weight can be very beneficial to those who have different sensory and emotional needs. The weight can provide pressure and mimics the feeling of being held. It can have a positive effect on mood and help to calm someone when their emotions or senses are heightened. For this reason, weighted blankets are gaining popularity among those are on the autism spectrum, have anxiety, and/or other sensory disorders.
Do they work?
I have had many people ask me about the weighted blankets we have and if they really work. The answer is yes and no. Don’t you love that answer?
Weighted blankets are like anything else. Some people love them and feel they help a lot. I have talked to many people who say they help with the symptoms of Insomnia, Anxiety, Autism, ADHD, Restless Leg Syndrome, as well as other with their sensory needs. The weight can provide enough gentle pressure to calm the senses and allow the body and mind to enter a relaxed state.
Others have said they do not like the weight or having to struggle with keeping the blanket on all night. The weight of the blanket is nothing more than weight on them and they do not feel as though it helps them.
We are split 50/50 in our home.
We had one made for Chase to help with his sensory needs from his Autism and Insomnia. He will use it during the day to help give weighted comfort when he needs it. At night he gets frustrated that it won’t stay in place and he ends up just throwing it onto the floor. Most blankets are made to lay on the top of the bed and not hang over. This is said to prevent the blanket from falling to the floor from the weight of it hanging over the edge of the bed. For Chase, I think having the blanket be larger than the bed with plenty of weight distribution on either side to keep it from sliding off one side would have probably worked better. This, of course, will increase the cost due to increasing the size.
Kylee, who has severe Anxiety, loves hers and won’t sleep without it. She is able to keep her blanket on her bed without struggling and loves the weight it provides.
We purchased both blankets from different people and we were happy with the quality of both. I wanted to provide you links to their pages but it looks like neither business is making them at this time. There are many places you can order from and you can find most by just doing a simple search for weighted blankets.
Weight and Blanket Size
I suggest talking to your Occupational Therapist or Health Care Provider to confirm the weight and size. The person you purchase your blanket from may have a suggested size and weight. Typically it is as follows:
Young Child: 38 x 62
Twin Size Bed: 38 x 72
Full-Size Bed: 56 x 72
Queen Size Bed: 64 x 72
The suggested weight by most Occupational Therapists is 10% – 20% of the person’s weight plus 1-2 lbs. Again, I suggest seeking advice from your own Occupational Therapist or Health Care Provider. Example: 100 lb person would use an 11 – 22 lb blanket.
This is just as important as the size. I let both of my kids pick out the fabric material and pattern for their blankets. There were many options to choose from on the websites we purchased them from. Chase wanted just a cotton blend feel and Kylee wanted the Minky fabric. Once the fabric material was decided then they chose the pattern they wanted.
Other Weighted Tools to Consider
Weighted Lap Pads
Weighted Stuffed Animals
Kylee has a weighted Cat that she takes to school with her that we purchased on ETSY here. This has helped her a lot during school. She simply holds the cat in her lap and it helps with her symptoms of Anxiety.
We also have a weighted vest. There are many places to purchase these as well. The one we have is pictured below. It has polyfill in it just like the blankets. Some vests use actual weights that you add or take away as needed.
We chose black and no closure to look more like a vest one would wear as part of an outfit instead of looking like a sensory tool. If you have a younger child, you will want to consider a closure to keep the vest on. Some parents have even had vests made to have the closure in the back so the child can’t take it off until the proper time.
I have zero talent nor desire to make my own. If you want to make your own, here are a few tutorials I have found:
Very Detailed Tutorial – from Cool Mom Pics – this tutorial offers a lot of pictures, which if you are a visual learner like me, this may be good for you.
Blanket Tutorial – from Dandelion Mama – a great example of choosing fabric great for the child’s preferences.
No Sew Tutorial – from Junior Gluten Free Chefs – if you don’t sew but still want to save money by making your own, check out this tutorial.
Blanket Tutorial with Free Printable – from Craft Nector – I love this tutorial because it shows how you can include your children in the process.
Adjustable Weight Blanket Tutorial – from Confessions of a Fabric Addict – if you need to be able to adjust the weight this is a good tutorial. Spanish instructions available.
Weighted blankets can be expensive to purchase. This is the reason people choose to make their own. If you are not able to make your own and finances are tight, there are still options for you.
- Ask family members to help with the cost.
- Ask friends to help with the cost.
- Offer other services you can do to earn enough to purchase.
- Make a post on social media asking for donations.
- Start an online donation account, like Go Fund Me. This can be shared and many feel safer donating to a reputable company like this.
You may be surprised how many people will gladly donate a little to help reach your goal.
I wish I could answer the original question for you with 100% guarantee that a weighted blanket will help you or your loved one. The truth is, you won’t know until you try it.
We are all in this sensory world together. Comment below if you have advice for those looking into purchasing a weighted blanket or other weighted tools.