The Benefits Of A Weighted Blanket For Kids
If you’ve already been loving on the benefits of a weighted blanket for yourself, maybe it’s time to think about getting one for the kiddo in your life!
Weighted blankets are not just for adults! Benefits for children and teens include reduced anxiety, improvements in symptoms of ADHD, and better sleep.
Better sleep for the little ones in our households is so important - even 1 hour of reduced sleep per night can lead to reduced focusing in the classroom and more irritability - both of which are a detriment to their learning.
Use a general rule of 10% of your child’s weight to measure the heaviness of their blanket, plus 1-3 pounds depending on their age.
Did you know?
Kids spend 40% of their childhood asleep! Let’s make sure most of that is underneath a soothing weighted blanket…
A healthy sleep routine is just as important for kids as it is for us adults. Although weighted blankets have been used therapeutically to help treat the symptoms of kids with anxiety, ADHD, or other sensory processing disorders, they can also be helpful for any child who needs a better night's sleep.
As any parent who’s woken up to a cranky kid in the morning can attest, there's nothing better than having your child wake up well-rested, refreshed, and in a great mood to start the day. (Not to mention, when your kid doesn’t sleep all night, you probably don’t get much shut-eye either.)
The benefits of a good night’s rest are the same for our kids as they are for us adults: better focus, better moods, better energy, and even better eating habits (we’re much more likely to crave bagels over a balanced breakfast when we’re sleep deprived!) A child who is well-rested will perform better in the classroom, at their sporting events or extracurricular activities, and with friends in social situations. If you’ve already been loving on the benefits of a weighted blanket for yourself, maybe it’s time to think about getting one for the kiddo in your life!
If you’re a parent of a child with anxiety, you may notice you feel helpless sometimes in how they’re feeling and what you can do for them. A lot of parents struggle with the choice of putting their children on medication, especially at younger ages. The good thing about using a weighted blanket to help with a child’s anxiety is that it’s a simple, non-invasive method you can try at home that doesn’t require a trip to the doctor.
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But How Does It Actually Work?
The benefits of a weighted blanket have been scientifically linked to something called Deep Touch Pressure (DTP) Therapy. DTP involves the application of even pressure on the body, usually in the form of squeezing, hugging, or firm holding. A best weighted blanket provides the exact same feeling, placing evenly-distributed weight to produce a “grounding” effect that helps reduce anxious or stressful feelings.
The real science behind this process is linked to our body’s natural hormones. The pressure of a hug (or in our case, a heavy, weighted blanket) causes a spike in our body’s happiness hormone, serotonin. Similar to that good rush you get when you get a bear hug from a bestie, with DTP children also experience a flood of serotonin that can naturally help soothe them during moments of stress.
The great thing about serotonin is that it naturally converts into melatonin, also known as our body’s sleep hormone. During naptime or bedtime, this natural conversion can do wonders in helping your child fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer.
There are also other natural ways to combat your child’s anxiety. Some psychologists recommend getting a coping kit for your child, which could include a favorite toy, a stress ball to squeeze, a weighted blanket for kids at home, or a weighted lap pad or vest for during the school day or during a car ride.
For children with ADHD, it’s been shown that a weighted blanket can help to calm down their hyperactive bodies and minds, which can be especially helpful for focusing during the school day. One study from 2014 found that children with ADHD who used a weighted vest that was 10% of their body weight showed improvements in attention span, speed of processing and responding, and fewer off-task or out of seat behaviors and fidgeting.
A benefit of this study was that it used a crossover design, meaning each child performed the tasks with and without the weighted vest and acted as their own controls, which increases the strength of the study. This was also one of the larger studies on using weighted blankets for ADHD that has been done, with 110 children being studied. Another study with a smaller test group found that children with ADHD who wore a weighted vest had an increase in on-task behavior.
In both children and adults, weighted blankets can provide a better night’s sleep. Again, this comes down to Deep Touch Pressure, which works to relax the body - kind of like how relaxed you feel after a deep tissue massage. The body responds positively to this pressure by producing more serotonin, a hormone that elevates mood and reduces anxiety. Not only that, but serotonin is a precursor to melatonin, everyone’s favorite sleep hormone. Rather than pop some melatonin pills, you may consider having your child produce more of it naturally through their weighted blanket snooze!
The benefits of better sleep in kids is undisputed. Studies have shown that well-rested children have better scores in school, improved mental health, and even have reduced risk of becoming obese or developing high blood pressure. Another study found that depriving kids of 1 hour of sleep per night over a 5-night period resulted in the children being more frustrated during the school day, more irritable, and with more problems paying attention in class.
Getting frustrated more easily can mean your child may not learn as much as they could if they just got that one extra hour of sleep. If your kid is one who spends an hour tossing and turning before they fall asleep, it may be time to consider a weighted blanket to get their little bodies ready for snoozin’ in no time!
Quick Tips: How Heavy Should It Be?
For most adults the general rule to follow is that the blanket should be around 10% of the body weight. For children, some studies actually recommend higher weights for kids ranging from 15-20% of their body weight. See what your child feels comfortable with, and increase weight if it feels right.
It’s usually okay to add a couple of extra pounds if blankets are in-between weights, especially as your child nears their preteen and teen years. Keep in mind that weighted blankets should never be used for babies or toddlers under age 4, no matter how restless they are or how poorly they sleep!