Are Weighted Blankets Safe for Kids?

Weighted blankets are heavier-than-normal blankets. By mimicking a deep-pressure stimulation technique, they help kids relax and sleep better. In addition, research shows that weighted blankets can help children with ADHD. They are usually safe for kids aged three and older, but there are some things to keep in mind to use them safely.

Key takeaways:

Weighted blanket for kids and adults: what are the differences?

Weighted blankets are especially designed to be heavier compared to regular blankets. You’ll find two types of weighted blankets: duvet-style and knitted. The duvet-style weighted blanket contains beads, ball bearings, or other materials for that added weight. The knitted type is made from tightly weaved, dense yarn.

Some people find that the extra weight of the blanket adds security and comfort, helping to reduce anxiety and leading to more restful sleep. That being said, weighted blankets for adults and children are crafted from the same materials and serve the same functions. The only difference is the size and weight of the blanket.

What size should a weighted blanket for kids be?

Regular weighted blankets typically come in standard bedding sizes such as:

  • Twin 38"x 72" (96.5x183 cm)
  • Full 50 "x 72" (127x 183 cm)
  • Queen 60"x 80" (152.4 x 203 cm)
  • King 80"x 86" (203 x 218.5 cm)

But manufacturers also make smaller weighted blankets for children. Smaller blankets are usually recommended for children because they can move around and hop out of them more easily if they need to. Weighted blankets for children typically measure 30" to 40" (76 to 102 cm) by 50" to 60" (127 to 152 cm).

How heavy should a weighted blanket be for a child?

Most adults prefer a weighted blanket that is around 10% of their weight. But this varies; some may choose a heavier one. You will find options ranging from 7 to 25 pounds (or 3 to 11 kg).

For children, the general advice is that their weighted blanket should weigh no more than 10% of their body weight. Since options are sometimes limited, choose one that weighs 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kg) less than this recommendation if necessary. Testing this option on your child is vital to make sure the weight feels comfortable and not too heavy.

Benefits

The added weight in weighted blankets mimics a technique called deep pressure stimulation. This technique uses sustained pressure to stimulate the nervous system and induce a feeling of calm. Although not all claims about weighted blankets have been scientifically tested, they may bring some benefits:

  • Safe and comfy. Using a weighted blanket while sleeping can make kids feel more secure and cozy.
  • Ease anxiety. A weighted blanket can help alleviate stress and anxiety, contributing to a more peaceful sleep.
  • Better sleep. Weighted blankets use deep-pressure stimulation. This technique is thought to stimulate the production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.

Weighted blankets for ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by challenges in focusing, managing impulsive behaviors, or being excessively active.

ADHD usually starts during childhood and may persist into adulthood. About 25 to 55% of children and adolescents with ADHD experience sleep problems, such as difficulty falling and staying asleep, poor sleep quality, nighttime awakening, daytime sleepiness, restless legs, and sleep apnea.

Many parents use weighted blankets to help kids with ADHD sleep better. These blankets provide a soothing and consistent sensory experience that might reduce stress levels and improve sleep. However, scientific evidence to prove its effectiveness is still limited.

In a recent study, researchers looked at how well-weighted blankets worked for kids with ADHD and sleep problems. They studied 94 children with ADHD, who were divided into two groups. One group used a weighted blanket, and the other used a lighter control blanket. The findings showed that using a weighted blanket improved sleep quality and duration for these children.

In another study, researchers interviewed 24 parents whose children had ADHD and sleep issues. These children had used a weighted blanket for 16 weeks. The parents reported that their kids experienced improved sleep, a general sense of well-being with increased relaxation and reduced anxiety, and better participation in school and other daily activities.

Weighted blankets for autism

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is another neurodevelopmental disorder that affects how people communicate and interact with others, learn, and behave. Sleep problems are also frequent in children with ASD, affecting around 45 to 86% of them.

In a study involving 67 children aged 5 to 16 with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and sleep issues, they were split into two groups. One group used a weighted blanket, while the other group used a regular one for two weeks before switching to the other type of blanket.

Surprisingly, the use of a weighted blanket didn't show significant improvements in the duration of sleep, how quickly the children fell asleep, or how often they woke up for kids with ASD. However, both parents and children seemed to prefer the weighted blanket over the regular one.

Are weighted blankets safe for kids?

Age-appropriate weighted blankets are generally considered safe for most children aged 3 years or older.

However, discussing with your child’s doctor the use of a weighted blanket before buying one is essential. Weighted blankets may not be safe for children with certain health conditions like heart and respiratory problems.

What are the risks?

Most manufacturers don’t recommend that babies or toddlers use their blankets. This is because weighted blankets are too heavy for toddlers to lift. If the blanket covers their face, they won’t be able to move it, risking having trouble breathing.

Weighted blankets are also hot, and toddlers can’t regulate their body temperature well enough. Additionally, heavy blankets may increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in this age group.

Weighted blankets may be unsafe for children with certain health conditions, including heart and breathing problems. This is because the added weight makes the individual work harder to move around in bed, putting more strain on the cardiovascular system and worsening respiratory issues like asthma. That's why it's essential when purchasing a weighted blanket to choose the right size and weight for your child.

How to choose a weighted blanket for your child

Each child is unique. Despite being small, they already have their preferences and needs. Therefore, there is no one weighted blanket that fits all. When purchasing a weighted blanket for your child, keep the following aspects in mind:

Weight

A blanket that’s too heavy can cause discomfort and be dangerous for your child. On the other hand, a very light one does not provide the benefits of a weighted blanket. Choose one that has an appropriate weight, according to your child's weight. This is essential to guarantee the benefits of the product.

Materials

Choose weighted blankets made from high-quality materials. High-quality materials can bring benefits you wouldn't find in lower-quality materials; for example, they can be organic, hypoallergenic, and have better breathability. These attributes can help your child have a better sleep experience.

The cover's material must also be considered, as it is in direct contact with your child's skin. The choice varies depending on the need; you can choose one with a breathable cover if your child is hot at night. Or you can choose one with a soft touch if he prefers something softer and more comfortable to rest on. The cover design and color can also influence this choice in some cases.

Price

Generally, the price of weighted blankets for children varies greatly, ranging from $50 to $200.

Weighted blankets made with higher quality materials may have a higher cost, but on the other hand, they tend to last longer. Choose the option that best suits your child's needs and your budget.

Breathability

When sleeping on a heavy blanket, a child can quickly overheat if it is not breathable enough. That's why many weighted blankets include materials and designs that don't retain heat and encourage airflow. This helps keep your child cool and comfortable at night.

Ease of cleaning

When it comes to products for kids, making sure they’re clean is a big priority. A weighted blanket that is easy to clean helps keep the product free from dirt and bacteria and your child from illness.

Weighted blankets are intentionally heavier to provide a sense of security and relaxation. They can be a safe option for children, potentially helping them manage anxiety and improve sleep. But remember, it's vital to talk to a healthcare expert before buying one. Make sure the blanket's size and weight are right for your child's safety. When picking a weighted blanket for your kid, go for the one that matches their needs and preferences for best results.



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