If you’re not familiar with the latest product that’s helping kids everywhere with issues like anxiety and sleep, it’s time to come jump on the weighted blanket bandwagon.
This popular therapeutic tool has officially gone mainstream as more and more people discover that it offers a host of benefits to a broader audience.
The right weighted blanket can help calm your child, reduce his or her anxiety and achieve quality sleep.
In this comprehensive weighted blanket guide, I’m going to tell you what weighted blankets are all about, how they work, and how to know if your child needs one. We’ll also take a look at their benefits based on scientific research, some top tips before you buy, and a round-up with our top recommended weighted blankets for kids.
What is a weighted blanket?
If you’re not already familiar with this product, let’s take a quick look and see what it’s all about.
As the name suggests, these are heavier than your average blanket as they contain a filler, which can be anything from plastic beads or pellets and non-toxic glass beads to beans and organic grains. The former two are the most commonly used fillers.
How weighted blankets work
Weighted blankets have been around for many years, but it’s only recently that they’ve become mainstream.
Originally, they were used by occupational therapists and doctors for therapeutic purposes in children primarily with self-regulation and sleeping issues, ADHD, sensory processing disorder and also kids with autism.
According to Christina Gallo, MS, OTR/L, is an occupational therapist and founder of Child’s Play Therapy Services, “Weighted blankets provide deep touch sensory input to the skin, which is organizing and soothing to our nervous systems.
Deep touch or deep pressure therapy, as it’s called, refers to the pressure applied either through massage tools, the hands or even products that kids can wear or wrap around themselves. It also refers to hugging, swaddling, cuddling, squeezing, compression and firm stroking.
As these blankets offer deep pressure, they can create a feeling of comfort and calm. For example, these blankets can help children relax when they are overstimulated and also help them fall and stay asleep.
Says Christina, “When we get a big hug from our friend, spouse, or child, our brain releases dopamine, which allows us to feel good. Have you ever had the experience of getting a hug from a friend and then feeling the sensation of relaxation and happiness wash over you? You might even let out a big sigh of relief.
"That wave of happiness, relaxation and peace comes from the release of neurochemicals in our brains, such as dopamine and oxytocin. Weighted blankets can elicit the same response by providing our bodies with deep touch pressure. Wrapping yourself up in a weighted blanket is just like a big hug!”
How do I know if my child needs one?
Kids’ weighted blankets can be a total game changer, especially if your child is having difficulties sleeping and responds well to it. But how do you know if it’s right for your family?
Says Gallo, “There are several signs that your child would benefit from a weighted blanket: if he/she seeks deep touch from hugs, seeks out enclosed spaces, crawls under pillows, seeks out chewing or biting, used to push him or herself into the corner of the crib as an infant, and enjoys crashing, jumping and bouncing.”
These are just a few of the characteristics that would suggest a weighted blanket might be a great tool for your child.
Benefits of weighted blankets
Although there is more research to be done in general, there are studies that show the positive effects of weighted blankets and deep pressure.
One study, which looked at the effects of deep pressure touch (DPT) on anxiety, provided encouraging results and revealed that the group of young people who used a DPT apparatus were more relaxed than the control group.
In a systematic review of weighted blankets, eight studies were included and the finding suggested that they may be beneficial in certain settings and in reducing anxiety.
A study coming out of Sweden revealed that weighted blankets can be effective for treating insomnia in adults thanks to the pressure applied by the blanket, which mimics acupressure and massage. Not only did researchers see an improvement in sleep, they also saw reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety and also fatigue.
Other evidence also suggests that weighted blankets can help people sleep better and wake up feeling more refreshed. Moreover, as a non-pharmacological and innovative approach that has the possibility of improving sleep quality, there’s no reason not to give it a try.
The general consensus is that a weighted blanket might not work for everyone but it certainly can’t hurt to try one and see what happens, especially if you’re looking to help your little one relax and sleep better.
Tips for buying a weighted blanket
Before you spend your money on a weighted blanket for kids, there are a few things to consider.
First, make sure you pick a blanket that is the right size and weight for your kid. As a general rule, the right one will be 10% of your child’s body weight plus one to two pounds. Also, make sure it’s small enough that your child can’t get tangled up in it.
Never use an adult blanket on a child, especially for smaller kids, and never give a weighted blanket to a child under three.
You might want to keep in mind any fabrics that irritate your child’s skin. As these blankets contain fillers, they often have extra layers to give them a cozy feel and they could use materials that bother your child.
Additionally, before you buy one you might consider taking a test run by letting your child sleep with a heavy blanket or several layers on him or her to see how it feels, sort of like a DIY weighted blanket alternative. Not all children respond well to the feeling of deep pressure and this will give you some insight into whether it’s comfortable or not for your child.
I also recommend looking for a weighted blanket for children with a removable cover that is machine washable, to make your life easier.
If you still have questions about picking the right blanket, speak to your pediatrician or an occupational therapist.
Best weighted blankets for kids
There are definitely a lot of great options when it comes to picking the best blanket for your child. To help you make a decision, we’re going to share our top picks to ensure that you find the right model for your son or daughter.
DreamlandBaby’s Dream Weighted Blanket - Best Overall
This premium quality weighted kid’s blanket will support your child during sleep and promote positive sleep patterns, not to mention provide security and comfort.
The filler is non-toxic micro glass beads which are hypoallergenic and are securely enclosed in the blanket’s inner pockets. As for the fabrics, one side of the blanket is made with an extremely soft moisture-wicking polyester and the other side is a cozy, warm flannel.
Aside from the superior quality, another feature that sets it apart from other blankets is the satin edge, which not only adds a touch of luxury, but also offers something to kids who like to rub something on their face.
This 4-pound blanket is ideal for children ages 3 to 8 and over 30 pounds, and it measures 36 by 48 inches.
Mosaic Weighted Blanket - Most Fun Design
This unicorn weighted blanket is available in 3 different sizes and 3 different weights as well, although the 5-pound model is suitable for kids.
These 100% cotton blankets are made in the USA with premium materials and they offer an evenly weighted experience, thanks to the quilted design. This distributes the weight effectively so that the pellets don’t slide from one side to the other. It’s also worth mentioning that the pellets are FDA compliant, hypoallergenic, 100% new and BPA free.
They’re also machine washable, and the company offers a 30-day money back guarantee.
Southpaw Weighted Blanket - Best for Weight Distribution
Southpaw’s weighted blankets are available in various sizes and weights, though the most appropriate ones for kids will be the 3- or 4-pound models.
The company’s exclusive design allows for the entire blanket surface to be weighted, as opposed to individual sections. This is ideal as it allows therapists, and parents, to choose the right amount of weight needed and to position that weight accordingly for the right pressure stimulation.
The blanket, which has a very soft, textured fabric on each side, is also made with non-toxic steel shot sandwiched between two layers and Southpaw uses its own unique laminating process.
YNM Weighted Blanket - Best Cooling Effect
The YNM kid’s weighted blankets are another option. There are three models available: the original blanket, the cooling weighted blanket, and the limited edition soft blanket. They’re available in multiple colors and weigh 7 pounds.
The original model is made from 100% cotton fabric and is built to withstand the general wear and tear that will inevitable come from use. The cooling weighted blanket is made with bamboo viscose fabric and, as the name suggests, is designed specifically to keep your child cool. The soft YNM kid’s blanket is made from a minky fabric and uses the company’s unique glass bead technology.
ZonLi Weighted Blanket - Easiest to Wash
This weighted blanket for kids on Amazon also made our list. This model weighs 5 pounds and is made with an extremely soft 2-layer 100% cotton fabric. Additionally, it has loops incorporated so you can attach your favorite duvet cover to the blanket, which makes for easy washing.
I love this blanket’s use of a unique sewing technique and how it’s designed with smaller squares, which helps distribute the glass beads more evenly. The ZonLi weighted blanket for children will indubitably help your little one sleep better.
Gravity Blankets - Best Extra Perks
Gravity blankets for kids are ideal for children ages 7 and up. They weigh 10 pounds and they come with a weighted toy, a stuffed dog, which weighs 3 pounds.
Available in two colors, these have an outer duvet cover which is made with an extremely lightweight 100% polyester cooling fabric, so it’s ideal in any environment. Even better, this fabric wicks away moisture to keep your child cool all night long.
Gravity blankets use fine-grade glass beads and the grid stitching keeps the beads distributed evenly across the entire blanket, for a more comfortable experience for your child. Use the internal clasps to attach the blanket to a duvet cover and voila: you’re ready to go.
Harkla Kid’s Weighted Blanket: Best Guarantee
Harkla’s blanket is available in 3 different weights: 5, 7 and 10 pounds. Made with an ultra-soft minky dot fabric, the design adds a sensory input to your child’s needs.
This blanket is made using tiny, odorless hypoallergenic glass beads distributed perfectly by weight thanks to Harkla’s precise sewing, and the removable cover makes it easy to wash and dry.
These come with a lifetime money-back guarantee, so if you aren’t totally in love with your purchase, you can send it back, hassle free.
Harkla also makes weighted lap pads, which are used for the same purpose, but instead of covering the whole body you place them on your child’s lap. These are interesting because you can really take them on the go, leave them in the car, etc. so you can have some deep touch pressure for your little one, wherever you are.
Clearly, weight blankets aren’t just for occupational therapy to help autistic children or kids with sensory issues, ADHD and sleep disorders anymore.
What’s more, anxiety is a real issue many of our children deal with. If we can help them with something as “simple” as a weighted blanket, it’s truly a gift. If you’re having trouble getting your kids to fall sleep at night, consider a weighted blanket for children.
So whether you’re in the market for a cooling weighted blanket, a lap pad for kids or a more standard model, you now have a list of the best weighted blankets for kids, which should make your choice that much easier.