How to Pick a Weighted Blanket

Thinking about buying a weighted blanket? Wondering if they really work? Maybe you are trying to chose one for yourself, or your child? Read on to learn about blankets with added or a heavier weight. Most importantly, read about heavier blanket safety, which is rarely talked about. You will also learn how heavy a blanket should be! And lastly, discover why blankets with added weight are beneficial. This blog post will answer many questions you might have. Furthermore, it will explain why blankets with more weight help people with sensory sensitivities.

Infographic highlighting how and way to use a weighted blanket.

What is a weighted blanket?

The first thing to know is that a blanket with added weight is a type of sensory tool. It provides deep pressure (proprioception) through the skin. Deep pressure or proprioception, is one of eight senses that you have. Children and adults use blankets that are weighted. Additionally, people with and without sensory sensitivities, use them.

What are the benefits of blankets with weight?

You may be curious about why blankets that are heavy help people. In fact, there are different reasons that people enjoy using this sensory tool. According to research, Weighted Blanket Use: A Systematic Review (2020) one of the most common benefits of blankets with more or added weight is to help reduce anxiety. It is important to note that research is still sparse. Many people with sensory processing disorders, for example, tend to experience increased levels of stress. The deep pressure stimulation of heavy blankets provides a sense of security and comfort. Ultimately, this may help create a sense of calm and emotional relaxation, too. Additionally, it is important to note that these benefits can occur regardless if you have increased sensory sensitivities or not. Many people who do not have any sensory differences enjoy sleep with heavier blankets.

Furthermore, these sensory tools may help reduce night-time movement, which can help you feel more rested. It is critical that heavier blankets are never used as a restraint, however. By improving sleep quality, you help to reduce daytime stress and irritation. All of these benefits apply to both children and adults. Be sure to read on about important safety for children and adults, alike.

Blanket safety

It is important to know that blankets with more weight come with inherent and serious risks. A child in Canada died while using a weighted blanket in a classroom. Please read the coroner’s recommendations about safe use.

Key safety considerations;

  • Occupational therapists are your ally when choosing a weighted blanket as a therapeutic tool, consult with them.
  • Young children, infants and toddlers should not use heavy blankets.
  • Be cautious about using blankets with added or more weight in older children, adults and seniors.
  • Older children and adults need to have sufficient muscle strength, coordination and body awareness to move the blanket. 
  • Heavy blankets pose a risk of suffocation for anyone, at any age.
  • Blankets with more weight pose a suffocation risk to a child, adult or senior who lacks muscle strength, coordination, or body awareness.
  • Put safety first. Ask yourself, does the person have the strength, coordination, and awareness to use it safely and not put themselves or anyone else at risk of injury?

How heavy should a blanket be?

It is extremely important to be aware of the recommended weight of a blanket to ensure the safety of both children and adults. According to the Sleep Foundation, it is suggested that a blanket should be an absolute maximum of 10% of a person’s body weight. Even 5% of a person’s body weight is helpful. That means for a person who weights 100 lbs., the blanket should be no more than 10 lbs. Even less, like 5 lbs. total weight, is helpful. It is also important to consider the weight of the blanket with the safety of the person. 10lbs. might be too heavy for some people who weight 100 lbs. Therefore, there is never a “universal” weight for a blanket. However, it is always advised to consult with your occupational therapist or doctor to determine what is best for you or your child.

Who should not use a blanket that is heavier?

There are many reasons why people should not use a blanket with added weight. It is always recommended to talk to your occupational therapist or doctor about using a blanket with more weight. However, the following are some of the circumstances in which heavier blankets are not recommended for use. There are likely others you can think of. Be smart, and be safe when selecting sensory tools.

  • Breathing problems
  • Heart precautions
  • Epilepsy
  • Decreased muscle tone and strength
  • Fractured bones and wounds
  • History of trauma
  • Claustrophobia
  • Pregnancy
  • Inability to remove the blanket by themselves
  • Inability to keep the blanket below their head or neck

How do you use a weighted blanket?

Additionally, it is essential to be aware of how to use a heavier blanket safely. Firstly, heavier blankets should never be used as a restraint or to incumber movement. It is vital that children and adults can freely take the blanket off without special effort whenever they want to remove it. Young children are not likely to have this ability, and many older children, or even adults may also not have this ability. Ensure the person using the heavier blanket has the ability to voluntarily remove it.

It is also crucial to be aware of positioning yourself under a weighted blanket. Never to cover your head or neck when using a blanket of any weight. This increases the risk of suffocation. It is a significant safety concern; never put a blanket above your or your child’s shoulder level. So never cover the head or neck with a heavy blanket. Ensure that a child has the ability to follow this rule.

Lastly, it is crucial to know how long you should be using your blanket with added weight. A general rule to follow is that heavier blankets show a positive effect even after 20 minutes of use and even at 5% of body weight. Although the amount of time that a person may use a blanket with added weight may differ from person to person based on professional recommendations from an occupational therapist or doctor, it is always suggested to wear it for a limited time to prevent discomfort or injury. Take home message: you do not have to use a heavier blanket all night for sleep or for a positive effect.

Young woman sleeping in bed with weighted blanket.

Can you sleep with a heavy blanket every night?

You may be wondering whether it is safe to use a heavier blanket during the whole night. When is doubt always consult with your occupational therapist or doctor if you are unsure. Everyone is different. Remember that a blanket with added weight has a positive effect even after just 20 minutes.

This blog post highlighted the various topics surrounding the benefits of weighted blankets and how you and your child can safely use this product.

Interested in learning more about different sensory tools? Check out:

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