Do you know the benefits and risks of even the best weighted blankets for kids? | Photo: File photo
Getting your child to sleep in a jiffy is every mother’s dream, but it seldom happens. Weighted blankets claim to be a miracle solution for this problem. However, before you start using these blankets, it’s important to check how safe they are.
Weighted blankets have been making a buzz lately for their miraculous solution to sleeping difficulties. They are slightly heavier than the normal ones and are usually filled with glass beads, plastic pellets or weighted discs. These blankets are said to relax tense muscles by applying consistent pressure all over the body. Autism expert Dr. Temple Grandin came up with the concept of weighted blankets on observing that the application of deep-pressure on the body calmed the nervous system. So, who can use them? The blankets are advised for children as well as adults with anxiety, insomnia, sensory issues, autism or other related problems. Ever since its launch, parents have been tempted to buy the product for their children. However, even the best weighted blankets for kids may not be safe for daily use.
Best Weighted Blankets For Kids
Different types of weighted blankets are available in the market, from wearable weighted blankets and infused weighted blankets to pocket weighted blankets and DIY weighted blankets. You can find some of the best weighted blankets for kids on the Etsy store, Amazon, Mosaic, Fun and Function and a few other online sites. While there are ample positive reviews about weighted blankets, you should know that it doesn’t work for everyone. For instance, if your kid loves to sleep under heavy comforters, likes to wear heavy sweaters/sweatshirts or finds it difficult to relax even after a tiring day, then it’s possible that he/she may respond well to the weighted blanket. But if your kid falls asleep easily when tired or doesn’t love layers/blankets much, then it’s an indication that your child doesn’t need a weighted blanket. Also, take note that these blankets should not be used on babies and kids below two years of age.
A lot of people who have used the weighted blanket talk about feeling light and swaddled under the blanket’s pressure. They feel quite relaxed under the blanket and find a sense of relief in their sore muscles from the blanket’s deep pressure. Having said all that, you should know that weighted blankets may not always be very safe for use. Like any other product, they have their own set of benefits and risks.
Benefits of Using Weighted Blankets
- Relaxing effect on the nervous system, thus helping you to sleep well.
- Calming effect, which can treat anxiety and stress.
- Possibly effective in treating sleep disorders related to autism, as per the deep pressure therapy research.
- Can help alleviate chronic pain and depression, and lower blood pressure and heart rate.
Risks/Cons of Using Weighted Blankets
- Can cause suffocation in small kids, people with claustrophobia or cleithrophobia and anybody who finds the pressure uncomfortable.
- Can cause choking in children suffering from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
- Can cause difficulty in breathing for people with asthma and sleep apnea.
- Can cause irritation for people with skin-related issues.
- Using it as an alternative to medication without consent from your doctor can cause adverse effects.
- Can cause discomfort in people with temperature-regulation problems.
According to Ph.D. holder Donna Arand, the president of Behavioral Sleep Medicine Society, and sleep psychologist Lynelle Schneeberg, “the blanket seems to have a relaxing effect on people and there are many anecdotal reports about its effectiveness. However, there’s not much research or objective scientific data on the usefulness of these blankets in improving sleep and curing disorders like insomnia”. MD and associate pediatrics professor Jennifer Poon also specifies the lack of strong evidence supporting weighted blankets. She states that not many parents take her advice before buying
these so-called miracle blankets.
If you’re looking forward to buying weighted blankets for you or your family, here are some important
tips to follow:
- The blanket must be 5 – 10% of your weight or 1 to 2 pounds more. The same applies to kids as well.
- It should not be used for children below the age of 2.
- It should cover the body evenly for even application of pressure.
- Seek medical advice before buying a weighted blanket and don’t blindly follow customer reviews.
- First check whether your body likes the sensation of sleeping under 2-3 blankets or quilts and then decide whether a weighted blanket is right for you.
- Buy a blanket which has fillings evenly distributed for consistent pressure.
- The blanket may not be effective if you don’t follow proper sleep hygiene practices (turning off electronic gadgets before going to bed, avoiding caffeine, sleeping with the lights off, etc.).
Weighted blankets have made their way into many of your homes already, with mixed reviews about their effectiveness. While these blankets are a good solution for insomnia and anxiety disorders, the effect can vary with people. So, it’s always best to first follow other sure shot alternatives for sleeplessness and medical problems rather than experimenting with something that doesn’t have 100% success rate. It is advised to consult your doctor before going ahead with such home-therapy solutions or if you’ve bought the blanket already, at least be aware of the risks and take enough care while using them.