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Do Weighted Blankets Work for Toddlers?

For years parents have always used weighted blankets for their toddlers to ensure that they would get a good night of rest. As a matter of fact, many people believe that weighted blankets can aid in relaxation and promote a feeling of calm, especially right before bedtime. But do they really work? And should parents invest in a weighted blanket for their troubled little sleeper? Here’s what you need to know.

For those not in the know, a weighted blanket is what it sounded like: a heavy blanket that can weigh anywhere from five to twenty-five pounds. Many parents have been using them at home and especially during the winter months in hopes that they would help their children sleep better at night.

According to Today’s Parent, Dr. Temple Grandin, an animal behavioral expert with autism, was one of the first people to notice that deep pressure touch calms the central nervous system for people with sensory sensitivities. Weighted blankets are often filled with poly pellets, weighted discs, or glass beads and in general are heavier than standard blankets.

Registered therapist Heather Chandler, of Chandler Counselling, in London, Ontario, Told Today's Parent, “I’d suggest them for children who have trouble finding calm or self-regulating, including children with symptoms of anxiety, trauma or attachment disorders, sensory issues, as well as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnoses.”

Credit: iStock / LSOphoto

There’s also the notion that weighted blankets help “ground” children during their bedtime. Many parents believe that this process, known as “earthing” or “grounding,” may have a deeply calming effect, and might even help their kids fall asleep faster, especially if they suffer from anxiety or any other mood and behavioral problems. In general, it should only take about 20 minutes for a healthy person to fall asleep at night.

If you are still interested in getting a weighted blanket for your child, keep this in mind: the blanket should only be 10 percent of the user’s body weight, plus a few pounds. So, for an 80-pound child, their blanket shouldn’t be more than 10 pounds. For a 100-pound child, they shouldn’t have a blanket that is more than 15 pounds, and so on.

Experts agree that weighted blankets are safe for both children and adults, but you should not use a weighted blanket for any child under one year of age. It's been often noted that parents should also place babies on their backs to sleep, as this is the safest position.

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