Could a weighted blanket help your child sleep?

June 27, 2017

Anyone who knows me knows that for the past couple years, I have wondered when my daughter would stop sleeping in my bed. I was beginning to lose hope, but then heard about the potential benefits of using a weighted blanket to aid sleep.

My kid, a not-so-great sleeper

Stella’s a snuggler, always has been. We co-slept when she was an infant, until about a year old, because I wasn’t sharing a bed with anyone, and let’s face it, co-sleeping can be a really wonderful way to bond.

As she got older, she would end up in our bed every single night. Over the course of about two and a half years, we tried EVERYTHING–we locked our door, we tried rewards, discipline, essential oils, bargaining, bribing, switching up schedules, and shifting naps. Nothing worked. Honestly, most of the time, Clay and I didn’t really care (besides the fact there were three people in a queen bed and it was… a tight situation, to say the least). She didn’t come into our bed until the middle of the night or early morning, so we still had half the night alone. We were also either pregnant or living life with an infant, so we were exhausted, and this arrangement was “what worked.”

But as time went on, she didn’t change. No amount of coaxing or cajoling was effective, and I got a big wake up call when she said “Hey mom, when we buy a house, you, me, and daddy can get a REALLY big bed!” Uhhhh no. I thought. Sweet girl, are not invited to my hypothetical world in which I share a king size bed with my husband in the house that we own.

It seemed that Stella had some dependencies on the closeness of sleeping next to someone, more than developmental. We would lay with her to go to bed, and when she woke up naturally in the course of sleep, she needed me to go to sleep again. I wondered if she had some nighttime separation anxiety. I started to wonder if a weighted blanket might help her relax and stay asleep in her own bed.

A Scientific Solution: introducing the weighted blanket

Many people have experienced a calming effect when using weighted objects such as blankets, vests, and lap pads for people with sensory issues, Autism Spectrum Disorder, anxiety, and insomnia. The reason it works is due to Deep Touch Pressure (DTP), which just means gentle, distributed weight on the body. YES, benefits have been confirmed through scientific research. Similar to getting a massage, pressure exerted over the body has physical and psychological advantages. According to Temple Grandin, Ph.D.,

Deep touch pressure is the type of surface pressure that is exerted in most types of firm touching, holding, stroking, petting of animals, or swaddling. Occupational therapists have observed that a very light touch alerts the nervous system, but deep pressure is relaxing and calming.

  • Increased serotonin.
    This is especially important for children with autism, who are low in serotonin (the hormone that helps regulate mood and ease relaxation).
    Serotonin is also necessary to create melatonin (the hormone that tells you when it’s time to go to sleep).
  • Nervous system changes.
    The weight of the blanket can help to reduce restlessness during sleep. It’s harder to move around under the blanket, and our nervous systems calm down.
  • Insomnia studies.
    Data from adult participants with insomnia showed they got a better night sleep when using a weighted blanket, which confirmed their verbal reports of a more comfortable, better quality, and more secure sleep.

There are other uses for weighted blankets as well, but this was enough to convince me to try it with Stella. This was my last stitch effort. If it didn’t work, I had no other options and expected to have Stella sleeping with Clay and I until she was in high school, probably.

My Experience with SensaCalm

I did some research and decided to purchase my daughter’s weighted blanket from SensaCalm. (Please note: This is not a sponsored blog post. I am not receiving any compensation or benefits from writing this article, merely sharing my experiences with weighted blankets and this company). The site was easy to navigate and the information was clear and helpful. I chose the lavender “Supreme Solid Fabric” to match the color scheme of my girls’ bedroom, and bought a medium (38″ x 62″), which is basically twin size. The color was exactly what I was expecting.

Picture from the SensaCalm website. Note: my picture of Stella (above) was edited so the fabric looks much lighter.

Stella is 40lb, but I wanted something that could grow with her, so I ordered a 7lb blanket as per the recommendation of one of the customer service reps at the company.

A note on customer service. This company was truly a pleasure to work with. Not just adequate, but really friendly, empathetic, conversational, and kind. I used the chat feature on their website twice and had an excellent talk both times. The help was authentic–I really felt like I could have been receiving advice and encouragement with a good friend or member of my family.

I placed my order on February 27, it was shipped on March 3, and I received it, in perfect condition, on March 7.

All in all, the blanket set me back $154.95.

Notice how, in this picture, the blanket covers the surface of the bed. It will not fall over the sides like a duvet or quilt.

Was the weighted blanket worth the cost?

Stella has been using the weighted blanket for about 4 months now, and I can say it was quite possibly THE BEST purchase I have made in 2017. The difference was immediately noticeable. Within the first week, Stella had her first night sleeping entirely in her own bed in two and a half years! The second week, she slept through the night three times, and now, it is RARE for her to wake up. We are regularly going multiple weeks with consistent night sleep. You know who else likes the blanket? ME. I would love to buy one for myself one day.

The “pros” on my list are plenty:

  • Quality product
  • Custom made to order and sized to fit the user
  • Machine washable and dryable
  • Soft fabric, but still durable
  • Pillow-like feel but weighted to my specifications
  • Made in the USA
  • Supporting a family owned-and-operated small business
    and, of course,
  • GREAT NIGHT SLEEP FOR MY WHOLE FAMILY!

 

Does your child keep waking up in the middle of the night (solidarity, mama)? Have you ever used, or been tempted to buy, a weighted blanket? What did you think?

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By Kellie

Kellie is a redeemed woman pursuing vulnerability, color, and hygge. She loves to write, take photographs, play, and learn. She's a marketing specialist by day, a blogger at night... and a mom all the time. Kellie lives in Denton, Texas with her husband, Clay, and their young daughters.

10 Comments

  1. Reply

    Donna Cox

    I would be interested in this blanket for myself. In order to sleep well, I need a couple of blankets to give me the weight I need. This my solve my sleeping issues as well. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Reply

    Sylvia

    At what age or body weight can a weighted blanket be used with a toddler?

    1. Reply

      Kellie

      Great question, Sylvia! Weighted blankets are not recommended for babies under 12 months of age. But toddlers and oder children can use them.

  3. Reply

    Chelsea

    This is a really good idea! I have heard of this and always wanted one for myself. However, I never though of one for my toddler. Thank you for sharing. I will be looking into this more ! (:

  4. Reply

    Kristy

    This is such a great review! I’ve never heard of weighted blankets and I too have a little one that’s not so keen on staying in her own bed. Thank you so much for shedding some light on this product! I will definitely be looking into this more.

  5. Reply

    Brittani | Coffee Toddlers & Chaos

    I loved your post on the weighted blanket. This was something I considered with my daughter when we were trying to get her to stay asleep in her own bed. She would be fine, until we took our hand off her and then she’d wake up. Ultimately we decided against it, because we weren’t sure we wanted to invest in something so expensive if there was no guarantee it would help her sleep any better without us.

    1. Reply

      Kellie

      It worked for us! If you’re having trouble in the future, you should go for it!

  6. Reply

    Jenni Petrey

    Both my children have autism and weighted blankets are a must. I’m so glad that you went into the science behind them. There are some great audio books to help with children’s sleep, The rabbit who wants to fall asleep is one such book.
    We use our weighted blankets as a sensory tool!

    1. Reply

      Kellie

      Check out Sensacalm. They have other weighted tools–snakes, vests, lap pads, etc. 🙂

  7. Reply

    LC @ A Life of Authenticity

    This is an interesting idea. My daughter at 5 still comes into my bed at least 2x/week. She says it’s because no one is in her bed to sleep with her (now mind you, neither is anyone in my bed) but she wants to cuddle. Like you’re daughter mine is a cuddler so this blanket my be helpful for me to reclaim my bed. Thanks!

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