Making Weighted Blankets

A new reader, Shannon, recently left a comment about using weighted blankets with children who have sensory issues and/or a history of trauma.  Weighted blankets are expensive to purchase, but  her family was given weighted blankets by an organization called Project Linus.  According to the Project Linus website:

First, it is our mission to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer “blanketeers.”

After looking at their website, I contacted Project Linus and asked about weighted blankets.   Mary referred me to a page on their site for blanket patterns and particularly a weighted blanket called Lili’s Hug. She suggested that I make one (not likely to happen) or find somebody who sews and will make one for me.  She also said it would be worthwhile to contact a local chapter to see if they make Lili’s Hug blankets.  I may give that a try.

Does somebody want to whip up one of these blankets and let us know what you think?

Shannon also said,

Our son is “Mr. Muscle,” he is45 pounds, but he can lift my 65 pound son easily. SO, our therapist recommended that we make his blanket a pound heavier than normal (typically 10% of body weight + 1 pound for blankets). This is the BEST thing to settle him down. We also use the blanket when we are going to talk about Ethiopia during therapy, it settles him and he puts the blanket over everything but his head.

Sounds interesting and hopeful to me. Does anybody else have experience with weighted blankets?  I would love to hear from you.

~Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

30 Comments

  1. Karen
    March 29, 2010

    part 3:
    My daughter is also a very anxious child and can get worked up over the slightest of things. She recently had a school program one evening and she was SO wired up about getting there on time, remembering her lines, etc. that no one in the house could stand her. After bathing her and getting her ready for the big night, I had her sit on her floor to watch some Noggin TV and I covered her with the blanket. By the time we left the house (about 10 minutes later), she had completely calmed down.
    I order my blankets from http://www.weightedblanket.net. They have a program where you can purchase a used blanket if you aren't able to afford a new one. Also, when you purchase a new/heavier blanket, you can return your old/lighter blanket for credit on the new one. I did not send Heavy Sofie back when I bought Grande Uva because I have one more daughter on the way and I do not know if she will benefit from using this blanket or not. I have currently loaned it to a friend to see if it will help her daughter.
    Let me know if you have any questions about our experience with a blanket. We LOVE them!
    Sorry this was so long.

    Reply
    1. nikki
      February 8, 2012

      I really just enjoyed reading your comment(s). Sometimes with my daughter's issues, I feel like people just don't understand! You could've been talking about my daughter in the above posts. I guess it just feels nice to know you are not alone. I can not wait to get a blanket and I think we will make our own since they are kinda expensive (thankfully my mom is great with a sewing machine). I am trying so hard to aleve some of the everyday meltdowns with these sensory and adhd techniques I keep researching. Thanks 🙂

      Reply
  2. Donna
    March 29, 2010

    I was wondering if you could use these to help with sleep issues for sensory kids? I don't know, but I have two sensory kids who have trouble getting to sleep and like to cover their heads to sleep. Wondering if there were any ideas out there about weighted blankets and sleep or if it is even recommended.
    Thanks
    Donna

    Reply
    1. Karen
      March 31, 2010

      Donna, my daughter uses hers primarily for sleeping. I see some comments here that say that you should not sleep with one, but our OT knows that we do this and we have her blessing to do so. I think if the blanket is too heavy for your child to move, then it could be problematic. Our blanket is not hot, just heavy. My daughter uses a sheet and this blanket year round. The only thing that we change is her pajamas–warmer pjs in the winter and cooler ones in the summer.
      I met a family during the summer and the dad really wished he could have a blanket for his restless legs and sleeping. I'm sure they have purchased one for that very purpose by now!

      Reply
  3. Karen
    March 29, 2010

    part 1:
    Oh yes! My daughter, almost 7 years old, has been using one for the last 4 years. We don't go anywhere with "her." My daughter named her first blanket Heavy Sofie (weighed 5 pounds and is the size of a crib quilt/blanket) and her current blanket is named Grande Uva (translation is Big Grape because the blanket is purple). Grande Uva is 10 pounds and is the size of the top of a twin mattress. I typically use the same formula that Shannon uses but since the majority of the twin-sized blanket is on the bed, not on my daughter and my daughter likes deep pressure, I decided on the 10 pound blanket (I did consult with the owner of the company in determining the appropriate weight). My daughter, by the way, weighed about 32 pounds when I purchased Sofie and weighs about 50 pounds now.
    to be continued

    Reply
  4. Karen
    March 29, 2010

    part 2
    My daughter has many sensory issues and she simply cannot be still to sleep. She would get out of bed each morning and still be tired after being in the bed for 12 hours. She would find comfort from me literally laying directly on top of her and so when I read about a weighted blanket, I KNEW she would love it. I let her pick out the fabric for Heavy Sofie and we gave it to her for her 3rd birthday. When I put it on top of her for the first time, she said, "Oh, Mommy. This feels SO good!" You could literally see her little body relax under the blanket. We used Sofie for about 3 1/2 years but when my daughter quit sleeping well (and we did something about her other normal no-sleep-triggers), we decided it was time for a heavier blanket. After getting Grande Uva, her normal sleep pattern returned–thank goodness!
    We also use the blanket if my daughter needs to sit still, like when doing homework or even dinner. There are times when it is ok for her to do her reading standing up or whatever, but if I need her to sit and she cannot, adding Grande Uva helps tremendously.
    to be continued

    Reply
  5. Chris
    March 29, 2010

    That would be an easy project :^)…just wondering if you really want cloth stuffed in there…there are weighted plastic beads…you would need to be sure the seams are tight….I make flannel blankets for my kids…not for sensory purposes, but the blanket is 3 layers of flannel and can be very heavy, if you would add more weight…the other fabric that might work well would be layers of denim…it would not have the puffy pockets…. also…is the size right for your children…should it cover the whole body or just the legs? You can tell I don't know too much about this :^) But I AM looking at ways to fund raise for our next adoption so I'm open to try anything well almost

    Reply
    1. Karen
      March 31, 2010

      Oh blanket is not hot, just heavy. Ours has "beads" of some sort inside. There is actually a blanket within a blanket and the beads are sewn into small pockets. Ours covers the whole body too.

      Reply
  6. Kristen-Pajama Mama
    March 29, 2010

    I had never heard of weighted anything until last year, when a friend whose son is Autistic asked me to sew pockets into a vest she had found at the thrift store. She keeps weights in the pockets for him to wear while he works.
    Don't know how well it works, but it was a very inexpensive thing to try!

    Reply
  7. Joelle
    March 29, 2010

    A friend of mine used weighted blankets for years with her daughter. She had lapsize, single bed size, and also a vest that could be worn. It was a very effective tool and her daughter found a lot of help. The issue for her was ADHD as well as sensory issues. I started making a vest (a simple vest with pockets to put the weights in) for my daughter but never got it completed.

    Reply
  8. Tonggu Momma
    March 29, 2010

    I don't know if you already know this or not, Lisa, but the Tongginator is not the only one in our family with sensory issues. I also have sensory processing disorder, but I am an over-sensitive rather than sensory-seeking like the Tongginator. Before we ever heard of weighted blankets, I used to pile on layer upon layer of blankets – not for warmth, but for weight. It would help me relax enough to fall asleep. Like lots of people with sensory issues, I struggle a ton with transitioning into sleep, especially if I had too much or too little of a "sensory day." I think weighted blankets are a great concept because of this, even though I've never personally tried one. It's definitely something to consider.

    Reply
    1. Kathrin
      April 2, 2010

      Thank you for sharing. It helps.

      Reply
  9. Kristy
    March 29, 2010

    I have used weighed blankets a lot in my field with children with autism. The one thing to remember is to not use them for longer then 20 minutes at a time or they become ineffective because the body becomes used to the weight. The other thing that you can use is bean bags (we use these a lot then "squish" the child…depended on the child depends on how hard and how much calming they need). You could also try just getting a regular blanket opening it up and adding the weight and sewing up the hole…I have never tried it but it might work.

    Reply
    1. Kathrin
      April 2, 2010

      Kristy, I have read the balnkets help kids sleep through the night. So I guess you coudl use them for more than 20 minutes. But, they are new to me … I don't know.

      Reply
      1. Kristy
        April 6, 2010

        The 20 minute rule is for calming them down usually and it might just be for school.

        Reply
  10. Ann
    March 29, 2010

    No experience but found these instructions which sound very "do-able" even for a rookie seamstress:

    Looking forward to seeing what others think and may make one myself 🙂

    http://craftnectar.com/2009/09/03/calming-the-sen

    Reply
  11. Kathrin
    March 29, 2010

    Oh wow, Lisa, that is perfect. I will try to have one made for my little one. She loves to fall asleep with my hand on her chest cuddled up in her sleepingbag.

    Reply
  12. @alilbitofjoy
    March 30, 2010

    I work at a school for children of all abilities in a reverse inclusion model, and we use these blankets in our sensory classroom during naptime or anytime our children need calming. children who needed to be pat on the back to fall asleep are now able to fall asleep on their own. we also use beanbag chairs on top of our children during naptime and for calming. for calming, we place the child between 2 beanbag chairs and "smush" them with our body weight. it works wonders with children who have sensory issues.

    Reply
  13. AmyAJ
    March 30, 2010

    Be sure and check with your OT. I have known kids that loved them and kids that hated them…

    Reply
  14. TD04
    March 30, 2010

    Hi Lisa, I'm blog follower of yours… 🙂 I sew and I'd be happy to look the pattern over to see if it's something do-able! Email me for more info! ~Anna

    Reply
  15. j-momma
    March 30, 2010

    i've used them in school systems before working with autistic kids and SID kids. my son has SID but i haven't tried one with him yet. mostly because i don't think he's tolerate it but i know it would be good for him. i would love to buy one. can't make one. there's just no way. if you find a link to someone who makes them and sell them, post it so i can buy too! the only thing i've heard is not to let kids sleep under it at night because it is dangerous as kids can over heat.

    Reply
  16. Gail
    April 1, 2010

    My sister is in a graduate OT program and I spoke with her about weighted blankets. She did say they should be used for 20 minutes at a time. I have a granddaughter (3) who has tantrums and sleep issues – someone recommended a weighted blanket. I bought Poly Pro Pellets for weight (on line) and I am going to make her one.

    Reply
    1. Lilly
      March 1, 2011

      Where did you buy the pellets and how much did they cost? I am looking to buy some. =)

      Reply
      1. One Thankful Mom
        March 1, 2011

        Lilly, I found this link in my notes:
        http://www.spinblessing.com/item.php?art=03535260

        I hope that helps!

        Reply
      2. One Thankful Mom
        March 1, 2011

        Lilly, let me check my notes and get back to you. If you don't hear from me, would you please email me with the question – [email protected]

        Reply
  17. Sarah
    April 1, 2010

    I have bipolar disorder; I'm stable now but when I was manic (on high speed and no sensory tolerance whatsoever), a wieghted blanket (not homemade) went a LONG way towards calming me down.

    Reply
  18. Kathrin
    April 2, 2010

    Dear Lisa, I just pust my baby down for her first night with her new weighted blanket (we tryed it for naptime first). I made the blanket by useing two toddler blankets, one front one back, made 32 units filled with cherry pits. (I couldn't get poly-fil here and I like natural materials).
    We'll see how she likes it.

    Reply
    1. OneThankfulmom
      April 2, 2010

      Kathrin, I can't wait to hear if it helps her.

      Reply
  19. GreenMomma
    April 7, 2010

    I am a Special Education teacher for children that are very mild – highly intensive. Weighted blankets, vests, lap pads, shoulder snakes, and other items are highly effective for some kids. It’s a blessing of relief. Many kids from ADHD, Autistic, kids who’ve been impacted by various traumatic events, children whom were born premature, etc. are constantly buzzing with higher doses of anxiousness and the right weighted item can ground their anxiousness enough to just allow them to enjoy their surroundings and regroup themselves if needed. For kids who respond well to weighted items this is such a great tool. I also am sold on creating sensory corners or stations in a special place for children who crave extra sensory of different types. A rubbermaid container with rice and mystery items buried within allows the child to go on a tactile scavenger hunt. A small child pop up tent and a sound machine with various sounds such as a rainforest, waterfall, ocean waves, etc. gives the child an escape place to relax with some auditory sensory…it can be combined with a weighted blanket too. (This works wonders for anger management with children! It’s a “Time-In” instead of a time-out. If positively encouraged, some children will begin requesting it when they feel themselves reach a certain boiling point, to cool down.) There’s lots of other great ideas out there too in customizing your sensory corner according to your child’s sensory needs. I have a 7yr. old little boy adopted from Liberia whom we continue to really struggle with anger issues with him. When we first got him he’d literally shove himself into the back of his closet and hide in the tiniest part after he’d blow up or anytime he felt he was treated unfairly. Having a special place now that is his “take a break”place he’s minimized his outbursts at least 50%. Now if I can see him winding up I just ask him “Do you want some special tent time?” or I say “I can tell your upset and if you’d like to help me with ….. I’d love to get your tent ready for 5-10 minutes.” Even when he is reluctant to want to go after 1 minute of being upset the ocean waves or rainforest noises dissolve his anger and I end up having to remind him his 10 minutes are up, if he wants;) I hear him there talking out a lot of stories from Liberia to his stuffed gorilla and he feels safe there sharing. Sometimes it leads to him wanting to share them with me or his dad which is always a special moment.

    Reply
  20. Emily A. Verkow
    June 12, 2012

    I make these same blankets and many other designs I created myself. I have a fussy sleeper and it is absolutely no joke. Even children with no kind of sensory issues are calmed by and drawn to these blankets! I make them and sell them on my etsy but,I also craft them voluntarily for a local hospital and and the money from selling them, goes to purchase more materials to make more items to donate.

    It's such a blessing to be able to do this for needy kids, or frustrated parents who want to cam their child.
    Thanks so much for the link to the linus patterns, I think I will contact them to see if I can't find a local chapter!

    Reply

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