Weighted Blankets and Vests
Weighted Blankets and Vests Author: Krista Flack, MS OTR/L
You may have heard or seen people using weighted blankets, vests, and pads, and you may be wondering what they are for. Weighted blankets provide deep pressure, or proprioceptive input, which has a calming effect on the body. For some kids (and adults!), this can mean improved attention when sitting still is necessary (such as during school), improved sleep, and improved coping during frustrating or difficult situations.
Use of a weighted blanket, vest, or pad is best explained by your child’s occupational therapist that can trial or recommend weight, materials, and guidelines for use. In general, vests and lap pads should not be more that 5% of a child’s body weight. For a 50 pound child, this would be 2.5 pounds. Blankets, because of their increased surface area, can be a little heavier. I normally recommend a blanket be 10% of a child’s body weight, plus 1 pound. Again, for a 50 pound child, this would be 6 pounds.
Weighted items can be purchased from various retailers, including on Amazon and Etsy. Another alternative is to make your own! There are numerous tutorials out there for making weighted blankets and other items. I like this tutorial for making a quilt-style weighted blanket. Favorite pillows or stuffed animals can easily be modified to include added weight. A neck pillow with the inflatable portion removed makes a great lap or shoulder pad when filled with dry rice, beans, or poly-pellets. A fishing vest provides options to easily fill pockets with weight to distribute as needed.
If you think a weighted blanket and/or weighted item would help your child, talk to his or her occupational therapist!