Weighted Blankets

I’d never heard of weighted blankets, or weighted anything for that matter, until the lovely Mandy from Handmade by Mandy on Facebook messaged me a few months ago. She mentioned that she’d bought a weighted blanket a while ago but had really struggled with finding one that looked as good as it (hopefully) worked. She suggested that I look into them and see if I could incorporate the weight into some of my quilts. It sounded like a fab idea, but I definitely needed to look into it further so that I knew I would be able to make them properly.

On looking around, I’ve been astonished at how amazing these blankets appear to be! And there’s not only blankets, but lap pads, wraps and vests can also work just as well as blankets, and are obviously more functional in every day life.

So, what are these blankets amazing at? Well for starters, it’s not just for children – they have been found to work with:

  • Autism
  • Aspergers
  • Sensory Processing Disorder
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Dementia
  • Alzheimers
  • Downs Syndrome
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Restless Leg Syndrome

They can also help:

  • Sleep, so good for insomniacs
  • Reduce to anxiety/stress
  • Improve focus and concentration
  • Ease restlessness and irritability in the Elderly
  • Prevent /short circuit a meltdown
  • Ease transitions.

They sound like a god send for an awful lot of people, I don’t really know how I hadn’t heard of them before. They are particularly helpful with tactile or proproceptive dysfunctions and as I mentioned in a previous post on EDS, proprioception is a problem, so I’m wondering if they’d be helpful for me too! But I wanted to find out more about how they work and how they even came about, so I looked into it a bit more.

They were developed by a guy called Keith Zivalich 15 years ago after his daughter draped a Beanie Baby around his shoulders as he was driving. He descibed the feeling as ‘great’ and thought about how a similar feeling blanket would be like a ‘hug’. Between him and his wife, they set about developing the idea, using the plastic poly-pellets that are similar to that inside a beanie baby in order to get the right feel. He gave a few of the prototypes to friends to try out, in particular a special needs teacher who noticed what a unique therapy tool this could be.

But how does this ingenious blanket work? It’s all down to the distributed weight applying pressure on to the body. Depending on the weight of the child, the blanket would also have a certain weight (I’ll show you a chart at the end) so that the child (or adult) is getting the correct pressure, although it’s also advisable to get a therapist to check that this is correct for the child also. The added pressure causes the brain to release neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, both of which cause an increase in mood and can calm a person down. These can also be boosted with lifestyle and diet changes, but the blanket appears to be a much quicker and easier way to improve these levels, and it’s like receiving a hug at the same time. I’ve found a lot of research that supports this deep pressure theory working for children and animals to soothe and relax – I guess a but like an adult having a massage etc.

So for children who struggle to calm/wind down before they go to sleep, this sounds like a fantastic product, in fact Zivalich came up with the name ‘Magic Blanket’ from a child writing and telling him that it was her magic blanket and how it had helped her. On reading reviews from various places on the internet, it would seem that for any child, it seems to have some ‘magic’ effects, giving them a better sleep and happier when they wake.

The other products, for example the vest, can be worn at school to help with focus and concentration. Similarly with the lap pad or wrap, they can be perfect for in the car. The possibilities of what these blankets etc can help with are quite remarkable.

I’ve seen a fair few places that sell these under various names, and I’m sure that the designs available have begun to get better, but I would love to give making these a go. I mentioned on my FaceBook page a week or so ago about making them and there was definitely some interest, so in the new year I’m going to start practicing. I would never want to sell anything that I wasn’t sure I had made correctly, and I wouldn’t want anyone to experience any negative effects, so that’s why I want to take my time in making sure that I can make them properly and be able to still make something that looks pretty in the process! As always, they will be handsewn as well, so I want to make sure that I can securely keep the pellets inside the blanket, otherwise that may be quite unhelpful. I will definitely keep everyone updated on how I’m progressing, and if I do make one for me to use, I will let you all know how I’m finding it. Now, less talking more sewing I think!

As I mentioned earlier, this is the weight chart that I have found to be the most universal, so this will give you an idea of how heavy they weight will be based on the weight of the person. Usually, therapists recommend that the weight be about 10% of the child’s body weight, plus a pound or two. I found this guide on www.mosaicweightedblankets.com but if I find one that I think is better, this will be updated. But for now….

Body Weight Blanket Weight Low Blanket Weight High
20 lbs 2 lbs 4 lbs
25 lbs 2 lbs 4.5 lbs
30 lbs 3 lbs 5 lbs
35 lbs 3.5 lbs 6 lbs
40 lbs 4 lbs 6.5 lbs
45 lbs 4 lbs 7 lbs
50 lbs 4 lbs 7 lbs
55 lbs 4 lbs 8 lbs
60 lbs 5 lbs 9 lbs
65 lbs 5 lbs 9 lbs
70 lbs 6 lbs 10 lbs
75 lbs 6 lbs 10 lbs
80 lbs 7 lbs 11 lbs
85 lbs 7 lbs 11 lbs
90 lbs 8 lbs 11 lbs
95 lbs 8 lbs 11 lbs
100 lbs 8 lbs 12 lbs
105 lbs 8 lbs 12 lbs
110 lbs 9 lbs 13 lbs
115 lbs 9 lbs 13 lbs
120 lbs 10 lbs 15 lbs
130 – 150lbs 10 lbs 16 lbs
160 – 170lbs 10 lbs 18 lbs
175 – 195lbs 12 lbs 19 lbs
200 lbs 12 lbs 21 lbs
210 – 220lbs 12 lbs 22 lbs
230 lbs 12 lbs 23 lbs

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