Weighted blanket for kids with ADHD: why is one of the best tools for the parents
Do you know why your kids love your hug? Have you realized that you feel soothed and relaxed when being hugged by your spouse? Yes, we all love being hugged and kissed but it's much more than just the touch that we enjoy. A hug is actually a type of deep pressure therapy that helps our body release serotonin, the hormone that makes us feel happy and relaxed. This is the reason why parents are advised to hug their children more often, especially when they are angry, nervous, anxious, overexcited, or in a bad mood. If you have an ADHD child, hugging is even more important for you. Your hug can do wonder; it can calm down your child, make him feel secure, and even help him get better sleep so that he can be more attentive during the day.
While nothing can replace parents’ hug, a weighted blanket for kids can definitely help you handle your child’s over-excitement and restlessness during the nap hours and even otherwise. This is exactly what you need after a hectic day of work. You want your child to calm down, feel your love, and stay relaxed and asleep during the night so that you too can enjoy a few peaceful hours of nap. In this blog, we will explain to you more about these anxiety blankets and why you must order a weighted blanket for your ADHD child. But, before that, let’s get a brief of what is a weighted blanket.
What is a weighted blanket?
Also known as a heavy blanket, it is exactly what its name implies. It is heavy in weight i.e. it carries some extra weight as compared to the conventional blankets. The extra weight is because of the fillings it has in it. Manufacturers use commonly found materials such as beads, poly-pellets, rice, etc. to fill the blankets for making them heavier. The fabric varies widely. Some prefer cotton, whereas others prefer blended soft fabrics.
Weighted blankets for kids are available in various weights, designs, and fabrics. You can choose any design and fabric but you have to be a little careful while choosing the weight. The ideal weight of your kid’s anxiety blanket should be 10% of his or her body weight plus a pound or two. So, if your child weighs 50 pounds, you need to buy a blanket day that weighs around 7 pounds.
Are weighted blankets effective for kids with ADHD?
Yes, they definitely are. Thousands of parents have claimed that heavy blankets have helped their child get better sleep. We understand that the World Wide Web is full of fake reviews, and, therefore, a lot of us would not believe those claims. However, you will be surprised to know that weighted blanket are scientifically proven to be effective for kids with ADHD. In fact, they are highly recommended for anyone who is experiencing sleep disorders or anxiety disorders. The science behind the creation of weighted blanket is simple. When you put something heavy on you, you feel like you are getting a hug or a massage which your body recognizes as deep touch pressure (DTP). Deep touch pressure is scientifically proven to help calm down the nervous system, control the release of cortisol, the stress hormone, and release serotonin, the happy hormone. (1)
Being a happy hormone, serotonin is known for improving mood, sleep, and focus. This is the reason why it is helpful for people with sleep disorders as well as for kids who are suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A study conducted by Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Duke University found that high serotonin level is extremely helpful for overcoming hyperactivity, and therefore, the researchers have concluded that weighted blankets for kids are effective for children suffering from ADHD. (2)
Weighted blanket benefits for kids with ADHD
Improves their sleep
Hyperactive kids suffer from a number of sleep-related issues such as difficulty falling asleep, restless leg syndrome, sleep disordered breathing, etc. Therefore, they also suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness. Sleep issues can affect their daily activities and even make it difficult for them to concentrate on their studies. Pediatricians often ask parents to hug their ADHD child while trying to make them fall asleep. This helps, but very often, we parents find it hard to take out the time to calm down our hyperactive child and make him sleep. This is where weighted blankets come in. As mentioned above, weighted blankets for kids help calm down the nervous system by using deep pressure therapy, thereby promoting the secretion of serotonin. Serotonin, in turn, helps in secretion of melatonin, the sleep hormone. The nervous system of healthy kids is able to release melatonin on its own during the bedtime but ADHD kids may require melatonin supplements. So, instead of being dependant on melatonin, you could try weighted blankets. The heavy blankets will help them calm down easily and get good sleep.
Improves their concentration
As mentioned above, kids with ADHD often suffer from daytime sleepiness, which affects concentration and class performance. Anxiety blankets can help them sleep peacefully at night and feel better during the day, thereby improving their concentration. Although no direct clinical studies have conducted on this so far, a study conducted by American Occupational Therapy Association has concluded that weighted vests can help ADHD students stay focused in their class. (3) So, it can be safely assumed that just like weighted vests and lap toys, heavy blankets can help ADHD kids focus better on their studies and in their daily activities.
Calms them down during distress
Handling a hyperactive child is not easy. You have to be attentive all the time but if you are driving, you can’t really manage them and drive at the same time. Many parents claim that weighted blankets are great for travel. It helps them stay calm at the backseat. A lot of parents also claim that it has helped them minimize the transition time. For example; if your child has just come from the park, he would be very hyperactive and wouldn’t probably sit down for studies. You can simply make him sit down and put the blanket on his lap. The heavy weight of the blanket will help secrete serotonin hormone, which will help them calm down quicker than they would.
A lot of people would probably dismiss these claims but it's not just a blanket, it's a therapeutic tool, which is even used by occupational therapists.
Where to buy weighted blankets?
These sleep aids have recently gained a lot of popularity. From senior citizens to kids, they are recommended for anyone and everyone. You can buy them from a nearby shop or better order them online from Amazon. They are available in all sizes and weight. As mentioned above, while buying, make sure you buy the product that weighs right for your child i.e. 10% of his body weight + 2 pounds. If you want to buy from Amazon, here is a popular product that you may consider. We have carefully chosen it considering its overall quality and customer satisfaction level.
AG Premium Weighted Blanket Adult, 7 lbs 40"x60", Heavy Blanket for Kids, Cooling Blanket
It is made of luxury cotton and has glass beads as filling. The cotton is 100% natural and breathable and, therefore, it is going to keep your child cooler than the normal blankets. The glass beads are hypoallergenic, non-toxic, and odorless. The manufacturer is offering 100% satisfaction guarantee plus a 3 year warranty, which makes it a safe choice.
What to look for while buying a weighted blanket for kids with ADHD
- Weight: We have already discussed it above. If you feel 10% of your child’s body weight + 2 pounds will be too heavy, you can simply buy a heavy blanket that weighs 10% of your child’s body weight. Please note that weighted blankets are not recommended for toddlers. If your child is less than 2 years old, please consult your pediatrician regarding it.
- Filling material: Glass beads and poly-pellets are two popular filling materials used in anxiety blankets. For weighted blankets for kids, we strongly recommend glass beads, as they are smooth and give a sand-like, comfortable feel. The poly-pellets feel like small stones. They are good too but kids often don’t like their feeling.
- Fabric: If you buy a therapy tool for your child, he is most likely not going to use it. So, the weighted blanket has to look and feel like a normal blanket. It shouldn’t make your child sweat, which is why you should buy the ones that are made up on 100% natural cotton. Although it sounds obvious, a lot of manufacturers use poly cotton or blended cotton, which are neither soft nor breathable. They may look highly attractive but once your child starts using them, he may develop rashes and might suffer from allergic reactions. So, we recommend that you must read the product description and the previous Amazon reviews carefully to ensure that the weighted blanket for kids with ADHD that you are ordering is made of breathable cotton fabric. This is why we are recommending AG premium weighted blankets because they are made of pure cotton and none of the users have ever complaint about the fabric quality.
A lot of manufacturers of weighted blankets for kids with ADHD claim that their products are a safer alternative to medicines or melatonin supplements. However, we strongly recommend that you must not discontinue the medication without consulting your doctor.
References and Citations:
- Ghaly M, Teplitz D. The biologic effects of grounding the human body during sleep as measured by cortisol levels and subjective reporting of sleep, pain, and stress. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15650465. Published October 2004.
- Serotonin May Hold Key to Hyperactivity Disorder. HHMI.org. https://www.hhmi.org/news/serotonin-may-hold-key-hyperactivity-disorder.
- Does wearing a weighted vest improve in-seat behavior, task completion speed, and attention-to-task in learners diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder? American Occupational Therapy Association. https://www.aota.org/~/media/Corporate/Files/Practice/EvidenceExchange/Approved-CAPs/CY/Buckle.ashx.