Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Do Weighted Blankets Calm Kids (And Grown Ups) Down?

I have long had a feeling that putting mild pressure on a kid with some sensory stuff going on calms them down but it wasn't until recently that I realized that there is some scientific evidence to back this feeling up.

My examples are purely anecdotal. My super sweet niece and nephew both had a really tough time calming down as babies and my sister would intuitively bounce or swing them (which is a therapy for sensory processing disorder. She just didn't know that) to get them to calm down. One time when I was in the car with them my niece literally would not stop crying for over an hour, no matter what we tried. I finally as a last resort, decided to go into the back seat, put my hand on her chest, apply some mild pressure rubbing back and forth and within five seconds she was sound asleep. Yes, it was that quick. We were a bit shocked actually but very very relieved. As much as I love my niece wow all that crying was hard to handle.

When I took my now adopted son on his first airplane ride, during the ascent, when he felt the mild pressure on his chest due to gravity pushing him down, the same thing happened. He literally fell asleep in five seconds. At first I thought that he had gotten the wind knocked out of him because it happened so quickly. But a quick look at him showed he was just snoozing quite peacefully.

My nanny also commented that when the kiddo is strapped snugly into his car seat, he seems to be his calmest. He is relaxed, calm and often either falls asleep or at least seems really almost drugged, no matter what time of day it is.

Seriously, something about all this feeling of mild pressure or of being swaddled is so calming to kids with sensory processing stuff going on.

Unfortunately I can't afford to take a flight somewhere every night so that my kid gets a good night sleep. Nor can I drive around all night with him strapped snugly into his car seat. I need a better solution There is an answer though: Weighted blankets.

What is a Weighted Blanket?

A weighted blanket is simply a heavy blanket; filled with weights throughout, usually between 4 and 15 lbs. You can wear it on your lap, around your shoulders or to cover your whole body while you sleep. When a weighted blanket is applied, it provides relaxing, deep pressure touch stimulation. The pressure causes the wearer to release seratonin and melatonin, known relaxers naturally found in the body.

I found several blogs where the writers said that the weighted blanket really helped their child.

[My son] won't sleep without his weighted blankets now -- they bring a level of comfort to him that would be hard to replicate in any other form.

And from Shadowdaughter:
It’s beautiful.  It’s wonderful.  It’s very calming and soothing.  It feels like a super-heavy beanie-baby.  Many companies use ball-bearings as weights in their blankets, but Salt of the Earth uses fine-grade river stones.  It feels like sand.  The cotton is also a great texture, nice and stiff like the cotton of a good top sheet. My husband (who has been diagnosed with ADHD) loves it as well. 

It sounds like these blankets are quite helpful but a search of online retailers show that they cost a good $100 bucks. Before I spend money like that, I want to make sure I know it works. Maybe I'll do a little more research and see....

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