Sleep is an important part of our lives, and even more so for kids. With the recent advances in sleep accessories, weighted blankets are gaining popularity and for all the right reasons. Originally developed for kids with autism, these blankets are now widely used by healthy kids and adults as well.
What exactly are weighted blankets?
As the name suggests, these blankets are heavier than the usual ones. The added weight is due to the fillers inserted in the blanket. Plastic pellets and glass beads are the most common fillers used.
Benefits of using a weighted blanket
It gives a sense of security: Using a weighted blanket has a sensation similar to being hugged. Hugging promotes the release of calming hormones like oxytocin and thereby makes the kid feel secure, safe and loved.
It helps establish a stable sleep cycle: Studies have shown that a weighted blanket increases the release of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin helps regulate the internal clock and promotes a good night’s sleep. Adequate melatonin ensures a deep and peaceful sleep.
It reduces tossing and turning during sleep: There are conditions like Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), wherein the child keeps moving constantly, resulting in poor sleep quality. These blankets being heavier tend to reduce this movement, and thereby help them sleep better.
Factors to consider while buying a weighted blanket:
Material: Weighted blankets are available in various materials, some having a softer and a warmer feel, while some facilitating more breathability and keeping you cool underneath. Based on your preferences, you can choose from multiple options available.
Minky: It is one of the softest fabrics available in the market, and kids love it. It is durable and stain-resistant. It helps children stay warm during the winter. The only downside to this being, it can keep your kid uncomfortably warm during summer months.
Cotton: This is easily one of the most popular fabrics used to make quilts and blankets. It is extremely breathable and comfortable to sleep in. you can find all different types of cotton variants, from regular to organic and Egyptian cotton. Regular cotton is the most economical of all, whereas the Egyptian version falls on the pricier side. For those with sensitive skin, it is advisable to opt for organic cotton.
Wool: A very reasonable material to go for, especially if you live in colder regions. It has excellent heat insulation and along with the weight, it will also provide you with all the warmth you need. Similar to Minky, it can get really uncomfortable to use during the warmer days.
Bamboo Fabric: It is one of the newer materials in this industry, and gaining popularity due to its eco-friendly nature. It is extremely soft and breathable, and guess what, it keeps getting softer with every wash. A word of caution, you might want to go for a bigger size than originally planned as the bamboo fabric can shrink significantly.
Silk: A very popular material used in bedding accessories, and obviously the most luxurious of all. It is super soft to touch and feel. Coming to the cost factor, this fabric is not only expensive to buy, but to maintain as well. Also, it is less durable than the fabrics mentioned above.
It is widely agreed that you should avoid fabrics like Acrylic and Polyester due to their toxic components.
Fill material: Fill material is the most important aspect of this blanket. The correct filler can make your child sleep like an angel, whereas a wrong choice could leave them miserable. Below discussed are the most commonly used fillers.
Plastic poly pellets: These are round beads made from virgin plastic. Due to the strict health protocols, the plastic used is non-toxic and free from any harmful chemicals. Even then, if your child has sensitive skin, it is best to skip this option. Also, a carefully constructed blanket does a good job, but otherwise the plastic pellets can get a little noisy. So while blanket shopping, keep that in mind.
Glass beads: In my opinion, these are one of the best fillers available. The beads are distributed more evenly and give a smoother feel to the blanket. For an even smoother texture, you can opt for glass beads blended with cotton.
The other non-popular (and less preferred options) are:
Dried Organic fillers: They did get some traction at the start because they were so cheap. All kinds of dried beans and grains were used. Not only were they uncomfortable and lumpy, but they were a horror to maintain. There are stories where the food in there started to rot after one wash!!
Sand: Another filler known for its low cost. But the sand can cluster up inside leaving you with a lumpy annoying blanket. So, one piece of advice with this one, stay away.
Who Should Avoid a weighted blanket?
Weighted blankets are not for everybody. It could be a safety hazard for very young children (under 5-6 years). Also, children with systemic diseases like heart and lung problems and people with claustrophobia should consult a health professional if they wish to use a weighted blanket.
How much should the blanket weigh?
The blanket that weighs 10% of your child’s body weight plus 1 to 2 pounds, is ideally recommended.
Just like other sleeping accessories, different fabrics and weights work for different people. It might take some time, and a little experimentation before you find the perfect blanket for your little one. If you have any doubts related to weighted blankets, drop a line in the comments section below.