Thursday, February 4, 2010

Weight Weight Weight

Riley's weighted blanket is here and we were able to test it out last night. I'm SOOOOOO excited!!!! I'll back up to the beginning of this story for those who aren't on FB. Riley has been a restless sleeper for several months now. For the first maybe two years of his life Riley slept so much and so hard I had actually asked the Dr. if I should worry. Seriously at 1 he was still taking several long naps a day. Well he made such good use of the time he was awake the sleeping so much didn't hurt a thing so we just enjoyed the quiet time. In the last 6 months or so he has become very restless and it doesn't seem like he is rested at all in the morning. He wakes often during the night just long enough to cry for a second and then is back to sleep. There is just no way can he rest if he is waking that often. Well we recently started with an OT in addition to the therapy that he receives at preschool. She has used weight with him with a small blanket and also a weighted belt. He loved it! I started googling and reading more and more and it seemed that every article talked about the calming effects of the weights. Weighted blankets especially are noted for relaxing children and adults with sensory issues. I've found a great site with info and a pattern.......

The pattern has been the tricky part and ofcourse I didn't find the great article below until tonight.  My mom started this project after I whined a bit about how great it would be for Riley to try a weighted blanket and how expensive they are. She was visiting with a group after church looking for some ideas on how she could make the blanket and makes it washable well one of the ladies volunteered to take on the project and wow did she ever. In less than two weeks she has done a ton of research and we have our first version. We have since found poly pellets but this first version has a small river rock in it for weight. It had to be washable so that meant either removable weight if beans or rice were used or washable material for the weight......ya easier said than done.

Last night was the first night we were able to test out the new blanket and I was super excited. Riley seems to settle in easier and he certainly was quiet. I didn't hear peep once he fell asleep and that only took about 20 mins after we laid him down. Much better than the 2-3 hours of games he played the previous several nights. This morning he was much better rested and didn't have the dark circles under his eyes. I sure hope that we have found the magic ticket for better rest.


Riley snuggled in his bean bag chair with his new weighted blanket!!

Author: Linda McInnis
Download this article as a PDF. Facts about Weighted Blankets
and Directions to Make Your Own

by Linda McInnis

What Children May Benefit from a Weighted Blanket and Why:
My daughter with Rett Syndrome and Mitochondrial Disease would never sleep through the night. There was always something that set her off. A skeptic by nature, I never thought a weighted blanket could do much to calm a child. Boy, was I surprised.

Only those closest to my daughter have a remote chance of figuring out her ways. For instance, she doesn't flinch at the sight of a needle, but screams loud enough to wake the neighborhood if she has gas pain. Her weighted blanket calms her down by affecting her sense of movement and touch.

According to the research, children with sensory integration issues often have difficulties with Proprioception, which is the unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body itself. Have you ever had an ear infection and felt unbalanced or disconnected? You need a sense of equilibrium to feel safe. When you don't have equilibrium, you may want to lie down and cover yourself with blankets.
The touch system is also very important to address in many tactile-defensive children. Even children who are oversensitive to touch, especially when it is unexpected, often seek out touch or contact. A weighted blanket gives the child the opportunity to seek a safe way to experience touch stimuli. Deep pressure can be very calming, particularly for children who have difficulty with tactile processing. If a child has excess hand movements or body movements and you put a weighted object over them it may suppress that movement.

For example, with Rett Syndrome, many girls have hand-to-mouth repetitive behaviors. Many times I have seen that if you put the child to bed with a weighted blanket it is enough pressure to stop the hand mouthing. The same effect is seen with kids using lap pads to sit still to complete activities. Sometimes the weight is just enough to provide a tool to relax the legs. If you think that a weighted lap pad is not enough weight to make a difference here is a fact that may surprise you: your skin can feel touch as light as one-thousandth of an ounce, the equivalent of a mosquito's weight.

What to Look for in a Weighted Blanket:
My tip is to focus your research on three criteria: Weight, Quality, and Style.

Quality: The highest quality blankets are made using a quilted technique with each blanket weighted to 10% of the user's weight. The squares of the blanket should be evenly placed and no more than 8 inches by 8 inches. Fiberfill can also be added to the pockets to make the blanket feel soft on the user, like little pillows with weights. Lap Pads are usually weighted at a standard 2.5-3 pounds. Look for Lap Pads with channels that will distribute the weight.

Weight: The most important material in your blanket is the weights. Poly Pellets (Polypropylene) are a great weighting material that will not melt in the washer and dryer. You want to stay away from food materials such as corn, beans and rice. They may get moldy when washing the blanket. Aquarium rocks should also be avoided due to the tendency to rip the blanket material with sharp edges.

Tip: When you first hold a weighted blanket you will think it feels heavy. You will only get the true feel of the weight once it is distributed over the child.

Style: Choose fabric that your child will enjoy. If your child likes fairies, trains or dinosaurs, you want to get that fleece instead of trying to match the room. Whatever the child likes usually works best. I try to stay with a blue and purple color spectrum for a more calming color choice, although I've made many bright pink and red blankets that turned out well for children. For lap pads, standard blue is fine.

Tip: I like to tell the child: "Here is a lap pad; it will help you sit and keep calm." Or, "Here is your new blanket that will help you fall asleep and stay asleep all night." That way they get a verbal cue as well. I found the verbal cues work particularly well with children who have Attention Deficit Disorders.

Good Luck and Enjoy your Blanket!!

See the following for directions on how to make your own weighted blanket, or visit Special Need Creations to purchase one like the ones above.

Directions on How to Make a Weighted Blanket

by the Designer of Special Need Creations

Makes a 5 pound weighted blanket. Blankets should be 10% of user weight.


High quality thread

Fleece, 2 yards

Coordinating Flannel 2 yards. Use a solid color so you can see chalk better.

Muslin, optional, for a three material blanket

Sewing Machine

Small Scale

Tailors Chalk

Poly Pellets (only sold in some retail stores or online). Make sure they are Poly Pellets and not Polystyrene beads.




Take the two yards of materials and pin right sides together, leaving one long side unpinned.

Sew three sides together leaving long side undone and turn right side out.

Once turned right side out, do a nice top stitch around the three sides.

On back of one side of material measure a grid pattern with chalk, usually no longer than 5x7 inches per square. You usually end up with 40-70 squares.

Sew vertical rows leaving the horizontal rows open. You want to make sure you sew only the rows upward to the opening so you can fill them all.

Divide the full weight of the blanket by the number of squares to determine the weight per square. Don't forget to weigh the fabric first to subtract it out. You may end up with something like 2 ounces per pocket.

Fill Pocket by Pocket on bottom row only of horizontal row using a funnel. Add the calculated weight per pocket and a small handful of fiberfill. Pin in place. Make sure all the pellets are below your pins as you put them across the row. Sew the row closed. I use a double sewn row by row method.

Remove pins from prior row and fill the next line of pockets. Sew second line after pinning in pellets.

Continue to the last row.

At the last row, you can either sew the end under or use a serger. Either way, makes sure you double thread.

You can expect broken needles and a workout on your machine but in the end it's a nice project.

Visit Special Need Creations at for more information.

Copyright 2008 Complex Child E-Magazine. All Rights Reserved.


  1. This is so interesting! I'm so glad you shared it.

  2. You may be interested to check out the Free Sound Therapy Home Programme available from Sensory Activation Solutions. Their Auditory Activation Method builds on the pioneering work of Dr. Alfred Tomatis (Tomatis method) and Dr. Guy Bérard (Auditory Integration Training) and has been specifically developed with the aim to improve sensory processing, interhemispheric integration and cognitive functioning. It has helped many children and adults with a wide range of learning and developmental difficulties, ranging from dyslexia, dyspraxia and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder to sensory processing disorders and autism. It is not a cure or medical intervention, but a structured training programme that can help alleviate some of the debilitating effects that these conditions can have on speech and physical ability, daily behaviour, emotional well-being and educational or work performance.

    There is no catch, it's absolutely free and most importantly often effective. Check it out at:

  3. I've never heard of a weighted blanket before. I'm glad Riley liked it so much and that he slept better! Maybe you've found the solution!

  4. Wow! I had never heard of this before but I'm so glad that it is helpful. I have terrible sleepers myself.

    Thank you for stopping by during my rough period. There is an award waiting for you on my blog. :-)


  5. Hi thanks for stopping by, Nice to meet you!
    Your boys are adorable.

    I never heard of a weighted blanket. Rylie has had problems w/ sleep off and on, but for the last year she has been sleeping great. But my almost 3 year old has never slept through the night. She is so restless. I need to look into this more, although she doesn't seem to have any sensory issues...but something keeps her from settling down.

    Looking forward to reading more of your blog!!


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