When it comes to sleep and relaxation aids, the latest trend is weighted blankets designed for adults. These blankets differ from traditional blankets by adding extra weight to simulate the feeling of a comfortable hug. Proponents claim they help regulate the senses, reduce anxiety, and combat insomnia.
But what about these blankets for children? Let’s weigh the pros and cons of using these blankets for children.
With and without weighted blankets
Medical experts unanimously advise against using weighted blankets on infants and young children because they risk restricting movement and obstructing breathing during sleep. This can lead to suffocation and poses a serious danger to children.
Similarly, children and adults with sleep disorders such as sleep apnea that affect breathing during sleep should avoid using blankets. Extra weight can impede free movement during sleep and impede proper airflow, creating significant risks.
Understand the benefits of weighted blankets for children
Weighted blankets have a reputation for helping insomnia, especially in adults. However, the evidence is not always conclusive. Occupational therapy expert Veradine Hershey praised these blankets for their positive impact on children with autism. However, a UK study contradicts this, finding that blankets do not significantly improve sleep in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Anxiety and stress, especially at night, interfere with restful sleep in both adults and children. Given the increasing prevalence of mental health problems in children, these factors may contribute to sleep disturbances.
Soothe the Mind with Comfort: The Role of Deep Pressure Touch
One area where these blankets seem to be successful is in relieving anxiety in both children and adults. The added weight is intended to replicate the gentle feeling of a hug, providing a deep sense of compression. This is particularly beneficial for individuals with sensory hypersensitivity such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
However, susceptibility varies from person to person and some children may find the weight to be claustrophobic. For those who benefit from deep pressure touch, alternatives such as massage or body touch may also work.
- director is the key: Children should always be supervised when using the blanket.
- proper weight ratio: The weight of the blanket should not exceed 10% of the child’s weight.
- safety first: The blanket must not cover the head and neck and must be able to be removed by the child.
- positioning is important: The blanket should be draped over the body and not wrapped around the child.
- moderation: Do not use the weighted blanket overnight. Limit usage to 20 minutes.
- proper size: Blankets should be adjusted to your child’s size and should not be hung on both sides of the bed.
- avoid restraint: Do not use blankets to restrain children.
As parents and caregivers seek ways to improve their children’s sleep and health, the appeal of weighted blankets is understandable. However, the decision to use them should be made in consideration of safety and in consultation with a health care professional. Prioritizing children’s safety and comfort is paramount, ensuring they reach their ultimate goal of restful sleep without compromising their health.