4 Things Parents Should Know About Weighted Blankets
Nov 01, 2019
Weighted blankets may be showing up on your social media feed as the “next best thing” to help you or your child relax and fall asleep. Sleep problems can affect the whole family and lack of sleep can make a “miracle product” like this seem very tempting. However, there are some things you should know before trying a weighted blanket for someone in your family.
Weighted blankets should NEVER be used with babies under 1 year old. If your child is under 1 year old, always remember to follow the ABCs of safe sleep: The baby should be Alone, on their Back, in a Crib, in a non-Smoking home.
Although there are some general guidelines for how much weighted blankets should weigh in comparison to a person’s body weight, many weighted blankets have not been tested to make sure they work and are safe for children.
Most insurance companies will not cover the cost of purchasing weighted blankets because they are not considered durable medical equipment.
What works as sensory-based calming strategy varies greatly from person to person. Be cautious of any item or activity that is labeled as a “miracle solution” for sleep difficulties. The American Occupational Therapy Association advises against sensory-based interventions unless children have been properly assessed.
If your child is having trouble with self-regulation and you think they may benefit from sensory-motor strategies, ask your primary care provider if a referral for an occupational therapy evaluation is appropriate. Occupational therapy helps people participate in meaningful daily activities, called “occupations.” For children, occupations can include playing, eating, learning and, yes, even sleeping!
Occupational therapy practitioners can assess your child’s sensory processing and integration skills and teach individualized, active strategies to help children with self-regulation. An occupational therapy practitioner can develop a plan to tackle sleep and other daily activities that are important to your child and family.
There are many ways to help your child sleep that have been shown to work. Click here for resources to how to help your child sleep, no matter their age. For more information about Occupational Therapy services at Nationwide Children's Hospital, click here.
Kristen Martin, OTR/L is a developmental occupational therapist within the Outpatient Occupational and Physical Therapy departments. She earned her Masters degree from The Ohio State University. She previously completed a Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities interdisciplinary traineeship through the Ohio State University Nisonger Center.
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