If you’re thinking of investing in a weighted blanket, you may be wondering if there any weighted blanket guidelines to help you ensure their safe and effective use?
Whilst no ‘official’ established guidelines for weighted blankets currently exist, there are some generally accepted principles, which many therapists/healthcare professionals recommend as a good ‘rule of thumb’ to follow.
Below we’l look at 11 of these generally accepted guidelines.
Please note: the tips below are intended as a GUIDE only. You should always use a weighted blanket in line with the manufacturer’s instructions/advice from a registered therapist or healthcare professional.
1 – Get the right size blanket
The Royal College of Occupational Therapy (RCOT) suggests a weighted blanket should be a light as possible, whilst still providing the desired outcomes.
Whilst there is no actual ‘evidence’ to date that specifies an appropriate weight for a weighted blanket, in relation to the user’s size and weight, the generally accepted principle recommended by healthcare professionals and occupational therapists is:
- For children: 10% of a child’s body weight, plus 1 or 2 pounds.
- For adults: 10% of the ideal body weight
Don’t worry about being 100% ‘exact’ about a blanket’s weight, but keep in mind 10% of an adult ideal body weight can start to feel quite heavy. If unsure on the best weight for your needs, always seek further advice from your healthcare provider.
Here’s a Recommended Weight Chart from Mosaic Weighted Blankets, which will help guide you in choosing a weighted blanket for your size, weight and needs.
2 – Choose the best fabric for your needs
Keep in mind that weighted blankets are not all made from the same materials.
Generally, weighted blankets are made from man made fibres such as fleece or minky or a more breathable natural fabric such as cotton.
As a guide, if you want a warm, cosy and tactile blanket, try fleece or minky. However, if you’re prone to overheating, or like to sleep at a certain temperature, a more breathable cotton blanket may serve you better.
3 – Choose a ‘filling’ that best suits you
The most common filling for weighted blankets is plastic poly pellets. If you’re not a fan of plastic though (most pellets are made from polypropylene, which is generally considered safe) or find the sensory stimulation too much, you can also buy weighted blankets with glass bead fillings.
Whereas plastic poly pellets have a texture a bit like tiny pebbles, glass beads are more like sand.
Glass beads are denser than poly pellets and highly sensitive people may find they lay more softly on the body.
If you do go for plastic poly pellets, choose a blanket with high quality (such as 100% virgin polypropylene) pellets. These tend to dry quicker than cheaper pellets, which may retain moisture and lead to mold or bacteria.
Or if you’re thinking of making your own DIY weighted blanket, rice or barley can be an effective filling, but keep in mind these will make the blanket non washable.
3 – Get a professional opinion
No two people are the same. So it’s always recommended that you get a professional opinion before using a weighted blanket, especially for children – for example from an appropriate healthcare professional or occupational therapist.
Oxford NHS also advise that weighted products should not be used for children with:
- Respiratory (breathing) problems
- Cardiac (heart) problems
- Serious hypotonia (low tone)
- Skin problems, including certain allergies;
- Circulatory Problems
- Physical, learning or other difficulties which mean the child is unable to remove the blanket independently
4 – Don’t use a weighted blanket with a baby
Weighted blankets should not to be used with babies or young infants.
Babies are still developing their internal systems and fine motor skills and can’t regulate their breathing and internal temperatures in the same way as older children and adults. Babies could also struggle to move the blanket off them should they need to. These factors pose serious risks, such as suffocation or over heating.
An appropriate weighted blanket is generally seen as safe for toddlers over the age of around 2 or 3 (although some suggest nearer 6 or 7), so always check with a healthcare professional before making a decision, based upon your child’s own individual needs.
5 – Ensure the user can remove the blanket themselves
Weighted blankets are obviously heavier than a regular blanket. Fleece or minky blankets may also get quite warm. So it’s vital that the user, be it a child or an adult, is able to remove the blanket from their own body independently, should they need to do so.
Weighted blankets should also never be used as a restraint, as this will restrict movement.
Also never roll a child up in the blanket – it should be placed over the body so they have free movement at all times.
6 – Check the blanket for signs of wear or tear
Reputable weighted blankets are well made, often by hand and designed to last.
However, it’s still important to check your blanket for any manufacturing faults prior to use, such as open seams where pellets or glass beads could seep out. Also regularly check your weighted blanket for any signs of natural wear and tear, especially if you have a sensory child who loves to touch and feel their blanket a lot.
The manufacturer’s guidelines should also be adhered to at all times.
7 – Do not use a weighted blanket with another weighted product
Weighted blankets are designed to be used at a weight that is appropriate for the child or adult using it. So don’t use a weighted blanket in tandem with another weighted product or the weight could become too intense.
8 – Ensure the head & face are not covered
Weighted blankets can be blissfully warm and snugly, but always remember they are heavier than a regular blanket.
Blankets made from man made fibres, such as fleece and minky, can also be warmer than cotton weighted blankets and not as breathable. So always ensure your, or your child’s, head and face are outside the weighted blanket to ensure clear and easy breathing at all times.
9 – Always use a blanket under adult supervision
If you decide to use a wighted blanket for your child, or an adult with a disorder who requires adult supervision, the British NHS (PDF) recommends that you watch for any negative reactions shown by the child/user, when under the blanket. Signs may include:
- difficulty breathing
- rise in temperature
- any physical or behavioural reactions which indicate discomfort or anxiety.
10 – Use a weighted blanket for short periods at first
If you or your child are new to weighted blankets, it’s a good idea to use the blanket for short periods of time initially, to see how you get on. Autistic kids for example, often take to and love weighted blankets, but some children find the sensory stimulation too much. So try the blanket out first – during a nap, for example, and work your way up, as appropriate.
11 – Know how to care for your weighted blanket
A weighted blanket should come with manufacturer’s instructions, which show you how to care for and wash your weighted blanket. It’s important to follow these, as not all weighted blankets are made the same.
For example, some weighted blankets may have a removable, washable cover, whilst others may be a one piece design where you’ll need to wash the entire blanket.
Keep in mind as well, one piece adult weighted blanket designs may be too cumbersome for a regular washing machine and require professional laundering.
The filling of your weighted blanket will also affect washability and whether it’s suitable for a tumble dryer.
Weighted blankets made from fleece or minky are generally pretty durable and shouldn’t shrink, as they’re made from man made fibres. Cotton, however, can shrink, so if your blanket has a removable cotton cover, it may require a cold or delicate wash.
To be certain, always follows the manufacturer’s own washing guidelines.
Weighted Blanket Guidelines: Closing Thoughts
Many kids, parents and adults have found weighted blankets a huge benefit for sleeping issues, anxiety and disorders such as autism or ADHD.
However, to ensure their safe and effective use, it’s important to keep the above guidelines in mind when selecting and using a weighted blanket for your size, weight and own unique needs.CLICK HERE TO VIEW RECOMMENDED WEIGHTED BLANKETS FOR KIDS