Can a Weighted Blanket Transform Your Kids’ Sleep?

Katie Wells Avatar

Reading Time: 5 minutes

This post contains affiliate links.

Read my affiliate policy.

can weighted blankets help kids sleep
Wellness Mama » Blog » Motherhood » Can a Weighted Blanket Transform Your Kids’ Sleep?

Let’s be honest… as moms, we will do just about anything to get our kids to sleep. Sleep is what makes a parent’s world go ’round. We need good sleep, and we desperately need our kids to get good sleep, too. Recently, I’ve begun reading about how a weighted blanket may be able to help kids sleep better.

While there are lots of natural remedies that can help kids sleep, like tart cherry juice, breathing techniques, and inversions (read more about those tricks here), weighted blankets provide restful sleep on a different level.

What Is a Weighted Blanket?

Weighted blankets are specially made blankets that contain a weighted material, usually some kind of plastic bead, sewn into a grid design to be dispersed evenly throughout the blanket, between two layers.

Blankets can be made in differing weights to accommodate the size of the user. Even small children can enjoy lighter weighted blankets, while bigger kids will need heavier blankets.

Why Use One?

Weighted blankets have been shown to be beneficial for anyone having trouble sleeping, as well as those suffering from anxiety or ADHD. They are an especially non-invasive way to help children who have trouble falling asleep.

Who Needs One?

Weighted blankets especially benefit those suffering from anxiety or insomnia. They are particularly helpful for children on the autism spectrum, who crave touch and pressure but are unable to tolerate typical physical touch from loved ones.

These children become sensory-seeking because, although they need stimulation, they cannot endure hugs and squeezes that neurotypical kids enjoy. Temple Grandin, a noted animal expert and advocate for those on the autism spectrum (and autistic herself) recalls the sensation of being touched as a child:

I would stiffen and pull away when people touched me, and I was oversensitive to both touch and sound…

Temple went on to complete a study of a device she built, called the “Squeeze Machine,” which exerted deep touch pressure to users. The study found that deep touch pressure benefited children with autism and ADHD by calming them. It also reduced self-injuring and stimulatory behaviors.

Studies have also found that babies, especially those born prematurely, benefit from deep touch pressure. As for the calming effects of a weighted blanket for sleep, Temple reports: “A high functioning autistic woman stated, ‘I need heavy blankets on me to sleep well, or else my muscles won’t calm down.’”

Weighted blankets provide the calming touch those on the spectrum need, in a way they can receive it.

Can Weighted Blankets Benefit Neurotypical Children?

While it may seem that weighted blankets are clearly a help for children on the spectrum who need the calming effect of the weights, weighted blankets can benefit all children.

Parents have reported that, despite the blankets being originally designed to benefit children on the autism spectrum and with sensory processing disorder, their children without such a diagnosis have experienced extraordinary benefits from using a weighted blanket, primarily in the form of better sleep.

A writer for Forbes Magazine reports: “When word got out among parent friends at my son’s school that weighted blankets were turning moody 10-year-olds into well-rested angels, everyone started tucking in.” He goes on to say his 10-year-old son began sleeping more soundly and waking up happier and more focused after regularly using a weighted blanket, and that other parents reported similar results.

Can Weighted Blankets Help Adults?

These blankets can also help adults sleep more deeply. My husband tracks his sleep using an Oura ring and wasn’t getting enough deep sleep. Adding an adult weighted blanket and ChiliPad helped improve his sleep scores and he feels more rested.

How They Work

The pressure from a weighted blanket on the skin activates sensory systems, which in turn affects the brain. In response to the additional pressure, the brain releases neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which improve mood and induce a calming effect.

For jittery kids who spend all day at school or too much time indoors during cold winter months, a weighted blanket may be an important tool when creating a calming bedroom and nighttime routine. The deep touch pressure provided by weighted blankets calms the nervous system as well, which is necessary for good sleep.

How to Find a Good Weighted Blanket

Weighted blankets have become common enough that you can find them easily online.

What to look for:

  • Choose a fabric your child will enjoy; many weighted blankets are made from a soft minky or fleece material.
  • Pay attention to weight; blankets should typically weigh between 5-10% of your child’s body weight plus 1 or 2 additional pounds, though suggestions vary.
  • Choose a blanket size that will work for your child; sizes can range from a small lap blanket to ones large enough to cover a bed.

A 9-12 pound weighted blanket is generally recommended for children. Here are some good choices:

  • Weighted Evolution – Reasonably priced and we love the weight/color options and the quality of this blanket. It uses glass beads (instead of plastic) and the weight is evenly distributed and super comfortable.
  • Sensory Goods Blanket – On the pricier side but it is organic and plastic-free. Variety of sizes and weights.
  • LUNA Weighted Blanket – Hypoallergenic and has Certified Oeko-TEX Cotton with non-toxic glass beads.
  • Harkla Blanket – Not organic or natural fabric but this one is super soft and the filling is plastic-free.
  • ChilSleep – They have a weighted blanket with a cooling option.

The good news is, if these options aren’t in the budget and you can sew, it’s not very hard to make your own custom blanket!

Here’s how:

How to Make a DIY Weighted Blanket

If you’re familiar with simple sewing techniques, you may be able to try your hand at making your own weighted blanket (you might even be able to make a t-shirt quilt keepsake using this tutorial).

Most pre-made blankets contain plastic beads and I’m not a fan of plastic (to put it gently). Avoid the plastics and all their endocrine disruptors by making your own with an alternative substance like rice or beans. Of course, using rice and beans makes the blanket non-washable so consider this as well.

Items You’ll Need:

  • a sewing machine
  • fabric: a nice, soft fabric like cotton fleece, in a pattern your child will enjoy is perfect. Patterns with lines like plaid make it easier to sew a straight line and make your grids even. Determine the size you’ll need and plan accordingly, getting enough for two layers.
  • rice or polypropylene beads for filling (not washable if you use rice!)
  • matching thread
  • a kitchen scale
  • a funnel

Instructions to Make:

  1. Prepare the fabric by making sure the layers are even.
  2. Stitch the bottom and two sides of the blanket together. Use binding or tuck in the edges to create a hem.
  3. With a fabric pencil, mark off the grid design on the fabric.
  4. Divide the poly beads by the number of boxes in your grid and determine how much will go in each box.
  5. Sew the vertical lines of the grid from the bottom hem to almost the top of the blanket, leaving a couple inches at the top.
  6. Pour enough beads in each row for one box.
  7. Sew the horizontal line over each scoop of beads in the blanket to create the first row.
  8. Repeat until you get to the top of the blanket, then finish the vertical lines at the top and hem the final edge to finish the blanket.

For a super detailed tutorial, complete with pictures, check out these instructions here.

Try a Weighted Blanket

Whether you choose to go the DIY-route or buy a ready-made blanket, there’s good reason to try a weighted blanket to help your kids sleep better. The calming, soothing pressure that a weighted blanket provides can help children with processing disorders, or kids who just need a little help to fall asleep or calm down after a long day.

Here’s to better sleep, which I think is every parent’s dream!

This article was medically reviewed by Madiha Saeed, MD, a board certified family physician. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

Do you think a weighted blanket would help your child sleep better? Share your experience in the comments!

Can a weighted blanket solve your kids sleep problems and get you the rest you need? Read the Wellness Mama review and find out how they work.

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


76 responses to “Can a Weighted Blanket Transform Your Kids’ Sleep?”

  1. Natalie A Jones Avatar
    Natalie A Jones

    I want to make a weighted blanket because I heard it could help with fibromyalgia. I heard that I could use glass beads instead of plastic. . .have you heard anything about that?

  2. Catherine Avatar

    Dont know if it’s been suggested. But what about pea stone? The edges are usually smoothed, the stones can be tiny, cheaper than glass…

  3. Rachel Avatar

    This article is great – I have a weighted blanket of my own that my parents got me in college because I was having a really hard time falling asleep and staying asleep, both in the dorm and on outdoor trips, and it was affecting my academic performance. It did wonders for me, and after about a year and a half of using it every time I wanted to sleep (incl. on a 2-week international trip, where I was able to get some decent sleep on the plane), I no longer have to use it on a regular basis in order to easily fall and stay asleep; currently I use it only when I just can’t fall asleep after utilizing every other strategy I know (which doesn’t happen very often anymore), but I will still keep it because it is the game changer on those few occasions.

    One thing in the article that needs further clarification, Katie: plenty of kids (and adults) with ASD can tolerate physical touch from other people, and some even seek it out. I’ve got ASD myself, and I have always craved deep pressure–no matter the source–ever since I was little (and I know I’m not the only one like me in this respect out there). If I’m having a really hard time with whatever is going on, a really tight hug will usually instantly calm me down (my mom knows how to do it just right, which is nice because she’s the one who frustrates me the most). Just felt I needed to mention that because that section is phrased to sound like none of them will tolerate it, when that is, in fact, not actually the case.

  4. Rachel Avatar

    I’ve heard about it, but I’ve never had the courage to try it. I tried, however, sound stimulation combined with other activities – for example wrapping. Honestly, these blankets really work?

  5. Denise Gaylord Avatar
    Denise Gaylord

    Are you familiar with Right now they are 199.00 for any weight and free shipping.

  6. Dani Hill Avatar
    Dani Hill

    I read a Danish study for weighted blankets and they used blankets weighted with chains. These would be very easy to make yourself. Chains would be really easy to attach to an inner lining then cover with a lightweight fluffier outer layer. I really don’t know where you could get chains that would be that small but I’m sure a search on Google or around your local home improvement box stores would be helpful. Chains also seem to be a better option because the weight is perfectly consistent across the entire blanket. I am searching for a weighted blanket for myself and possibly my children if they like it, because I have severe insomnia and sleep issues. I don’t know if a blanket can help that much for my problems (my sleep study showed i slept for only 40% of the night (8 1/2 hours), laid wide awake for the rest but during that 40% of sleep, I woke up 119 times) but if it helped even a little, it would be so worth it. I know how much it helps autistic children because a weighted blanket has helped my friend’s son so much. For insomnia, I just know that even when my feet feel weighed down I feel more relaxed and comforted.

  7. Eileen Wosnack Avatar
    Eileen Wosnack

    I definitely do not support plastic beads and fleece for children. Both products are harmful to the environment too. A good heavy woolen batt in an organic cotton case would be better.

  8. Keisha Avatar

    This post and the comments was informative and put me to shame. My three year old asks me to lay in his bed with my “tummy and head” and then wedges himself fully under me. According to my housemates and his father, I am the only one he asks, so if I don’t want physical contact or if I’m in pain ( he’s in a transition bed so I have to kneel next to it) I tell him “no” and it seems to greatly upset him, even to the point of tears. I just assumed he was being an only child brat (love him to the moon and back but he has those moments), and figuring he can get over on me because I want to give him the world. I am breaking out the sewing machine as soon as I get home to make a weighted blanket for him and his dad!

  9. Mary Avatar

    I received my weighted blanket a few nights ago. It’s a challenge to wash and put inside a duvet. But it’s totally awesome.

  10. Andrea Vippond Avatar
    Andrea Vippond

    What is the youngest age of a child these weighted blankets could be on?

    1. Mary Avatar

      From what I’ve read two years old. The blanket should not weigh more than 10% of the child’s weight. For adults it doesn’t matter.

  11. Mary Avatar

    I suffer from horrendous insomnia. I can’t fall asleep or stay asleep. I get about 2 1/2 to 3 hours of sleep a night. I also become extremely hot when I sleep but need to feel the weight of blankets on me. I’ve searched the ‘net hundreds of times looking for insomnia advice. There’s a ton. I decided to search for a solution for sleeping hot. That’s how I found out about weighted blankets as well as the types a sheets to use if you sleep hot.

    I ordered a weighted blanket from someone who makes twin through king; also custom sizes. The blankets weigh between 10 and 30 pounds. There’s a large variety of fabric to choose from. Google “custom made weighted blankets” or “sneak peek weighted blanket.”

    I haven’t received my blanket yet but I’m hopeful this will work. I’m almost ready to say “I’ll do anything” for a good night’s sleep. Weighted blankets are expensive so I’ll post again after I try my blanket.

  12. Wanda Avatar

    As a former OT who worked with children with sensory problems, we used weighted blankets in therapy sessions, but also used weighted vests. The pre-made ones come with lots of pockets for the child to put as many weight-filled packets in as he or she needed. We recommended to the parents to get a small fishing vest to use the same way. Once a child understands how they work, they can add or subtract packets as needed. They can also be decorated with patches, buttons, etc.

    Another techniques some of the children loved was called a “burrito.” The child is wrapped in a wrestling mat and the therapist rolls on top of the mat. It works the same way as the woman who laid on her child’s trunk to help them calm down to sleep.

  13. charity vanderhoof Avatar
    charity vanderhoof

    My son has been diagnosed with autism, sensory processing disorder, and PTSD. I have not made the weighted blanket simply for lack of time at the moment and I can not afford to buy one. I often have to lay on top of my sons trunk to help him relax to go to sleep. The additional weight help my son’s system organize and relax. It seems strange to me that weight would work like that, but it does.

  14. Constance Davidson Avatar
    Constance Davidson

    After I was married I tried to sleep with my husband’s blanket which was light and very thin. I was distressed for a year and a half and could never fall into a deep sleep. I would toss and turn all night long until I couldn’t handle it anymore. I asked for another year to please switch to a heavier blanket to know avail because he said he would just be over heated. I finally got so desperate that I pulled my heavy blanket out of storage and put it on my side of the bed. It was awkward at first because it felt like I was trying to separate myself from him, But I knew I needed the weight of that blanket on me. It seemed somewhat irrational but as an ADHD adult I know that sleep is an area that I have struggled with all of my life the most; strange places, new rooms take an insane amount of time for me to adjust to. That blanket has saved my life. He keeps the window open all year round and I finally go into the deep sleep that I need and I don’t toss around in bed anymore. P.S. after all that I think he is sleeping better too.

  15. Anne Avatar

    This makes perfect sense to me, not only for children, but also for anyone with PTSD or any other condition which adversely affects the sympathetic nervous system, which causes the adrenals to secrete high amounts of cortisol when there is no need for it. The weight of a heavy blanket/cover does exactly what was described, giving the feeling of being hugged or back in the safe womb, which will calm the sympathetic nervous system and reduce cortisol levels. This in turn allows the parasympathetic nervous system to return to the rest response and allow the endocrine system to regulate the sleep neurotransmitters for a restful sleep. I learned this in Somatic Experiencing (SE) developed by Peter Levine. I agree that it should be done in short periods of time when the body needs to return to it’s natural restful state and then be removed.

  16. TARA Avatar

    Everyone seems to sleep with heavy blankets. I personally couldn’t sleep with it I sleep with a a very light soft duvet to normal duvet(in winter). Heavy blankets would make me feel cornered, stuffy,unable to move. I like moving with my blanket and pillow like a very light super soft cloud that just moves with your body when you stretch, turn around. I feel like a heavy one might make me more anxious, stuck or stuffy(unable to breath).I get that sometimes in big winter jackets, especially going into a warm shop I can’t breath it’s stuffy,I feel nauseous. I’ll have to stand outside and take off the jacket for a while. Even if its snowing and cold

  17. Beth Avatar

    Hi Katie

    I am an occupational therapy assistant who works with pediatrics. Weighted blankets are amazing when used correctly with no more than 10% of your body weight. I also wanted to tell you that they should be used under a time limit as well. No more than 20 min at a time. So we recommend that they are used to help children fall asleep and then taken off. If one is used every night all night long this decreases the body’s natural ability to produce serotonin and dopamine.

  18. Rebecca Wolfenden Avatar
    Rebecca Wolfenden

    My husband’s mother has a couple of antique quilts that are extremely heavy. They are “the best” to sleep under. I think they most likely contain older quilts or wool blankets as batting. I also repurposed a worn blanket by using it as batting in between two new pieces of fabric. Because I used an actual blanket rather than traditional batting, the blanket is heavier than most. That heavier blanket is the one everyone in the family grabs first during cool evenings. Based on my experience with these heavy blankets I think perhaps a person could create a weighted blanket by increasing the weight of the batting they used rather than little bitty fillers like rice, cherry pits, etc. I don’t know. It is just a consideration.

  19. Tammy Avatar

    I have always needed to have heavy blankets on me to sleep even in the summer. I am not surprised at all with this research. Thing is it is not new and I am sure many people have instinctively known this for millennia. Great article for those out there who may not know about this. I think this will help many parents with children who are fussy sleepers.

  20. Courtney Avatar

    I’m a therapist with works along side an OT. We work with foster kids who have a higher level of need, typically due to trauma. My agency recently bought one of my kiddos a weighted blanket. It works well for him. He struggles falling and staying asleep due to nightmares. He is often dis-regulated and needs heavy weight activities and pressure to help regulate his body. The blanket works well for him. However, it doesn’t work well for everyone. Some people can become very dis-regulated / internally uncomfortable which weight. Like someone above said it is person specific. Good quality weighted blankets are expensive so I would make sure you know your kid would want the pressure. Glass beads are the best, according to the OT I work with. I have attached the link we use below. Personally, I would have a weighted blanket.

    1. Melanie Avatar

      I’m just trying to find the link Courtney was posting below. Thanks, great comments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *