Every parent understands the struggle of putting a restless child to sleep and ensuring they are able to sleep through the night. While strategies such as warm milk, reading books at bedtime and regulating the room temperature can work for some, others may still find it difficult to help their child fall asleep and stay asleep.

Sleep is an incredibly important aspect of everyone’s life. For children, in particular, it is a crucial contributor to their development. Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your child’s health and cause irritability, increased anxiety and stress, and difficulty in learning. It is more important than ever for parents to find natural sleep remedies that work for their child.

One effective sleeping help for children over three years of age is a blanket or bedcover weighted at up to 10 per cent of the child’s body weight. The pressure stimulated by applying weight to their body, through heavy bed covers or blankets, can be a game changer for children’s sleep.

Davie Fogarty, the founder of Calming Blankets shares five reasons why weight can be beneficial to your child’s sleep, mind and behaviour.

 

Weighted blankets are not suitable for kids under the age of three.

1. Improves your child’s sleep quality. Applying weight over your child’s body can provide deep pressure stimulation, a common technique used by occupational therapists. A weighted cover’s pressure on one’s body has the same effect as gentle squeezing or hugging, and can relax and calm the mind to help children fall asleep. Weight can also prevent excessive movement, ensuring your child won’t toss and turn throughout the night and can continue sleeping.

2. Provides proprioceptive input. The pressure from weight can also provide proprioceptive input – the body’s ability to sense its location, movements and actions. Proprioceptive input is vital for children as it assists with coordination, posture and provides them with the ability to focus and be attentive. Difficulty processing proprioception can be detrimental for children and might result in poor fine motor skills, clumsiness, trouble keeping balance, poor sleep and the inability to regulate one’s mood.

3. Provides comfort and warmth. No matter the method you use to apply weight to your child’s body, ensure it is made from soft, natural fibres to reduce skin irritation. Source blankets or covers that are non-abrasive and comfortable for your child, to help them relax and enjoy good quality sleep. There are many heavy bed covers on the market that are made from lightweight natural fabrics, such as bamboo, which can be temperature regulating and suitable to use during warmer weather.

A weighted cover’s pressure on one’s body has the same effect as gentle squeezing or hugging.

4. Safe to use for most children. Deep pressure stimulated through weight is safe. However, parents should be aware that weight is not recommended for children under three years of age, due to the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Before purchasing any heavier covers or blankets, it is also important to ensure your child is able to lift or carry an item of an equivalent weight. If you are unsure or your child has abnormal sleeping difficulties, seek advice from your healthcare professional before weighting their bedcovers.

5. Beneficial for children with sensory disorders. Sensory disorders, such as autism and ADHD, are not uncommon and can affect an estimated 1 in 20 Australian children. Weight is often used as a therapeutic tool for children with sensory disorders, as it can help reduce levels of cortisol (the hormone responsible for stress) and increase serotonin (the “happy” hormone, responsible for regulating mood). By decreasing the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response, deep pressure applied through weight can help ease your child’s meltdowns or assist them when they’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed. When these feelings start to arise, parents can apply pressure to their child’s body or use a weighted blanket for about 20-30 minutes. In fact, deep pressure has been found to be beneficial for children with autism and other sensory disorders, helping them feel calmer, communicate better and be more engaged.

Applying weight evenly over your child’s body can be achieved using weighted blankets. These blankets can mimic deep pressure stimulation, to improve your child’s sleep and help relax and calm their mind. Generally filled with beads, weighted blankets distribute weight over the body without causing your child to overheat.

5 of the best weighted blankets for children