When your little one is upset, sometimes all they need is a big hug, and it turns out there’s a scientific reason why. Researchers have found that deep-pressure touch (the kind found in a big bear embrace) helps to release the neurotransmitter serotonin, a natural mood stabilizer that helps to reduce anxiety and create an overall feeling of calm. Some scientists believe that children who have autism, ADHD and anxiety struggle with the production of natural serotonin, which can make controlling their mood and processing external information difficult.
Serotonin is also important in the creation of melatonin, the “sleepy” hormone that—you guessed it—helps us catch those Zs. Therefore, for children with these and other related conditions, getting a good night rest can be a challenge. That’s why, for years, doctors and occupational therapists have been using weighted blankets to help their patients experience a full, deep sleep. These special blankets, usually filled with plastic pellets or beads, are designed to distribute the feeling of a deep-pressure touch evenly across the body, which creates a soothing effect.
Check out some of our favourite weighted blankets and revel in all the benefits that come from your kid getting in some extra shut-eye!
1. Dream Weighted Blanket
The Dream Weighted Blanket is designed to help your child feel secure, calm and comfortable while also allowing them to fall asleep faster and sleep for longer. Recommended for kids three to eight who are over 30lbs, this four-pound blanket is filled with non-toxic, hypoallergenic micro glass beads and mimics the feeling of a warm hug. Dream Weighted Blanket, from $99 US, dreamlandbabyco.com
2. The Huggler
From TV host, Cheryl Hickey’s new line of family products, this weighted blanket comes in two weights (12 or 16 pounds). The blanket’s unique design is meant to imitate Deep Touch Pressure Stimulation (DTPS), which claims to promote REM sleep, boost serotonin, relax the nervous system, reduce stress hormones and improve overall mood. The Huggler, from $120, cherylshomeandfamily.ca
3. Casper Quilted Weighted Blanket
This sleek weighted blanket comes in three weights (10, 15 or 20 pounds) to suit your family’s needs. Filled with glass pallets and polyester batting, quilted channels keep the microbead fill evenly distributed to hug your body better. Casper Quilted Weighted Blanket, from $219, thebay.com
4. Gravid Junior
This weighted blanket is weighed with non-toxic glass microbeads to stimulate serotonin and melatonin, keeping you calm and promoting a good sleep. Designed specifically for kids, it weighs seven pounds and is fully machine-washable. Gravid Junior, from $229, gravid.ca
5. Therapeutic Weighted Blankets
Designed to fit a toddler bed, this cozy weighted blanket comes in an array of splashy prints and is fully machine-washable. Therapeutic Weighted Blankets, from $41, etsy.com
6. Travel Weighted Blanket
If your child experiences anxiety around travel, this blanket can help to calm their nerves and make them feel safe on their journey. Made from 100% cotton and available in two weights (5 or 7 pounds) with hypo-allergenic and non-toxic plastic pellets for weight, these machine-washable blankets will come in handy for your family’s next road trip. Travel Weighted Blanket, from $207 US, mosaicweightedblankets.com
7. Hippo Hug, Heavy 30×40 Weighted Blanket
This Calgary-based Canadian brand offers custom-made blankets in a variety of sizes and patterns. While most weighted blankets are filled with pellets or sand, Hippo Hug uses ceramic coated metal disks to provide that deep pressure touch, ensuring that a ripped blanket doesn’t equal a massive clean up (or possible choking hazard). The 30×40 size is recommended for preschoolers (over the age of 3) who have not yet moved to their “big kid” bed. Hippo Hug, Heavy 30×40 Weighted Blanket, from $145, hippohug.ca
8. Weighted Blanket – Small 24 Pockets
From Quebec-based company fdmt, this blanket has adjustable, non-voluminous weights so it can be used to soothe in different situations at school, hospital or home. Available in various patterns, including this adorable barn yard scene. Weighted Blanket – Small 24 Pockets, from $195, fdmt.ca
9. Cute & Simple Designs
Weighted with plastic poly pellets, this cotton flannel blanket is quilted, so that deep pressure is evenly distributed across your child’s body. Measured to fit the top of a child-sized bed without hanging over the sides, this blanket is designed to stay in place throughout the night, resulting in a better sleep. All of the blankets from Cute & Simple Designs are customizable. From $171, cuteandsimpledesigns.com
10. Weighted Wishes, Weighted Sensory Therapeutic Blankets
With the goal of creating affordable aid for families living with autism, ADHD and other sensory special needs, Weighted Wishes have created a high-quality weighted blanket for a fair price. The best part? These cotton and flannel blankets are completely customizable—all you have to do is pick the size, weight and fabric. Weighted Wishes, Weighted Sensory Therapeutic Blankets, from $130, weightedwishes.ca
11. InnovAID, Full Length Weighted Blanket
InnovAID, a Canadian company co-created by a physical therapist specialized in sensory processing disorders, has created a lighter-weight blanket for children who have a difficult time falling and staying asleep. Outside of slumber, these blankets are a great addition to your family’s evening routine, whether draped across your child’s legs during a late night movie, or snuggled around them during story time. InnovAID, Full Length Weighted Blanket, from $190, innovaid.ca
***Consult with your doctor or occupational therapist when deciding what size and weight is best for your child. It is advised to not leave children under the age of 3 (or children not strong enough to move the blanket on their own) unsupervised with a weighted blanket.