Because weighted blankets are a popular therapy tool for children, parents often wonder if weighted blankets are safe for babies. Before you use a weighted blanket for your child, it's important to talk to your doctor or therapist.
At Luna, our sizing and weight begin in the toddler size for a reason. Weighted blankets are not safe for babies, and you should consult your pediatrician to make sure your child is old enough to safely use a weighted blanket. Here is a useful guide to weighted blanket sizes and weights for young children.
What Is a Weighted Blanket and Are They Safe?
As the name indicates, weighted blankets are made with added weight so that they feel heavier than a typical blanket. This might make you wonder, Why on earth would I want a heavier-than-normal blanket?
A great deal of scientific research shows that weighted blankets help with a variety of health conditions. We’ve written about many of them here:
- Autism in children and adults: How to Find the Best Weighted Blanket for Autism
- Sensory processing disorder: Can Weighted Blankets Help WIth Sensory Disorders?
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: Do Weighted Blankets Help with ADHD?
- Age-related dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: 5 Weighted Blanket Benefits for the Elderly
- Stress: What Is a Stress Blanket — and How Can It Help You
- Insomnia: Can a Weighted Blanket Get Rid of Your Insomnia?
As you can see, weighted blankets may help alleviate everything from insomnia to sensory processing disorder. Made with around 10 percent of the user’s body weight, they work by providing a form of therapy called “deep touch pressure stimulation.” Therapists perform deep touch pressure stimulation by squeezing and applying firm but gentle pressure to the body.
Autism researcher Dr. Temple Grandin got the idea to use deep touch pressure stimulation with autism patients after observing cattle led through a “squeeze machine” for vaccinations. The squeezing devices gently held the cattle still for their shots, which seemed to soothe and calm the animals. When Dr. Grandin developed a similar device for people, she observed that patients with autism had less anxiety and fewer meltdowns.
Squeeze machines are very effective, but they are usually quite expensive and out of reach for most people’s budgets. This is where a weighted blanket may help. Portable, durable and affordable, weighted blankets deliver the soothing, calming benefits of deep touch pressure stimulation without the high cost of a squeeze machine.
Why Weighted Blankets Are Not Safe for Babies
Weighted blankets are safe for both children and adults, but you should not use a weighted blanket for any child under one year of age. According to the Children’s MD blog at the Children’s Hospital of St. Louis, the primary concern with the use of weighted blankets and babies is the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) — the sudden, usually unexplained death of a baby during sleep.
While most SIDS cases are unexplained, medical experts say that certain factors can increase a baby’s risk. To reduce this risk, parents should avoid sleep positioners, loose blankets, pillows, plush toys or anything else that could restrict or impair an infant’s breathing. Parents should also place babies on their backs to sleep, as this is the safest position.
Babies are at the highest risk of SIDS when they are between one and four months of age. Additionally, 90 percent of all SIDS cases occur within the first six months of life. According to Baby Center, “by definition, SIDS doesn’t happen after a child’s first birthday.”
This is why you shouldn’t use a weighted blanket for any child under one year of age. After your child’s first birthday, speak to your pediatrician or family doctor about weighted blankets and when it’s safe to use one for your child.
How to Choose a Weighted Blanket for Your Child
For a detailed guide to picking the perfect size and weight for your child’s weighted blanket, check out our Product Page.
For children over one year of age, we generally recommend the Small size weighted blanket, which measures 36 inches by 48 inches. For children between the ages of 6 and 12, we recommend the Medium size, which measures 41 inches by 60 inches.
It’s important to note that the weighted blanket should be sized to fit your child and not your child’s bed. If the blanket drapes over the sides of the mattress, the weight will pull it toward the ground.
Many parents like to order a weighted blanket in a solid fabric and then purchase a couple of different duvet covers in fun prints. We even offer super soft waterproof fabrics that will protect your mattress.
Additionally, kids who are sensory seekers usually enjoy our optional cuddle fleece, which is ultra-soft and gives the blanket an extra snuggle factor.