Heavy Blanket: Be careful with children

Are heavy blankets effective and safe to soothe a baby?

March 11, 2022 | We see more and more advertising and marketing around heavy blankets to be used for calm. The majority of the models are made for adults, but some are with fun and colorful designs meant for kids. Are these products effective and safe for young children? Three occupational therapists explain what parents need to know about weighted blankets.

Weighted blankets are blankets that have added weight using heavy materials such as glass beads. Models for adults weigh 2.5-10 kg, while models shown for children generally weigh 1.3-3 kg. The price tag is high, averaging over $100 for kids and often twice the price for adults. Manufacturers and retailers claim in their advertisements that these blankets provide a soothing sensation that can calm anxiety and promote sleep.

Are weighted blankets effective?

Natasha Rouleau, an occupational therapist and clinical professor at the University of Montreal’s School of Rehabilitation, explains that Heavy blankets create pressure in the deeper layer of the skin and this brings natural comfort. However, the degree of calm brought by this pressure was not measured. Natasha Rouleau notes that “What has been demonstrated is that intense pressure exerted on the deeper layers of the skin promotes activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. This has the effect of reducing stress hormones.”

So, yes weighted blankets can soothe, but as far as he knows, There are no studies showing that heavy blankets have any proven effect in reducing anxiety and promoting sleep. “The studies speak rather of promising effects, identifying the occupational therapist. However, in the qualitative parts of these studies there are testimonies from parents who claim that blankets improve sleep and sleep for their children, but these comments are not necessarily objective.”

The president of the Occupational Therapists of Quebec (OEQ), Alexandre Nadeau, is heading in the same direction. ” There is little significant evidence of the benefits of weighted blankets, He said. But in this area, there are benefits noted through the experience of occupational therapists. »

Sonia Cote, an occupational therapist in a private practice, can attest to this. “I often treat kids who take 1-2 hours to fall asleep and I see that we can reduce sleep time by using a heavy blanket. I also sometimes recommend it in my practice to calm a child who reacts strongly to stimulation, eg who is intolerant of his clothes, who does not like to be touched and who has difficulty hearing sounds. Upon return from CPE, after a day of stimulation, The heavy blanket can help him take a rest, and return to calm I wish you a good evening. In her opinion, this is a great tool that should be used with caution.

What precautions should be taken?

Since weighted blankets are readily available over the counter, many parents may feel that it is safe and OK to use one for their children. He went, Their use presents a choking hazard. In 2008, an autistic child died after being wrapped in a heavy blanket with no way out of it. This death sparked an investigation by a coroner that determined the risks of these blankets and outlined rules to follow for safe use.

“It’s concerning because one misuse can be fatal,” Alexander Nadeau says. Thus, it indicates that Parents should not use this type of coverage without consulting a healthcare professional (eg doctor, occupational therapist, physiotherapist). “Because you have to take into account the health of the child before using a heavy blanket,” he says. These blankets are contraindicated for people with respiratory, circulatory, cardiac or skin problems as well as for those with epilepsy or severe hypotonia (hypotonia).

Other security measures to follow:

  • The blanket should always be used under the supervision of an adult. Never leave your child alone when he is wearing a heavy blanket.
  • The blanket should never cover his head.
  • A blanket should never be used as a restrictive measure To prevent the child from moving and do not wrap her in the blanket.
  • Do not use on a child under 3 years old. This standard was not written anywhere, but the three occupational therapists interviewed agreed on this rule.
  • We make sure that the weight of the blanket respects the physique of the child. “He should be able to remove it very easily and get rid of it if he’s not feeling well,” says Natasha Rouleau. It is best to start with a light weight.
  • Do not use for more than 20 minutes. “It gives time to get the desired effect and avoids forgetting to watch our baby,” says Alexander Nadeau. Therefore, it is not recommended to make the child sleep through the night with a heavy blanket. “It’s not a blanket like any other, and we don’t want it to end up on a child’s face at night preventing them from breathing,” adds the OEQ chief.
  • We make sure the baby loves the feeling and accepts the blanket well. “He has to say and show that he makes him feel good,” says Natasha Rouleau. Parents should see that it pleases him. “We never force its use.

Other ways to calm your baby

Occupational therapists interviewed want parents to remember that a weighted blanket is not a panacea and its use is not trivial. Above all, they remind you that there are other ways to soothe your baby.

A good bedtime routine, for example, encourages sleep. ” Other accessories can help the baby calm down and sleep, such as a soft blanket, quilt or stuffed animal, Natasha Rouleau confirms. And we have to stay aware of what our child is going through. If he’s tense and anxious, you should Help him identify his emotions To understand its source. »

You also have to think about being available for your little one. Alexandre Nadeau notes: “A child may just need to spend time with his parents and receive hugs to keep himself calm.” Physical contact is also very soothing. Feel free to rock your baby and take him in your arms. Having a calm, reassuring, predictable, and warm attitude on a daily basis also brings a sense of security and helps reduce children’s anxiety.

What about heavy dogs?

There are also weighted stuffed animals on the market from 1 to 3 kg that help some babies to calm down. The principle is the same, pressure on the skin creates soothing. According to professional handler Sonia Cote, a heavy stuffed animal can be a fun and safer tool for parents. “The stuffed animal can be placed on baby’s lap or back to calm him down. It is less snug than a blanket and therefore less hazardous than being compressed.” It is not recommended for use before the age of 3 and the child should be able to push the dog away easily. Supervision is always required, especially with a model In the form of a snake that can be wrapped around the neck of the child.

 

 

Julie Leduc – Born and Grown

born and grow

Photos: GettyImages / gojak and fizkes

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