Weighted blankets are therapeutic blankets that come in various sizes and weights. They are designed to offer deep pressure stimulation that can provide a calming effect, decreasing the body’s arousal state. 

Weighted blankets can range from 3 to 30 pounds based on the person’s size and needs. Weighted blankets are typically smaller for children, with only a few pounds added in.

Weighted blankets can be helpful for the following:

  • Autism
  • ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder)
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disorders

Working as a therapeutic measure, weighted blankets can provide comfort. This can help ensure better quality sleep, promote a sense of calm, and act as a method for reducing anxiety and stress.

What Are Weighted Blankets?

A weighted blanket is like a regular blanket that comes in a variety of colors, sizes, and shapes. The difference is that there is a filler, usually glass beads, plastic pellets, or ball bearings. These blankets can range in weight, depending on the age and size of a person. For example, a small child will use a 3- to 5-pound weighted blanket, while an adult can use one up to 30 pounds. 

Weighted blankets work like a kind of “hug,” providing equal, constant, and warm pressure that can be comforting and calming. 

The Science of Weighted Blankets

Deep pressure can help calm the parasympathetic nervous system and the body’s arousal mechanisms that can cause an elevated heart rate often related to stress and anxiety. Studies show reduced tension and anxiety in children treated with deep pressure therapy. A weighted blanket can provide this form of therapeutic intervention.

Weighted blankets are commonly used therapeutic techniques in children with autism, ADHD, and anxiety. In children with ADHD, studies show that deep pressure can help to keep children on task, improve attention, and impulse control functions. 

Sleep issues and difficulties are common in children with autism, anxiety, and ADHD. Research shows that using a weighted blanket while sleeping can increase sleep quality in children with autism, reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, and improve moods upon waking. 

Benefits of Weighted Blankets

Weighted blankets can have a variety of helpful benefits for several childhood mental health conditions, including:

  • Autism. 

Children with autism often have sensory processing issues. This means they may seek sensory stimulation for their senses. Hypersensitivity occurs when that external stimuli is overwhelming. Deep pressure in the form of a weighted blanket can help manage both of these. 

A weighted blanket can calm the body’s arousal state, helping to lower heart rate and help children to relax and provide the sort of sensory stimulation they are craving. In addition, the environment around a child with autism can often feel like “too much.” A weighted blanket’s constant and reassuring pressure can help calm them and help them focus on the task at hand. Weighted blankets can provide an enhanced sense of body awareness and act as a grounding technique. This can be beneficial when seeking calm and comfort and also when trying to sleep.

  • Anxiety. 

Anxiety disorders lead to a consistent feeling of being in “fight or flight” mode, and the body’s nervous system is often in overdrive. This can lead to an increased heart rate and blood pressure, as well as sweating and rapid breathing. Weighted blankets can help the autonomic nervous system “rest,” helping to lower heart rate and ease stress.

  • ADHD. 

ADHD includes issues with attention, impulse control, and focus abilities and often sleep difficulties. Weighted blankets and deep pressure techniques have been shown to improve all of these concerns. When used during sleep, parents of children with ADHD report that children sleeping with a weighted blanket experienced improved sleep, enhanced balance in life, reduced anxiety, increased relaxation, better functioning and participation, and an overall enhanced state of well-being.

  • Sleep disorders. 

A weighted blanket can help prepare the body for rest by calming the autonomic nervous system and decreasing stress, anxiety, and restlessness — which can all contribute to sleep issues. Sleeping with a weighted blanket can help a child to fall asleep faster, stay asleep, gain more quality sleep, and wake up in a better mood feeling more refreshed.

How to Use Weighted Blankets

For adults, it is often recommended that you use a weighted blanket that is 10 percent of your body weight. For children, however, this is often too heavy. Weighted blankets for children typically should be lighter and between 3 and 12 pounds on average. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider to determine the best weight for your child. You will then use the weighted blanket as you would a regular blanket at night while sleeping.

Weighted blankets can also be used during the day across the lap or draped over a child’s shoulders as a grounding tool and calming mechanism. This can be used in times of high stress or also to help promote focus and attention. When choosing a weighted blanket for a child, it should be one that they can easily take off and on by themselves.

The Best Weighted Blankets for Children

Some of the top weighted blankets for children include the following:

  1. Bearaby Nappling — a soft and cuddly weighted blanket made with chunky knit loops and designed especially for children tailored to their smaller size and shape. Made from organic cotton it is breathable, good for hot sleepers, and ideal for children between the ages of 4 and 14, coming in 6- and 8-pound sizes.
  2. Therapro Wipe-Clean Weighted Blanket — made of hospital-grade durable fabric that is waterproof, breathable, tear-resistant, and easy to just wipe down to clean this blanket comes in sizes ranging from 5 to 25 pounds.
  3. Silk & Snow Knit Weighted Blanket — made from natural cotton this blanket is hand knit and woven and free from beads or fillers. It is breathable and good for hot sleepers. It comes in a small size of 8 pounds and is good for sensitive skin.
  4. Baloo  —  The Mini — weighted blanket comes in a small size of 9 pounds and in three fun, child-friendly colors. This blanket is breathable and uses all natural ingredients and provides a soft and comfortable feel.
  5. Dream Weighted Sleep Blanket for Kids and Toddlers — a 4-pound weighted blanket that is dual-sided to offer your child choices in texture. One side is micro-fleece and the other has a cooling fabric. It comes in child-friendly colors and patterns.


Behavioral and Physiological Effects of Deep Pressure on Children with Autism: A Pilot Study Evaluating the Efficacy of Grandin’s Hug Machine. (1999). The American Journal of Occupational Therapy (AJOT).

Effects of Weighted Vests on Attention, Impulse Control, and On-Task Behavior in Children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. (March 2014). The American Journal of Occupational Therapy (AJOT).

Weighted Blankets and Sleep Quality in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Single-Subject Design. (January 2021). Children.

Sensory Issues. (2022). Autism Speaks, Inc.

What to Know About Weighted Blankets and Autism. (September 2021). Psych Central.

Parents’ Experiences of Weighted Blankets’ Impact on Children With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Sleep Problems – A Qualitative Study. (December 2021). International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Nappling. (2022). Bearaby.

Wipe Clean Weighted Blanket. (2022). Therapro, Inc.

Knit Weighted Blanket. (2022). Silk & Snow, Inc.

The Mini. (2022). Baloo.Dream Weighted Blanket for Kids & Toddlers Ages 3+ and/or 30+ Pounds. Dreamland Baby.