If you have a child on the autism spectrum, one who has sensory issues, or maybe someone who has anxiety, a weighted blanket may have come up in your thoughts once or twice. I had seen them around, and never really thought about how it could help Bubba, until relatively recently.
I started to realize that a weighted blanket might work when I saw that although he doesn't like to wear clothes at home, he will sweat his face off using two or three blankets at night. At first I didn't understand, but it started to click after a while. He says it "feels nice" and he feels "safe". Ok, so now I have to experiment. After all, these things are running a couple hundred dollars online nowadays!
I tried laying something on him during a meltdown, or holding him with even pressure. You know what? Most of the time, it worked! He was able to calm down so much faster, and for a longer amount of time. It seems only rational to get him his very own weighted blanket! Of course, by trying to get our family into being more self sufficient (and saving the hundreds in cost), I knew that I could figure out how to make one without too much trouble.
If you aren't familiar with weighted blankets, here's how they work: the size and weight of the blanket and filling depend on the size and weight of your child. The general rule is 8% of body weight, plus 1 or 2 pounds, to grow. Remember, adults are different, so double check with your doctor before you go throwing the weight of 5 watermelons on your lap. Your doctor or therapist should be able to give you a straight answer on the correct weight.
The blankets are generally filled with poly pellets, or those little plastic balls they use in stuffed toys. The weight is evenly distributed via "pockets" throughout the blanket, providing a calming pressure effect. It took a while to find some around here (and we haven't even moved to the boonies, yet!), but I did manage exactly the right number of bags at Jo-Ann Fabrics. This was helpful because I let Bubba pick out his fabric while we were already there. I wanted to guide him toward relaxing or engaging patterns and colors, and at the same time, have him be a part of the process. Now he will be that much more likely to use it! He chose a fun cotton pattern, and I helped him pick out a nice flannel for the other side. The whole sha-bang cost me about $60. Which, in my opinion, is WAY more affordable than $200!
After you figure out the size blanket you need, you will want to grid out a pattern. I did this on a simple sheet of paper, and it worked out to be six 6 inch columns by ten 5 inch rows. Pretty simple, and I was able to grid it out with a pencil onto the fabric pieces, using a yardstick.
Turn the pieces wrong side out and sew three sides together. Turn the whole thing right side out and secure the edges by sewing around them about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch from the edge.
Following your grid lines, sew up the columns. Fill each column with an equal amount of poly pellets, and fold the open edge over twice, ironing and sewing it into place.
Lay out your blanket so you can gauge how much filling is going to be in each "pocket". Then sew along your row grid lines, securing the poly pellets into the separate sections.
That's it! Bubba loves his, and I hope to make another one for a little boy we know. I hope this tutorial helps you and wish you the best of luck making your own! I'd love to see pictures of your final products on Instagram! :-)
**Disclaimer: I do have to add that I am providing this tutorial based off of what I did for my son's blanket. I am in no way giving medical advice, and should you choose to follow any methods listed, you do so of your own accord and risk. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the use of weighted blankets or anything else discussed, please feel free to ask your doctor or therapist. Thank you!
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