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Why weighted blankets?

Weighted blankets, explained

There’s a huge market for weighted blankets right now. Their popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, blowing up on social media and flooding store shelves this holiday season. There’s a pretty good chance someone has already bought you one as a gift this year. So what’s going on with the weighted blanket trend? Should you think about getting one for someone in your family? Let’s talk about it.

Why weighted blankets are so popular

Weighted blankets have been around for a while as most occupational therapists go-to solution for helping children and adults with diagnoses such as ADHD, Autism, Down Syndrome and insomnia relax and de-stress. In time, word of the “magical” properties of weighted blankets got around to others simply wanting a way to wind down after a bout of anxiety or rough day at the office.

Of course, there’s no real magic involved. What weighted blankets really do is engage the body’s proprioceptive sensory system by applying comforting pressure to the legs, hips, and torso. The body responds positively to the “hugging” feeling weighted items provide. That feeling tells the brain “I’m safe and secure,” allowing the user to calm themselves naturally. Add some chamomile tea and binge watching a show on Netflix, and you’ve got the soothing sensation that’s making weighted blankets a very popular item.

Buying a weighted blanket

Ready to jump into the weighted blanket trend? Before you make the leap, here are a few things to think about.

Consult a professional

Weighted blankets can be kind of spendy. Before you drop a bunch of money on one for you or a loved one, check with a therapist, pediatrician, or doctor about whether one is right for your situation. If you’re buying for a child in your family, talk with the parents first to make sure they not only want one but also know how to use it.

Age & Ability

Weighted blankets are absolutely not recommended for children under 3 years of age. The child should also have enough mobility and upper body strength to easily get out from under the blanket. This goes for older individuals, too. If grandma or grandpa have trouble getting in and out of bed or experience joint weakness, a weighted blanket may not be appropriate.

Weight & Size

The general rule on choosing how heavy a weighted blanket should be is simple: figure on 10% of the user’s body weight, then add a pound or two. For example, if the user is a 40-pound child, a 5-pound blanket will work nicely. If the user is a 140-pound adult, the best choice is a 15-pound blanket.

Be mindful of how the size of the blanket, too. Every weighted blanket should get larger as weight increases. Something too small and heavy won’t distribute the weight well, reducing the blanket’s ability to sooth and calm. Check the sizes to ensure you find the best fit for the user.

Fabric & Style

The weight inside a weighted blanket might be the most soothing thing in the world, but it won’t mean much if the exterior is uncomfortable. And if you’re buying for someone with sensory processing issues, choosing the right fabric is essential.

Take some time to consider texture and feeling before you buy a weighted blanket. eSpecial Needs offers cotton weighted blanketspoly-blend and flannel options, and even a slip cover to keep you “covered” all through the night.

Using a weighted blanket

Weighted blankets look simple, don’t they? They’re sneaky that way, because they’re actually kind of complex to use. To get the most benefit from your weighted blanket, there are several tips to keep in mind.

When introducing a weighted blanket to a child, especially one with sensory concerns, don’t just lay the blanket on top of them at once,  like you would with a typical blanket. Instead, start at the feet and slowly slide the blanket up their legs and on to their chest, stopping along the way to ensure the child is comfortable.

While weighted blankets are a comfort to many children, some kids really don’t like the added weight. If it seems like the kiddo just isn’t into it, fold it up and put it away for a while. You can always try again some other time. You might also offer it to another family who could use one (we hear they’re pretty popular).

It’s easy to get cozy in a weighted blanket but please, no human burritos. Never roll up in one or allow a child to do so. This can be very dangerous and can lead to entrapment or worse.

Instead, the blanket should lie flatly against the body. If the user is sitting up reading or enjoying some screen time, the blanket should lie in the lap. Some people like to pull weighted blankets up to the shoulders and that’s fine, but a weighted shawl might be a better option.

Don’t put the weighted blanket in the microwave. First of all, how would you even fit it in there?! Second, there’s a good chance you’ll melt the beads inside. That’ll ruin your blanket, your evening, and possibly also your microwave.

We’ve got lots of weighted items here at eSpecial Needs. From weighted blankets to vests, lap pads, and even ball caps, we can give you a hand in finding the perfect weighted product for your needs. Take a look at our Weighted Blanket selection or visit our whole weighted wearables category for more.

 


Top 10 Best-Selling Products from eSpecial Needs in 2018

It’s almost the end of 2018, can you believe it? Honest to goodness, we can’t either. We are excited to announce our top 10 best sellers of 2018! Here at eSpecial Needs, we try to give our customers the best selection of adaptive equipment and therapy solutions.

10. Convaid Cruiser Stroller

Sleek, elegant, functional, and practical, the Convaid Cruiser Stroller claims the #10 spot. The Convaid Cruiser offers a compact-folding positioning systems.

 

9. Kool-Stride Special Needs Jogging Stroller

Say hello to the Kool-Stride Special Needs Jogging Stroller. With all-terrain capability, a stainless steel frame, and a built-in canopy, this stroller goes wherever you go.

8. Maclaren Major Special Needs Stroller

It’s no wonder this sturdy stroller made this year’s top 10. It’s discreet, compact, and durable while being made specifically for special needs kiddos.

 

7. Fatwheels Training Wheels

Everybody loves Fatwheels. They’re great tools for helping kids of all abilities balance on their bikes. Made of simply the best, sturdiest material, they can take just about any hit.

 

6. Freedom Pushchair Stroller

What’s all-terrain, durable, rugged, and specifically designed for special needs kiddos? The Freedom Pushchair Stroller, of course! Ranking #7 in the best seller spot, this amazing pushchair can do just about anything you need it to.

5. Roosevelt Car Seat

 

Available in a wide array of colors, the Roosevelt Car Seat is a great option for special needs kiddos to stay safe and supported in the car.

 

 

 

4. Sensory Hugs Washable Weighted Blanket

Practical in so many ways! From the fact that it can help kiddos sleep to the fact that it is washable makes it easily one of the best things we offer here at eSpecial Needs.

3. Rectangle Budget Ball Pit & Giant Budget Ball Pit

It’s really no surprise that our Budget Ball Pits are on the top 10 twice. They’re too awesome to just be on here once. 😎 They can be used in a home, clinic, or school as a great way to encourage kid’s vestibular activity and enhance their proprioceptive feedback.

2. EZ-On Adjustable Vest For Family Vehicles & EZ-On Push Button Safety Vests

The EZ-On Vests are so nice, they’re on here twice. These vests are great for any little escape artist that sits in the back seat of your car. They can keep your loved one contained for maximum safety.

1. Indoor Therapy Gym

Ta-Da! The Number 1 best seller is our very own Indoor Therapy Gym! Made of elegant Baltic birch wood, crafted with care and intent, our Indoor Therapy Gym is one of the best gifts you can


How to wear out the winter wiggles

One of the most difficult things about the wintertime isn’t just the blistering cold that freezes your hands while you try to clean off your iced-over car windshield. It’s the fact that the sun sets way before a child’s energy level. The cold weather and the lack of daylight can prove to be stifling since it doesn’t allow for much time spent outside getting exercise. This can be especially tough on kiddos who need that physical activity to address their sensory needs. Without the natural vestibular input, joint compression, and heavy work activities that comes from outside play, these kids end up with more wiggles than they know what to do with, resulting in the wall-climbing, bed-bouncing, and hall-running that makes you wonder if anyone in the house is going to make the “Nice” list this holiday.

So what’s a frustrated parent of an active child to do? Here are a few ideas to generally keep the peace over the cold weather months.

Workout Those Wiggles

Starting a workout routine isn’t just for the new year. Putting together a fifteen to thirty-minute exercise regimen for mornings or evenings (or both!) can not only burn off some holiday meal calories but also knock out a child’s sensory cravings. Activities such as stomping in place, jumping jacks, and sit-ups can go a long way to keeping kids from getting that sensory input through less positive means. And if you child doesn’t have that kind of mobility? Using free weights, hand or ankle weights, and medicine balls can help get some of the same results.

Create an Active Play Space Indoors

Let’s face it: No matter how many times you’ve told them not to, the kids are going to want to run and jump in the house. So instead of going hoarse with reminders, why not try carving out an area of your home where your child can get active?

You don’t even need a lot of space! Whether you have a garage, a basement area, or just a small corner of the living room, you can pick up items that can easily make a space your child’s “go-to” area for their physical needs.

Indoor Trampolines are a great start for a small space. They’re relatively affordable, adaptable, and will spare the beds and couches from becoming the prime indoor choice of trampoline! Indoor trampolines can help with balance, coordination, and can help kiddos interpret proprioceptive feedback and manage their wiggles.

Swings sets are great for getting kids to vestibular activity and burning energy when they are, you know, covered in snow. So what if your kids could do that inside the house? The great news is that they make indoor swing sets for your kiddos! They’re incredibly sturdy and durable and can be installed on just about any door frame in your house. The vestibular rocking motions are not only soothing, they also build core strength.

Got kids who love crashing into the couch? Try out a crash pad. What’s better than a giant, safe, fluffy, durable square of foam-stuffed fabric that kids can leap and jump and crash on? Of course, kiddos should mind safety things, and rules must be set for the time and duration of the use of a crash pad. But it is pretty fun! Crashing into crash pads can help kids get better proprioceptive input.

Finally, you can try out the tried and true obstacle course. Use some couch cushions to make a hopscotch indoor version of “the floor is lava.” It might also be a good idea to invest in some soft play blocks that are designed to be played with, unlike the leather couches in your living room. You might also want to check out a few balance stones, giant soccer balls, or yoga balls. Making a custom, fun, and educational obstacle course is a great way to encourage problem-solving skills as well as shake some of their sillies out.

If you have an open basement or garage, try letting your kid ride a bicycle or tricycle indoors! It might be a good idea to get them a little tricycle or PonyCycle so they can work out a little squirminess. It’ll help them build leg strength and helps with hand-eye coordination, too.

When All Else Fails, Leave The House

Playing outside might be out of the question but getting out there just long enough to get in the car might do wonders for everyone’s mood. When the family starts getting stir-crazy, plan an outing for stretching legs and experiences. Places like:

  • inflatable parks for crashing and climbing
  • trampoline parks for jumping
  • child-friendly climbing gyms for climbing
  • a local community center for walking, swimming, and social activities
  • empty malls for walking and running

At the end of the day, they might still not go to bed without causing a bit of a ruckus first. That’s okay! You’re all human. But it is a good idea to encourage ways to expel physical energy inside the house this winter.