Put to the test: Do kids sleep better with a weighted blanket?

Weighted blankets have been trendy lately, but are they worth it?

By Dr. Frank McGeorge

Weighted blankets are a hot item for adults.

But are they a good idea for children?

We asked a family to put a weighted blanket to the test and weigh in on what you need to know before you buy one.

"Sleep is very important for the kids for many reasons," said Greg Hohenberger, a father in Michigan. "Because it helps us get sleep if they're sleeping. It helps their mood. It helps them be ready for school."

Hohenberger and his wife have four kids, including 8-year-old Braden and 9-year-old Natalie. Both are generally good sleepers.

But "this time of year is tough because we're shifting to a little bit earlier bedtime," Greg Hohenberger said. "(We're) getting them used to waking up a little bit earlier."

Both kids agreed to test out the Quality Kids Weighted Blanket. It was a hit.

"I thought it was super cozy," Braden said. "And I really liked to sleep with it."

The kids were having trouble sharing.

"The biggest problem we had was, the two of them arguing over who gets it that night because they both really liked it and were happy to have it," Greg Hohenberger said.

That led to some weighty negotiations.

"If you get it this night, because this is your second night, I get it two nights in a row," was the type of negotiating being done, Hohenberger said.

The family even took the blanket on their camping trip and thought it helped them fall asleep faster.

"The one that had the blanket would kind of calm down and go to sleep a little bit easier," Hohenberger said.

The kids thought the blanket was good temperature-wise but thought it could be bigger.

Overall, the blanket was the right weight for the kids, but it was simply too short, which made it hard to keep in place.

Weighted blankets are trendy right now, but they're not a new idea.

"Patients of mine have used them for years and years," said Dr. Gary Trock, a neurologist with Beaumont Health and a sleep specialist. "I know the outpatient therapists routinely recommend them for children with autism."

While the research on weighted blankets is limited and has found mixed results, Trock said they may help some kids.

"A weighted blanket is almost like giving a child a hug during their sleep," he said. "Some parents say it has helped quite a bit (and) some say it has not."

Weighted blankets are not safe for babies or toddlers.

Even with older kids, be sure to choose a blanket that weighs no more than 10 percent of your child's body weight.

"The child should be able to move freely and get out of the blanket if he or she chooses to do so," Trock said.

Overall, the weighted blanket was a winner with our testers -- they just wanted more of it.

Be sure to check the measurements and the weight before you order one.

You could test the idea first by adding a couple of blankets to your child's bed to see if he or she likes the feel of the extra weight.

The blanket we used cost about $65 on Amazon. It has a removable cover, which makes it easier to wash, which is also an important factor with kids.

Graham Media Group 2019