Weighted blankets are the new parenting trend. Do they work?

Is there any science behind claims that weighted blankets can help anxious kids?

A weighted blanket.
(Image credit: Illustrated | nadia_bormotova/iStock, Microvone/iStock)

When Pamela Hunter's young daughter Ransom was diagnosed with a neurological condition called sensory processing disorder, Hunter noticed that Ransom was often calmed when draped in a homemade woven blanket. "I tested it out on her and immediately we saw her body relax," Hunter says. In the years since, Hunter launched Sheltered Co., a Los Angeles company that sells hand-woven, large, slightly heavy blankets made from sustainable materials. So-called weighted blankets are having a moment, as doctors and celebrities sing the praises of these hefty textiles. Some claim weighted blankets can help people with autism, sensory difficulties, restless legs, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and other ailments. But what exactly do they do? And are they safe for kids?

The theory around weighted blankets is that they can help treat anxiety by relaxing the nervous system. "It's hypothesized that the deep pressure and more consistent sensory input provided by these weighted items reduces the level of arousal and stress which our body physiologically has," explains Dr. Amna Husain, pediatrician and founder of Pure Direct Pediatrics. It sounds complicated, but essentially, the soothing effects of a weighted blanket are similar to those you might feel upon receiving a hug when you're upset or anxious.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us
Lindsey Hunter Lopez

Writer and blogger Lindsey Hunter Lopez is currently immersed in the world of parenting thanks to her two small children. Her work has appeared at Parents, SheKnows.com, L.A. Parent, OK!, CNN, FOX News, and Preen, among other publications. Lindsey is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and New York University. She's endlessly fascinated by parenting trends, subcultures, social media phenomena, and children's clothing.