How to make your own washable weighted blanket

Parents of special-needs children, such as autistic children, know how difficult it can be to calm them when they are upset or frightened. Most parents or caretakers of autistic children learn their child's signs and tics and know when the child needs soothing. Weighted blankets are one relatively effective calming tool, especially to help your child sleep. These blankets have small weights sewn into them so the weight is evenly distributed. The blanket acts as a kind of pressure therapy to release serotonin and help the child calm down. You can easily make your own weighted blanket at home.

Purchase about 3 yards of fleece for a toddler-sized blanket and 6 to 8 yards for a larger child to an adult. Fleece is warm and soft and helps create a comforting feeling. Have the user help pick out the fabric's colour and design.

Purchase poly pellets at your local craft store. These are small, dense polymer circles used to weight down craft projects. They are completely washer and dryer safe, since they don't absorb water like magnets or stone. You can also purchase polyester batting for extra softness, though the blanket will need extra dry time.

Discover how much weight you need by calculating 10 per cent of the user's weight and adding one pound. For example, a 100-pound child will need an 11-pound blanket. (Ten per cent of the child's weight is 4.54 Kilogram, plus 1 pound equals 11.)

Cut your length of fleece exactly in half and pin the halves together with the right sides facing inward. Sew a hem around three sides of the blanket and turn it inside out. Pin the open edge closed.

Measure the length of the open end and divide the measurement by 12. The resulting number is how wide your columns should be.

Pin even columns vertically down the blanket. For example, if your blanket is 24 inches wide and you divide by 12, your columns should be 2 inches wide. For very small blankets, you can divide by 6 to make sure you have enough space.

Sew the columns into place and repeat step 5 to get a measurement for horizontal rows. Put a pin at the left edge of the blanket, marking each row. Drop one or two poly pellets into each column, then sew the row into place above the pellets to make individual pouches.

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