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This sustainable weighted blanket is made for anxious and antsy kids

The cult brand Bearaby now has a smaller, lighter version of its weighted blanket, perfect for helping children chill out.

This sustainable weighted blanket is made for anxious and antsy kids
[Photo: courtesy Bearaby]
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I’m obsessed with sleep: There are few things I love more than waking up after eight hours of delicious rest or a Sunday afternoon siesta. I just wish my 4-year-old felt the same way. She has never been a fan of nap time, and she often wakes us up in the middle of the night, full of energy and ready to hang out.

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That’s why I was intrigued when I discovered that Bearaby, a three-year-old startup known for its eco-friendly weighted blankets, had launched one just for kids. Bearaby’s signature product is the Napper, a $249 blanket that weighs between 15 and 25 pounds. The company now has a smaller, lighter version: an 8-pound kid’s blanket, called the Nappling, that’s designed for children between the ages of 4 and 14. It costs $149, which is on the high end of the kid’s weighted blanket market.

[Photo: courtesy Bearaby]
What sets Bearaby apart from its competitors is that its blankets are chunky knits, which is very different from many other weighted blankets that are essentially duvets packed with fillers like beads. Each Bearaby Napper and Nappling is made from a single material—enormous cords of cotton or Tencel—which are woven together in giant loops. The benefit of this technique is that the blanket is breathable, which means you’re less likely to get sweaty and overheated underneath it. Importantly, it also means that parents don’t have to fear that their kids will get trapped underneath it and suffocate, which has happened with other weighted blankets. “You don’t have to worry that your child won’t be able to breathe underneath it,” says Kathrin Hamm, Bearaby’s founder.

For decades, therapists have used weighted blankets to soothe children with sensory issues, including autism, particularly when they are agitated or anxious. Clinical studies have found that feeling weight on your body releases serotonin, which stimulates feelings of calm and well-being. (This is why hugs and deep pressure massage feel so good.) Over the last few years, many brands have sought to bring the benefits of weighted blankets to a wider group of people. These blankets can be useful to any adult or child experiencing anxiety or insomnia, or who simply wants to relax.

Hamm says her team did a lot of consumer research before launching the Nappling. The kid’s blanket has a tighter weave than the Napper, so that smaller hands and arms don’t get caught in the loops (while still allowing for ample air flow). It’s also made from organic cotton, since kids’ skin can be sensitive and irritable. And like the Napper, the Nappling is machine washable, which is particularly important if your child happens to wet the bed or drool while asleep.

[Photo: courtesy Bearaby]
In user testing, some kids gravitated toward the blanket instinctively, particularly if they had seen the adult version in their homes. “Some kids really liked having their own blanket that was just like their mother’s,” she says. But other kids took a while to adjust to the weight. In these cases, Hamm found that leaving the blanket on a sofa or play area helped acclimate the child to it. She says that it is possible to use the Nappling during both naps and nighttime, but to be sure there are no layers underneath the blanket that might make it hard for the child to breathe when underneath it.

I tested an early version of the Nappling on my 4-year-old. We used it during her hourlong afternoon ‘rest time,’ during which we tell her to lie in her bed and flip through picture books quietly by herself. We hope that she’ll get bored and fall asleep, but instead she usually calls for us two or three times, saying she needs to go to the bathroom or is hungry for a snack. Since she’s been using the Nappling, however, she hasn’t called for us. Sometimes she actually does fall asleep; other times, she just seems happy to relax in the bed.

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When I asked my daughter how the Nappling makes her feel, she told me: “I feel like I’m getting squashed like a pancake. I can’t wriggle around.” I asked her whether or not that was a good thing. “I like it!” she responded.

I think she’s onto something. During nap time, she is usually so full of energy that she squirms around, which prevents her from falling asleep. But under the blanket, it’s harder for her to move, so she is forced to be still—a feeling she actually enjoys, when she is able to do it. While $149 is certainly a lot of money to spend on a sleep tool for your child, for some parents it might be a reasonable price to pay for better sleep for the whole family.

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About the author

Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D., is a staff writer at Fast Company. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts

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