In October I attended an annual retreat for moms of children with special needs. This was my second year attending, and I always come home with some great ideas, tips and strategies for our Au-Some life. This year one of the most amazing things I learned was how to make a weighted blanket using duct tape, ziploc bags and rice (or filling of your choice). Many special needs children can benefit from weighted blankets or lap pads, but they are just so expensive, and often not affordable for families. The ladies printed out directions for us, and made a small demo with six bags of rice, about the size of a lap pad. I then made a slightly larger one for Beth with nine bags of rice. She does not like the duct tape feel, but really likes her new “blanket” when it is in a pillow case, and it was invaluable when she was sick, because we could just wipe it off and put a new pillow case on it.
I wanted to share this with the world; because it can be an inexpensive way to give your kids some much needed sensory input. Plus, if they are able to, it could be a great project for you to do together; it takes about an hour from start to finish. I hope you have as much fun as I did making mine.
A few words of advice from a friend, which should be noted:
1. The proper weight should be 10% of body weight, plus 1lb (i.e. ideally a 40lb child should have approximately a 5lb weighted blanket).
2. Oral children may chew on the blanket/pad, which could be dangerous for the child, so you must decide if this is a good option for your child.
Other helpful hints:
1. One woman who needed a heavier blanket put metal washers (from the hardware store) in her bags of rice; while another friend combined rice and beans. The possibilities are endless, but I prefer the rice.
2. Some ladies wanted strictly lap pads, so they only did one row, but had 4 spaced across.
3. If you are using rice or beans, you can ask your local food pantries for their expired dry goods, and save a few bucks. It doesn’t make if it is expired because it will be sealed inside the bags and tape.
4. Many of the women have made covers for theirs out of favorite fabrics, but since I am not good at sewing, we simply use a pillow case. You can customize this so many ways for your child; it could really be a fun project with great results.
My cost to make the following “blanket” was as follows:
$2.48 for generic ziploc bags
$2.98 for 5lb bag of rice
$6.74 for 2 rolls of 20yd plain duct tape (you can get 10yds of patterns or popular characters for $3.37 to $5.97)
Total cost of (approximately 6lb, 25″ x 15″) weighted “blanket” $12.20
Step 1: Gather your supplies (I chose to use rice, duct tape, ziploc bags)
Step 2: Measure out your filling (I used 1.25cups of rice in each bag for a total of 5lbs)
Step 3: Lay everything out to make construction easier (I decided to use 9 bags for a 3×3 formation)
Step 4: fold over top of ziploc bag, press down on top strip of tape (you want it centered top-bottom), then space bags across to create the first row (you can put them as close of as far apart as you chose).
Step 5: Affix the bottom of the bags to the next strip of tape (you want it on the top half of the strip, because the top of the next row will go on the bottom)
Step 6: Repeat Steps 4 & 5 until you have the desired number of rows (I did 3 rows), then place a final strip of tape along the bottom of the last row
Step 7: Cover the rows of duct tape to seal the “seams.”
Step 8: Finish the Border with vertical strips
Step 9: Use long strips of tape to cover the bags (I used horizontal strips, but you can also use vertical)
Step 10: Flip blanket over
Step 11: Repeat Step 9, until completely covered (you may have to fill in any holes with smaller pieces of tape)
Step 12: Fold tape over each side to seal and smooth out the edges, and your weighted blanket or lap pad is done. (I lay the strip of tape down then position the edge in the middle and just fold over)
PDF of original instructions: Weighted Blanket 2
Word document of my step-by-step instructions for easy printing: diy weighted blanket
Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.