Weighted Blankets to Calm Children

Volunteer Spotlight: Nichole Singer

Weighted Blankets to Calm ChildrenNichole poses with her sewing machine

Nichole Singer started volunteering with Arms Wide in 2018 in a unique way: she makes weighted blankets for our children! After hearing about the need for weighted blankets for children who have experienced trauma, she knew this was something she could do as an avid quilter. “I thought it would be fun to make a blanket because I have a habit of buying fabric and not using it,” recalled Nichole. So Nichole signed up to make one for Arms Wide, and four years later, she is still sewing weighted blankets to calm children.

Why Weighted Blankets?

Weighted blankets are a form of therapy for children with sensory processing disorder, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, and more. The weighted blanket is like a hug for the whole body. Research shows that the pressure of the weighted blanket helps the body produce serotonin, which relaxes the body and induces sleep. It also releases oxytocin, which can help calm anxiety. Essentially, weighted blankets help children sleep better and feel calmer.

How are They Made?weighted blanket materials

Nichole uses natural fabrics for the blanket in case children have any allergies to materials, and she customizes each blanket for the child.

“The kids pick the theme: I have done Marvel, Spiderman, Sesame Street, Minecraft, Mermaids, and more,” Nichole shared.

The weight in the blanket comes from high-quality, washable plastic pellets surrounded by thick quilt batting. It is important to customize the weight for each child as well. Every blanket should weigh 10% of the child’s body weight plus one pound.

Each blanket takes at least 10 hours to make. Amazingly, Nichole is able to fit in these blankets with her own busy schedule! “I work on them when my kids are asleep, about 30–40 minutes at a time.” So far, she has made about 15 blankets for Arms Wide.

Nichole holds a recently made weighted blanketBe Part of the Impact

These weighted blankets make a big difference for the children who use them! As one parent who received a blanket from Nichole reported, “my child actually slept last night.”  Another parent shared, “my child takes it everywhere, and it is very comforting to them.”

“My child takes it everywhere, and it is very comforting to them.” —Arms Wide Parent

Nichole encourages others who have this skill set to get involved and make a weighted blanket for children who have experienced trauma. On behalf of the children, families, and staff of Arms Wide, thank you to Nichole for her years of volunteer service!

Even if you have never set a finger on a sewing machine, there are still ways to support our children and families. You can donate to our mission or host a gift card donation drive for our families. Or if you are interested in opening your home to a child or sibling group in need of a safe, nurturing foster or adoptive family, consider attending our next virtual information meeting.