How do Weighted Stuffed Animals Work?
There is a lot of confusing information out there about things like weighted blankets and stuffed animals. How do they work? Why would anyone use one? Are weighted plushies worth the money?
Here is an explanation that balances practical questions and science to break it down.
Studies show that deep pressure stimulation has a profound effect on how a people respond to stress. (See end of article for links to studies) That’s why weighted objects such as blankets and vests have long been used in therapeutic settings with great benefit to children and adults alike with anxiety, autism, ADHD, depression and PTSD.
When concentrated at 5-10% of bodyweight, weighted objects create a sense of pressure that stimulates the release of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter often called the “happiness chemical,” and can reduce anxiety while creating feelings of calm and happiness.
Weight also lowers the stress hormone, cortisol, which in turn lowers the “fight or flight” response.
In short, when you hold it, it makes you happy.
Break the Meltdown Cycle
When a child is on the verge of a meltdown, their "fight or flight" response has been triggered. Cortisol levels raise, and rational thought shuts down. Here's where the weighted object comes in.
Introducing something like a weighted plush early into this cycle will help calm the nervous system, decrease cortisol and therefore can shorten or eliminate the meltdown before it gets too far.
Read our study results about how using a weighted stuffed animal like FluffyWeight is effective at managing anxiety, meltdowns and making bedtime routines easier.
When It's More than Meltdowns
For children who are more sensory sensitive, they benefit from greater amounts of sensory input instead of less. For those kids, “heavy work” often does the trick. Heavy work balances these kids' proprioceptive systems, helping them feel calm inside. It can also help activate executive functioning. If this sounds familiar, it's possible something like sensory processing disorder, autism or ADHD is the root cause.
Lifting weights, climbing hills, swimming, yoga and martial arts are all examples of heavy work. A weighted stuffed animal works in the same way. You can lift, toss or drag it to give your body the proprioceptive input your body needs. See this video to learn more.
Curious about how a weighted stuffed animal can help your family? Read more here.
Recommended reading: Why is FluffyWeight Special?
Here are links to a few fascinating research studies with more detail:
- Physiological Effects of Deep Touch Pressure on Anxiety Alleviation: The Weighted Blanket Approach
- Parents Experience with of Weighted Blankets' Impact on ADHD and Sleep Problems
- Effects of Deep Pressure Stimulation on Physiological Arousal
- The effectiveness of weighted blankets on sleep and everyday activities - A retrospective follow-up study of children and adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and/or autism spectrum disorder