How to Use a Weighted Stuffed Animal
In a recent study, we learned that 9 out of 10 parents noted a significant improvement in their children’s anxiety when using our therapeutically weighted plush.
But, what do weighted stuffed animals do? What we can tell you is that incorporating one into your child’s daily life will make transitions more peaceful, routines easier to follow and emotions easier to manage.
(Related: How do Weighted Stuffed Animals Work?)
We asked Stefanie Larsen, a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of Sensationally Thriving Children, for some ways she advises families she works with to use a weighted stuffed animal.
Here’s what she had to say:
The most important thing is to be consistent and to give it time. It may take a couple of weeks or more. But by using the strategies below on a daily basis, a therapeutically weighted stuffed animal will help your child become more regulated, calm and happy.
Making morning wake-ups easier
Is your child slow to wake up? Have them pull a weighted plush like FluffyWeight behind them as they walk to the bathroom to brush their teeth. Pulling a weighted object activates proprioceptive receptors in your body which can help orient and regulate your child in the morning.
School anxiety? Difficult to get out the door?
Have your child carry a weighted plush to the car and ride with it on their lap. The added weight will help calm your child’s anxiety.
Taming after-school meltdowns
It’s common to have a child become more dysregulated after school. They have “held it together all day” and now that they are home in a safe and familiar place, they usually have more tantrums and meltdowns. I recommend using a weighted stuffed animal as sensory based obstacle course.
For example: throw a Fluffy in the air and catch him; pull it from room-to-room, and push it around the house in a stroller are all great ways to receive heavy work input which is very calming and regulating.
Helping with homework
Staying focused while completing homework is challenging for many children. Pushing or pulling a weighted plush around the house before sitting down for homework will your child to help improve their focus. While they are working, put Fluffy on their lap to provide calming deep pressure input. Take movement breaks - play catch with Fluffy for 10 throws before returning to finish homework.
Creating a better bedtime
Calming down after a busy day is very hard! Proprioceptive input - any activity that puts force on your body - is one of the most regulating sensory inputs. Pulling, pushing, throwing or pressure by weighted objects all put force on your body and provide regulating proprioceptive input.
Here is an example of how to use a therapeutically weighted plush as part of your bedtime routine:
- Have your child carry it to the bathroom as they brush their teeth
- Push it down the hall on their way to their bedroom
- Roll a Fluffy on their back as a bedtime massage
- Lay a Fluffy on their lap or body during bedtime stories
By getting your child used to using a weighted plush on a daily basis, you are setting yourselves up for long-term success.
Follow Stephanie @thesensationalchild on Instagram for more ideas, support and strategies about parenting a child with sensory needs.
- 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