Some children with special needs benefit from weighted toys and blankets. These tools can be helpful for many different needs, including SPD, ADHD and autism. Determining whether your child will benefit from a weighted toy is mostly a matter of trial and error. Either using the toy will help your child, make no difference at all or make things worse.
Sometimes, weighted toys are recommended by an occupational therapist or teacher, other times, we parents come across the idea and decide to try it ourselves. Either way, knowing you want to try it doesn’t necessarily make it easy to find such a toy. There are weighted toys available, but there is not much variety. Many are plain or ugly and they often cost a fortune. I saw one advertised yesterday for $70! Now, $70 is a small price to pay to help your child to function better, but what if you could make your own or buy one for less that your child will love?
You have two great options. First, if you’re a little bit crafty, you can make your own from your child’s favorite stuffed animal. I haven’t made one myself because my stitching skills aren’t stellar, but many mamas are much better at such things, so I wanted to include this.
Animals can be weighted with a variety of materials. The heavier the material, the better because it takes less space inside the animal. Unpainted aquarium rocks, plastic pellets, rice and beans are all great options. The toy should weigh no more than 15% of your child’s weight.
To make your animal, take a pair of toddler tights and cut the legs off. Pour your heavy item into one leg of the stocking and tie it shut, trimming off any excess stocking. If you want, you can pour half into each leg, so you have two smaller weighted bags. Carefully cut open a seam on the stuffed animal, preferably toward the back and/or bottom, and remove a small amount of stuffing. You want to remove just enough stuffing to fit the weights inside. Once the weight is inside, carefully and securely sew the animal closed. Your toy is now ready to be enjoyed by your child.
You also have the option to do as I did. I promised Isaiah a trip to Build-A-Bear for his birthday this year. We brought weights made from aquarium rocks to be stuffed inside whatever toy he selected. It took quite a while for him to choose the perfect toy, but he ended up choosing a monkey. The woman carefully stuffed the weights into the monkey, then let Isaiah stand on the pedal to fill his toy. Stuffing the monkey with weights took extra effort, but she was willing to do it for us and said they do it fairly often. I would highly recommend paying your local Build-A-Bear a visit if you find yourself in need of a weighted toy. We had a wonderful experience and Isaiah got to experience choosing the perfect toy, without the limitations of choosing from premade toys.