I attended a rather noisy anniversary party. One of the guests at our table was a new mother and she had her infant with her. When it was time to put the baby to bed mom wrapped her tightly in a blanket – swaddling .- and placed her in a small crib on the floor. Within seconds the baby was sleeping in spite of the lights, noise, and dancing going on all around her.

Of course I asked about this and mom explained that moms in her culture have wrapped their babies tightly when they were restless or when it was time to sleep. Apparently the snugness of the wrapping imparted a sense of wellbeing and security to the baby – similar to a firm hug.

Hug? From a blanket? While it seemed strange at first it wasn’t long before my thinking began to shift. I saw the effects of the swaddling and I pondered similar experiences from my life. That hug analogy dominated my thoughts. How do we comfort someone who is hurting – physically and/or emotionally? How to we express friendship and love? What kinds of physical gestures do we use to assure people that things will be better – even though all looks bleak right now? Hugs.

From one perspective we learn over time to hug and be hugged, but that didn’t seem to be the case with the baby who was at best a couple of months old. That infant  reacted positively to a snuggly wrapped blanket.  Perhaps that response is inherent and lasts a lifetime? Those who suffer from anxiety often respond to a solid comforting shoulder or a sincere hug. Children in a tantrum or a “meltdown” seem to more quickly relax when held firmly.   

The swaddling and the hugs have a calming, comforting effect on almost everyone. You can only wrap someone in swaddling so long and it’s highly impractical to maintain a hug over long periods of time.  Perhaps there’s something in between that will calm and assure someone who craves it. That thought has been on my mind for many years and recently I saw a brief comment about weighted blankets and anxiety. The weighted lead blanket the dentist places over you for an X Ray is a bit confining but I’ve always thought it was soothing as well. Time for some research.

Here’s a brief description of where a weighted blanket could be helpful (from the above website);

  • Sensory Disorders.
  • Sleep Disorders (insomnia, falling asleep, staying asleep, and returning to sleep)..
  • ADD/ADHD Spectrum Disorder .
  • Asperger’s and Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) and fidgeting legs due to chemotherapy treatments or Menopause.
  • Anxious Feelings and Panic symptoms, Stress and Tension. Cancer or Dental Anxiety.
  • Sensory Integration Disorders/Sensory Processing Disorders.
  • Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease.

I suspect there’s much truth in the above claims – though there probably isn’t much scientific proof. Using a weighted blanket must be a safe trial, especially when compared to using common prescriptions for drug therapy. One site that discusses the idea of weight blankets is Mosaic Weighted Blankets.