A Brief History of Weighted Blankets – CapeAble Sensory Products

A Brief History of Weighted Blankets


Weighted blankets weren’t always designed for everybody. The designs themselves have evolved drastically over time. We are going to talk about the evolution of weighted blankets and how we’ve gotten to the design we use today.

Like most innovations, weighted blankets came from a societal need. Weighted blankets made their debut in the mental health community. Doctors tried to calm their patients with weight, and found that some weight could be calming. Trying to give their patients more therapeutic benefits, they tried adding more and more weight, but this was unsuccessful. We know now that weight and deep touch pressure can calm the nervous system, but too much can cause the opposite effect. What the doctors didn’t know was that weight only works when there’s even distribution on the body. These blankets had fills that would slide around as gravity pulled them.

The historic solution for shifting weight was to stuff the blanket shells with more filling, making for bulky, cumbersome blankets that was too heavy and could not conform to the body.

This method continued as weighted blankets became known in the autism community. These blankets were hand-sewn by family members and caretakers who were seeking relief for their special needs children. The caretakers were likely inspired by the effects of sleeping with heavy quilts and were attempting to increase the effect by adding fills within quilted squares. They filled these blankets with what they had: corn, rice, beans, popcorn seeds, stones, and anything else they could find.

The problem with seeds is that they aren’t heavy, and you would need to pack a lot of them into a quilt to create weight. The bigger problem is that seeds do exactly what they are designed to do: sprout. A child’s therapeutic blanket could quickly become a miniature bean field. And while stones don’t sprout, they break down over time and wear through the cloth.

Unfortunately, this process hasn’t changed much within the weighted blanket business, even though they are now viewed as useful for anyone. More recently, people began filling blankets with poly pellets, which don’t sprout or break down; however, poly pellets still are not individually heavy.

But here at CapeAble, we had a better idea.

We fill our weighted products with glass beads. Our glass beads are made from recycled windshields, pelletized into perfect, little spheres. Individually, the glass beads are smaller and denser than the poly pellets and weigh more. We can make blankets with the same amount of weight with fewer beads. This lower volume of fill allows our blankets to lay more flat than other weighted blankets, enabling them to have better contouring and compression without the bulk. Using less fill also allows for greater air circulation. Unlike the plastic poly pellets, glass does not hold odors and retains heat.

Additionally, we developed a process of using smaller weighted squares (patent pending 2”  as opposed to 4” or more). The smaller squares keep the weight in place despite movement or gravity. While others are still hand-sewing poly pellets and stones into quilts, our machine has made us the first in the weighted blanket industry with an automated process. We can make our blankets faster than ever, and with better quality.

The weighted blankets were born to fulfill a need, and to fulfill those needs they have gone through a lot of changes. With the help from research, experiments, and innovation of our own, CapeAble is ready to fulfill every need for a weighted blanket.