Weighted toys can be very calming for distressed or overstimulated children. The deep sensory pressure can calm the vagus nerve and produce a shift in the autonomic nervous system.
I have made three of my own now by undoing a seam of a stuffed toy, then removing some filling and replacing it with either rice, buttons or a small hand weight, and then restitching. They have worked a treat in my counselling practice.
Let me show you what I have done.
I cut the under seam of soft dog toy and added a 2kg hand weight and refilled with some rice and some of the original stuffing. Doggo was very popular with a client who had experienced complicated trauma from an early age. She would hold Doggo for most of the session and changed the dog’s name. I gifted Doggo to her on our last counselling session.
Doggo was very popular but I found the he did leak the odd grain of rice occasionally. One child commented “What is this rice doing here? after finding grains of rice on the floor! So Doggo had to undergo some ‘corrective surgery’.
I found a large stuffed wombat which was large enough for a small child to put their arms around. I took out the stuffing and refilled it with old buttons. This was successful and provided weight and texture to the toy.
Another client loved holding onto Wombat, and every session asked to hold Wombat. This client also had a history of trauma and anxiety, and the change in this child’s affect was instantaneous. When he held the weighted toy and looked calm and relaxed. I also gifted Wombat to him.
I found this new bear in an Op Shop (flea market) and the hand weight I bought ended up costing more than the bear. However I made a mistake here and the weight was too bulky and too long.
So plan B was to swap the 3kg weight with two small 1kg cylindrical hand weights. I wrapped these in some bubble wrap so no edges could be felt, and placed them inside the bear.
Now I am happy to share my mistake. I put one hand weight higher than the other inside the bear, and as a result the bear doesn’t sit up straight but has a lean. One side has a butt cheek, and the other side doesn’t, so to speak!
I could fix this, but I stitched up the bear with iron clad stitches. I don’t want to undo the stitching and cause any further damage to the nap of the fabric.
I think Miss Bear looks pretty good. I haven’t tested her out yet as I haven’t had any crying children in my room, which is a good thing. Right?!
Other things to consider
With rice filling the toy it cannot be placed in the washing machine, instead can be wiped over with a damp cloth.
A hand weight with a rubber coating will ensure that there are no sharp edges felt through the toy.
Weighted toys can be really expensive, and this is an inexpensive and easy alternative.
Blue Skies Tomorrow – There is always hope. blueskiestomorrow.com