Tiggers and Tractors

We’re currently watching a movie with Luke.  He earned it.  Luke gets a sticker every time he stays in bed, from bedtime till wake time.  Five stickers equals a Movie Night.  With popcorn.  Lately, he’s been doing pretty well.  We’ve been watching a lot of movies.


Earlier in the year, it was not going so well.  I don’t mind (too much) a kid waking me up, every now and then, in the middle of the night.  I do mind a kid waking me up, yelling and panicking about something non-critical.

“Mom!!!  Mom!!!  The corner of my bed is not tucked in!”

“I forgot to tell you something at bedtime!!”

Complete pandemonium.

“I need a drink of water!!!!”

He’d grab my arm and start frantically shaking me.  Being a good mom, I would completely freak out and start yelling back at him.  (You’d start yelling too, if someone grabbed you while you were sleeping.) Sometimes, I would try to calm him down.  Zach would help.  Luke would have a massive panic attack, and even if you complied with whatever request he had, he would still go nuts.  It would happen several times a night.

We tried a lot of different things, and nothing worked.  We consulted the doctor and followed their advice.  He still had panic attacks.

I decided to make him a weighted blanket.  Weighted blankets have lots of good benefits for people with autism or other special issues like sensory disorders.  The heavy weight has a calming effect, like swaddling a baby.  I was hesitant to make one on faith, because the filling material is relatively expensive.  Would it actually help him out?  We had to try.  He had been having awful panic attacks for several weeks.

Per my research, I involved Luke in the creation.  We discussed the feel and color of the material.  I ordered some weighted poly pellets.  The blanket should weight 10% of his body weight plus 1 pound.  He needed a 4 pound blanket.  He wanted a chocolate brown and creamy white design.

We went to the fabric store and I steered him towards the nice, brown flannels.  He fell in love with a Disney Tigger print and a John Deere tractor print on the way.  It was awful.  I said okay.  We finalized the design:  Tiggers and tractors on one side, and plain, silky blue on the other.  Really awful.

I made the blanket.  I’ve never made such an expensive, hideous blanket.  After determining the correct size of the blanket, I calculated how to evenly spread 4 pounds of poly pellets.  I sewed 8 columns and started weighing out half-ounce amounts.

Every time a set of columns was full, I sewed a row.  It was a complete pain, and the blanket got heavier and heavier as more rows were filled.  It was like making over one hundred bean bags, all stuck together.

I showed it to Luke the next day, and he tried it out that night.

Amazingly, it was worth it.  Luke loves it.  He calls it his “tiggers and tractors quilt”.  He likes it on top of his other blankets, and sleeps through the night with zero panic attacks.  It’s been about 5 months, so the data is good on that “zero”.  I consider the blanket to be a miracle.  If he does get up, it’s usually to go to the bathroom, and he goes right back to sleep.  No anxiety or panicking.

He did get up the other night at 2am and ask me, in a nice whispering voice, to “fluff his pillow”.  No sticker that night, but most nights he does earn a sticker.

Everyone sleeps better.   And we get movie nights.  With popcorn.


About pokedpotato

Cheese lover.
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17 Responses to Tiggers and Tractors

  1. Josh says:

    Awesome. What movie are we watching?

  2. ArborFam says:

    What a great mom you are! What little boy wouldn’t love being snuggled every night by Tiggers and tractors? I just hope you don’t have to pry it out of his hands when he leaves for college, causing massive panic attacks to your 18-year-old!

  3. Angie Riley says:

    I read this through Melissa George’s facebook and bought the pellets immediately. I am soooo hoping for a success story like your’s. My daughter is 2 and still wakes 3-5 times per night. I was wondering what size you went with. I’ve been feeling torn… knowing that she will grow and if it works I’ll either have to add to it or make another one. I know I need to make a 4lb. blanket. Just looking for more details. Thanks for the idea. I’m starting tomorrow.

    • pokedpotato says:

      Hi Angie! I just measured mine. It is about 32″ by 45″. I started with 33″ by 46″, to allow for the seams. First of all, here is the link to a blog that I used to roughly understand how to make it: http://craftnectar.com/2009/09/03/calming-the-senses-with-weighted-blankets/

      But that was for a much older girl (8lb blanket), so I sized it down. I remember looking online, and toddler-sized blankets were small, so I added a few inches to allow for him to grow.

      I put two pieces of fabric – the front piece (my front was the tiggers/tractors), and the back piece (silky blue – awful material to work with, would suggest flannel or cotton instead, or use many pins to hold the silky piece in place), facing each other & sewed around 3 edges. Then I flipped it right-size out & ironed it flat. Then I sewed 8 lines to make 8 long columns that were about 4″ apart, with slightly more at the two ends, to allow for a final seam. So I divided the 32″ length into 8 columns.

      I calculated that if I made squares that were 4″ x 3″, that would make 8 columns by 15 rows. So 8×15 = 120 squares. My weight was 4 lb = 16 oz x 4 = 64 oz. I needed to divide 64 oz evenly between 120 squares, so 64 oz / 120 squares = approximately 1/2 oz per square.

      Then I started dumping in equal amounts. I found that for what I bought, 1 oz of pellets in volume = 1/2 oz of weight (I used a single shot glass to measure). So for each square I measured out 1 oz in volume, not 1/2 oz. If I had a scale I could’ve done weight, but I just estimated what 120 equal parts would be. I hope that is not confusing.

      I must’ve screwed up because I ran out of pellets with 2 rows to go. I just put a layer of batting in those rows.

      Once I finished, I just sewed the last row shut & then folded the fabric in to create a neater seam, and then sewed a final 1/4″ seam around the entire blanket. It is not pretty at the end but I didn’t care – I just wanted to get it made asap for him.

      I hope that helps. Feel free to e-mail at reb_harper@yahoo.com or message me on FB =) Good luck, I know it is just awful for everyone when the little one is waking up at night all the time.

      • pokedpotato says:

        I am putting Luke down for bed now & realized that the final seam was 1/2″. I suppose it doesn’t matter…just wanted to be correct in what I was telling you that I did. Also, if your daughter is like my son, let her pick out the fabrics – I think that hugely helped him bonding with him. I was amazed at how much he talked about his heavy blanket & referred to the tigger/tractor design. If it occasionally slides off the bed, he will get up & ask me to put it back on. It doesn’t happen too often though, maybe a few times in the half year we have used it. (again, regret the silky side that allows it to slide a bit)

  4. Angie Riley says:

    Thank you so much for all of your information! I am ready to start. I had those thoughts about the silky fabric, but I thought it would be so comfy. Shoot! I just bought some today and already washed it. I’m thinking that I might dot hot glue around the edges to give it some grip like on those non-slip socks or something. We’ll see. I don’t think I’d be able to dry it then in the dryer, but we are just desperate to try something. I have a hard time understanding/believing that a blanket could fix our issues and maybe it won’t, but I can’t NOT try after reading your story. It’s worth a shot. Thanks again for all of your info. We’re expecting baby #2 in April and if both kids don’t sleep, I think we are going to die. 🙂 Praying for miracles!

    • pokedpotato says:

      Oh man, I know what you mean! Ironically, Luke was a WONDERFUL sleeper, and then when Ben was 3mo old, all the night troubles started with Luke, and then when Ben was about 11mo old, the panic attacks at night started & we finally did something. Good luck getting your daughter to sleep through the night!! We were in a sleep-deprived haze forever too.

  5. Angie Riley says:

    On second thought…… for all that is going into the blanket, I’m heading back to Joann’s tomorrow to find a cotton fabric. I hate to make it and then regret the satiny stuff. Thanks for the advice.

    • pokedpotato says:

      Hey quick e-mail…I hate to have you waste it if you already got it! I had a terrible time sewing with it but maybe you are a better seamstress than me. At any rate if I would do it again I would do cotton, but I feel bad that you already got the satiny stuff! Good luck…=)

  6. Angie Riley says:

    I did it! I finished tonight. We’ll see what she thinks of it tomorrow. I hope she likes it and I hope it helps. Surprisingly, she started sleeping through the night earlier this week. I’m too scared to start thinking it could be happening…. but I am incredibly thankful and I hope this blanket helps her further. Thanks for the idea and the insight. I am happy to be done!

    • pokedpotato says:

      So excited to hear =) Good job on finishing it! I hope your daughter likes it. Let me know how it goes & I am so so happy that she has been sleeping through the night lately!!

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  9. Valerie says:

    I finally got back around to the idea of making a weighted blanket and had to find this post (again!!). Wonderful job, mama! He is very blessed to have you as his seamstress mommy who knows he needed to choose those *cough* lovely *cough* materials! 😉 LOL
    I am looking into making one…we’ll see how long it takes me. I actually think my husband would benefit the most from one. O_O

    • pokedpotato says:

      Haha, thank you =) Yes that gorgeous material =) Good luck!! And there is this place called http://www.sensorygoods.com/ which I would recommend as well…My brother bought a 17lb blanket from them & loved it. It would take FOREVER to make one that big (at least for me). And even their child ones are reasonably priced. If you make it, good luck!!

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