File this under “If I can do this craft, anyone can.” Because I am NOT crafty.
The other day, someone suggested that I get Kevin a weighted teddy bear. Same concept as a weighted blanket or vest, that it would calm him. As soon as I was thinking of it, I was thinking that it’s a great and a terrible idea all in one. Great, because he enjoys the concept of weighted things. Terrible because he’s pretty specific about what toys he likes. I can’t just hand him any doll or teddy bear and he’ll play with it. Weighted dolls and weighted blankets are among some of the best toys and items for kids with autism or sensory issues, as the extra weight gives them the sensory input they crave.
I knew that our household contains at least a dozen Elmos and Ernies, since those are his preference. I set about finding the right candidate and found a great Ernie doll that would do the trick.
The only thing I had to purchase was the weighted beads. I purchased mine from Amazon.
If my memory is correct and working, I believe I got this doll on sale or clearance for $5. My beads were around $10 so altogether my weighted doll was under $20, plus my time. I spent maybe 45 minutes doing this. There are places to just purchase a weighted doll, such as the website from our guest post yesterday. That just wouldn’t work for us, because as I said earlier, he won’t play with just any doll.
I don’t have a sewing machine or a seam ripper, so I just used my little sewing kit and a pair of scissors. However, my scissors were brand new, so they were very sharp. My sewing kit consists of two regular needles and a few spools of thread.
I delicately used my sharp scissors to open the seam in Ernie’s back.
Once he was open, I didn’t have to remove any stuffing. He wasn’t stuffed that tight. Here’s where I did run into trouble (which could have been avoided). If you look at Ernie’s shoulder area, there’s a seam. I couldn’t get beads into his arms or hands without undoing another seam. I didn’t want to do that, it looked a bit more complex than I’d like.
I was only able to get the beads into his head, legs and body. Not the arms. So the weight is fairly evenly distributed. Just be on the lookout BEFORE you start, not like me. Make sure you’ll be able to get into at least some of the appendages to evenly distribute the weight.
So how much weight should you put in? I’ve heard the general rule is 5-10% of the child’s weight. A 3 lb or 5lb doll seemed awfully heavy to me, so his is just under 2 lbs, 28-30 oz. I purchased 2 lbs of the weighted beads and I used almost all of them.
Someone had suggested to me to use fishing sinkers, but they are made of lead. K tends to sometimes put things in his mouth, so this wasn’t a good idea. There are weighted beads/pellets sold in craft stores or order from Amazon. Or you can try buckwheat (I’d be afraid of bugs) or bags of sand (again, bugs).
Here is my little guy, with his finished product. So far it seems to be working. When he is extra fidgety or bouncy, I give it to him to hold and it’s calming. It is a bit large, say for travel. But I still may use it for him to be able to sit still on a plane or train or in the car. Out of all the Ernies he has, this one is already the clear favorite.