The Makings & Market of Weighted Products
And a database of over 200 weighted products crafted by your favorite analyst.
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Since I released the database on oral sensory chews (chewies), I’ve been asked to hoover up more structured data—this time around, on weighted products.
It’s no surprise it’s been a common request: the retail market for weighted blankets alone is $220 million per year and is steadily growing. But with so much money and attention for weighted blankets and other products comes a lot of choice, which can be difficult to parse through when making a decision on buying a weighted product that works best for you.
To help with this, I’ve created a database of over 200 weighted products. The database contains the following attributes of each weighted product:
Weighted product type
Clothing size (for wearable products)
Each column in the database can be filtered, sorted, and removed, based on how you would like to interact with the data. Here’s a quick screenshot of what you’ll see in the database:
What is a weighted product?
Weighted products were originally created as a way to facilitate deep pressure for those with Sensory Processing Disorders. Deep pressure or Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT), is simply firm touch that provides proprioceptive input to the whole body, or another way I like to put it is experiencing firm touch that grounds you. DPT grounds people by regulating the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), decreasing cortisol, increasing endorphin levels, and encouraging the neurotransmitters Dopamine and Serotonin to be released. As someone who uses weighted products, I wholly agree!
Most individuals studied (particularly those with Autism or Intellectual Disabilities) statistically benefitted from weighted products as a therapeutic intervention. It’s important to recognize that each person studied who showed a statistically beneficial change benefitted in a variety of ways and showed the greatest response when the interventions were tailored to their needs and preferences. Weighted products are becoming more commonly recommended to many people in the Neurodivergent community, such as those with ADHD, Autism, and Intellectual Disabilities.
When most people hear the word “weighted,” they typically think of weighted blankets. Weighted blankets are certainly a popular choice when it comes to weighted products, but they are just one of many different items used to regulate the sensory system.
There are a ton of options—everything from weighted blankets and vests to weighted stuffed animals and wrist weights. Regardless of the items, they all have a few common features:
They are utilized for a therapeutic purpose (typically deep pressure)
They are stuffed with a fill to increase the weight but not the volume of the item
The items can be worn or set on the user’s body to experience the weight
Weight and fill materials of the products are published to ensure accurate therapeutics
Is the market saturated?
The weighted product market continues to grow, but certainly has room for greater ingenuity. The filler in weighted products, particularly in blankets, has become slimmer over time in the higher price range ones—going from plastic bead-filled to often glass-filled, which is smaller and heavier, creating a less bulky product.
Some companies have started using heavy fabric rather than fillers, but this isn’t too common yet and poses a cleanliness issue for many people using weighted products. Other than the filling, there hasn’t been much ingenuity with the exception of a few companies—all not surprisingly created by occupational therapists. I truly believe the only reason the specific products I discuss below haven’t blown the market up is due to the creators being occupational therapists and not marketers or investors.
Weighted blankets are the fastest-growing portion of the weighted product market. This market has significantly expanded into the sleep health industry, for those with and without disabilities. With this in mind, there is still incredible room for improvement around washability, durability, bulkiness, and safety.
Sommerfly is a small company that is addressing all of these issues while giving personalized fabric choices. I am impressed with the variety of options in their weighted blanket products:
“Wipe clean” options. These are great for spills, incontinence, traveling, etc.
“U”-shaped top. This allows for breathing safety while receiving full deep pressure.
Easy-to-change covers for quick washing
Tear-resistant options. The durability of weighted blankets has been a continuing issue. These blankets have rave reviews on durability and comfort.
Travel sizes. Traveling with a weighted blanket is exhausting, but going without one means no sleep (also exhausting). Sommerfly has created a great middle ground.
Weighted vests are becoming more popular, but like the sensory chews I wrote about, they are mainly geared towards children. Weighted vests also bulky, particularly when it comes to adult sizes. The amount of weight for a product is determined by the weight of the person wearing it, so adults end up with much bulkier products. Most weighted vests do not have interchangeable weights, so they require a significant financial investment to own multiple and also pose difficulty washing if the weights are not removable.
More adult options and slimmer weights would be a breakthrough in the market. At the moment, many adults are wearing weighted vests under hoodies and blazers. This isn’t sustainable or stylish—the workout vests many adults are wearing aren’t tailored to their therapeutic weight needs and are difficult to put on or remove independently.
OTvest has created a weighted vest insert that could be the solution to most people’s complaints when it comes to weighted vests. Why?
Weights are solid, not beads. This leads to less noise for the wearer and a more stable, deep pressure while wearing the vest. It also creates a slimmer look.
Weights are positioned on the shoulders. Having weights positioned on the shoulders ensures the deep pressure is constant. Regardless of the wearer’s movement, the pressure will be consistent and not cause unwanted damage due to excess weight on the vest fabric.
Weights are in one pack, rather than individually inserted. Other weighted vests either have “weight pockets” or are simply filled to the brim with weighted material. Neither of these options is ideal. It’s either a nightmare to wash your filled weighted vest, or you have heavy and bulky weights swinging in your pockets. Having one pack is a solution that is simple, compact, and efficient.
Weights are removable. This makes the outer layer of the vests interchangeable and easy to wash.
The only additions to the OTvest I would like to see are additional vest style options or a kit to attach the OTvest to your own favorite vest or coat. After doing the research for this database, however, I do plan on purchasing my own (Hello, crafting project)!
Weighted stuffed animals
Weighted stuffed animals are popular, but most are very light weight. When researching this post, many stuffed animals were being advertised as “weighted” when they weighed only one pound. These lighter animals were not added to the database, as they don’t have therapeutic significance. The only user I can see benefiting from a one-pound weighted animal is an infant due to their size, but I am not aware of a huge need for infants to receive weighted stuffed animals. I also question the safety of this, as the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend sleeping with a stuffed animal until age one. Some of the weighted animals advertised seem to be more of a marketing scheme.
Most weighted animals are being marketed and weighted towards children, similar to the issue of weighted vests. There is one company breaking out of this, however.
Moon Pals is leaning into the fact that adults like weighted stuffed animals too. They only create large weighted stuffed animals and have a large portion of their marketing aimed towards adults with anxiety. Moon Pals has created backstories for all of their weighted creatures, a social media campaign of adults using their furry friends, and even swag to go along with them. I would love to see Moon Pals continue their success and grow it, as they are normalizing weighted products for adults.
As for the heap of other weighted product options, I think there will always be a market for them, but not as large as these main three. What I would absolutely love to see is a company come out with a clothing line and weights that are interchangeable. Imagine having hoodies, jackets, belts, and vests that can all use the same weights. Fun and Function is starting to dive onto this idea for kids, but it isn’t quite there. They sell many different vests but not with the same pocket systems or inserts.
The weighted product market is growing fast, but some ingenuity is needed (or at least funding and marketing where there is already ingenuity) to continue the accelerated growth and to get it moving even faster.
How you can help contribute to the database
My database is not perfect, and I’ll never find every weighted product just by myself! So if you would like to contribute, please let me know.
In the meantime, I’ll let y’all know when substantial updates have been made in future emails :)
Photo credit: A heartfelt thank you to the wonderful Ren for creating the database photo! More of this lovely artwork is to come.