Before we dive into the best solutions for clothing sensitivity in little ones, let’s take a look at what is sensory sensitivity. Sensory issues with clothing are specifically related to sense of touch or the tactile system. Children who face this issue tend to feel discomfort when something is in contact with their skin, getting dressed can turn be extremely distressing for some. Even the littlest of things, such as a tag or a button can drive children with sensory sensitivity up the wall. To put it in context, a child with sensory sensitivity will have difficulties focusing on things around them. when the brain is receiving constant signals that there’s fabric in contact with the skin. As worrisome as sensory sensitivity deems to be, there are countless solutions to take into account.
Choose The Right Clothes
If your little one struggles with clothing that are stiff or scratchy, avoid clothes with heavy decorations and opt dressing them in shirts that are collar-free. Pants that come with an elastic waistband lessen the irritation a child may feel as compared to that of jeans; pants that are designed with a restraining waistband, and comes with zippers can be heavy and rough. Pants of denim and synthetic fabrics can feel rough against the skin.
Moisturize Your Little One's Skin
If your child's skin is dry, it will be more sensitive to textures. This makes it challenging for kids to tolerate clothing that would otherwise be okay. Moisturize throughout the year with a fragrance-free lotion.
Warm up the muscles first
Warming up the muscles is a useful way to reduce sensitivity. This is best achieved through what occupational therapists call "heavy work." These are activities that place deep pressure on the joints in the upper body through resistance. Your child could fall into piled cushions, shovel sand into a bucket, or carry heavy objects up and down the stairs. At the school where I work, we often see small children walking the halls carrying laundry detergent bottles full of water.
Get Rid Of Any Obstacles
Regardless of what the packaging says, some kids are extra sensitive to certain fabrics, textures or materials. Therefore, when your child says that what they are wearing isn’t comfortable, you’ve got to decide if it’s worth the fight. We’ve found it best to recognize that there’s a problem and look for a solution rather than to force our kids into wearing uncomfortable threads.
Choose Natural Clothing
Clothes made from synthetic materials can be uncomfortable to kids who are sensitive to the touch, they may be distractingly irritating. Look for more natural products, like 100% cotton materials.
Be Flexible About The Weather
Many children with sensory sensitivities are bothered by winter clothes. Therefore, it may be important to practice wearing these clothes for short periods of time before it gets really cold, or to have them dress in layers so that they can easily remove outerwear once they are indoors. Some parents also buy softer/less stiff items like sweatshirts or fleeces for children who really dislike wearing coats.
Sometimes as part of a sensory diet, kids are covered with heavy blankets or wear weighted vests. These are sometimes called compression vests. If your child takes comfort in that “cocoon” feeling, layers may be the way to go. A T-shirt, hooded sweatshirt, and vest might feel better to your child. You can also buy special weighted garments, though they tend to be pricey.
Clothes Without Tricky Fasteners
Sensory processing issues can affect kids’ motor skills. That can make tasks like tying, snapping, buttoning, or zipping clothing difficult and frustrating. Look for Velcro fasteners, and consider pants with drawstrings. Drawstrings gather material from across a wider area rather than creating a single pressure point.