Choosing clothes that are acceptable to a child with Sensory Processing Disorder can be a challenge for any parent, including those with experience navigating SPD and those that are new to its nuances. Every child, with or without SPD, is different and handles day to day encounters differently, which means there are no hard-set rules to finding the right solution. But, most children with SPD are challenged with irritations that make wearing certain clothing uncomfortable. Thankfully, there are several things parents can keep in mind when selecting their child’s wardrobe to help them navigate SPD and their child to cope. The following tips are great ways to help children feel comfortable and avoid common clothing irritations.
1. Allow Your Child’s Preferences to Dictate Your Choices: Take your child shopping with you. Let him or her select outfits that feel good and are comfortable. He may choose clothes that are loose fitting or baggy. Or, she may prefer things to fit more snuggly. Your child may prefer certain fabrics or fasteners. Resist the urge to select outfits of your choosing. As long as the clothes are appropriate, your child will be more likely to wear them if he has selected them himself.
2. Choose Items that Don’t Have Extras: Most experienced sensory parents will recommend seamless and tagless clothes, those with no zippers,
buttons, or buckles, and those that are extra soft. This especially goes for things like undergarments. Many children find SmartKnitKIDS seamless bralettes, undies for girls and boxer briefs for boys to be more comfortable than traditional undergarments. They are all made with super soft materials and are knitted with no seams.
3. Give Your Child Time to Get Used to the New Clothes: Some clothes and shoes need to be “broken in” before they are comfortable. Let your child wear her new clothes for short periods of time before making them regular wardrobe rotations. You’ll learn if there are things that make certain outfits annoying or uncomfortable.
4. Stock Up on Tried and True Things: You know your kiddo. If you’ve found that a certain brand of t-shirt gets the most wear, buy several in different colors and even different sizes. You may get sick of seeing the same thing on your kid, but if your child is dressed and comfortable, you’ve really scaled quite a mountain.
5. Choose an Irritant-Free Laundry Detergent: This is something that can often-times be overlooked, but some people have sensitivities to certain dyes and perfumes in laundry detergent. For most people with this sensitivity, it can cause skin rash or irritation, but could also cause an itchy sensation. Most major detergent brands make a dye- and perfume-free version that will help cut down on the sensitivity and irritation. Also, avoid dryer sheets. Choose dye- and perfume-free fabric softener instead.
6. Practice Dressing: Some children find comfort in a routine and this can be especially true when dressing. If your child fits this description, help him or her come up with a comfortable routine of dressing in the morning. It will make your days go smoother. Another reason to practice dressing is that you will find there are some things that your child has difficulty with – like buttons or difficult snaps. You can help them work through these difficulties, or determine that a certain article of clothing may be better for home wear when you’re around to help them navigate the difficulties.
7. Choose Weighted Clothing or Compression Shirts: Many children with Sensory Processing Disorder find comfort in heavy garments. They might be most comfortable completely covered, or may want to wear fleece or other heavier fabrics. Some have described this as putting a protective layer between them and the outside world. Weighted vests tend to offer a solution for some, but many of these options are not ideal in warm environments or warmer months. A compression shirt like the Compresso-T from SmartKnitKIDS gives children a sense of protection and calming without bulky or unnecessary fabrics. The Compresso-T is lightweight and moisture wicking – the perfect solution for hot weather, or as a layer underneath other clothing.
8. Get Rid of Regular Socks, the Biggest Irritant of All: We hear from parents everyday who tell us that socks are the biggest irritating issue for their child. Lumps, bumps and seams bunch and rub making wearing them very uncomfortable for them. All of our SmartKnitKIDS socks are made with super soft and stretchy materials that are very comfortable for kids. And better yet, they are knitted cocoon-style meaning that there are absolutely no seams throughout. Your kids can rest easy knowing that there will be no irritating lumps or bumps to bug them during the day.
Remember, every child is different so things that work for one child may not necessary work for the next. It may take some trial and error to find what works for your child. The best thing you can do is to keep calm and patient and help your child work through his or her unique challenges.
About Our Guest Blogger: In 2003, SmartKnitKIDS, a brand of Knit-Rite, Inc., started receiving requests from parents for a completely seamless sock. It seemed that all the seamless socks available had a flat or handlinked seam across the toes. To a sensitive child, this was still a bother; there was still a toe seam. With over 90 years of medical textile expertise, Knit-Rite used parent feedback to create a patented 100% seamless sock with added comfort features for sensitive feet. This first seamless innovation has led to a line of seamless sensitivity products including seamless socks for big kids, undies for kids, a bralette and the popular Compresso-T.