All over the country, parents are getting their kids bundled up when it’s time to go outside. Although I live in a warm climate now, when my children were very small, we lived in New England. My daughter, in particular, is very sensitive when it comes to textures and fabrics. Many kids are like this; I remember having a terrible time getting used to wearing embroidered clothing when I was a child, so maybe it’s hereditary! Children with sensory processing disorders and those who tend to experience sensory overload for various reasons may also be very uncomfortable this time of year, when the clothing is heavier and, in some cases, scratchier than that worn during the warmer months. Here are some things you can do to minimize your child’s discomfort while keeping her warm enough this winter.
- Look into seamless socks for tender feet. If your child is used to wearing sandals or loose-fitting shoes like Crocs during the summer and fall, it may come as a shock to have to put on socks and heavier shoes once the cold weather sets in. SmartKnitKIDS makes seamless socks that don’t wrinkle or bunch up even inside boots. Hanna Andersson has similar products, and they also carry seamless underwear, if you’re looking for non-irritating panties or underpants, too.
- Go for soft cotton whenever possible. Even soft synthetic fabrics, such as fleece, can irritate some children with sensitivity to textures. Wool and wool blends, while warm, are virtually out of the question for many kids; even if they feel soft to you, they might feel very itchy to your child. Organic cotton tends to be very soft, and it layers well, too.
- Look for clothing that does not have uncovered elastic, embroidery, zippers or buttons, if your child is sensitive to these things. While girls and boys might wear loose cotton jersey dresses or loose-fitting shorts in the summer, winter clothing is often stiffer and has more embellishments. Soft Clothing is a company that specializes in clothing for all kids, including those with sensory disorders. Their clothing has flat, non-irritating seams and they are completely tagless.
- Let your child go without a coat if necessary. You do need to protect him against the elements, but bulky coats are unbearable for some kids. If yours is one of them, consider letting him wear a couple of layers, then put a blanket on him in the car. In the winter, many kids spend most of their outdoor time going from a heated home to a heated car to a heated school or other building, so he really won’t be at risk. You should find some type of coat that he can wear for extended play outside, however. If he knows that he only has to wear it when he’s out for more than a few minutes, he might be more receptive to giving it a try.
If you think that your child’s sensory preferences might indicate a disorder or if she has other symptoms of atypical development, bring it up with her pediatrician. Many kids outgrow tactile sensitivity, however, so it could be completely normal for your child. It’s also something that you, and later she, can work around most of the time. Take your child’s comfort seriously and look for clothing that she can wear comfortably all year long, but particularly in the winter, when simply wearing a tshirt and shorts isn’t usually an option.
Have you found any manufacturers of soft, non-irritating clothing for your children?