Cold-Weather Clothing for Kids With Sensory Sensitivities

| December 18, 2012 | 51 Comments

Multi-colored socksAll 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?

Comments (51)

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  1. Crystal Irvin says:

    I love the toe socks, I buy a pair for my sis-in-law and my nieces almost every year

  2. jose gueits says:


  3. Susan Johnson says:

    It is great that they have so many different fabrics and knits to choose from today, I used to suffer through the cold because my skin was always so sensitive to thick clothing and especially wool. I still have trouble, even with shirt collars and bra straps irritating my skin to the point of a rash.

  4. Trisha Bizier says:

    This was me when I was little and still to this day to some extent! I have OCD and am VERY sensitive to certain textures or just to my socks not feeling like they’re on quite right. I wish my dad and grandparents had known this stuff when I was little.. would have saved some crazy temper tantrums and shoe throwing! LOL

  5. Sarah L says:

    I love items made with organic cotton and I don’t even have sensitivities.

  6. Megan says:

    It’s funny – I can tell you live in a warm climate, because for people in many parts of the country, what you would consider to be “cold weather clothing” (such as socks, jeans, etc.) is worn for much more of the year than sandals, shorts, etc.! 🙂

  7. Alicia K says:

    sock seams can be really bothersome!

  8. Rebecca Sinclair says:

    Those socks are so cool! Nobody in our family has sensitive skin, thankfully. But, these are great tips to keep in mind if something develops.

  9. deena vanbergen says:

    My grand-daughter loves these socks!

  10. Nina says:

    I really like the info here for Childers in dressing them in cold weather.

  11. Lindsey M says:

    Thanks for the tips. I often have to cut the tags put of my daughter’s clothes and I can’t get her all the pretty knot sweaters because she thinks they r too itchy lol

  12. Lindsey M says:

    I meant knit* sweaters lol

  13. Jo-Ann Brightman says:

    Thanks for these tips. Seams in socks often bother me.

  14. Debbie says:

    I use to have a pair of these when I was a kid!

  15. michelle warner says:

    great tips thanks a bunch

  16. Jane Ritz says:

    This is so true. I used to teach special education. Those kids were vere sensitive to the texture and feel of everything from food to clothing.

  17. Scott M says:

    My daughter will love these, and they look very compy.

  18. Tara A. says:

    Thank you for this post. I had sensory sensitivities growing up, and it was not on everyone’s radar at that point.

  19. Bidisha Banerjee says:

    Great information. Would be helpful for the kids.

  20. Kathy Idol says:

    My granddaughter is 10 years old now. We have had so much trouble since she was about 4 yrs. old finding socks for her that don’t bother the heck out of her!

  21. essijay says:

    thanks for the helpful advice! my son doesn’t have SPD but he does have Asperger’s and there are clothes and fabrics he just can’t handle… he does seem to do better with weighted items, so the layering and heaviness of clothing isn’t a problem. things that are too hot, however, will incite a meltdown – when he was in public school, they insisted he have three layers of clothes (including snowpants) in order to leave the building (recess, field trips, going home) and i got calls nearly every day in winter about it because he would get sweaty and take his coat off or throw a fit.
    i doubt he will be one of those that grow out of it – as i had the same problem when i was a kid and still, to this day, cannot wear fleece or wool. but he may surprise me!

  22. sara m ford says:

    My son is like this he has to have this one type of socks and nothing different

  23. sara m ford says:

    My son is like this he has to have this one type of socks and nothing different he just cant take it

  24. Stephanie Larison says:

    These are so cute, my daughter would love them! She likes the ones where your toes go into separately, lol I could never stand those. They always felt weird to me.

  25. Marissa says:

    haha I am not a kid, but I do some of those to myself.

  26. Valarie Lee Gentry says:

    I think these could be great for my daughter! She hates socks because her feet sweat (even in the cold) and they bunch up!

  27. Tina Seagraves says:

    Bought my daughter toes socks and a new jacket .. she just want wear them.. Loves them but want wear them no matter how cold it is.. claims she don’t want to be all bulki at school.

  28. Ashley N. says:

    My daughter has many of these socks, she loves them and it keeps her warm!

  29. Karen Glatt says:

    Some very good ideas about what tho have kids wear with sensory sensitivities. I like the seamless socks that do not bunch up inside boots. Terrific item for me to get!

  30. lisa lo says:

    I had toe socks like this when I was a kid. Never wanted to wear shoes with them, just walked around outside with them on.

  31. denise smith says:

    my kids could use these

  32. tessa says:

    I’ve been looking for something like this!

  33. Jan says:

    I often wonder if I was a child with a sensory processing problem. I hated wool, and still do. I prefer shirts with only short sleeves or sleeveless, and I did so as a kid too. I didn’t have a problem with zippers that I remember but I do remember asking my mom to cut out the tags on some pants and shirts; not because of vanity, because I couldn’t stand the feeling on my skin. I also would wear my socks inside out because I couldn’t stand the seam on my toes. I still do that now! I can’t stand turtlenecks and I hate being hot in the winter. I keep my heat very low only to not let the pipes freeze. I barely wear a coat in winter, and yes I’ve suffered with pneumonia a few times. At least I’m an adult now and can get the pneumonia shot. In any case, when I was growing up, they didn’t have the information that we do now about things like sensory processing. Thanks for the article 🙂

  34. Terri says:

    Great post! I love socks!

  35. Starlia C. says:

    My daughter loves these. Thank you, for posting. 😀

  36. kim lazor says:

    I must have always had sensory sensitivities, they just didn’t name it back in my day. I am very sensitive to fabrics, and prefer soft cotton over everything else. Great review, thank you for sharing. 🙂

  37. caroljen dawson says:

    never new this was posable so good to no will lok at it more thanks bad speller sorry.

  38. Bidisha Banerjee says:

    Great products for the kids for winter season.

  39. Lauren Rochon says:

    Thank you so much for the article. I want to be a pediatric nurse, and this is some info that would be helpful to families who have a child newly diagnosed, or have recently moved to a colder area of living.

  40. Vicki N says:

    Great article although I will say that my daughter has PDD and those toe socks were a nightmare for her. There were just as bad as seams in the toe area.

  41. Lesli Robertson says:

    Very cool article, lots of good info, thanks

  42. She says:

    I have a sensory problem myself and look for everything without tags, remove if I have too, use softner and soak for longer periods to get that extra softness, less or no static, seams on the inside of clothes are a definite no and if it’s made out of wool or some nylon itches horriby and I won’t wear them. I then come home, soak in a long hot bath and use extra amounts of lotion this time of year to help avoid the itches. Moisturizing is a must..good helpful hints I must admit. Thanks.

  43. ANN*H says:

    Thanks so much for this information. I know there are children who are sensitive and these will sure help them alot. When I worked in daycare we had kids who had various degrees of sensitivity . Not every one is aware of this. Anything to help make life easier for them is a good thing.

  44. Mayra says:

    Hi there, I enjoy reading through your post. I wanted to write a little comment
    to support you.

  45. Monica Barnett says:

    I wish I could say I grew out of the sesnsory sensitivities! Unfortunately, for me, it’s only become worse as an adult. Aggravated by several neurologic health issues. So, I can honestly say, I understand what these children are dealing with. Except, when I was a child, I never heard the term sensory sensitivities. Could never wear wool, not even wool blends. Always cut the tags in my shirts, bra’s, underwear, jeans, you name it. Of course, when I was a child, it seemed there was no getting away from seamed socks. They’re available to me now, but not inexpensively.
    I can’t stand static, especially in my hair, because I cannot tolerate it touching on my face. Not fun. But I know how hard it can really be for some children. My grandson, has Asperger’s, with sensory sensitivities. Sometimes, it can be so difficult for him. He can be overly stimulated quite easily, then the difficulty processing starts and he begins to act out. I love him dearly and I really hate to see him suffer like this.

  46. Elyse Farber says:

    Love toe socks. thanks for posting this.

  47. Julie Wood says:

    There is cloting items that can be bothersome for some people, and I know that socks are one of them. I always buy socks for my son that do not have the seam where it is so uncomfortable. I like to buy clothing items that are comfortable and not hard to wear!

  48. steve mccuan says:

    i love the socks i would like to have a pair myself

  49. Jenn says:

    This is not something that people often think about, thanks for bringing it out and reminding us that though the little ones may not be able to tell you, they may not always be comfortable in the clothes we dress them in

  50. denise smith says:

    thanks for the information my kids and for myself great post

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