Six sensory mistakes parents make when choosing clothes for children

Are the clothes you chose for them causing your child discomfort and distracting them at school? Discover the top six sensory mistakes parents make.

Education and daily activities constantly require concentration from young children, so removing distractions is essential to help improve their focus. And one of the greatest culprits for distraction is uncomfortable clothes.

Did you know that 90% of children with autism have sensory processing issues when it comes to skin contact, and any child can be distracted by clothing because it is a constant sensory input? 

Itchy tags, uncomfortable fabrics, and ill-fitting clothing are significant distractions that impair the ability to concentrate and fully engage in both academic and recreational pursuits. It can even lead children to the point where they feel the need to remove their clothes.

To help, Julia DeNey, founder and owner of Sense-ational You shares sic of the most common clothing mistakes affecting your child’s ability to focus and how to correct them. 

1) Ignoring fabric types

Caretakers love durable fabric, and with good reason, kids are hard on their clothes, and we want them to last longer.

The problem is that many durable materials are stiff and made from synthetic fabrics that can irritate the skin, irritated skin is a major sensory input that makes concentration more difficult. Instead, opt for soft and stretchy natural fibres like cotton, bamboo, or silk.

2) Neglecting comfort for fashion

Parents and kids alike love to be up-to-date with fashion trends, which often overshadow the importance of comfort. Unfortunately, fashion doesn’t care if things are too tight, or what materials will bother your child leading to an inability to attend. Instead, find a happy medium by looking for clothing lines that do not compromise on comfort, fabric quality, and ergonomic design.

3) Overlooking sensory needs

Many children with and without sensory issues find certain textures or clothing features uncomfortable. Sensory input from clothing makes focusing on other things difficult. Pay attention to whether things like cuffs and collars bother your child, and involve them in clothing choices to ensure clothing will not be a source of distraction.

Know that sensory needs are real and these features can be causing real pain and discomfort, so you can validate their experience and adjust purchases from there. 

4) Failing to remove tags properly

It is common for tags to bother children. However, you must ensure you remove them properly. Improperly removed tags can irritate the skin and cause discomfort which distract kids from their activities. When removing tags, make sure there are no scratchy bits left behind, or even better, look for garments with labels printed on the clothing rather than on a tag.

5) Using harsh laundry detergents

Once you have quality garments, keep them from becoming uncomfortable. Washing clothes using laundry detergents with harsh chemicals often leads to skin irritation and itchy clothes. Itchy skin makes focus incredibly difficult and even affects children’s moods. Instead, use hypoallergenic or natural laundry detergent or add an extra rinse cycle to prevent this issue. 

6) Ignoring the fit and finish of clothing

Clothes that don’t fit or have rough internal seams can cause continuous irritation through rubbing against the skin. This irritation distracts from focus and participation because your child is focused on their discomfort from clothing instead of listening.

Check for small or flat internal seams when picking clothing, select clothing with a comfortable fit, and make sure you pay attention as your child continues to grow so you can upsize them when needed.  

Avoid these common sensory mistakes when choosing clothes for your children

Maximising your children’s focus and comfort begins with mindful clothing selections. Addressing the common mistakes outlined above and implementing the suggested solutions allows parents and caregivers to significantly reduce the distractions caused by uncomfortable clothing.

This proactive approach supports children’s concentration and learning and contributes to their overall wellbeing and happiness.

Author: Julia DeNey, founder and owner of Sense-ational You

Photo by Annie Spratt