Tips to make bath time fun for kids with sensory issues
Bath times can turn really stressful and confusing for children who have sensory issues. They might cry or fight back, or even jump with excitement while being bathed. At such times, parents might worry for their safety in a slippery bathroom. Sensory issues can make a child’s bath time experience very intense. The tactile input of warm water, foamy bubbles and slippery soap can seem overwhelming for the child. Those with a sensory processing disorder usually can’t make sense of what is happening. This causes the children to shut down completely and respond with fear and resistance.
There are certain ways to make bath time fun for kids with sensory issues. Here are some of them:
Make changes to the bathroom environment
Altering the sensory environment of the bathroom can help a child with sensory issues relax during bath time. You can try lowering the brightness of the bathroom by installing dimmer lights or use aromatherapy diffuser to fill the air with a scent that soothes your child. Find out a way that works best to create a quiet, relaxing experience for his/her unique sensory needs.
Protect their sensitive ears
The splish-splash sounds can be a little uncomfortable for a child with sensory issues. Try to soften out any sounds that bounce between hard surfaces. Try to fill the bucket or bathtub while your child is out of the room or do it while the door is closed. This will prevent harsh sound of running water from distressing the child. Bathrooms that echo can also be an issue for a child with sensory issues so use fabrics (like curtains) to soften out these sounds.
Offer a sense of predictability and control
Before taking your child to bath, try talking them through the whole process in a step-by-step manner. Children with sensory issues are less likely to get overstimulated or anxious if they know what’s coming. Take them through their bathing experience in a fun manner, even before they actually enter the bathroom. Offer your child the opportunity to wash or rinse his/her own hair so that they have a sense of control. Also, try giving them a choice of shampoo or bath wash to choose from.
Engage them with toys
There are several bath time toys available in the market that make bathing fun for children. You can even bring in different sized cups in the bathroom to let your child’s imagination do the work. Action figures, puppets, and dolls also make for excellent toys while bathing. You can try providing toys with different textures to encourage your child to explore and appreciate various sensations against his/her skin.
Remember that every child with sensory issues is different. What works for one may not necessarily work for another one. Talk with your child and experiment to find out what is it that makes him/her most comfortable in the bath. Not only does it make bath time fun and pleasant, it is also an opportunity to develop those happy bath time memories for the child.