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Does Your Child Resist Wearing Winter Clothing? Tips and Tricks to Make Layering Clothing Feel Less Icky

Updated: Jan 19

Girl in winter clothes

The Layer Dilemma: A Scientific Perspective on Sensory Sensitivities

Many children refuse to wear long pants, long sleeves, socks, and boots due to sensory hypersensitivities when everyone else is enjoying bundling up! Getting dressed in the morning often results in daily power struggles, meltdowns, and sometimes school refusal. Here are six pediatric occupational therapy tips and tricks rooted in evidence-based practices to make winter dressing more agreeable.

Evidence-Based Strategies:

1. Fabric Selection: Soft and breathable fabrics minimize irritation. Fabrics like cotton or moisture-wicking blends not only provide comfort but also reduce the risk of overheating. (Smith et al., 2021)

2. Use seamless socks, underwear, and shirts.

3. Introduce layers gradually. Starting with a single layer and progressively adding more will allow your child to acclimate to the new sensation at their own pace. (Brown et al., 2019)

4. Wear compression clothing as a bottom layer. Compression garments provide deep-touch pressure, which quashes irritating light touch and helps children feel more comfortable and secure. Try commercially available compression shirts or leggings, or order specialty garments that can be worn discreetly under regular clothing.

5. Deep pressure massage or joint compression right before dressing can improve self-regulation, resulting in a more calming acceptance of clothing. Engaging in sensory activities before dressing has shown positive outcomes.

6. Give your child some control: Providing choices in clothing options or involving them in selecting outfits can empower them and reduce anxiety.

Consult with a pediatric occupational therapist for personalized strategies tailored to your child's specific needs.

Wishing you and your families a season filled with comfort and warmth!


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