How to Help the Sensory Child Have a Happy Bath

Last week I wrote about the various fun & frightening happenings during a sensory bath. This week, I want share 18 of the hard-learned helps that have come out of our 12 years of sensory bathing. 

For The Sensory Seeker 

1)  Draw a line to show “full” (to avoid accidental over-flow for the kid that craves the sound of running water).

2)  For smaller kids, sing a goodbye song  at the end of bath time. We sang one like, “Goodbye ducky, goodbye ducky, good by ducky it’s time to say goodbye.” Then we sang to each toy as we put it away and ended with singing goodbye to the water as it finally drained. This way they have time to process the upcoming, undesired transition.

3)  Give the 5 minute warning!  Or 10 minutes—whatever your kid needs to get himself ready to end the bath.

4)  Make it a bubble bath, or add one of those fizzy bomb’s (baking soda + citric acid) to add some fizz to the water.

5)  Encourage good behavior by offering a reward if they stay safe in the tub.

6)  Blow bubble at them in the tub. Using the bubbles that are scented offers a extra sensory punch.

7)  Have lots of bathtub toys like soap crayons, squirt toys, cups to pour from and toy showers to spray. One of our favorites was a car wash bath toy that had a spraying hose to rinse off the car.

8)  Have calming sounds on in the background, like a waterfall, or birds chirping. This will provide the auditory stimulation they crave while calming them down.

9)  When they get out of the tub, wrap them up real tight with a towel—preferable the kind with a hood for added deep pressure, and give them a big bear hug. This will give them proprioceptive input, tactile input on their skin, and warmth as they dry. (Of course, all this to know they will likely toss it to the ground and streak through the house letting the cool air dry them as you try to catch ‘em!


For The Sensory Avoider

1)  Put markings for hot and cold and the ideal placement of faucet.

2)  When anxiety based, have her bathe with her big sister, or “wade” in the bath with her.

 3)  Another anxiety based idea: hold her while you stand in the bath water. Have her say when she is ready to put her feet in. Let her go at her own pace. If she will only touch the water and then insists on getting out, praise her for the little steps and help her out.  Encourage baby steps!

4)  Set up a bath as a Fun Bath vs. Cleaning Bath (no soap or washing hair)

5)  Play a favorite show or kids music on an iPad (away from the child and water!) to distract them and create a positive environment for them.

6)  If freezing after leaving the bath is an issue, buy a small space heater (ours was $30 at Target) and heat up the bathroom. Or, have an electric fire place ready to keep them warm as they dry.

 7)  Used their fascination of numbers/letters or certain songs and sing or chant it while pouring water to rinse out their hair.  Counting backwards to blast-off (and out of the tub) works at our house. Make it fun!

8)  Get bath toys in the kids favorite characters! Right now, Doc McStuffins is an obsession with my youngest two. So we got them bath toys of the characters. If they want to play with them, they take a bath.

9)  Offer a reward for taking a bath, or for washing their hair if that is the bigger problem.

 I am sure there are more tips on how you encourage a “happy bath” for a sensory kiddo.
I’d love to hear your experience! 
What other tips and advice have you discovered?

Letter To New Autism Mom # 8: We Need Eachother

Letter 8

Dear New Autism Mom,

The other day I was messaging with a friend about the struggles we have raising our "spectrummy" kids. Her son is younger than mine so dealing with obtaining a correct diagnosis and a reasonable IEP are big issues for her.

I love sharing with her the things we learned when we were in that stage. It makes what we endured worth it because it is helping her and her family now.

Dealing with unusual and hard-to-believable behavior from our children is a problem we both are dealing with most of the time. And you know what? It helps to know that there is someone out there who understands even a little bit of what we're going through.  

It is a tremendous help to know you will be believed when you tell your story of what is going on at your home. 

It is a huge help to know that the person listening to you isn't going to judge you or your actions in dealing with your child.

It isn't true for everyone you meet--that they will "get" you and not judge your parenting decisions. But when you do find those people--do not let go of them!  They are gifts from God.

Seek those people out,  search for them. You need them and they need you

We weren't meant to do this alone. And alone is exactly how it feels if we (especially special-needs parents) aren't intentional about reaching out and making connections. Isolation is easy, and sometimes (oftentimes) forced upon us-- like it or not. 

If you are isolated and stuck in loneliness--unable to find your voice to connect with others, if you are trapped in the pain of a newly diagnosed child, then you need a friend like this most of all. 

Sometimes friends offer advice that is not good for us or our children. When they do (even though out of the goodness of their heart and desire to help in some way) we can feel even further apart from them than we did before. Oceans suddenly appear between us and it's easy to feel like no one gets it.

It's easy to think we are all alone in this struggle with our kids but that is not true. You just need to keep searching for "those" friends. You will find them. They are out there waiting to find you too!

When I was in Kindergarten, I remember feeling like I didn't have any friends in my class. You know what helped?  This simple advice:  Ask someone you would like to play with, "Will you be my friend?" 

Sometimes, the advice we need is so simple it slips by unnoticed.  So if you are looking for a friend who will join you in this parenting thing, here is my simple advice for you:  Be that friend to someone else. Then ask them, "Will you be my friend?"