Sensory-Friendly Clothing for Babies
Your baby’s skin is soft and sensitive, but you may not realize that the clothing and onesies you received at your baby shower could be upsetting your baby. Even the smallest detail, like a large seam, can be uncomfortable for your newborn.
Some babies may be more sensitive than others. Your baby may also have a sensory processing disorder or sensitive skin that makes regular clothing brands especially uncomfortable.
Let’s look at what a sensory processing disorder is, why sensory-friendly clothing is helpful to babies with sensory issues or sensitive skin, and what qualities make clothing “sensory friendly.”
What Is Sensory Processing Disorder?
Sometimes a child may be overly or underly-sensitive to stimuli. This is a condition called sensory processing disorder. It affects how the brain processes sensory information. Sensory information is related to our five senses: taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight.
When a child is overly sensitive to any of those senses, they may become upset or anxious. For example, a child sensitive to sound might get upset at a fireworks show. A child who is sensitive to touch may feel anxious when their clothes have seams and tags that scratch their skin.
For some children, this sensitivity is actually a disorder. It’s a condition that doctors don’t really know the root cause of but can diagnose based on a few general symptoms.
A child may have a sensory processing disorder if any of the following are present:
- Clothing feels scratchy and seems to bother or upset them.
- They react negatively to bright lights and sounds.
- Sudden movements and touches upset them.
Hypersensitivity vs. Hyposensitivity
Sometimes, instead of being hypersensitive, kids might have hyposensitivity. Instead of being overwhelmed by stimuli, kids with hyposensitivity seek out more stimuli. You might notice your child fidgets and seeks out more sensory inputs, such as bright lights and loud sounds. A child with hyposensitivity might be constantly on the move and not always recognize sensations such as hunger or pain.
Kids with hyposensitivity could respond well to frequent movement breaks. Rather than loose-fitting clothing, clothes that provide deep pressure therapy, such as compression shirts, can be calming. Weighted blankets can help with this too.
If you’ve noticed some of these behaviors in your baby, speak with a pediatrician. Since sensory processing disorder is not a medical diagnosis, your doctor may refer you to an occupational therapist. Sensory processing disorder can be a condition your child has, or it can be a symptom of a different disorder.
Root Causes of Sensory Processing Disorder
What are some of the other root causes of a sensory processing disorder?
Children with other conditions — such as autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit disorder — often struggle with sensory issues. This is very common. In fact, sensory issues can help diagnose if a child is on the autism spectrum.
However, it is challenging to diagnose if an infant is on the autism spectrum. As a child develops, sensory issues may become more apparent. But until a child is 12 months old, it might not be clear whether or not a child has a sensory processing disorder. At this point, you may start to notice developmental differences between your baby and others.
At 12 months, a baby with a sensory disorder might not be responding to you saying their name several times, even though they turn their head at other sounds. When a baby is 18 months old, they might be delayed in their speech skills compared to other babies if they have sensory issues.
At 24 months, your baby may behave in a way that shows they are reliant on you but not exhibiting behaviors like making eye contact and looking at your face.
These symptoms can be painful for parents. But if you know about them, then you can also take steps to get help and find a path forward for your child.
Why Use Sensory-Friendly Clothing?
Touch and feel are often triggers for hypersensitive children with a sensory processing disorder, ADHD, or autism. Clothes can make them feel anxious, upset, and pained. This is especially the case when clothes have synthetic materials, tags, and thick seams.
Kids and baby clothes from large retail brands often are not made with the same high quality as sensory-friendly clothing. Kids’ clothing is often made of synthetic material with different textures, decorative features, and zippers that will most likely bother kids with sensory issues. Such garments typically have annoying seams and tags that scratch. They might feel restrictive or too hot.
What Is Sensory-Friendly Clothing?
Sensory-friendly clothing is soft and made of natural materials. It won’t have bothersome tags or thick, annoying seams. Often colors and patterns will be solid or simple. Zippers and buttons are often left off.
Sometimes clothing that is too tight can feel restrictive, so the right amount of give and elasticity is essential. The same is true if the fabric makes your child too cold or too hot. A child with sensory issues might prefer looser clothing that doesn’t feel too hot.
Clothes that are made of natural materials, like those that are 100% GOTS Certified Organic, are more breathable and comfortable. This kind of clothing can help your child feel at ease. They’ll be less bothered and distracted by what they are wearing and can better focus on other activities.
Sensory-Friendly Clothing for Babies
As we noted above, it may be hard to tell if an infant has a sensory processing condition. So even though it may be clear that a child with sensory issues needs sensory-friendly clothing, why should babies wear sensory-friendly clothing too?
Baby Skin Is Highly Sensitive
Newborn babies have soft and sensitive skin. Newborn skin is highly absorbent and does not have a strong skin barrier like older children and adults. Without this mature barrier, skin tends to dry out faster and is more easily bothered by irritants.
For example, your baby might suddenly develop a rash in response to skin irritation. While this is fairly common and rarely means your baby has a serious issue, you still want to do your best to take the best care of your child’s skin.
These issues, such as diaper rashes, can clear up quickly with a few adjustments, but avoiding skin irritations from the start is best. Doctors recommend using products that are fragrance-free, chemical-free, and hypoallergenic when caring for an infant’s skin.
Preemie babies have especially sensitive skin. They do not have a strong skin barrier, and their skin is more likely to dry out because it does not hold moisture well. For preemie babies, the last thing you want is to dress them in a onesie that is going to irritate their super-sensitive new skin. The clothing should also accommodate feeding tubes or other medically complex conditions.
While most babies generally have sensitive skin, you might notice that your baby has hypersensitive skin. This is the case if the following is true:
- Your baby’s skin is often red or inflamed.
- Skin is dry and rough and tends to crack or feel scaly.
- Clothes and products irritate and cause rashes or redness.
How To Care for Sensitive Skin
If your baby’s skin is consistently reacting to clothes and products, your baby could have hypersensitive skin. Loose and soft clothing with natural, organic fabric will help keep your baby comfortable.
Staying away from fragrances and chemicals in products will help keep your baby’s skin smooth and soft. Intentionally-timed bathing is key — too much washing can dry out your baby’s skin.
Choosing the Best Clothing for Your Sensitive Baby
Whether or not your baby is showing signs of sensory issues and hypersensitive skin, it’s always a good idea to choose sensory-friendly clothing for your newborn.
Here are some things to look for to make sure your baby’s clothing is comfortable and sensory-smart:
- Tagless: look for clothing brands that print their information directly onto the fabric.
- Flat Seams: the seams should sewn flat rather than sticking out from clothing.
- Organic fabric: fabric should be natural and organic, free of synthetics and chemicals commonly found in children’s clothing.
- Easy to use: look for clothes that are easy to put on and take off.
Tabeeze: Baby Onesies
This is where Tabeeze comes in. Our Bottom-Up Baby Bodysuit checks all these boxes and more! We print our organic label right onto the back of the bodysuit — no itchy tags. The seams are flat, so there’s no itchy stitching.
Tabezee bodysuits are 100% GOTS-Certified Organic, including the chemical-free jersey cotton, which is super soft. It’s moisture-wicking to guard against rashes and loose fitting so that it doesn’t chafe against those chubby thighs we all love. Plus, we pre-shrink it so that you don’t have to worry about that first wash and dry; it won’t lose its shape or pill.
Our nickel-free buttons are easy to use and perfect for sensitive skin. And our original design — dressing your baby from the bottom up — makes our Baby Bodysuit the most fuss-free onesie at your fingertips!
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) | familydoctor.org
Sensory Issues | Autism Speaks
What are the Early Signs of Autism? | HealthyChildren.org
Newborn Skin 101 | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Global Organic Textile Standard | GOTS