It’s the holiday season! And that means figuring out what gifts to get everyone on your list. I have always tried to get our children unique items that may not be found in the average toy store. My goal is to also make it do double duty….a magnetic game that also works great on long car rides, an outfit that will work for a holiday gathering…you get the idea. Whether you’ve got a kid that has some extra sensory needs or maybe just has LOTS OF ENERGY and needs a little extra help calming their bodies, it’s sometimes hard to find a gift that will help with regulation AND be super cool from a kid’s perspective.
Our middle child needs that extra help with regulating and we’ve had to figure out what works best for her and still consider the “coolness” factor. We have provided her with plenty of sensory activities over the years, including lots of touch and feel bins. In 5th grade, her class wrote out a paper of things they feel, see, believe, etc and then had parents guess which paper was their child’s at Back to School Night. I immediately knew which one was my child’s because it said “I feel rice and beans.” Yep, somedays I will use just about anything to help with regulation.
The following list of gifts are ones we’ve given our children over the years that have helped with body regulation and have passed the coolness factor test.
Weighted Blanket – The extra weight in this blanket helps calm you. I have used it when I’m feeling restless and it really does work. My daughter uses it any time she knows her anxiety will get the best of her….when a babysitter comes over, when watching a movie that might have a scary part in it (that Ursula in The Little Mermaid can be pretty terrifying!) We love Sensory Goods weighted blankets because they come in so many fun patterns and textures. Our blankets have been through the wash plenty of times over the past 6 years and they are still holding up well. The website also gives guidelines on what weight you should make the blanket and what age should use it.
Ocean Light Projector – This light is so calming at bedtime. It displays a cool image on the ceiling that looks kinda like you are under water. It also changes colors and has several pre-programmed sounds in it. Everything can be controlled with a remote. It can run all night if you have a child that wakes and needs help going back to sleep or you can set a timer for it to turn off. The best part of this is you can load any song you want on it. We decided to load a calming guided meditation that our daughter now listens to and practices before bed every night.
Mermaid Pillow – Mermaid anything is such a big hit right now. Shirts, bags, lunch boxes, etc all have the sequins that change color when swiped in the opposite direction. The sequins just call your name and you can’t help but make designs out of it. Think of all the sensory input! And on something that is already super cool!
Chewlry – Do you have a kiddo that chews their nails, the tops of pencils or the edge of their sleeve? We love chewlry because it gives kids a safe and healthier way to relieve that need to chew. They have plenty that look like beautiful necklaces and some that look like a shark’s tooth or a lego block. Many of the necklaces have breakaway clasps as well.
Trampoline – I know, this one is pretty controversial. It gives such great input but can also be unsafe if not used properly. Make sure you get one with a sturdy net and padding. The other key is to set very clear rules around how and when to use it. We only allow 2 kids in at a time so we don’t have heads bumping. Our kids use an egg timer to determine when it’s time for one child to get out and another child to get a turn. We knew ours would get lots of use with 4 kids so we purchased an AlleyOOP brand trampoline. This brand is extremely sturdy with lots of safety measures built in such as padded bars and an overlapping netted opening.
The Out of Sync Child Has Fun by Carol Kranowitz – This gift is more for the parent than the child. It contains so many great activities that are fun for the child as well as help with sensory needs. The book provides info on the appropriate developmental age for each activity and a list of needed supplies. With practice, these activities can help your child learn wonderful coping skills.