Kid’s Clothing That Works With Our Sensory Issues

posted by Andrea | 09/10/2018

As many of you know, Nora struggled with several sensory issues as a baby and toddler — none of which we realized until she was 17 months old.

The doctors all told me she’d outgrow them by kindergarten (which seemed ages away at the time) but looking back, I can confidently say she truly did outgrow almost all her sensory issues before she entered Kindergarten last fall.

She goes to bed just fine and sleeps soundly, in her own bed, all night long.

She tries all sorts of new foods, and doesn’t completely freak out if she doesn’t like the taste or texture of something.

She eats quickly and isn’t easily bothered with food.

She drinks chocolate milk (a big accomplishment after years of only drinking water)!

She functions just fine in groups of strangers and at school — although she will often have more melt-downs at home after holding it together all day at school (this is normal for so many kids though).

In my opinion, Nora thrives with my ultra-organized, super-scheduled parenting techniques. She knows what to plan on, what comes next, what the routines are, and she likes it that way. We butt heads fairly regularly, but in general, we make a pretty good team 🙂

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The one area that is still a struggle with Nora is clothing.

If anything FEELS funny, she will not wear it… no questions asked.

She immediately removes the clothing, and sometimes even has a mini melt-down. She just cannot handle rough fabrics, itchy tags, non-stretchy items, or anything that is very tight around her head/neck/abdomen.

I honestly can’t blame her — I have my own set of issues when it comes to itchy clothing and tags, so she comes by it naturally!

However, it’s already challenging enough to find reasonably-priced, age-appropriate clothing for an almost “tweenage” girl… so when we add in the fact that she refuses to wear so many different types of clothing, our search is even more of a struggle.

  • She will not wear any jeans (she WILL wear jeggings)
  • She will not wear any non-stretchy pants (basically only leggings and jeggings)
  • She’s not a fan of tights — which means most dresses and skirts are out of the question in winter months
  • She won’t wear turtle necks or anything with a tight neckline
  • She won’t wear shirts with empire waits or any type of elastic bands that cause them to be tighter in certain areas
  • She has issues with lots of shoes and sandals not feeling “right” (socks, surprisingly, are OK with her!)

Over the years, we have found certain types and brands of clothing that seem to work better for her — and although this often means I’m not able to buy as much for her at thrift stores, it’s worth it for me to pay a little extra for clothes she will wear and feel comfortable in, especially now that she’s in school all day and can’t simply change her clothing in the middle of the day.

I realize what works for us won’t necessarily work for others… but since we just recently purchased new clothing for the upcoming fall/winter months, this topic is fresh in my mind, and I wanted to share!

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BOOTS / SHOES:

Nora wants to be able to slip her foot into her boots (without zippers or laces) and we’ve tried a couple different pairs over the past 2 years, but they haven’t been great. Her feet are quite narrow, so either the boots feel too loose, or they are so tight she can’t get them off easily.

We might try Boggs boots this winter — even though I hate how expensive they are.

I would love any recommendations for quality boots that are warm, waterproof, easy to get on/off, work with narrow feet, and something a 7 year old would actually like to wear.

When it comes to shoes, I’ve always gotten her one pair of PediPed every year and she really likes them.

The tongue of these shoe is connected to the rest of the shoe, so it doesn’t get pushed down. Also, they are all velcro (but look like tie shoes) so they are super fast and easy to put on.

We’ve been a fan of PediPed shoes for YEARS!

 

For sandals, we stick with 1 pair of Nike flip flops every summer. They work well for her narrow feet, they hold up well all summer long, and they are fairly supportive. (These are the exact pair we purchased this past spring)

She wears them EVERY SINGLE DAY when the weather is warm enough — so although they are much more expensive than the foam flip flops from Old Navy, it’s worth it for me to spend more.

NOTE: our boys both prefer the Crocs flip flops, so that’s what I buy them every spring. 

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PANTS:

Pants have been the biggest issue for us since day 1!

I know this is probably just my mind playing games with me… but even as a teeny, tiny baby, Nora HATED wearing anything but leggings. I remember a day when she was roughly 4-5 weeks old and I tried to put her in a pair of infant jeans (ridiculous, I know). She screamed and screamed and screamed until I went to change her diaper and took the pants off.

She screamed again when I put the pants back on… eventually, I just took her pants off and she stopped screaming!

We made it through her first spring/summer without many pants, and have worn leggings ever since!

 

We buy several new pairs of leggings every fall (in various colors) and she wears them all fall, winter, and spring — at which point they are usually too short, so we cut them into capris for the warmer months.

Sometimes, we even cut them into biking shorts or PJ shorts for the following summer if they still fit in the waist.

We are currently HUGE fans on the leggings from Primary.com — they are very soft, have a thin waist band, NO TAG, and seem to hold up quite well.

I just purchased 7 new pairs a couple weeks ago, so we’re ready to go for another year (or two) and then she’ll wear them as capris for at least a year or more after that. Yes, we get our money out of these leggings!

P.S. You can get 20% off your first order at Primary with code AFF20PCT! (affiliate link)

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SHIRTS / TOPS:

Shirts aren’t as big of an issue, but they must have the tags cut off… and no restrictive fabric. Also, since all our pants are mainly solid colors, it’s really easy to find tops that match (or at least sort of match!)

Nora wears short sleeves almost all year long (thankfully, her school classrooms have been very warm). She has a couple zip-up sweatshirts she can wear over a short sleeve shirt if she does get cold. She also loves jean jackets!

Nothing with buttons, nothing with a tight neck or tight cuffs on the sleeves, nothing with scratchy fabric, nothing too thick (sweaters, fleeces), and nothing with a tight waist.

We found a handful of soft tank tops (Justice brand) from our local thrift store (yay) that she often wears under her shirts so she only feels the tank top fabric. This has been helpful — and the tank tops were only $1 each, so that was a great find for me!

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HAIR:

For someone with so many sensitivities, it’s unfortunate that she has very thick, frizzy, wavy hair that snarls SO easily.

We use a Wet Brush and it really does work better than any other brush we’ve tried. She still doesn’t love it, but she tolerates it.

She prefers to just let her hair hang down most of the time — but she lets me do it for school and if we’re going away. Also, if I straighten her hair, it stays much nicer and less snarly (plus, I think it looks really nice!)

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So far, we haven’t had any issues with swimming suits or snow gear — both of which are surprising for me, but I’m not complaining!

Her clothing preferences really aren’t that big of a deal now that I know what she likes and what she tolerates. I rarely put up a fight about clothing with her as it’s just not a battle I’m willing to take on.

If she’s comfortable and feels good in her clothing, I’m not going to worry if it matches or if it’s the latest style.

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A Few Take-Away Tips:

Stock up on pants/shirts/socks/etc. when you find something they like. Buy one in every color!

It’s worth it to pay a little more for something they will actually wear.

Purge the things they won’t wear — it’s really not worth storing them and constantly asking them to wear something they don’t want to.

Think long and hard before you fight them on clothing. These kiddos are stubborn and you probably have bigger “fish to fry” than what outfit they wear

Remember that most of the time, they can’t help the way they feel. They are not trying to be difficult or cause issues… it might feel exhausting (I know!) but give them some grace (and maybe save a little grace for yourself too!)

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Filed under: FamilyUncategorizedChildrenHealth

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45 comments

  1. lyss

    09/12/2018

    My daughter is like with this, too! Even at 10 years old, she’ll be in the dressing room at the store and yell “take it off! take it off!” if something is irritating. It’s a struggle, but like you, I’ve learned to not make it a fight. Something is wrong, she’s not being a brat.
    Most layering does not work. Finally found a bra that works, but of course it’s from Marshalls, that never stocks the same items. Forget collared shirts. She likes the t shirts from walmart, so I was going to go buy some more colors. Alas, they only have the long sleeve because summer is over. What? We live in Texas! We need short sleeve!!!

    We are looking in to an ALF ortho appliance for her. I’m wondering if it will help her sensory issues. It’s supposed to help sleep disordered breathing(she’s a mouth breather and snores), which is a cause of a whole host of problems in kids. Have you heard of it? Look at thehealthystart.com.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    thanks for sharing about the ALF ortho stuff. I don’t think Nora snores, but I always keep mental notes of these types of things for future reference!

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  2. Farrah

    09/11/2018

    Hi Andrea,

    Long time, mostly silent reader here. Nora’s sensory sensitivities sound like something rhythmic movement therapy could help. It’s non invasive, no medicine, gentle and completely patient led and has had a lot of success with ppl that have similar sensitivities. Google it to find out more. Just a suggestion from somebody who also struggles with sensory sensitivities/issues

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Farrah — She did actually do music therapy as a young toddler (not necessarily movement, just listening to specific music on noise-blocking headphones. She was so young that I couldn’t tell for sure if it helped, but it definitely didn’t hurt anything. I might have to look into this!

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  3. Edie S.

    09/11/2018

    I’ve had many a clothing battle with my 8 year old daughter! She was 3 when her clothing (and food texture) sensitivities began, and she does much, much better now, but still melts down every few weeks over something clothing related. Right now her preferences are soft, loose athletic shorts, t-shirts that are the unisex cut – no fitted styles, and no seams that touch her chest or stomach. She will wear a pair of thin bootcut jeans for riding lessons, but otherwise she wants black yoga style pants, no leggings. I’m also dreading having to have her start wearing little bralettes or camisoles under her clothing, but that stage is right around the corner. It’s going to be a battle as she can’t stand to layer! I’ve been dressing my 2 year old daughter in lots of cute dresses and hair bows because I may not have much time before she suddenly becomes opiniated, too!

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  4. Summer

    09/11/2018

    I grabbed Bogs twice this time of year at Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus on East Paris for more than half price. They are leftovers from the prior year and you know they change patterns for a “new” season! Bogs are great for Michigan winters, plus if you get more neutral colors you can pass them to allllllllll the littles!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    good to know — thanks!

    [Reply]

  5. Becky

    09/11/2018

    My son is now in his teens but still will only wear soft things( he doesn’t fall to fall from the tree)
    I know bogg boots are expensive but we tried it with him and they worked great! First time ever with no complaints. Since I live in your town as well, try the Farmers Coop for the “off” brand off Boggs called Muck Boots they are a little less expensive. Also Try family Farm and Home in Allendale they carry them and about this time of year they usually have sales. Happy boot hunting!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for the heads up about Farmer’s CoOp — that’s walking distance from our house 🙂

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  6. Lauri

    09/11/2018

    My daughter who is now 30 years old had these same exact issues although back then there was no one who knew about it at least not for me. She would not wear anything tight at all, no pants, only dresses with pull on shorts underneath, no neck turtles *(that’s what she called turtlenecks) and as soon as clothes were purchased I had to carefully cut out all tags!! No one I knew every heard of it so I just coped with it the best I could and eventually she outgrew it. She insisted she pick out what she was going to wear for the day by herself at a very young age so I let her. It was an everyday battle I was not willing to fight so I just informed her school, if she was really mismatched that day that she insisted on picking out her clothes!

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  7. Belinda

    09/10/2018

    One of my son has sensory factors that we need to consider with clothing and food for him. Great blog post!
    Also, I have been meaning to comment for a while – my goodness, Nora is such a stunningly beautiful looking girl!

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  8. Dawn K

    09/10/2018

    My children never had sensory issues but looking at Nora’s flip flops made ME cringe! Apparently, I have one sensory issue…no footwear that goes between my toes!! 🙂

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  9. Donna L.

    09/10/2018

    Have you tried Lands End boots? My kids all have really narrow feet and all of them loved them. Plus they last forever and are great as hand me downs.

    [Reply]

    Lauri Reply:

    I forgot about Land’s End. It was a godsend I found a catalog and ordered her many of their clothing because it was quality and 100 percent cotton which was the only fabric she could stand. I don’t blame her on that.

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  10. Rhonda

    09/10/2018

    I’ve also got a 5-year old with issues with the things she wears…we have had good luck with the Primary.com clothing for the past few years (one year I actually bought mostly purple for her – like you said above, if that’s the color she likes to wear, buy a lot! Bigger “fish to fry”. I find that their leggings do not wear out as quickly as some other less expensive ones. Plus their items don’t have tags, which my 5-year old hates. We also recently bought some Lands End clothing that was 50% off online and I hadn’t bought a lot of their clothes before, but seems mostly without tags as well – and she has been happy with the skorts and leggings and shirts too.

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  11. Leigh

    09/10/2018

    This is my older daughter too. We had to do OT just for clothes issues and those techniques (joint compressions, brushing) still help when things are extra hard or at change of season.
    Target has been winning for us with their Cat and Jack. Both the regular and the sensory line.
    Bogs have been totally worth it (and double as rain boots) and they pop up used regularly.
    For summer she loves Crocs and this year we are doing natives for school shoes since socks have been a no go for years.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I LOVE the cat and jack line from target! And yes, it sounds like I’ll be looking for Bogs this year — everyone is saying they are the best! Thanks!

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  12. Heidi

    09/10/2018

    Thank you for these helpful tips! My daughter has similar sensory issues, but the biggest one for her is socks! In the summer when her feet are free it’s wonderful but come school time when sneakers are a must it’s a bit challenging. We’ve tried so many different types of socks that she won’t tolerate. So far our best solution is having her wear them inside out.

    [Reply]

  13. Casey

    09/10/2018

    We love BOGS. My favorite website to find them cheaper is http://www.6pm.com And while the price is hard to swallow at first, I resell them every year via Facebook marketplace for nearly the same price I bought them for. So essentially it’s been a one time commitment price wise for us. They dry easily, and we’ve never had a problem with odor. My daughter is almost 11 and still requests them.

    [Reply]

  14. Muriel

    09/10/2018

    My kids also won’t wear anything rough or stiff and want the tags cut out. I’m similar too. Pants are the hardest to find. We try to shop early when stores have the most selection.

    [Reply]

  15. julie

    09/10/2018

    I needed this post today! My youngest daughter, age 9, has the same issues with pants so she’ll only wear leggings. Unfortunately, she’s also VERY selective about which leggings and just this morning she had a meltdown about how high the waistband is on a pair of her leggings. I can’t tell you how many brands we’ve tried! It seems like when she’s tired her frustrations with clothing get worse, so I’m hoping that once we’re into the routine of school again things will settle down.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I do think routines are good for them… plus, they don’t act up about this type of stuff as much at school as they would at home (at least Nora never has!)

    [Reply]

    julie Reply:

    True! She also has similar hair to Nora and hates to brush it as well, but I let it slide. If she’s ok with the crazy hair look then so I am! (Filing it under “pick your battles”)

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  16. Barb

    09/10/2018

    I love reading your posts Andrea even though my children are grown. I must say, I do love Nora‘s hair curly rather than straightened ….. maybe because I always wished I had curly hair

    [Reply]

  17. Jean

    09/10/2018

    My daughter hated jeans and wore mostly black leggings until she was in upper elementary. Eventually, wanting to dress like her peers won out and she made the transition to jeans. I totally understand wanting to be comfortable, especially as I age, it makes such a difference in how I feel. My daughter also had “sock bumps” which would drive her wild – the slightest crease/bump in her socks that she felt when putting on shoes would be a crisis on any given day. This blog makes me think of a topic for you to look forward to — tampons for menstrual periods. She and I were recently talking about her experience with the menstrual cups and laughing about her first experience with tampons. She was a serious swimmer and wanted/needed to find a way to use them. How well I remember standing on the other side of the bathroom door with her exclaiming on the other side that it was simply impossible to use such an item! I remember thinking, “mother never told me that parenting would include such moments”. LOL

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — good stories! I HOPE those moments are still several years away for me. I’m not ready for that yet!

    [Reply]

  18. Jenn in Indiana

    09/10/2018

    Your Nora sounds like my niece Mary to a T. My sister ended having to quit her job because no babysitter could take it. I was telling my sister about Nora. I really believe my niece also had sensory issues, although when she was a baby I can’t say I had ever heard of sensory issues. Exactly like Nora for clothes, many a day ruined because of clothing issues. Could not stand to be hot or wear anything tight at all. No tags, etc. Now she is a beautiful almost 17 year old. The clothing issue is almost non-existant, although she is very picky about what she will wear, but that is probably a teenager thing! I have read that these kids are very smart. My niece is very smart, #6 in her class of almost 300. Also, she is the first born and girl in her family. She is a great person, nice, social, funny and hard working. All those years ago though I admit I had my doubts! It was hard to tell through all the crying and tantrums!!! But thankfully, she is on the other side.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yup! I had to quit my “outside the house” job after Nora was born because she refused to eat anything for the entire day when I was gone (even at 3 months old). She would starve and scream until I got home. It was crazy!
    Glad to hear your niece turned out so lovely! I have no doubt Nora will grow out of the clothing sensitivities as well (and she is also very smart!)

    [Reply]

  19. Alicia

    09/10/2018

    I think this if fairly common! All of my boys have had this to some degree, and the older two for the most part have outgrown it! My 3 year old is still very much in the phase of hating anything scratchy/itchy/etc. And my 3 and 6 year old have always HATED hair cuts. I rarely cut their hair because of it, because it results in full on melt downs.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh the haircuts… I just did them last night and both boys had fits! They dont’ have the sensory issues Nora had, but they don’t like haircuts! I’m just thankful I can do them at home, because I don’t know how they’d ever make it through a trip the salon with a stranger cutting their hair!

    [Reply]

    Becky Reply:

    Just wondered if you have tried cutting their hair while they watch a TV show/episode/whatever. That made a huge difference for my kids!

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  20. Michelle

    09/10/2018

    She’s awesome! Reminds me of mine. You can literally see her spirit and intelligence in those eyes. She’s taking more info in about the world around her than most people. Trust her instincts and teach her to trust them too. Also, that God is in control and she can trust Him. My daughter keeps me so busy, I feel like we could have a lot to talk about if we ever met!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    she IS awesome 🙂
    and yes, I’m sure we’d have plenty to talk about in real life!! Someday… maybe!

    [Reply]

  21. Ronnie

    09/10/2018

    I have a biracial daughter with extremely curly hair that can get easily knotted up. I use Pantene Leave-In Conditioning Cream. I just wet it and run a generous amount through her hair. It immediately releases the knots and leaves her hair conditioned. It’s also very affordable. Not greasy at all!

    The same daughter loves to be naked too. She hates having anything on her body at all. She will be 4 in November, so I’m going to have to find something she will wear all day. Right now, her clothes come off as soon as we hit the door to the house. Thankfully, she leaves her clothes on at school!! But, she’s getting to an age that running around naked at home will no longer be appropriate!

    I may have to try some of the leggings you suggested as she hates the restriction of jeans the most (me too!!).

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for the tip on conditioners — I’ll look into that!

    [Reply]

  22. Mary

    09/10/2018

    I raised two daughters and although they didn’t have sensory issues, they were opinionated about their clothes by the time they were in school. I learned over the years that they didn’t need a lot of things as long as they were things they loved. Anything I liked or thought was a good deal often was a waste of money. By high school, there were preferred brands of jeans that were expensive but they were usually birthday or Christmas gifts and they wore them till they nearly fell apart. Lesson learned.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I grew up with only sisters — so I’m definitely well aware of all the clothing/brand issues I’m going to face in the next 5-15 years! Yikes!
    My sisters and I almost always got clothing for gifts and we were thrilled with it!

    [Reply]

  23. Ann

    09/10/2018

    Be thankful she’s a girl! Leggings don’t cut it with boys!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    amen!

    [Reply]

  24. MomofTwoPreciousGirls

    09/10/2018

    Justice has been a life saver. It is not the cheapest but you can find good sales and coupons. My youngest had all the issues you have with Nora. Jeans was our biggest struggle bc my husband HATES leggings. He would constantly put jeans on her and she would literally cry all day. (He doesn’t understand sensory issues, he kept thinking she was just trying to manipulate us!).
    The problem with jeans for her were the buttons. No matter what she is wearing she does not like anything to rub against her belly button, she either doesn’t pull them all the way up or she rolls the waist. Justice carries every single style they sell in a version with a sweatpant style top. Super soft and stretchy. Now she always wears jeans.
    For dresses in winter Justice has leggings that are a tad more sheer so they LOOK like stockings but have no feet so she can wear seemless socks and boots, nobody knows the difference. They are also easier for them to take on and off for the bathroom. I bet their brand is available on ThredUp. You could go in store to try the items and see how she likes them and then hunt for bargains. It’s also nice bc they carry slim, regular and plus sizes.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    so I’m not crazy! I thought it was crazy that the specific Justice brand name was more comfortable for her. Glad to know!
    I’ll keep a lookout for that specific brand at thrift stores!

    [Reply]

  25. Christie

    09/10/2018

    Lands End or Bogs boots have been the best. I live in northern Wisconsin and if my sister doesn’t have hand me down boots of those brands I buy them in black so they’re gender neutral. Good luck!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    ok thanks — we’re most likely going to try Bogs this year. Good call on getting Black — not sure Nora will go for that… we shall see!

    [Reply]

  26. Carol

    09/10/2018

    Mane & Tail brand shampoo and conditioner. The Conditioner detangles my long hair beautifully. It may take a few washings to get Nora’s hair adjusted to it. Though the bottle says to leave the conditioner in, I do rinse it out usually. There are also other detangling hair products that will likely work for the snarls.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    YES! This is actually what my mom bought for my sister’s and me growing up! I’ll have to look into buying it for Nora too! Thanks for the reminder!

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