As parents ourselves, we completely understand the frustrations that can come with trying to find the best underwear for a child who may have sensory issues. In fact, this is the main reason that we started Lucky & Me.
We've had our fair share of "situations," such as a child who constantly picks at their bum, all the way to a child who just refused to put on underwear. While this topic may seem taboo for some, we are here to let you know that if your child is experiencing these or similar issues, you are not alone.
We can all agree that underwear is a necessity. Beyond the simple need for hygiene, underwear should offer protection, style, and comfort. The problem for some little ones comes with the comfort aspect.
Children with sensory issues have a difficult time with typical clothing. And while there may not be underwear that checks every box off your list, there are specific attributes we, as parents, can look for to offer our little ones the comfort they deserve.
Understanding Sensory Needs
When our little ones have sensory issues, such as sensory processing disorder, they process stimuli more strongly and deeply than others. To help put this into context, imagine after a long day of work, you've picked your child up from daycare and are now on your way home.
Along the way, you get stuck in rush hour traffic. The cars in front of you are barely moving, your arm starts to itch, and you hear the faint siren from an ambulance in the distance.
As an adult, our minds are already conditioned to this onslaught of stimuli. Our brains generally can quickly filter and organize it all as it processes and analyzes the information around us.
Our minds are conditioned to cope with the rush hour standstills. This may look like tapping your fingers on the steering wheel, listening to a calming or even just distracting song or favorite podcast, or even playing road games in our head. Pretty regular stuff.
Well, for a child whose body and brain are still learning to handle such situations, this can be intense. Their brains can get overstimulated fast, and with little know-how on what to do next, it can become overwhelming.
Sensory Sensitivities Explained
Sensory issues happen when a child has difficulty receiving and responding to specific cues. They often struggle to handle things that overstimulate them or trigger their senses. Think of itchy underwear constantly riding up and rubbing against their sensitive skin all day.
What may seem completely normal to us can throw their entire bodies into a frenzy, which can look like them constantly picking at their bottoms, throwing a tantrum, or refusing to wear underwear altogether.
Sensory sensitivities, however, like most things, land on a spectrum. What one child may find uncomfortable, another may be completely okay with. Understanding your child will always trump anything anyone else can say, but some aspects of sensory issues seem universal.
The best underwear for such sensory issues will be those that help alleviate such responses from our little ones; underwear that is crafted with a child's comfort as priority number one.
Importance of Comfortable Underwear
Our children NEED to have comfortable underwear. Underwear that they can play in all day without being bombarded with sensory overload. And this all can start with something as simple as the fabric.
Something as routine as wearing underwear can seem like a no-brainer for us. It's something we've been doing our entire lives. Even when the tag annoys us, we’ve learned how to ignore it. However, for children, this is still a newer experience, and they have yet to learn to desensitize and cope with this discomfort.
Synthetic fibers such as nylon or polyester are harsh against our skin, and most are made by embedding harsh chemicals in them. This means that on top of being rough, these fabrics are introducing our little ones to toxins every time they wear them.
Aside from the harsh realities that come with synthetic fabrics, discomfort from underwear can cause kids stress and anxiety.
The constant itchiness of the tag against their backside may make them anxious as they try to adjust it without being seen. Picking out a wedgie in front of your classmates can be mortifying. There have even been reports of some children outright disrobing in the middle of class to deal with the discomfort.
Comfortable underwear goes beyond a want and quickly becomes a need when we think of the mental health improvements associated with it.
Features of Sensory-Friendly Underwear
Thinking of sensory issues in a new light can make finding the best underwear much easier. It is not a burden or something we must deal with as parents. It is a chance for us to connect with our babies, learn more about them, and build their confidence.
Maybe something as simple as a child's underwear seems like a stretch in this context, but from the thousands of conversations we've had with parents, we can wholeheartedly say it's not. For the parent who struggles to get their child dressed, the mom who wakes up 30 minutes early each morning because she knows getting her son dressed will cause another fight. To the dad who so frantically sifts through his daughter's underwear drawer, hoping to find a pair she'll actually wear, we see you. We hear you. And we want to offer a solution.
So, what should you look for when purchasing undies for those with sensory needs?
The stitching that holds a garment together, seams, tends to be one of the biggest complaints for sensory-sensitive kids.
Underwear with a seamless design, like our Bella Brief, is an excellent option for sensory-friendly underwear. Crafted with ComfySeam™ bonding technology, it is fused using advanced adhesives instead of being sewn together. We've had many reviews similar to the one below.
"Our daughter has ASD (autism spectrum disorder) and fabric sensitivity. We went through five recommended brands before stumbling across these underwear. They are the first underwear our daughter has worn in almost a year. We are so happy, and she is so happy and comfortable! These are amazing! We can't say thank you enough."
Tags can be an unnecessary annoyance, causing constant fidgeting by rubbing on the skin all day. Maybe you've heard your child call their clothes scratchy or even went as far as to say they're hurting them. Tags could be the reason.
Tagless underwear offers another level of comfort for littles with sensory sensitivities. Tagless construction means the brand, logo, and size information are printed directly onto the underwear. This provides essential information without the itch and irritation of a tag. Combined with the softest fabrics, tagless underwear can feel like a cloud.
Soft, Breathable Fabrics
Some fabrics can be particularly itchy, especially synthetic ones, for the reasons we already mentioned above. Natural fibers are softer and more breathable, resulting in more comfortable underwear. Choose organic, modal, or cotton blends with over 50% cotton for the best sensory-friendly underwear.
Avoid bulky seams. These can irritate the skin and be the main reason your child hates underwear. Instead, look for flat seams. Sewn with the fluffiest threads to ensure they are smooth, never scratchy, and are made to lay flat against the skin. This prevents chafing and irritation.
Best Underwear for Sensory Issues: Waistband Considerations
Indeed, the "villain" of underwear, the waistband, often ends up doing more than holding our little ones' undies up. And not in a good way. The waistband can cause wedgies, pitching on their bum, uncomfortable pressing on their stomach, and more. Underwear that will fare the best for those with sensory issues aims to avoid such situations.
Wide, Soft Waistbands
Bands that are both soft and wide help avoid unnecessary pressure on the waist. These can provide a comfortable and non-restrictive fit. Thus reducing irritation and discomfort. Wider bands are less likely to dig into the skin, which means no friction. No friction means less rashes, lines, or potential bleeding.
A wide waistband helps to maintain a proper fit by keeping underwear right where it is supposed to be: no more uncomfortable adjustments or embarrassing guest appearances from our little one's bottom.
Don't worry about bunching or rolling up, either. Wider waistbands keep undies smooth and in place.
If your little one is sensitive to things on their skin, be that the fabrics touching them or the pressure from it, elastic can cause major meltdowns.
Elastic can be good as it allows the underwear to stretch while providing a nice, snug fit. But when it comes to sensory processing disorder, this can mean all the wrong things. As parents ourselves, we like the idea of finding a happy medium. Kids come in all different shapes and sizes, so sometimes, a little stretch can go a long way.
We love fabric-covered waistbands! They offer the benefit of allowing for some stretch while avoiding the possibility of scratchy fabrics causing chafing on their sensitive skin. They also help to prevent pinching and bring maximum comfort all day long.
Best Underwear for Sensory Issues: Moisture-Wicking Properties
One of the most essential reasons kids should wear underwear is protection. Protection from moisture and bacteria. Even if it's not because of a small accident, it's inevitable for moisture to build up in a child's underwear. Moisture-wicking underwear is specially designed to protect from just that.
Importance of Moisture Control
As children run around the playground, they are bound to sweat. Sweating can become highly uncomfortable for littles with sensory needs. Crafted to help manage and regulate moisture buildup, the best underwear for sensory issues will be moisture-wicking. It is designed to pull the moisture from the skin, evaporate it into the air, and keep our babies dry throughout the day.
Best Underwear for Sensory Issues: Styles
Kids are kids, no matter their sensory likes and dislikes. They're going to want cute designs and cool styles without forgoing comfort.
Don't think this aspect is the least important just because this section is last. That is far from true. We as parents must encourage exploration for our littles to find their personal style/preference. Patterns that align with their personality while keeping them soft and comfortable.
Most parents have struggled at one time or another with getting their little ones dressed. And while some fights won't last, children with sensory issues need a solution fast.
Itchy, scratchy fabrics, bulky seams, tiny elastic waistbands, and underwear that hold moisture are a no-go for those with sensory issues. Instead, you want soft, natural fabrics like organic cotton, flat seams, and breathable undies for all-day play.
When kids can be comfortable throughout the day without worrying about the clothes on their backs, it's one less thing we as parents have to worry about.