How to Keep Your Sensory Sensitive Child Comfortable in the Heat
J Julia DeNey

How to Keep Your Sensory Sensitive Child Comfortable in the Heat

May 1, 2024

Spring is in full swing, and although the warmth is a welcome reprieve from the cold winter, it is also a sign of the hot summer days to come. According to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there is a one-in-three chance that 2024 will be warmer than 2023 and a 99% chance that 2024 will rank among the top five warmest years, so being prepared is essential. 

The heat can be uncomfortable for any child, but it can be incredibly intense for children with sensory sensitivities. Sensory sensitivity deeply affects how children experience the world, and in the heat, these challenges are magnified by factors like intense sunlight, sweat, and the tactile sensations of protective clothing, which can lead to intense discomfort and emotions. Read on to learn a variety of tips to help keep your children comfortable while focusing on creative solutions. 

Understanding Sensory Sensitivity

Sensory sensitivity, or sensory processing sensitivity, involves acute reactions to physical stimuli such as textures, sounds, and temperatures. The summer heat provokes irritability, physical discomfort, and overwhelming fatigue for sensory-sensitive children. Recognizing these triggers is the first step in mitigating their impact and helping you and your child have a fantastic summer. 

Common Ways to Keep Comfortable

The best way to keep sensations from becoming overwhelming is to keep your child as comfortable as possible and avoid overheating, which exacerbates sensitivities. There are 5 ways to achieve this, which include: 


Frequent hydration is essential in preventing overheating and irritation caused by dehydration. Encouraging your child to drink water regularly can be difficult. Luckily, there are ways to make it more fun. Start by determining the water temperature they prefer (cold, room temperature, etc.), then incorporate fun water bottles that keep their water at the optimal temperature. 

If this doesn’t work, a variety of water flavorings, many of which are natural, can encourage those who are sensitive to taste to stay hydrated. 

Appropriate Clothing

Selecting the proper clothing is essential. Opt for light, breathable fabrics like cotton, which are less likely to irritate the skin. In addition, choosing loose-fitting clothes can prevent the discomfort associated with tight, restrictive garments that aggravate the skin in heat.

Use of Cooling Products

Cooling towels, neck wraps, and vests can be lifesavers in the heat. These products maintain a cooler temperature against the skin and can be reactivated with water, providing ongoing relief without overwhelming the senses. Before you try them when you are out and about, however, make sure you test them at home to ensure your child is comfortable with the cooling sensation. 

Sun Protection

Avoiding sunburns is essential for comfort during the summer. However, sun hats and sunglasses should be chosen with sensory issues in mind. Ensure these accessories are comfortable, and avoid those that pinch or bind. Wrap-around sunglasses or visors are sometimes more tolerable than traditional frames and hats. Test a few options with your child to determine the most comfortable. 

Air Conditioning & Fans

Use air conditioning and fans strategically. For some children, the hum of an air conditioner may be soothing, while for others, it might be a source of sensory discomfort. It is ideal to position a fan that does not blow directly on your child while still cooling the environment. 

Creative Comfort Strategies

Now that you know how to prepare to ensure your child will be comfortable, Let’s talk about sensory-friendly outdoor activities. While going to an amusement park likely isn’t a great option, there are still many other options for you and your child to enjoy; these include; 

Sensory-Friendly Outdoor Spaces

Creating a sensory-friendly outdoor space for your family to enjoy can make a huge difference. A sensory-friendly space will include things like shaded areas with comfortable seating or even a small enclosed canopy where your child will feel secure and protected from direct sunlight. 

Indoor Cool Zones

Ensure you have an indoor area that is a cool and inviting reprieve when needed. The best spaces for this include dimmed lights, minimal noise, and comfortable furnishings that provide comfort while allowing your child to recharge. 

Cold Sensory Bins

Sensory bins are an excellent way to entertain children in the summer and keep them cool in the process. To achieve this, prepare sensory bins with cold items such as ice cubes, cold water beads, or chilled gel packs. These provide a cooling effect and a sensory experience that distracts from the heat.

Timed Outdoor Activities

Limit outdoor time during the hottest parts of the day. Plan activities in the early morning or late afternoon and use timers to ensure outside time is short enough to prevent discomfort.

Use of Visual Schedules

Visual schedules help manage transitions between indoor and outdoor environments, which can be particularly stressful. These schedules show what to expect throughout the day and include designated times for cooling down indoors. Create these schedules with your child and review them so you both know what to expect and can enjoy indoor and outdoor activities all summer. 

Start Preparing Now for an Amazing Summer! 

Maintaining the comfort of a sensory-sensitive child during the hot months requires patience, planning, and flexibility. Integrating these strategies into your daily routine will help mitigate the sensory challenges associated with heat and ensure your child enjoys a comfortable summer. Keep a close eye on how your child responds to the implemented strategies and be ready to adjust as needed. A proactive approach will support your child in managing their sensory sensitivity effectively.

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