5 reasons sensory integration should be your lifestlye

At my workplace, we suggest parents to bring their kids to therapy twice a week. We do an individual evaluation so the frequency is not the same for all the kids, but in most cases it turns out to be twice a week. The sensory room is big, has many things and it can be a lot for certain kids to handle. But that’s therapy. And it’s great. But if you ask me, sensory integration should be looked at as lifestyle. No matter if your child is “healthy” (of a typical development), or has some developmental difficulties. Two hours a week is simply not enough. Just knowing a thing or two about what it is and how kids respond to the stimuli can give you a lot of insight into why kids do things the way they do. For instance, why do kids walk on the arm rests and frames of your living room couch, why they slide down 100 times and still want more, why they can spin around in the park for 5 minutes and you want to puke just by looking at them?

  1. If parents knew just a little bit about the SI, it would not be such a mystery and I am sure parenting would be even a bigger joy. It is to me, anyway.
  2. I love seeing my little boy exploring his body. I don’t get all first-time-nervous-mom on him, but I am a relaxed parent as I understand what my baby is going through.
  3. SI is great for your child but is also good for you. Your brain is not as easy to “change” as the child’s, but is not impossible. When I started working in the sensory room I would get nauseas within three to four rounds on the swing and now I can do at least 10. I also couldn’t write texts or read messages on my phone while in the moving bus, and now I have no issues with that whatsoever.
  4. Other than that, as a parent you get more creative because you need to find ways to offer your child the stimuli they need in different ways: e.g. Proprioceptive stimulus can be acquired by jumping, rolling, pressing, bouncing off of something such as a mat.

    acquired from: kikisclinic.co.uk
  5. Last, but definitely not the least is the fact that one or two hours a week is really not suffice. Can’t emphasize that enough.

And that old excuse “I don’t have so much time to play with my child because I have to ____________ (enter your reason why)” is not applicable any more if you make SI your lifestyle. Because if you live SI, then you do it all the time, becomes a way of living and communicating. But have in mind that even if you apply the SI concepts, you should still be the child’s parent and go for the hour or two of therapy with a professional. Doing it at home does not mean stopping it with the professionals by any means.

And remember, it should be fun! :)

Baby on board – the sea!

I am not very traditional, but the one tradition I am going to turn the world upside down for is going to the seaside in the summer. The air on the island is clean, the flora is amazingly beautiful, colorful and scented, people lead a calmer life here and above it all is – the sea! It is blue and green, so crispy clear and clean, of a perfect temperature for one to refresh him or herself and it just heals me inside out; it charges my batteries.



This year is moreover special as I am bringing my son to this particular place for the first time. I was his age (around 5, 6 months old) when I came to this house for the first time. So, before I get all sentimental let me tell you what I am doing with him on an island (where you can barely find a person, let alone an OT or a sensory room) that is sensory friendly. You can do this at a lake, river or any other place with water suitable for dipping. I mostly use water as my medium and I try to reveal most of his skin so he gets a lot of the tactile input, too. He was a winter born baby so for the first four months he was in thick socks and three layers of clothing.

First I give V. an oil massage throughout his whole body rubbing his arms, legs, tummy and back. I use coconut oil as per Indian tradition (oh, look at that, another tradition I use), but olive oil, almond oil etc. will do. Then I dip him in the sea (gustative: salty water), or in a small pool (gustative: fresh water). His whole body feels the water (tactile), the water temperature and pressure when he is moving (proprioceptive). There are many visual stimuli such as water splashing, kids playing around, sun shining and reflecting against the water surface etc. There are auditive stimuli such as hearing the water splash, waves hit the beach, boat engines and kids’ screaming, people talking, etc. What is hard in this kind of situation is the ability to concentrate on pleasure the water gives us or on mommy being happy her big boy is swimming while your whole sensory body is super busy staying regulated and let’s face it, alive.


After a swim, there’s nothing better than a nice ice coffee. But how to go about it when your 5 month old does not want to stay peaceful in his stroller. Well, babies loooove proprioceptive games. What’s easier than a push/pull game? Leave the baby in his stroller or put him on the ground if socially acceptable and get a toy or something like a scarf, tissue… Let the baby hold it and while verbally motivating the child, try to pull it out of his hand. Do it in different rhythms.

Other proprioceptive games include you slightly bouncing the baby while holding them tightly, of course. Also, do it in different rhythms and give your baby a second to start anticipating. What can help is you saying:” I am going to bounce you now. Oneeee, twoooo, threeee. There we goooo!!!” Try doing it in an enticing voice.
While your baby’s regular play time (don’t forget the importance of tummy time!) you can include some different kinds of toys. I actually gave my son a toy for dogs. It’s a hedgehog. I love that it’s small enough to fit in his hand and spiky to give some tactile stimulation on his palms.


If you don’t have anything like that, it’s ok. Don’t rush to the store. You can take a walk with your baby and let them touch the branches or even daddy’s hair or beard.

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My son is also teething terribly. His first tooth started coming out when he was barely two months old and now he is a 5 month old baby with 5 white poky dots in his mouth. Needless to say, he is cranky and loud! Keeping a stash of Gengigel and him occupied is a must, so having some good sensory activities in a place where there is really nothing around but nature is a life saver!

A cranky baby? – behind the scene

  • “My baby cries a lot.”
  • “My baby doesn’t want to eat (solids).”
  • “My baby doesn’t like to get dressed.”
  • “It’s impossible to put my baby to sleep.”
  • “My baby doesn’t like to ride in a car.”
  • “My baby doesn’t like to spend time on her tummy.”

All of these are frequent examples of children’s reactions to sensory stimuli from the environment. To explain it a little bit: there may be many reasons for a baby to cry constantly or not to be able to sleep and it is up to us to find a pattern in the activities that preceded the negative reactions: e.g. bathing, dressing, feeding, going out in the sun etc. It can also be a reaction to an absence of a stimulus. For example: a baby or a child will not be able to fall asleep until he or she gets enough of proprioceptive stimuli (e.g. when we tightly hold the baby in hands). Children who have some oral motor and sensory difficulties will most likely have difficulties breastfeeding (sucking) or will have difficulties chewing their food, especially the solid, chewy items. Also, they might be irritated by the smell or the texture of the food. Furthermore, if a baby is hypersensitive to touch, she might cry while you try changing her clothes and might even be bothered by the etiquette or different materials in her clothes. Children who are hypersensitive to the vestibular stimuli most likely will not enjoy the car rides, while the children on the opposite side of the spectrum love the rides, swinging, walking on a beam (or couch armrest) and other unstable surfaces. Concerning the tummy time, if a child has a vestibular problem, they will probably not want to have their heads in a position towards the floor. If they have low muscle tone, they might have an issue holding their heads up or they might have a problem with their shoulder girdle.

Let me make this more clean with an example of a boy I worked with. He was 9 months old when he came to me and the reason his mom brought him was that he did not sit by himself. So, in our first meeting, I put the boy down on a mat and waited to see his spontaneous movements, reactions and motor skills. He did not want to turn to his tummy. I tried using the toys to get him to turn and stay like that, but he would immediately start to cry very intensely. Putting him into a side sitting position also scared him a bit and he would continue to cry. He didn’t even want to have his fists on the ground in front of himself. But, while he was on his back, he would hold a toy in his hands. After getting to know his motor skills, I took a look at his sensory profile since children until the age of 7 are very sensory oriented. I noticed this boy was hypersensitive to tactile stimuli on his fists and that was the reason he was not using the side sitting. The boy did not want to put his hands onto the floor which prevented him from getting and being in this position. Also, he did not want to have his head face the floor. While on the tummy or on all fours where head needs to be in that position tell us there might have been some vestibular difficulty. The vestibular system gives us information about the head position. When I realized what his sensory difficulties were, I started working with him on a swing – we would swing forward-backward as the linear swinging regulated him.This way we worked and played without any tears.

It is important to know what preceded some negative reaction your child had and look at the situation through sensory glasses. For example, if your child doesn’t like to get dressed and you only manage to put some clothes onto your baby while somebody is holding her or singing, take it as a clue that your baby needs more proprioceptive or auditory stimuli to get regulated. You can give your baby some deep pressures all around his body, especially the joints as if you were trying to reach their bones. Do not squeeze your baby or pinch or lightly caress, just give deep and relaxing pressure with your whole palm. Then, try to get your baby dressed. Any difference in his or her behavior now? If not, check if your baby has a preference in materials and textures or is she or he bothered by the etiquette on the clothes or if the clothes are too cold (after giving a warm bath, clothes can sometimes appear cold).

Što se potencijalno krije iza bebinog negodovanja?

  • “Moja beba jako puno plače“.
  • “Moja beba ne želi jesti (krutu hranu)”.
  • “Moja beba se ne voli oblačiti“.
  • “Moju bebu je nemoguće uspavati“.
  • “Moja beba se ne voli voziti u autu”.
  • “Moja beba ne voli biti na trbuhu“.

Sve su to česti primjeri reakcija na osjetilne podražaje iz okoline. Da ukratko obrazložim; može biti mnogo razloga za bebin konstantni plač ili nemogućnost spavanja te bi trebalo pronaći uzorak u tome što prethodi tim radnjama: oblačenje, kupanje, hranjenje, izlazak na sunce itd. Može biti i odsutnost nekog podražaja. Na primjer: beba, odnosno dijete, neće moći zaspati dok ne dobije dovoljno proprioceptivnog podražaja (npr. čvrstog dodira na površinu cijelog tijela kao kada bebu nosimo u naručju). Djeca koja imaju problem oralne motorike i senzorike, teško će sisati majčino mlijeko ili bočicu ili žvakati krutu, pogotovo žilaviju hranu. Također, možda ih smeta intezivan miris hrane ili njena tekstura. Zatim, ako je beba taktilno preosjetljiva, plakat će za vrijeme skidanja i oblačenja te će ju možda smetati i etikete ili neki drugačiji materijali. Djeca koja su vestibularno preosjetljiva neće uživati ili se brzo i lako opustiti za vrijeme vožnje u autu, dok će djeca hiposenzitivna na vestibularni podražaj uživati u vožnjama, ljuljanju, hodanju po gredi (rukovatu od kauča), nestabilnim podlogama itd. Što se tiče boravka na trbuhu, ako je problem vestibularni, onda neka djeca neće htjeti imati glavu u položaju prema podu. Ako je problem niskog mišićnog tonusa, možda im je teško držati glavu gore ili ima možda problem ramenog obruča.

Primjer: Radila sam s jednim dječakom od 9 mjeseci koji je došao na pokazne vježbice jer još nije samostalno sjedio. Na prvom sastanku s njim, kada sam ga stavila na strunjaču i pričekala da vidim spontane kretnje, reakcije i motoriku, nikako se nije okretao na trbuh. Koristeći igračke pokušala sam ga motivirati na boravak na trbuhu, ali nije se htio niti okrenuti, a kamoli boraviti dulje. Odmah bi počeo intezivno plakati. Postavljanje u bočni sjed ga je također dosta plašio te bi i dalje dječak jako plakao. Ručice nije htio držati ispred sebe u bočnom sjedu, ali dok je bio na leđima, ipak bi držao igračku u rukama. Nakon upoznavanja njegove motorike, pogledala sam ga i kroz senzoričke naočale jer su djeca do sedme godine života izrazito senzorička bića. Ispitujući dječakovu senzoriku vidjela sam da dječak ima hipersenzitivno taktilno odstupanje na šakicama te je to razlog njegove nemogućnosti da samostalno zauzme bočni sjed. Jednostavno nije htio držati ručice na podlozi, što je neophodno za ovaj položaj. No, problem je bio i u položaju glave. Dok je na trbuhu i u četveronožnom položaju gdje glava treba gledati prema dolje, možda postoji i vestibularno odstupanje. Vestibularni sustav nam daje informaciju o položaju glave. Kada sam otkrila koja su njegova senzorna odstupanja, krenula sam izvoditi vježbice i položaje na ljuljački koju sam ljuljala naprijed – natrag (linerano ljuljanje) koje je dječaka organiziralo i reguliralo te smo na taj način bez suza postizali sve položaje.

Važno je otkriti što je prethodilo nekakvoj negativnoj reakciji Vašeg djeteta i pogledati situaciju kroz senzorna načela. Na primjer, ako se Vaše dijete ne voli oblačiti i jedino kada Vam to uspijeva je dok bebicu netko drži ili pjeva, uzmite to kao znak da bebici možda treba više proprioceptivnog ili auditivnog podražaja za regulaciju. Možete bebici priuštiti duboke pritiske po tijelu, pogotovo po zglobovima, kao da želite prodrijeti ispod kože do kosti. Nemojte bebu štipati ili lagano dodirivati, samo dajte smirene i duboke pritiske cijelim dlanom. Nakon toga pokušajte s oblačenjem. Ako to nije pomoglo, pogledajte što je još prethodilo plakanju. Ima li razlike u ponašanju s obzirom na različite materijale odjeće? Smeta li Vašu bebu etiketa na robici, temperatura odjeće (npr. iz tople kupke u hladan bodi).

Pump up child’s proprioceptive system

These are some of the things you can do with your child to bring his/her proprioceptive system closer to the regulated state:

  • utilize your home:
    • lay mats of different thickness and softness onto the floor (information coming from the joints)
    • put some mats or safety sponges onto the walls (for children who like to run and bounce themselves off of the walls)
    • have Pilates kind of balls in the space (child can roll on the ball on their stomachs or you can lightly massage them with the ball on their backs or squeeze them in between two balls, or have them jump on the Pilates ball while catching some other small objects)
    • big cushions (take a duvet cover and fill it up with pillows, Styrofoam or small soft balls and have your child jump on it, cross over it, crawl on it, lay down on it etc.)
    • fill up the crib with small plastic balls to make a ball pit.
  • have fun out in the streets:
    • pass each other a ball, small stone, pine cone
    • pick up pine cones or stones into buckets of different sizes (thus different weight)
    • try walking and running with small weights around the ankles
    • walk around in a vest with some weight in it
    • walk in deep snow, through puddles of water, sand, in high grass, in mud, different surfaces
    • walk up or down the steep streets
  • other creative activities:
    • make a dough out of water and flour. Some can be smooth and soft, some you can make rough by adding seeds and some you can make a little dry. Ask your child or show them how to pull a little bit of dough with their fingers, make a small ball and paste the ball onto a piece of paper. For older children, you can make a line or a shape on that piece of paper and they should paste the dough balls onto the lines. This is also great for tactile regulation
    • jump on the trampoline in a rhythm