How to Pack a Sensory-Friendly Travel Bag

posted in: Special Needs, Travel | 12

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Tips for packing a sensory-friendly travel bag to keep your wigglers happy.

Sensory-seeking kids can be a challenge. In our 20 years of parenting we’ve had more than a few wiggly-squiggly and (dare I say?) hyperactive kids. When Adalia was a sensory-seeking toddler, we had no idea what it meant or how to help. I’ll never forget the time in church, at not quite two years old, when she was hitting herself on the head with a hymn book as hard as she could…I am thankful that now that we are raising a few more sensory-seeking kids, that we have more knowledge and resources. 

After our weekend at Refresh last month, I came up the idea of making a sensory-friendly bag to keep in our van. My kids with special needs have, well, special needs. And sometimes that means making accommodations in our home and family. This little travel bag is one way we are working to meet the sensory needs of all of our children.

Tips for packing a sensory-friendly travel bag to keep your wigglers happy.

Here are the contents of the bag: gum (Extra® 35-stick pack), mini pinwheels, spaghetti ball, Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty, Isoflex ball and Pull, Stretch and Squeeze ball. 

Tips for packing a sensory-friendly travel bag to keep your wigglers happy.

Did you know blowing on pinwheels or bubbles is excellent for regulating breathing and for relaxation? 

I chose to put pinwheels in my bag, because they don’t make a mess or noise, but bubbles are also a great tool. And in Apollo’s case it helps him strengthen his lungs and practice for those tricky lung-function tests!

Did you know evidence shows that chewing gum can relive stress and anxiety in kids?  

Yes, it does and it can even improve scores in school! We do only sugar-free gum in our house. I love the new Extra® 35-stick pack. The gum comes in a durable, recycled packing and holds enough gum for even my crew. You can find these packs in the checkout line of your Kroger Family store. These large packs come in Extra® Gum Spearmint (my favorite) and Extra® Gum Polar Ice®

Tips for packing a sensory-friendly travel bag to keep your wigglers happy. 

If you aren’t brave enough to add gum, try a sensory necklace. A few months ago Apollo started chewing on his shirts and I wanted to nip that habit in the bud. Enoch was a shirt-chewer and ruined more clothes than I could keep track of. I bought one of these necklaces for Apollo and one for Mordecai. Apollo’s looks like a LEGO and he loves chewing on it and Mordecai’s looks like an animal claw and is cool enough to be worn to junior high.

Tips for packing a sensory-friendly travel bag to keep your wigglers happy.

The day Apollo wore this to school the first time, I emailed his teacher explaining what it was for. She had absolutely no problem with him wearing it and chewing on it, and it has saved his clothes!

Tips for packing a sensory-friendly travel bag to keep your wigglers happy.

This spaghetti ball is a great sensory tool. When I bought this it had a strong chemical smell so I chose to place it outside for a few days. It is now fine and favorite of the kids. It is soft and squishy and stretchy and most of all…quiet! It also happens to be my favorite toy out of the bag.

Tips for packing a sensory-friendly travel bag to keep your wigglers happy.

This stress ball was my kids’ favorite…I kept having to hide it so I could take pictures….This looks like a ball, but is super stretchy and just feels so…soft. I love holding this.

Tips for packing a sensory-friendly travel bag to keep your wigglers happy. 

Mordecai making his “hulk face” while squeezing the IsoFlex ball. What a goof!

All of these items can fit in a small bag and will be used for van rides…and hopefully keep little hands busily engaged, instead of poking at nearby siblings. 

Tips for packing a sensory-friendly travel bag to keep your wigglers happy.

Do you have any sensory-seeking kids? What are your favorite tips? Have any travel ideas?

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12 Responses

  1. I love the necklace idea. Kestrel has become “chewy” lately. I think either in connection to her brother who chews and bites his lovey for comfort or as a delayed oral development phase. She’s eating better. I too was a sleeve chewers and I love the idea of her having something special to chew.

    We are working on mindfulness and derp breathing meditation skills and I think the pinwheels would be a great tool to add to our “angry bag” of tricks.

    Jasper is very much a sensory seeker and loves to chew the velcro straps of shoes. So much so that he has begun chewing on shoes of people we don’t know! While their shoes are on their feet. Now that he has most of his teeth that seems to subside.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      I hope some of these resources help. And as for Jasper chewing on shoes…ew! I’ve had kids do that too. Maybe he’d enjoy a teething necklace as well.

  2. Yes! My 4 year old is like this. He is always putting things in his mouth- buttons, coins, small toy, rocks… All chocking hazards all the time. I told him I would get him a teething ring if he wanted to chew on stuff so badly. And he said, yes, please, I really want one. But this is not something he can really take to school. Maybe I should give him gum? Is 4 too young for gum? Those necklaces seem like a great idea, though.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Some four year old can handle gum, some can’t. I would give the necklaces a try. They have a huge selection and they don’t look babyish. I would give the gum a try at home too.

  3. http://www.stimtastic.co/ has fantastic chew necklaces

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Thanks for sharing! I had not heard of that site before.

  4. I used to hand out pipe cleaners to kids who wiggled in my classroom. It was silent and could be reused or tossed if needed. Some kids just need to move and create!

  5. I was a special education teacher for 10 years and worked with many children who had sensory processing disorder. This travel bag would’ve been great for them. Thanks for the suggestions! #client

  6. I love these ideas. What interesting facts about each item. The fact that blowing bubbles and on pinwheels can stimulate great breathing and relaxation is fascinating! I’ll have to remember that for the summer with my daughter. Thanks so much for sharing these helpful tips with us on #shinebloghop. It’s such a pleasure to have you 🙂

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      You’re welcome! I can’t wait to take these on long drives. I think it will really help with boredom and fighting.

  7. […] 4. Mordecai’s new favorite spot to hang out is Fodo’s crate.…The day I bought this larger crate I came home from picking the younger kids up at school to find this. Yup, Mordecai climbed  right in the kennel with his Cheerios (one of the few foods he eats theses days). Later he covered the top and sides with rugs for a more “cozy” feel. Never underestimate a kid’s ability to find a way to satisfy his sensory needs.  […]

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