Building a sensory room at home can make a big difference in your child’s development and everyday functioning. And I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to use a whole room. You can easily create a sensory corner or, like us, create a sensory playroom.
To help you understand how a sensory room may feel to your child, ask yourself this.
How do you feel when you lower the lights and light up a few candles?
Most of us would say that we feel much calmer, that it brings us to a zen-like state. This is one example of how the setting of a room can affect your mood and overall well-being. The same applies to your child.
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Making a sensory room at home checklist
1 – Assess the needs of your child
Every child is different. Ask yourself –
Does my child:
–get overstimulated easily?
–need to move, jump, twirl a lot?
-prefer the feeling of being snugged?
2 – Evaluate your budget
Building a sensory room or space doesn’t have to be expensive. I would suggest dividing your budget into two sections. One part of your budget would be reserved for high-quality items.
For your child’s safety, some items should not be cheaped out – like a hanging swing or a mini-trampoline. You want quality so that the equipment will last and also for safety reasons.
Now for the other things like light-up accessories, blankets, pillows, mats, bean bags, etc – these items could be bought at whatever price point you prefer. I would sign up for deals, watch for sales and even buy consignment for some things. You can also find a lot of cool things at the Dollar Store!
3 – Frame your space
Evaluate the space you currently have within your home and see what could be done.
Do you want to create a sensory corner?
Do you have a spare closet by chance?
(They make an awesome sensory chill spot, as many kids like hideaways).
Only you know how much space you can devote to a sensory room/area.
4 – Make a shopping list
Create a shopping list of thing your wished items. I would recommend dividing your list in 2.
Must-haves – that are based on your child’s current needs.
Could-haves – that could be fun to have but not necessarily needed.
By having a list with a budget, you will stick to your plan. It’s very easy to get distracted and buy a ton of stuff that may not be necessary or even useful for your child.
Remember that you can always build up your sensory room as you go. Your child will also evolve and may develop different sensory needs.
A sensory space can be a powerful resource to regulate and calm any kid (and adults too!).
Let’s dive into more of your questions
What makes a good sensory room?
A good sensory room is a room that will respond to your child’s needs.
If you’re building a room for more than one child, create the perfect space by adding various sensory elements.
Think lights, hideouts, accessories that create movement (ex: swings, rocker, trampoline), sounds (calming sounds, musical instruments, etc), textured accessories (ex: shaggy rugs, bean bags, textured pillows).
Who can benefit from a sensory room?
Simple answer – everyone can benefit from a sensory room. Adults included!
While sensory rooms are typically designed for children with special learning and developmental needs, people of all ages and abilities can benefit from them.
Sensory rooms can benefit everyone that needs to regulate their senses and renew their focus.
How big should a sensory room be?
If you’re looking to create a full sensory room, a 12” x 12” room is ideal. But you could also create a sensory corner in a closet! Just know that whatever space you have – you can make it work.
Example: If you want a swing in your sensory room, you need to ensure that you have plenty of space for the swing to move around safely. If you don’t have enough room you can always buy a swing that can be installed in a door frame.
Can a sensory room be part of a playroom?
Yes, you can totally do that! Let me share our playroom.
As you can see, we have a variety of items in our sensory playroom.
We have the following elements in our sensory playroom:
– Yogibo Bean Bags
– Ikea Egg Chair
– Peanut Ball
– Hopping Jumping Ball
– Ikea Flisat Table
– Pod Swing
– Floor Sensory Paths
– Step2 Dino Rocker
– Playskool Sit n Spin
What should be included in a sensory room?
If you can make it happen, add a swing to your space. We have this one below.
See this Pod Swing.
You can also get a swing on a frame. Or you can get a swing for your door frame!
Swinging is a great tool to regulate kids. My daughter would almost fall asleep in her swing. It calms hyper or anxious children just like it relaxes an adult who is chilling in a hammock.
We love our Yogibo’s. I still remember the feeling I felt the first time I sat on it at the mall. They are so comfy, they snug your body.
The large bean bag is also amazing as a crash pad. You can save 15% on your order with our code FSP15. Order them at Yogibo.
Why a hideout in a sensory room? Because it gives your child a space to retreat and calm down. Some kids need to shut off from the world to achieve that state. Add some pillows, blankets, little lights, a fidget box and they have a little sensory retreat.
The Flisat Table from Ikea is a must-have to create sensory bins and sensory experiences. We love that the table is so versatile!
We often use our Wooden Tools along with some sensory material like rice, beans, lentils, pompoms and so much more. We also love to fill them with colored water, shaving cream, gelatine. I could go on & on! See it here – Ikea Flisat Table
Another sensory table that I’m in love with is this one. A little more expensive but simply amazing! It’s a Sensory Light Table.
We currently have this projector light in her bedroom as well as our playroom. It has a very calming effect.
We also have these neon lights that we purchased for $3 at the Dollar Store!
If your child is 5 years and under, a ball pit can be a lot of fun. Grab an inflatable pool, add balls and you have a ball pit! Easy and inexpensive.
If your child needs movement, a mini trampoline can be a blessing for your family! I know of many kids that get a 30 minute trampoline session just before bed, helping them expel all that energy in order to sleep better. And it works really well!
We recently added a mini trampoline to our sensory playroom as my daughter needs to practice jumping. See it here.
We currently have 2 different balls in our sensory room. We have a peanut ball and we also have a hopper jumping ball. They are both great tools for vestibular and developing gross motor skills.
Kids love to wiggle on the peanut ball. Being in motion can also help your child’s brain to be engaged! See some here.
We have a box of fidgets in our sensory room. We love fidgets as they are really great to have in your home, at school or on the go.
Benefits of a Sensory Home
Adding sensory elements to various rooms in our home has been so beneficial to our daughter and our journey with Autism. We also use the sensory spaces for therapy, working on her gross motor skills as an example.
My daughter struggled with the sensation of movement so I built a sensory room that had many sensations for her to explore. Thankfully, she now enjoys many of those movements that she once feared. I hope your child can benefit from it too!