Do you have a sensory seeking toddler? Here are some games I play during therapy sessions as “sensory breaks” when needed or when transitioning between activities. I also instruct parents on how to play these games at home when their toddler needs a sensory break.
1.“1, 2, 3 crash!” This game is played with the parent or other adult kneeling by a sofa or couch. Pick your child up under the armpits and bounce them on their feet three times while counting, “1, 2, 3!” This can be thought of as helping your child to jump. After the third time, “crash” them into the couch by placing them on the couch. This activity offers deep proprioceptive input to the legs during the simulated jumping and linear vestibular movement when picking your child up which can increase regulation for sensory seeking children.
2. Wheelbarrow walking: Wheelbarrow walking offers deep proprioceptive input to the arms and can be done to complete numerous activities. With the toddlers that I see we will often do wheelbarrow walking to complete a simple ~4-8 piece inset puzzle. Put the pieces of the puzzle in a pile about 6-10 feet away from the puzzle board. Wheelbarrow walking can be done with the adult holding the child at the hips, legs, or both while encouraging the child to walk on their hands. Have the child retrieve one puzzle piece at a time (they can hold it in their hand or put it in their pocket) and wheelbarrow walk over to the puzzle board. Repeat until the puzzle is complete.
3. Baby burrito: For this activity you will need a medium sized blanket. Spread the blanket out on the floor. Have the child lie down on one end of the blanket and tell them you’re going to wrap them up just like a baby burrito. Roll the child up in the blanket snugly to their tolerance. The blanket wrapped snuggly around their body offers deep proprioceptive input, which can be calming to sensory seeking children.
4. Squishes: This activity can be done alone or in conjunction with the baby burrito activity. For this activity, have the child lie down on their tummy (it can be done with the child lying on the floor, bed, or couch). Provide slow, deep pressure input through the palms of your hands to the child’s body for 10 counts. Do not do use a pinching motion with your fingers and thumbs. I will usually do “squishes” in the following order: head, shoulders, lower back or buttocks, upper leg, lower leg for a count of five and then back to the head for counts 6-10. After 10 counts, you can ask the child if they would like more “squishes” ore they are all done.
Have fun trying these games at home with your sensory seeking toddler!