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Inside: We’ve rounded up the 10 best sensory swings for kids, the benefits of each, and how to use them safely with your precious cargo.
What’s more fun for kids than soaring through the air, squealing with glee?
No one can argue that swinging is tons of monkey fun, but, swinging also has many therapeutic benefits.
Sensory swings are wonderful tools FULL of developmental benefits for kids.
Movement or vestibular input is so very important for kids with sensory needs. Swinging is a great way to provide this input.
Sensory swings are used for a variety of reasons, including therapy, relaxation, and fun.
Adults love em too!
First, we will review what a sensory disorder looks like and then touch on all the swinging good benefits sensory swings provide before providing 10 seriously amazing sensory swings for kids.
What is Sensory Disorder in Kids?
Having a sensory disorder encompasses an entire range of symptoms. It covers physical (like hearing sounds too loudly, or clothing feeling off) to mental (like taking things too personally, or crying at every Hallmark commercial) to emotional (like being unable to control bursts of anxiety or anger).
We all experience sensitivity at times, but having a sensory disorder means you experience these feelings at a much higher velocity. Your entire nervous system is in overdrive. It can be utterly overwhelming.
Ultimately, it’s all about how you process information through your senses, how one might interpret that information and then generate a response.
(Senses being touch, movement, smell, taste, hearing, and sight).
For most people, this process is automatic, but for someone with a sensory disorder it’s like the brain interprets that information differently, and that, of course directly affects a person’s reaction to all that stimulus.
What are Examples of Sensory Issues:
Children with sensory issues might exhibit a variety of symptoms. These symptoms include:
- Having meltdowns when getting dressed
- Refusing to wear socks
- Squinting or covering their eyes during bright lights
- Having a high or low pain threshold
- Clumsy, always bumping into things or even people
- Throwing a tantrum if their faces get wet
- Picky eaters or food textures causing extreme reactions
- Fleeing from stimuli
- Intolerance to certain clothing
- Recoiling to loud noises
- Covering eyes in response to light
- Resisting hugs
- Seeking sensory stimulation (putting things in mouth)
- Hypersensitivity to smells
- Low pain threshold
Just imagine how it would feel if common sounds were overwhelming, a light shirt felt almost painful to the skin, or bright lights were blinding.
Living with a sensory disorder can be utterly overwhelming.
And that’s why our precious kiddos with sensory issues are prone to tantrums and meltdowns. They have no other way to express these intense feelings.
You just want to say, “Hey there senses, slow down, back off a little.” If you want to learn more about coping with life as a highly sensitive person, then check out this article I wrote for authority magazine right here.
We have some awesome resources for helping kids cope with anger or anxiety:
- 55 Anger Management Techniques for Kids
- 73 Ways to Help An Anxious Child
- How to Handle Tantrums Like a Pro
Invite your child or student into a warming calming corner space or create an engaging calm-down binder. These beautiful resources teach angry, overstimulated, overwhelmed, or upset children emotional awareness, and provide useful calm down strategies to help them navigate these difficult feelings.
There is a sensory checklist here that might help you if you suspect your child is struggling. A doctor can then further diagnose and help you find the supports you might need.
If your kiddo suffers from BIG emotions, you’ve just gotta check the life-saving Anger Rescue Kit for Kids. This will epic guide includes over 60 pages and will become your new go-to for helping your child develop appropriate coping strategies.
What are Sensory Swings for kids?
Sensory swings are swings used by therapists all over the world because they offer vestibular and proprioceptive input. Depending on the movement, it can be calming or alerting.
The vestibular system is how our body finds balance and determines its position relative to the ground. For many kids with sensory issues, the vestibular system is off. They could be hyposensitive (in constant motion) and crave fast, spinning movements, or be hypersensitive and fear activities that require balance.
The back and forth movement of a sensory swing neutralizes the vestibular system through stimulation. The receptors in the brain respond differently to different motions.
Always check with your occupational therapist to determine if a sensory swing is right for your child.
Sensory swings are made from many different materials depending on their use. These include:
The structure and materials of sensory swings vary and can target different parts of the vestibular system based on their movement. Some sensory swings are primarily used for relaxing and creating a calm atmosphere. In contrast, other swings promote play and socialization.
All sensory swings are designed to promote a feeling of safety by allowing children to explore and create their own experiences. Sensory swings for kids also promote calmness by limiting exposure to external senses when a child is feeling overstimulated.
According to Adapt and Learn, an occupational therapy blog, children who use a swing for 10-15 minutes could see improvement for 6-8 hours.
The benefits of sensory swings for kids include:
- Increased Calmness: Many sensory swings create dark caves that help to limit visual stimulation and calm the senses. The swinging motion can also be relaxing for kids who like to rock and sway to self-soothe.
- Improved reactions: Swings require balance and coordination to climb and exit. Practice with motor skills on sensory swings helps improve reaction times as children learn to navigate.
- Stronger core and hand muscles: Balancing on a sensory swing and inducing a swinging motion will strengthen a child’s core muscles. Some sensory swings also require a solid grip to remain seated or to climb.
- Steadier balance and coordination: Moving around a sensory swing while in motion is a fun way to test a child’s balance and coordination. Outdoor sensory swings with ropes are best for this benefit.
- Longer attention span: Allowing children the time to swing and process their surroundings will allow them to clear their minds. This will prepare them to spend more extended periods focusing.
- Increased body awareness and spatial skills: As children swing and play on sensory swings, they will learn how their body reactions to motion and gravity. Swinging with other children will help them practice their spatial skills as well.
Who Can Benefit from Sensory Swings?
Sensory swings are beneficial for a variety of therapies.
There are types of sensory swings for kids that create sensory deprivation spaces and other designs target the vestibular system. When purchasing a sensory swing, it is best to consider your child’s needs to determine which swing will suit them.
All children can benefit from sensory swings regardless of their social, emotional, or behavioral levels. There are a few populations, however, that will benefit most from sensory swings, and those include children with:
- Autism: Sensory swings provide children with autism a quiet, calm place. They also offer protection from overstimulation and promote body awareness and balance.
- Sensory Processing Disorder: The swinging motion helps those with sensory processing disorder neutralize imbalances in their senses caused by the vestibular system. This calms a child’s brain and allows them to process other senses around them.
- ADHD: Having a quiet place to neutralize their senses can help children with ADHD gain focus. This can help clear a child’s mind and improve attention span in children with attention deficit disorder.
- Hyperactivity: Sensory swings can help calm children with hyperactivity. The swing creates vestibular movement, which an overactive brain then processes as a neutral, calm movement.
Always ensure your child is supervised and be sure to read the safety rules on any sensory swing you purchase.
The seriously Best Sensory Swings for Kids
Sensory swings vary in build, material, and movement, all of which change the effect the swing will have on a child’s senses.
It is essential to understand the benefits of sensory swings and choose a swing that will have the most beneficial effect on your child.
The following is a list of the 10 best sensory swings for kids to help you decide which will work best for your child (See more information on each below).
- Cocoon or Pod Swings
- Stretchy Swing
- Mesh Therapy Swing
- Hammock Swing
- Platform Swing
- Disc Swing
- Buoy Ball Swing
- Spinning Swings
- Web Tower Swing
- Multi-person Swings
1. Cocoon or Pod Swings Create Safe Environment
Cocoon or pod swings are one of the more common swings available. These swings are typically made with canvas and hang from a hook.
They create a safe enclosed environment, simulating a hug by closing around a child and helping to eliminate stimuli from the child’s surroundings.
These swings are also fun to play on and help improve balance and core muscles.
Like the OUTREE Kids Pod Swingset, most cocoon swings can be used both indoors or outdoors. They will include a cushioned base that can provide added sensory soothing.
Cocoon swings are great for children with autism, ADHD, and sensory processing disorder because of their calming effect and light blocking fabric.
2. Stretchy Swings Give a Soothing Sensation
Stretchy swings, or kangaroo pouch swings, are designed for children who like to escape into tight spaces and love close hugs.
These swings are often made of soft fabric that forms to a child’s body. The swing’s material gives the child a soothing sensation against their skin and provides pressure to their body.
Stretchy swings, like the Harkla Indoor Therapy swing, are incredibly versatile, allowing children to:
- Lie down, stand, or sit
- Climb and twist in the swing
- Hang from the swing
- Push along the floor to create movement
- Block light and some sound
- Relax and rock
3. Mesh Therapy Swings Provide Vestibular Stimulation
Children with sensory processing disorder or autism can often feel stressed or angry because they are overwhelmed by their environments.
Mesh therapy swings provide a space to relax and unwind. The swing’s strap design means children can swing in multiple directions, which will affect different parts of the vestibular system.
Mesh therapy swings are built so that children can:
- Stretch out their limbs
The motion and structure of these swings support coordination, mood, and attention span. Mesh therapy swings like the Fun and Function swings are suitable for children and adults.
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4. Hammock Swing for Relaxation
Similar to the mesh therapy swing, hammock swings provide an excellent escape for kids and adults alike.
Hammock swings are perfect for children with hyperactivity or autism because their structure encourages relaxation and comfort. They can also help to support muscle building while the child swings.
A hammock swing like the Project One hanging rope hammock chair includes cushions along the back and bottom for added comfort.
The full support of this swing hugs the body for a calming effect, like a hug.
Hammock swings aren’t typically used for play. Still, they can serve as the perfect space for children to participate in more relaxing activities such as:
- Listening to music
- Watching TV
- Cooling down
This fashionable Hammock Chair will keep you real comfortable. Feel free to sit down on the most comfortable pillow which feels like a soft sponge without any hassle. The large size Hammock Chair will allow you to lie back and have a fully relaxed time.
5. Platform Swings Support Therapeutic Activities
Platform swings are one of the most affordable forms of sensory swings because of their simple design.
These swings are generally only able to swing front to back or side to side, but some can spin depending on their size and hardware. Platform swings are usually large enough for children to lie down on their belly, sit, or even stand.
Platform swings like the Swinging Monkey platform swing are popular among therapists.
They are especially recommended for children with hyperactivity because there is space for your kiddo to move around.
There are a variety of activities therapists suggest for children with sensory processing disorder that utilize a platform swing as well.
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6. Disc Swings for the Adventurous Kids
Disc swings are typically used outdoors, though they can be installed inside with some modifications.
The swinging and spinning motion of these swings provide a lot of vestibular input, which can be beneficial or overwhelming to children.
Disc swings also increase children’s motor skills as they climb and swing because they require balance and strength to operate.
Like the Jungle Gym Kingdom tree swing, disc swings are perfect for children who love to take risks and test their limits.
Some of the more elaborate models include a climbing rope, a trapeze bar, and a round plastic seat. The seat’s size and structure require children to engage their core and practice balance to maintain a seated position on the swing.
Fun to Use – This dual swing acts as both a swing and climber combination which encourages your kids to get outside for hours of fun playtime!
Educational to Use - your kids' imagination will soar by learning useful skills such as climbing and swinging through the trees like a ninja as it encourages balance, coordination, imagination, and confidence!
7. Buoy Ball Swing Promote Balance and Strength
Like the disc swing, buoy ball swings are great for children who need to get a little extra energy. A rubber ball serves as the buoy ball swing seat and is great for children to bounce while they swing. The buoy ball swings challenges children to practice their balance, hand strength, and motor skills.
The Creative Playthings buoy ball swing also includes a bar for children to hang from like a trapeze. Added elements like this allow children to practice their motor skills as they focus on more than one element.
The trapeze bar on the swing mainly helps with hand strength as children often use the bar as a handle while they swing.
8. Spinning Swings for a Unique Sensory Experience
Many children love spinning swings because they can be exhilarating and substantially impact the vestibular system—spinning swings, like this Saucer Tree Swing, which provides a steady base with an even spin. A good spinning swing for children with sensory disorders will have limited spinning capabilities.
Spinning is a powerful sensory input, so you must pay close attention to your child when they are utilizing a spinning swing. Take note of sudden facial changes or body tension that might indicate a child has become overstimulated. A child that has become overstimulated by spinning might not be able to communicate their feelings at the moment.
IMAGINE THE KIDS BEGGING TO PLAY OUTSIDE instead of watching their ipads or playing the XBox. Imagine the look of joy on your child's face when they see the swing for the first time. Imagine hours of entertained children as they swing and spin. See their smiles and hear squeals of delight when they engage in good-old-fashioned fun. Loved by girls and boys alike, it’s a hit with teens too.
Overloading the vestibular system from a spinning sensory swing may cause:
- Nausea and even vomiting
- Sudden mood changes
- Overstimulation of the senses
It is best to let your child be in charge of spinning the swings themselves. Allowing your child to control the spinning speed and length will enable them to alter these elements as they need. If possible, encourage the child to spin in the opposite direction to help create a counterbalance.
9. Web Tower Swings Exercise the Mind and Body
Kids with sensory processing disorders still need to play, explore, and stretch their bodies. These swings have a webbed exterior that kids can climb on and a single rope that swings in all directions.
Web tower swings are best used outdoors or over a soft-landing space as children develop their motor skills.
Check out this awesome web tower swing from Fun and Function.
Web tower swings are great for children with autism, especially those that seek socialization.
The swings have various textures and allow children to interact with their peers as they climb and play.
Web tower swings offer benefits for all parts of the mind and body, including:
- Hand muscles
- Sensory processing
- Motor skills
- Vestibular orientation
10. Multi-person Sensory Swings Allow Children to Socialize
Many sensory swings are built to be able to withstand the weight and size of multiple people. The cost is typically more for more extensive, multi-person sensory swings, but benefits include socialization, coordination, and spatial reasoning.
There are many varieties of multi-person sensory swings that are larger versions of the types above, including:
- Multi-person Cocoon Swing: Larger cocoon swings, like the Sorbus Kids Net Swing, have space for multiple children to swing and play together. They provide the same benefits as a traditional cocoon swing by blocking light and creating a close, safe environment.
- Large Platform Swings: Multi-person platform sensory swings are perfect for children working on socialization skills but receive sensory overload from crowding. Like the Trekkassy Giant platform swing, these swings are large enough to hold multiple children but still allow personal space.
- Group Spinning Swing: Even spinning swings come in a larger size, allowing kids to experience the thrill to the senses of spinning. The extra space provided on swings like the Trekassy Saucer Tree swing enables multiple kids to pile on.
STURDY LARGE PLATFORM SWING: 60" x 32" steel frame with tight weave 900D Oxford fabric seat fits 5 kids or two adults. Weight rated to 700 pounds as a great platform swing.
How to Install a Sensory Swing
The process for installing a sensory swing will depend on the type of swing you choose and the location.
Indoor sensory swings will require a solid foundation to hold the weight of your child. Outdoor swings can be installed from the beams of an overhead patio or from a tree’s limb.
You should be sure to choose a space that is at least 6 feet from objects such as:
It is also essential to read the instructions on your sensory swing to ensure safe installation and use.
When in doubt, hire a professional to help install your sensory swing. A few tools can also improve safety and add features to your child’s sensory swing.
Some products you might want to consider for your sensory swing include:
- Jungle Gym Swing Hangers
- AGPTek Safety Connector
- TRILINK Swing Swivel
- KLIFFHANGER Drop Down Chains
- Easy Hang Height Adjustment Kit
Easy to assemble, our ceiling swing hooks are great for DIYers to set up anywhere inside & outside. Designed for safety, our high-quality industrial-built playground swing hooks are parent-approved
Premium Quality, Great Action: You will find this swing swivel completely silent, totally frictionless with 360° free rotation. It has durable sealed ball bearings. You may not find swivel so compact and symmetrical elsewhere.
Uses of a Sensory Swing
Occupational therapists use sensory swings to work with children with autism, sensory processing disorder, ADHD, and hyperactivity.
Children should be encouraged to use their sensory swings to explore, combat, and learn about various emotions and physical reactions.
It is a good idea to share how your child can use their sensory swing and to see it as a tool supporting their growth and development.
Some uses or behaviors to encourage include:
- Indicating a need for privacy
- A transition tool between activities
- Socialization and play
- A space to cool off or to privately have a meltdown
- Tactile exploration
Final Thoughts on Sensory Swings for Your Child
Sensory swings can help children filter and organize their senses by providing a calm environment with limited stimulation.
Ultimately, sensory swings are beneficial for all children (because who doesn’t love some swinging good fun).
Still, some swings are particularly designed for those with ADHA, autism, and sensory processing disorder.
The wide variety of sensory swings for kids available will allow you to meet the unique needs of your child.
I’d love to hear which swing you love! Leave a comment.
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