The multisensory bath experience…helps SPD and more

So we have had a really really rough week with my middle child (4.5). She’s the one who is my highly sensitive child. Most of her sensitivities are of an emotional nature, and she’s also the one that doesn’t speak in school.

We were so incredibly busy last week, and emotionally, it felt like she was regressing to her behavior of about a year ago, where she was having so many meltdowns and was miserable most of the week. Even doing fun things without enough down time is a recipe for disaster.

I can’t go back to those days. I just can’t. A near constant state of meltdown potential in her means trouble for both of us.

So I’ve spent some time reading online about sensory issues. It’s too early to tell exactly what kind of sensory issues my daughter has, but by May we will have the complete picture. She is seeing a professional to help find answers for me. In the meantime, I’ve been reading up on sensory integration disorder.

In doing so, I’ve discovered a couple of helpful tidbits: 1) increasing the amount of time in sensory activities are easy to do at home, and are fun even for kids without sensory disorders, and 2) the more senses you can engage at one time, the better.

In addition, I’ve also been reading in numerous places that lots of times, the role of magnesium in maintaining health, particularly mental health. There’s a lot of illnesses linked to a deficiency of magnesium.

So, with that in mind, and the fact that I needed my child to have something to calm and soothe her after a really rough week, I decided to give her a multi-sensory bath experience. I kept thinking, well, if a “spa treatment” helps us moms, why not our children too.

I went to the store and picked up some supplies to make a spa bath experience. I got a nail brush, a sea sponge, a bath scrubby, a boar’s hair brush, some epsom salts (which is, if you didn’t know magnesium sulphate – and a great way to absorb magnesium without supplements is through epsom salt baths; who knew? – here is a great blog post about the benefits of epsom salt baths. ). I also had some essential oil of lavender (good for calming too). The only thing I should have added was some soft music. Next time, however, I think I’ll use less essential oil. She wasn’t fond of the somewhat overpowering smell. I’ll be on the lookout for a mellower scented oil and also some colored lights I can use for light therapy (maybe something like a lava lamp or colored rope lights – a cheap alternative to what they have in the sensory room at the clinic we went to).

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We started out with a regular bath (because soap doesn’t work well with the salt). Then we scrubbed her body gently with the different brushes, scrubby and sponges. And then I added 3/4 cup of salt to the bath water (you need about 1 cup per 60 lbs of body weight). Gently rubbing the body helps the magnesium get absorbed better. We also trying to make “rain” in the tub, just using our fingers, and then had a little bit of water play, watching the drops make concentric circles in the water. The whole point was to extend the bath as long as possible, and have her sit in the salts (I have no idea how long time is needed or how much magnesium can be absorbed from epsom salts, but I kept her in the bath about 20 minutes).

We did this last night, and while I can’t say for sure that just one bath experience with epsom salts changed her demeanor overnight, but today she has been more manageable. She was disappointed when our appointment got canceled for today, but didn’t get horribly upset like she can when plans get changed. Of course, that could have been because I had a “Plan B” that was equally fun: go see her baby girl cousin for a while. She only had a few tears shed, then she got over it.

Oftentimes, in the past, I’ve let the girls have play baths, but now, I know I can have more effective baths by making it a multisensory experience with the epsom salts as and added bonus. In fact, the two older girls are in the tub right now, having a play bath with all the perks as we speak. Might actually do them some good, and it certainly can’t hurt and it gives them something to do for a while.

Find out more about epsom salts at Epsom Salts Council

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2 Responses to The multisensory bath experience…helps SPD and more

  1. CAT says:

    I have a daughter who just turned six. She has not been formally diagnosed with SPD yet but I believe, after a ton of research, that she will be. I swear the epsom salt bathes help her. Research shows they help ADHD too, which she could have. That being said I had been giving her one bath a wk for about 8 mo. Things were going great for us during that time. Then we ran out of salt and I did not remember to buy more and kind of forgot about it. The last 2 mo. for us have been rough with behavior issues and melt downs and then I remembered the bathes. So, 2 days ago I gave her one. She is a tub girl. She will stay in forever if I let her. Usually an hr or so is about all I can do since I stay right in there with her. She is homeschooled and loves to learn and tell stories while floating in a warm tub. Anyhow, the last 2 days have been to best in months. She is like a completely different child. I will not miss her epsom baths again. As a side note her daddy takes omega 3 mood fish oil and magnesium everyday for mood and anxiety. If he misses it for a few days I can tell. He also has severe Crohn’s colitis and people with the disorder do not process the magnesium properly or need higher amounts. The same is true for SPD and ADHD. I hope you are having success with your daughter and the epsom baths. Great idea about the scrubbing brushes etc. I will be buying some too 🙂

  2. growinginpeace says:

    Thank you. It’s good to know that others find it helps too.

    I ran out too, and I can tell the difference. I have to get some more.

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