Does your child ever hide underneath cushions, the table, or blankets? They may be seeking a calming sensory environment referred to as a womb space. A womb space is a small, enclosed area that reduces the amount of visual and auditory stimuli in the child’s environment to promote reorganization and self-regulation. This is especially useful for children who have difficulty modulating auditory and visual information. This space should be used to help decrease the child’s level of arousal and avoid or recover from sensory overload. Your child may independently seek out a womb space, or you can passively facilitate one to help them reorganize. Womb spaces can be temporary or semi-permanent, depending on the situation or environment (i.e. home, school, community). See a list of items that you can use to create a womb space below for ideas on how to set up a calming environment for your child. It should be noted that womb spaces should not be used as punishment, but rather as a coping tool that the child can choose to access as needed. 

Where can I create a womb space? 

  1. Lycra, pod, or net swings  
  2. Hammocks 
  3. Build a fort with couch cushions and blankets 
  4. Pop-up tents 
  5. Teepee or playhouse 
  6. A small closet
  7. Large cardboard box
  8. Underneath a blanket, pile of pillows, or a covered table 
  9. Behind curtains 
  10. Inside a body sock 
  11. Any other small, tight space that is safe!

What other sensory input should I consider? 

  1. Auditory 
    1. Classical or instrumental music (quiet, rhythmic)
    2. White noise 
    3. Noise-cancelling headphones 
    4. Limit talking
  2. Visual 
    1. Flashlights 
    2. Lava lamps 
    3. Sensory bottle 
    4. Avoid bright lights
  3. Tactile or Proprioceptive 
    1. Weighted blanket or weighted stuffed animal 
    2. Fidget Toys 
    3. Chewelry
    4. Soft pillows
    5. Body sock
  4. Olfactory
    1. Calming essential oils (i.e. lavender) 

One more important thing to consider is recognizing when your child is seeking out a womb space. If you find your child hiding between a couch and end table or retreating to a corner, note whether they appear to be overwhelmed, and consider whether allowing them to remain in this womb space is safe and feasible in the moment. You may also want to help them re-organize by offering some of the strategies mentioned above!