Calming Bottles: What is it and Why it’s good?


Got inspired by an Instagram post about sensory or calming bottles from @autism_superpower and decided to tell our readers why this “calm down” bottle is good and how to do it yourself or together with children. Certainly, there are a lot of calming strategies available but due to different contexts they can’t be used at certain conditions.

Children learn how to “self-regulate” at early age but sometimes they have difficulties and require some kind of example or instructions for how to respond to stress or other emotional conditions. In other words, they need us, adults, to show them how to react to different stressful situations and emotions. Children with autism have sensory processing difficulties and require co-regulation. A calm down bottle can be a nice tool to help your autistic child to transition from co-regulation to self-regulation.

When a child is upset so much that can’t be involved in any other engaging activities, doesn’t want to be hugged or touched, Calm Down Bottle usually serves as a visual “anchor”. It brings child’s focus into one place. By shaking the bottle and watching the glitter or other small particles move slowly up and down, children’s nervous system calms down. Eyes and hands are on the middle line, heart rate slows down and breathing stabilizes.

At first, an adult has to show the bottle to the kid before stress, when the child is calm and relaxed. Just shake the bottle, give it to your child and see what happens next. Afterwards, this Calm or Sensory Bottle can become a very effective tool and your child will be possibly asking for it when he or she feels upset. However, parents should remember that according to our body’s physiology, we need around 20 minutes to calm down after stress attack or excitement.

So, how do you do your own Calming Bottle? It’s very easy.
You’ll need a plastic bottle (clear and smooth), do not take a glass bottle.
Contents can be any. You can use colorful beads, shells, sand, glitter, rice, beans, pom poms, Legos, googly eyes, confetti, feathers and much more! You can use any liquid you like – water, glue, hair gel, liquid soft soap or dishwasher soap, corn syrup, shampoo. You can add food coloring to the liquid. Mix up all the ingredients and make sure you glued the lid afterwards to avoid any spill.

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