Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle - Let's talk wiggle seat!
Wiggle seat, sensory seat, wiggle seat cushion, balance disc, wobble cushions - these are all actually the same thing just different marketing! Simply speaking, a wiggle seat is an inflated circular disk with nubs on top. It is meant to be placed on top of a firm seat. Most often they are marketed for use by children/teens with attention difficulties, sensory issues, weak core muscles, and trouble staying seated when necessary. But hey, I got one too - keeps me from dosing off while working on excel sheets (just kidding!).
Wiggle seat is most often used to help with:
- Poor attention span
- Proper posture (which helps with developmental goals like handwriting and even chewing food)
- Tolerance for staying seated longer
And many other things!
How does a sensory seat actually work?We're glad you asked!
A sensory seat cushion is less stable than a traditional chair, yet more stable than a yoga ball (which can prove to be a hazard especially for younger children).
A sensory seat can also be a wonderful core-building activity since the constant and consistent movement from the wobbling and wiggling promotes the muscles in the stomach and back to engage the entire time it is in use (which is why I use it mostly, let's be honest).
A wiggle seat can help improve balance, and can be especially great for those who have been recommended to use a balance beam by an occupational therapist. I guess we can all agree that a sensory seat cushion is more user friendly and easier to use at home than a balance beam, right?
A sensory seat wedge is an option recommended for those with poor balance or posture to help correct it with consistent use. The wedge-style cushion provides greater movement front to back, but not as much side to side which differs from the more common round inflatable disk which provides 360-degree movement. You should talk to an occupational therapist to see which one is best for you.
How to use a sensory chair cushionUsing a sensory seat is easy - simply place the cushion on a firm chair or floor!
Be mindful of the fact that the feeling of unsteadiness can be spooky and uncomfortable at first, so no rush. If you are purchasing a sensory chair cushion for a child, it might be a good idea to demonstrate how it's used first and make sure it's not too intimidating.
Children usually respond best by sitting on a sensory wiggle seat 15-30 minutes at a time, then switching to a regular chair. Some kids even enjoy sitting on it for long periods of time or prefer it over sitting in a chair without it.
Many sensory chair cushions are made from durable materials, even durable enough for a child to stand on! This can be great to help with balance, of course under supervision.
When to use a sensory chair cushion?There is no right or wrong time to implement wiggle seat occupational therapy at home or at school! A sensory wiggle seat is most often used when:
- Sitting at the table during mealtime
- At a desk/table at school
- While doing homework at home
- Riding in the car (ONLY for children not in a booster seat or car seat. DO NOT add anything that is not safety tested with the booster or car seat as this will void the safety and can put your child in danger)
- While playing board games
- During screen time
- On the floor working on puzzles
This can become a regular part of your child's day to help with mental stimulation and improve focus. Wiggle seat occupational therapy does not have to be used only by medical professionals - a sensory seat makes it accessible to all members of your household at any time.
How to chose the right wiggle seat?Most balance discs or wiggle seats have the same general shape and are inflated with air, or sometimes have a gel inside to offer movement while seated. The best option will depend on your child's developmental needs or preferences. Make sure to consider where will your child be using the seat. If it is used mostly at school, you'll want to make sure that the seat is thin enough that your child can still reach the floor comfortably. If it is used mostly at home, you may opt for a larger seat so it can be used on the floor as well.
Looking for examples of sensory seats? We have a list of the most popular types here:
1.Wiggle Seat by Tiny OctopusThis seat is great for children and adults alike, made with a durable, silicone-like material - easy to keep clean and hard to puncture or tear. It also comes with its own pump so you can inflate it and start using it immediately!
2. Portable Seat by BouncybandThis awesome seat has a built-in handle, which makes is super convenient if you need to carry the sensory cushion around. It also comes with a pump.
3. Wiggle Stool by StorexThis next seat is a bit different, it is a wiggle stool that is a chair and a cushion at the same time. Less portable but a great alternative option for using at home.
4. Flower Shaped Sensory Wiggle Seat by BouncybandThis flower-shaped cushion can really brighten up anyone's day and make wiggle seat look less intimidating! It offers the same functionality and durability as a regular sensory seat cushion but with that extra fun touch for nature lowers.
5. Pocket-Portable Wobble Cushion by AJUVIAWith more portability than the other cushions on our list, this wobble cushion is less flashy and less tactile than the others, but serves the same functions and has a lower seating profile so you can still reach the floor comfortably.
6. Mini Wobble Cushion by BintivaThis dual-surfaced cushion is smaller than the other seats on our list and is designed for smaller children like preschoolers and toddlers. It has a smooth side and a bumpy side with more gradual mounds instead of larger, more pointed, bumps.
7. Lean-N-Learn Wedge CushionThis wobble wedge is a great option as it has an easy-to-use handle built-in, and comes with one smooth side, and one side with bumps. It can also be ordered in a larger size for teenagers or adults.
8. Wiggle Feet Sensory Cushion by BouncybandOnce again on our list, Bouncyband has created a special cushion for those who like to have something wiggle under their feet instead. This cushion is designed to be used on the floor, so the child can place their feet on it and move their legs without moving the rest of their body.
One final tip for safety, when using an inflated cushion of any kind, it should not be paired with any weighted objects like vests, unless directed by an Occupational Therapist or Doctor as this could cause more strain on muscles and joints. And any inflated cushion should be used under supervision to avoid injury. Hope you found the tips useful and happy wiggle seat hunting!