If your child is between the ages of 1 and 2 or so, you could be in for an interesting Halloween this year!  Last year your child was probably happy enough to wear just about anything you dressed him/her in (or at least too helpless to object!), right down to hoods and head gear.

Hopefully you got a few great pictures for the scrapbook even if there was no going door-to-door.  Or maybe you were so sleep-deprived this time last year that you didn’t even bother with a costume on your child’s first Halloween.  Either way, this year is likely to be much different!

I’ve come to realize that Halloween for most toddlers is basically baby torture… until they understand that candy comes with it, of course; but even then, their satisfaction is typically short-lived.  So unless your child is an anomaly (lucky you!), just plan for things to be a complete disaster.  If you expect the worst, you can then be pleasantly surprised if the day is anything but terrible!  And if things are a gong show?  Well, then you can laugh, take pictures to capture the debacle, and know that you’re not alone!

So as you prepare for what could be the worst night of your sweet baby’s young life (but perhaps one of the most entertaining nights of yours!), I have put together a list of things for you to consider.  Basically, I am sharing all the mistakes I’ve made over the last 10 years!  I hope it helps you get through the night with a sense of humor, a little less stress, and perhaps a few less tears!

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1.  Weather

Think about the weather!!  Will it be cold?  Will it be hot?  Could it be either?  Will the costume be a good fit for the temperatures?

When my first daughter was a toddler, I didn’t think about the weather.  Not even for a second.  I was so excited to dress her up like a sunflower, that all my attention was directed toward that.  (Since she has a fall birthday and because sunflowers had become her “trademark” in a way for various reasons, I thought this was going to be the best costume ever!)  But in true new-mom fashion, I was so focused on the perfection of this costume that I failed to notice that it was made of a thick fleece-like fabric with a hood.  Apparently I forgot that I was no longer living in Minnesota where our biggest concern was “Can I fit my winter jacket over my costume because it’s definitely going to be flippin’ cold?”!  (Thinking back, why did we even dress up?  You could never see our costumes!!)  Anyhow, I’m in the South now, and my poor child was so hot and miserable in her get-up.  Halloween night itself was bearable, but she had to wear that costume to a mid-day Halloween party as well, and it had to be at least 80 degrees that day.  Oops.

Thinking back now, I should have found a costume that allowed for hot or cool weather–maybe I could have added tights or a long-sleeved shirt underneath her costume if it was cold out.  And if it was hot, then she would have been fine in the costume as-is with bare skin.  (Definitely not thick fleece with a hood!!)  Something like this adorable bee costume would have been a better choice!

2.  Hoods, Headbands, and Head Gear

If your child’s costume depends on a hood, headband, or any type of head gear to be complete, I’d just plan on that not happening.  :)  You might be able to keep it on your little one long enough to snap a picture, but chances are, it will not last long.  So if the costume basically centers around some head piece (like my daughter’s sunflower costume where the hood was the flower), perhaps the costume might not work out too well after all.  My daughter was a green stem all night long… I can think of better costumes.

3.  Transportation – Will a Carseat or Stroller Work With the Costume?

With four girls, we’ve had plenty of costumes over the years with large, elaborate wings.  They are adorable but not so practical when you’re trying to strap your child into a stroller or a carseat.  This awesome peacock costume, for example, would make for some absolutely classic pictures, but if you need to get your child in and out of a stroller over and over, this costume might be hard to work with.

Tip:  if you aren’t going terribly far, we have found that it’s easier to pull your kids in a wagon on Halloween if you have one.

4.  Makeup – No Chance.

I have had some cute bumble bees over the years.  But even putting lipstick on their faces to create rosy cheeks was a chore.   I would have to get in there quickly while they would bat at my hands like a frustrated little cat.  And then even if I was able to successfully apply it by some minor miracle, their hands would inevitably come up out of curiosity and immediately smear what I had just managed to do.  So if your child’s costume requires any detailed makeup, you may have to go to plan B in a hurry!

5.  Comfort – Does the Costume Itch?

Before you put your child’s costume on, reach inside and run your fingers around it.  Oftentimes they aren’t made with the highest of craftsmanship!  If you find some rough parts that could irritate your child’s sensitive skin, you could cover the scratchy spot with a Band-Aid.  (I have discovered how well this works with my own clothes!  Anything with sequins always does a number on me, so I put a Band-Aid right on the clothing on the spot that always hits me wrong.  It really works.  I have a shirt or two that constantly has a Band-Aid inside it–sometimes they even stay put through the wash!)

If the costume’s fabric is pretty scratchy in and of itself, maybe you could put a long-sleeved shirt underneath it or pair it with pants (or leggings/tights for girls) so your child’s skin is against the smooth clothing and not touching the costume at all.


6.  Can You Change a Diaper?

Does the costume have snaps around the legs so you can change a diaper if needed?  Do you have to take everything off to change that diaper?  If so, what are the odds of getting everything back on your child again?!  Just something to think about… costume-makers aren’t always worried about these practical details because we parents sometimes forget to look for them!

7.  Is Your Child’s Costume Obvious Enough?  (Think No Hood, No Makeup, Etc.)

If things go awry for you when you are getting your child dressed, will the costume still work out?  If the costume doesn’t really make sense without the hood, headband, head gear, makeup, etc., perhaps you may want to rethink it.  I would suggest that the “majority of the costume” is in the torso where the child can’t get it off–something like this Superman costume or this cute girly clown would be good choices.

For example, when my daughter was a sunflower as I described above, she was not loving her hood (shocker).  But in order to look like a flower, she really needed to have the hood up.  Suffice it to say that she was going to have none of that.  (And let’s not forget that it was a million degrees, so in good conscience, I really couldn’t even try to persuade her to pull that hood up anyhow for fear of her melting!!)

So, in a nutshell, everyone thought she was a boy on Halloween since her costume looked more like a green dragon or a dinosaur with the hood down.  Not exactly what a new mom is going for as her oldest child has her first “real” Halloween.  My daughter was a hot, sweaty, boy-looking, miserable mess.  Awesome.

8.  Delay and Distract!

If you’re going to a Halloween party, I’d suggest that you wait to get your child dressed until you arrive.  Perhaps he/she will be so distracted by everything happening at the party that the costume will go relatively unnoticed, hood and all!  That will also make the drive easier since most costumes aren’t exactly made for comfort in a carseat.

On Halloween, you will also probably want to wait until the very last second to get your child ready… or at least wait until the final moment to add anything on his/her head!  And then at that point, quickly distract your little one with a song, talking, or better yet–candy!!!  Maybe you will get lucky, and your child won’t even notice what you have done to make him/her look ridiculous, and the costume will stay intact!

9.  Have a Plan B Outfit for Trick-or-Treating

Sometimes this is the best option of all… have a super-awesome costume that will provide you with priceless pictures, and then have a really comfortable, more basic costume for trick-or-treating.  Or even put your child in a cute Halloween shirt (like this personalized one) or some cozy pajamas (something like these animal-print pj’s would be perfect so your child still seems somewhat dressed up). You might be keeping your kiddo out past bedtime anyhow, and that way you’re all set if he/she falls asleep, too!  On top of that, the running up to the houses and shouting, “Trick or Treat!” will probably get really old really fast for anyone under 2!  So if you plan to make “the big loop” around the neighborhood with all your friends who have older kids, your child may very well end up asleep in the stroller by the time you get back to start!

10.  Pictures – If They Fail Miserably, Try Again After Halloween

I think for any parent, pictures are key on Halloween!  We need to have something to point to when our kids are older so we can humiliate them when their boyfriends come over one day!  :)  If Halloween ends up being a complete debacle and you either forget to take pictures during the mayhem or your child is horribly uncooperative and won’t even put the costume ON (trust me, it happens!), nobody says you can’t try again on day 2!

I had to do that once.  I put the costume on my daughter again on another day, and she was great the second time around.  It wasn’t late at night (her worst time of day), and it was just the two of us (so she wasn’t as overwhelmed).  It was definitely much less stressful when I gave it another go, and I’m so glad to have those pictures, even if they were taken on November 3rd!  :)

Happy Halloween!  Cherish the Memories!

I hope this post has helped prepare you for the fun day coming soon!  As your child gets older, this will surely be a day that he/she looks most forward to in life, but for your little peanut between ages 1-2, Halloween is usually less than a fairytale!  Maybe your child will be really cooperative and the day will go off without a hitch (I hope so!), but if not, just enjoy the memories you’ll surely be making!

* I love this picture below.  It captures so much of this very special Halloween (and their stages of life in general) when my three oldest were little!  Minutes earlier, my sweet bumble bee was a bawling, drooling mess.  All it takes is a fake cat to calm her down apparently!  Love the power of distraction.


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