SILVER SPRING, MD, October 5, 2012 – Halloween is just as much fun for many parents as it is for children. While older children will have no problem telling you what character from their favorite series they want to be, young children and babies just go with the flow. Really, dressing children up under the age of two is more for the parents and the show for friends and family than for the entertainment of the baby. Whether you have more fun dressing up than your child does, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a costume for a child.
There are two parts to considering mobility when choosing or approving a costume. First, you need to consider how mobile your child is. If you have an infant, than you need a costume which will either allow you to carry him comfortably or one that will not interfere with stroller or car seat restraints.
Crawling babies have different costume needs than newborns or toddlers. Cute costumes like chili peppers or pea-pods are great for young infants, but if your child is crawling they will not like being confined to the sack-like structure of these costumes. Long skirts on princess dresses can get stuck and pull under little knees. If your little one likes to crawl through tight spaces or under furniture, insect or fairy wings can block movement or can cause babies to get stuck.
If you have a walker, you need to consider how long and how far your child can walk. If they are just walking, or get tired quickly, you might need to consider some of the same costume restrictions for strollers and carrying and for younger children. If they are older and capable of walking for the duration of the evening, you need to consider footwear options for the costume. If the costume has built in feet, are the feet simply fabric footies that are not suitable to walking long distances outside or may pose a slipping hazard? If your little princess wants to wear the dress-up plastic heals with her gown, are you going to be able to talk her out of it?
If you have concerns about your child’s footwear, take a spare set of sneakers with you. It may not look right with the pirate suit or the angel wings, but it will ensure that your child’s evening isn’t ruined by blisters, cold toes, or bruised feet.
Halloween is celebrated all across the country, from Maine to Hawaii and Florida to Alaska. While the candy may be the same, the weather is not. October is in the middle of the fall for much of the country, which means cool days and nippy nights, but in other parts of the country the nights may be mild or freezing. If you are planning to take your child trick-or-treating outside, make sure you choose a costume that is appropriate for the temperatures in your area.
While cute little sleeveless fairy costumes maybe your child’s favorite, or a full-body fuzzy lion make look adorable on your son, they may not be the right choices. Short sleeves in low temperatures can lead to catching a cold at the least, or hypothermia in severe cases. Full body costumes in warm climates can lead to overheating, and excessive sweating can lead to dehydration.
Add tights or leggings under dresses for cold weather, or add a plain long sleeve shirt or onesie under short-sleeved or sleeveless costumes in colder climates. In warmer climates, avoid full body costumes. They tend to be made of thicker materials and are hotter. Also, try to avoid hoods. They keep body heat in and will limit your child’s ability to stay cool.
If the costume is uncomfortable your child will not want to wear it. Many babies and toddlers do not like to wear hats, so those cute little bumble-bee antennas might be snatched off a little head, or the elastic strap that holds on a cowboy hat might be too tight. Scratchy materials or thick seams can irritate sensitive skin, especially around the face, so consider the construction of the costume before you buy it.
While dressing up is fun, it can also be dangerous. Make sure that any costume you choose is appropriate for the age of your child. With babies you want to make sure there are no small pieces they will want to put in their mouths that might come loose and be a choking hazard. Watch that no strings, ties or straps can pose a strangulation hazard.
For older children be wary of masks, which can limit visibility and increase the hazard for tripping, falling, or other accidents. Also, make sure you have something reflective on your child’s costume. As the excitement of the evening takes over, your older children are likely to run off at least once. Making sure that even the coolest ninja costume has something reflective on it can ensure that cars can see your child in the dark. If reflective tape is out of the question, try giving your child a glow stick bracelet or necklace. They are fun for kids and helps keep them visible, and while kids might not be willing to let you make their costume inauthentic with reflectors, they will usually find an imaginative reason to wear the glowing jewelry.
Halloween is a fun event for kids of all ages, whether they are two or 42, but to guarantee they have the best night possible, make sure you give a little well-thought-out oversight to their costuming choices.
Follow Brighid on Twitter at @BrighidMoret and receive updates when new columns post on Facebook. Read more about first time parenting issues in Parenting the First Time Through at The Communities at The Washington Times.
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