Keeping Halloween safe and fun for everyone

BlogHer Original Post

Halloween is a magical time for kids, the opportunity to leave reality behind and transform themselves into anything they desire for one evening of fun. Oct. 31 is just over two weeks away which means moms everywhere are scrambling to get costumes put together. Beyond making sure your children's costumes are adorable, unique, and/or scary (depending on what you're going for), its important to keep safety in mind as you assemble your costume.
My kids at a Halloween parade in 2007
Here are some general costume tips for making sure your little ghosts and goblins have a good time while staying safe.

  • Select light-colored costumes whenever possible. If you must use dark colors, put reflective tape on the costume to ensure nighttime visibility.
  • Avoid masks (which make it hard for kids to see and breathe) and opt for non-toxic face paint or makeup instead. If a child must wear a mask, make sure the eye holes are big enough to see out of and ask that they remove the mask as they walk (or run) between houses trick-or-treating.
  • Double check costumes for ease of movement. Ask your child to run through the backyard in his or her costume to make sure its not so long that it could cause tripping. For toddlers, make sure the costume isn't so bulky that it makes moving around difficult.
  • Make sure that costume props, such as wands or swords, are flexible, in case kids fall.
  • Put a nametag — with your phone number — on your children’s costumes.
  • If kids are older and will be trick-or-treating without adult supervision, be sure you know their route ahead of time and have them take along a cell phone.

Tips above are from:
Eco Women - Safe Halloween
Lorain County Moms - Keep Kids Safe with Smart Costume Choices

When dressing up infants and toddlers, there are some additional things to keep in mind. Susan West has written a great article on the subject and has several helpful suggestions.

Look for a costume that has room to wear clothing underneath! If the cool evening doesn't beg for extra clothing under that superhero, chances are your little one will eventually get tired of plastic pants and butterfly wings. Find a toddler costume that also allows for a jacket if necessary. If you need to remove the top or bottom of the infant costume, you can still continue on to your favorite Halloween party.

Want the safest suit possible? Opt for a suit that has few pieces and no mask. Some cute toddler costume ideas include a monkey, doggy, kitty or princess. Use face paint instead of a mask and easily attach ears or a crown with either a headband or barrettes. A shortened monkey tail will also help avoid potential tripping. TIP: make sure your little prince or princess can easily get in and out of the suit. This makes bathroom breaks as simple as possible!

Infant Halloween costumes should have no small parts which may come loose and placed in a child's mouth while you aren't looking, nor should they have any type of heavy hood materials which might slip down over a child's face while they are placed in the rear of a car in the car seat.

Both infant and toddler Halloween costumes have become far safer than they once were. Materials used are normally flame retardant. Be certain that yours are, as it is difficult to be constantly aware that a child adheres to safety rules with regard to the candles placed in the jack-o-lanterns. Swap candles for glow sticks to be safe.

I'm not personally a big fan of the use of flame retardant on children's clothes or pajamas (that's a whole other post for another day), I think for one day a year when they might be standing over the open flame of a candle in a jack-o-lantern, it will likely not hurt them. If you are using a candle rather than a glow stick or flashlight in your jack-o-lantern, please take precautions to avoid an accidental burn by placing the pumpkin off to the side of your porch, away from the heavily trafficked area. It's also important to remind your children to be aware of and stay away from flames.

While I personally can't imagine trying to dress my 50 lb. dogs up in costumes (they would not be happy with me), some people choose to go that route. Here are some tips from Dog Tipper to keep Fido and Fifi happy on Halloween night.

If you decide to dress your dog in a costume make sure it's a safe one. Be sure there’s nothing he can chew and choke on. Make sure the costume is not too tight, constricting his breathing.

Also, be sure he’s not getting overheated. Finally, reflective surfaces are excellent; although you plan to keep your dog with you at all times, many dogs get loose on Halloween night due to all the excitement. If you are chasing after your dog in the dark, reflective costumes will be the safest for him.

If you are still in need of a costume and don't want to go the green route (hint, hint) by using items you already have at home, purchasing one at a consignment or thrift store or borrowing from a friend, please consider using CostumeStudio, where proceeds from your purchase will benefit the children of war-torn Uganda.

This Halloween we have teamed up with Invisible Children and will be donating 100% the profits from your purchases to help children in the war-torn region of Uganda. In a sense, we are giving away Halloween. It is estimated that five billion dollars will be spent on costumes this Halloween. Five billion dollars would feed over a hundred million starving children for an entire year. We are hoping to remove the barrier of entry to doing good by creating opportunities that integrate into people's lives. We are enabling people to incorporate good into people's everyday lives. On every product page is the exact donation amount you will be giving to help children in the war-torn region of Uganda.

Whatever costume you choose, make sure it's a safe one and then have fun!

Contributing editor Amy Gates blogs about green living, attachment parenting, activism and photography at .

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