Halloween is a highlight of the year for any self respecting dress-up-lover. Add kids into the picture, and Halloween comes alive as the magical time of year it was during our childhood. During a child’s first few years of life, however, it can be hard to get a baby or toddler into the seasonal spirit. At first, they’re just too young to understand what’s going on, and then they’re still too little to partake in all the activities in their neighborhood. Babies can be dressed in super-cute outfits like a cow or pig and be carried along to any event, but toddlers are more of a challenge, as they begin to know what they want – and particularly what they DON’T want – like dressing up as a giant cow or pig.
Here are a few ideas on how to make Halloween fun and memorable with a toddler…
This year your toddler has probably got his or her favorite characters or animals firmly in mind. Elmo, Barney, Lalaloopsy, Daniel Tiger and Angelina Ballerina feature highly in our household. As also does a love of dogs, butterflies, cats and anything requiring wearing a hardhat. Character costumes are pretty obvious – you can pick up an el cheapo one on sites like Amazon, Diapers.com and our fave party supply store, Party City. If you’re the crafty sort, it’s even more fun to make a costume with bits and pieces of other outfits and topped with a cute accessory, like wings, a wand or hat.
Toddlers are best known for peeling off things (like said hat or wings) and throwing them (or is it just my toddler?), so keep this in mind with the costume. If you want the outfit in all its glory to stay on for a significant amount of time, make sure it’s comfortable, and made of pieces of clothing that your toddler is already familiar with. Using my toddler as an example: our costume this year will NOT include the following: a hood or anything that covers her head and is attached to her clothing, wings (too distracting for her), anything she can stab other children with (no wands or swords). What it will include: a hat that can be fitted securely to her head. I know this isn’t much different to a hood, but hey, toddler logic, go figure.
Easy make-at-home ideas:
There’s no need to lash out on expensive items your toddler will wear for an hour and that’s it. If your toddler is really into, say, a cat, why not make her outfit? A long sleeve top and tights in black, a stocking leg stuffed with crumpled paper (this can be sewn to a ribbon and tied around the child’s waist), and a headband jazzed up with some paper cat ears stapled on to it. et voila! A super easy animal costume. Adjust the clothing colors, tail and headband for other animals, or add wings for a butterfly. Did you know that you can make your own fairy wings out of stockings and coat hangers?
So obviously pumpkin carving is out of the question. My favorite easy Halloween idea is to buy a few of the decorative mini pumpkins and gourds and some “decorate your own pumpkin” stickers, then grab some black markers (the kind that are washable …) and let the toddlers go to town with decorating their little pumpkins.
Another easy craft for toddlers (with some assistance) is a make-your-own ghost. You’ll need white paper, a black marker, scissors and some crayons. Trace the outline of the child’s shoe, then cut out to make the “ghost”. Help your toddler draw the eyes and mouth, then hand over the crayons to let them personalise their ghost.
Halloween Day Activity:
Young toddlers in particular are just too young to “get” Halloween, let alone participate in a parade. Instead, your best bet is really to organise a playdate with your friends at a home or playground, and just let the kids play. Turn it into a little Halloween party by having goulish snacks, like cupcakes decorated with rubber spiders. If you’re having it indoors, decorate the play area with cutesy ghost cut-outs. Set up a pumpkin decorating area as per above for a mess-free craft activity at the party.
Trick or Treating:
Candy + toddlers = a total sugar high mess. Obviously they’re too young for candy. If you live in a neighborhood (or a high rise building) with lots of families with young kids it can be easier to organise healthier alternative with other similarly candy-adverse parents. Visiting only a few homes of families you know, where the “treats” handed out include apple slices or animal crackers, is a fun way to teach toddlers the trick or treating routine, without the sugar at the end. Of course, only accept food items from people you know well – just in case.
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