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Pre-Trick-or-Treating Halloween

Halloween For the Pre-Trick-or-Treating Set

By Isabel Kallman

Advice Smackdown ArchivesThis is how your Smackdown sausage gets made: Occasionally I pluck questions from the queue that I think I could use a little collaboration/input on, or ones that I think might be better suited for a guest blogger (hey, I need days off too!). I forward these questions on to Isabel, the chief bottle-washer here at Alphamom, and this time, she up and ran with it herself, because she is the Queen of Halloween, you guys. I second/third/fourth each and every one of her suggestions.


First off, love your column and love you.

Okay, here’s my scenario. I have a little girl (our first) who will be 9 months old around the time of Halloween this year. I’ve never been super into Halloween and am not super creative when it comes to costumes. Usually, I avoid costume parties at all costs, make up some excuse why I came to the party not wearing a costume, and/or wear a plaid shirt and claim to be a cowgirl. Yee-haw.

So while I’m not super passionate about Halloween/costumes, I think I would feel terrible if we had no pictures of my daughter’s first Halloween with her dressed up as something adorable. So while I think it would be way more fun to order pizza and watch tv on the couch this Halloween, I feel like we should do soooommething.

But what do we do? I’ve looked at Target and their stuff seems so overpriced/lame/every kid on the block will be wearing it. Do you have any creative ideas for a little girl that aren’t too involved/pricey? I do NOT want her to be a pea in the pod, Winnie the Pooh, or some other totally overdone costume. Also, what should we actually do with her on trick-or-treating night? We live on a short dead end street that doesn’t get frequented by kids so passing out candy at our house is a no go. I’ve thought about just going to a friend’s house and passing out candy there so people can oooh and ahhh over her. Or should I just take her around in her costume in a stroller and reject candy from people (who wants to be the nearly 30 year old woman taking candy for her nine month old child)?

Alternatively, are there any fun Halloween traditions that people have that don’t involve the trick-or-treating/costume ordeal?

Please help.


First of all the mere fact that you wrote in asking this question means that I think you’ll regret not having dressed up your baby girl for Halloween if you don’t. True, she won’t remember a second of it, but the photos will hopefully be around forever. And, I hate to break it to you, but you may not have many years to actually participate in the Halloween dress decision-making. Starting as early as age three or four, children become VERY opinionated about what they will dress-up as for Halloween.

Going back to my early point about memory-making, even though my now seven-year old wants to dress-up like some awful Freddy Krueger-Jason mashup, he recently asked me to dig out the photos of him when he went as this adorable owl for Halloween at six months old. AND, he took one of the pictures to school to show his buddies (awww).

As you can see from this costume I had specially-made, I was THAT mom. My priorities were different then than they are now. I also happened to have too much time on my hands and much of that time was clearly spent clipping Martha Stewart Magazine articles on the perfect infant Halloween costume.

But, I’m very happy I have all these adorable photos of my non-mobile son in his first Halloween costume. Because by the next year, even though I had an equally adorable custom costume made (Elvis— the Vegas version) for my then year-and-half old, I couldn’t snap one picture. The kid was a whirling dervish and every photo is blurry. Luckily, I have his picture seared into my mind’s eye.

Getting back to you, I think you should totally look into investing in a creative costume. If Etsy had been around when my son was an infant (or even preschooler) I totally would have been all over their shops looking for unique, handmade costumes and recommend you do the same. In fact, I already did some of that work for you. I’m giving like that!

So, you mentioned that you don’t want to spend a lot of money. I also think that one way to get the best bang for your buck when it comes to the cute factor with Halloween costumes is to focus on dressing up a baby in some sort of headdress, kind of like my son and his owl costume. What I think really made the outfit killer was the cap and mask.

So, I found some costumes where you buy really interesting headpieces and then you match it with your daughter’s own colorful onesies or a basic one-piece button-up. Even if you have to buy these pieces new at least you know that you’ll be able to reuse them daily. But, one thing to think about before you buy any type of mask for your baby is whether your daughter will allow for it to stay on. For my son, one day he had no problem wearing his owl mask and then a week later we coincidentally had some professional photos taken and decided to throw on his costume and he kept batting at the face mask. Just a thought that maybe you want to try an inexpensive mask first from the dollar store before you go all out.

But, here we go:


I just adore this baby Elephant knit cap which is $25. The artist of this cap also makes others like frogs, dragons, and giraffes so go poke around her shop. But I think the elephant is the cutest. Just pair with a grey or pink one-piece suit or onesie with tights—all of which is reusable– and you’re DUN.

If you’re more in the DIY mode, here are three ideas for you:


We have a really easy-to-make owl costume tutorial without any sewing in our archives. You just need some fabric, a pair of scissors and permanent fabric glue. For a baby, I would swap out the t-shirt for a brown or black onesie and tights.

Or, there’s Frida Kahlo!

frieda costume

The key to this costume is drawing a unibrow with eye make-up. Then, all you need is a big flowered clip or head band and a Mexican-style peasant dress like this one which your daughter could reuse during the winter with a turtleneck and tights underneath. This costume would be super-memorable.

I also love this Baby Sushi costume.


Unfortunately this Etsy seller has stopped taking orders for this current Halloween season. However, looking at the costume, this looks like something you could possibly do by yourself with a little bit of felt, stuffing and fabric glue.

If you’re still looking for a less expensive non-DIY costume we have always loved the baby Princess Leia costume available for only $20 at Amazon. There’s something about Star Wars that always brings a smile to faces:


Now that we’ve got some costume options out of the way, what do you actually do with a baby on Halloween? Since this year Halloween falls on a Sunday, it shifts the whole trick-or-treating schedule to earlier in the day since there’s no school or weekly work schedule to deal with it. Families will start trick-or-treating in the mid-afternoon, you’ll see. Since your block is not trick-or-treat friendly, I would recommend spending the day strolling around your town with your baby in costume during the day. Go window shopping and to the café. Everyone loves to ooh and ahh over babies in their cute costumes. I also love your idea of going to your friend’s and passing out candy at the door. Then when you’re all pooped at night, you can still retreat to your couch to order pizza and watch TV (Dexter is perfect for Halloween night) like you really want to. Have fun and take lots of pictures is my main recommendation.

In terms of other traditions that don’t involve trick-or-treating / costumes, I turn to you readers. Any other ideas or fun traditions in which you participate?

(Update: you should also checkout this awesome post I just found at Cool Mom Picks. They have and link to some great costume ideas for babies).

Explore More Halloween Costume Ideas Here:


Isabel Kallman
About the Author

Isabel Kallman

Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.


Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.

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  • Sara M

    October 15, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    So I am completely un-crafty, but also don’t want to spend a lot of money on Halloween AND don’t want my kids in the same cosutme that everyone else has. So, I hit up Kid to Kid (…it’s a kids resale store. I found a costume for my 16 month old for $4! It’s a pretty cute frog outfit that I haven’t seen before. Last year I found an $8 chicken costume for my then 2 year old. Both costumes are in great shape and CHEAP!! I totally recommend this place if you have one near you.

    • Isabel


      October 15, 2010 at 4:32 pm

      @Sara M,
      I love the idea of hitting up resale shops and swap programs!

  • Alexa

    October 15, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    You can also hit up thrift stores slash goodwill. They have tons of outgrown Halloween outfits cheap.

    As for what to do, we have a number of small Halloween/fall fest gatherings in my little town. Maybe check out community events. My girl won’t really know what is going on (she’s 20 months) but I’m planning on dressing her up, taking photos and checking out all the other cute kids who will be dressed up.

    Last year when Liv was 10 months I got this really cute green fleece outfit with a flower petal hood for $8 and brought her a few places for cider/ pumpkin painting and I cherish those photos.

    Have fun!

  • cassie

    October 15, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Also wanted to third, fourth, gazillion, the vote for resale and thrift stores! My tenth month old is now the proud owner of an adorable bat costume that was only $7 (It’s basically a jacket with wings and a hood, so easy on too! :))

    We’re also in an area of our town with virtually no trick or treaters. Our plan? Visit a couple of close friends houses during the day – some in walking distance, some not. He gets to show off his costume, friends and strangers alike get to ooh and aah and all have fun. 🙂

  • Nancy

    October 15, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    For my twins’ 1st Halloween, I made them little M&M costumes (big pairs of circles out of felt sewn together with openings for heads, arms and feet — then I cut out some big Ms out of white felt and ironed them on with iron-on tape). For their 2nd Halloween, I made them into little bugs. Red onesie, black pants and circles of red duct tape = lady bug. Black onesie and pants, and stripes of yellow duct tape = bumblebee (don’t wrap it all the way around though, as I found out — makes it too tight. But you can put stripes across the front and more across the back. I got some very stiff interfacing and some cool mettalic mesh fabric and fashioned some wings that I then safetypinned to their backs. Cheap, easy and all reusable/undoable!

    This year, I found some cute $5 costumes on St. Jude Hospital’s website gift shop. They’re sold out now though.

  • Whozat

    October 15, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    As for what to do that night, if you have friends or family with trick-or-treat age kids, how about tagging along with them? For my daughter’s first Halloween, she was 4 days old and still in the hospital (but costumed – sort of – in a “baby’s first halloween” onesie that she was swimming in, at < 4.5 lbs!) but last year, when she had just turned 1, we met up with my partner's sister and her kids (then 12 and 9) at her parent's house, which is in a great trick-or-treat neighborhood. I wore her and went to the doors with the big kids. (She was an adorable panda, and my partner and I were half-assed pandas with black/white sweats, etc) Then we gave her ONE chocolate (her first!), pulled out some of the good stuff for ourselves and gave the rest to the big kids. Our neighborhood is very unHalloweeny, so we plan for this to become an annual tradition.

  • Erin

    October 16, 2010 at 8:32 am

    I know it isn’t terribly creative, but I love Old Navy’s Halloween costumes for babies. My son’s first Halloween we did an owl hat that I made and a white onesie with feathers (he was barely 1 month old) but his second we did the Old Navy dragon. He wasn’t walking yet, but it still worked well. They have them pretty small, and they are SO WARM. It’s like a snowsuit, seriously.

  • Martha

    October 16, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    I have a 21 month old–last year she was too much of a little blob to trick or treat, and this year I have no interest in screwing up her sleep schedule and possibly bringing candy in the house that I might end up eating. I’m lucky enough that I have several friends and neighbors with kidlets around the same age, so I’m repeating what we did last year: invite the parents and wee ones over for a hang–coffee for the parents, juice for the costumed kids, muffins and lots of pictures for all! Super laid back fun for everyone.

  • Martha

    October 16, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    I have a 21 month old–last year she was too much of a little blob to trick or treat, and this year I have no interest in screwing up her sleep schedule and possibly bringing candy in the house that I might end up eating. I’m lucky enough that I have several friends and neighbors with kidlets around the same age, so I’m repeating what we did last year: invite the parents and wee ones over for a hang–coffee for the parents, juice for the costumed kids, muffins and lots of pictures for all! Super laid back fun for everyone.

  • Monica

    October 17, 2010 at 12:24 am

    I found the owl costume in your archives and shared it on my blog! I love it and might have to make a big one for myself!! =) so many great ideas!

  • annie

    October 17, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Do you have a local zoo?  Most zoos have a Zoo Boo event, where you can go see the animals, enjoy some trick-or-treating, and sometimes there are other special festive touches like keeper talks, crafts, or spooky lights/jack-o-lantern walks.  It’s a perfect, low-key outing with a baby, and often free if you already have a zoo membership.

  • BMom

    October 17, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Last year when my daughter was about five months, a good friend reeeeeeaally wanted to get her a costume as a baby present. I’m SO not into Halloween, so we said sure – and it was awesome. She found a shark costume online that was completely hilarious. Then we went to their house to pass out candy (no trick-or-treaters at our place either). This year, she’s going to be a butterfly – again, a costume passed on from someone else. If you have friends with older kids, they may have outgrown things and you can skip the resale part 🙂

    As for things to do… lots of apple orchards and corn maze type places around here have family Halloween events, and I think our public library does too.

  • Karen

    October 18, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    I received a Pottery Barn Kids catalog for Halloween costumes a few weeks ago and those costumes are cute! So between my mom and I, we are going to use their adorable ideas to make a DIY ladybug for my 14 month old.

  • professormama

    October 18, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    Just think about what your little one will WEAR, and be comfortable in.  My oldest would tolerate anything even as a baby, but the little one has never stood for hats, even ones that tie on are pulled off after a struggle.  Needless to say all masks and hats are out until she’s older.  Until kids are closer to 3 it’s really just for the parents (and older siblings) to enjoy, so take good photos and relax.  
    You don’t have many Halloweens left that won’t be a big deal, soon it will be almost as anticipated as christmas, with much preparation and walking, and post walking candy haggling.

  • Heather

    October 19, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Last year we dressed our 2 month old up as a hot dog ($15 from Target) and headed to a friends house…we pushed the little man around in his stroller…complete with spiked hot chocolates for the adults…we walked to about 5 houses for “effect” and headed back inside early. He only woke up for about 10 minutes of it, but the pictures are still great!

  • Melissa

    October 21, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    We totally hit up the resale shops, in our case it was Once Upon a Child. Found our 4 month old a baby giraffe costume that is a sleeper for $3.50.

    What we ALSO found for $2.50 was a sassy burgundy velvet ruffle shirt, a la Dave Chappelle as Prince from his show. Okay, it’s a size 2T but still…SCORE for pictures!

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