If Your Child Is Old Enough To Talk, Let Him Pick His Own Costume

I love dressing children up for Halloween as much as the next parent, but if they’re old enough to talk and understand what Halloween is – they should be picking their own costumes.

Everyone knows that infants are basically props come Halloween time. They don’t care if they spend an evening in an Elvis costume or a white onesie. They have no idea what’s going on. Infancy is the only time you should be using your child to make all the neighbors LOL come the neighborhood costume party.

When your child is old enough to look forward to Halloween, he should be dressing up as whatever he wants. He’ll probably choose something like this:

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(Pinterest/ Squidoo.com)

Kids love Batman. You know what they don’t love? Breaking Bad. What 7-year-old watches Breaking Bad?

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(Pinterest)

This is arguably the best Breaking Bad costume I’ve ever seen. But come on, what’s the kid telling his friends? I’m a meth dealer for Halloween! Not cool, parents. Poor kid. Just a few years younger and you could pull it off:

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(Pinterest/ Ali Martin)

Baby Walter White has no idea what’s going on here. More importantly, he doesn’t care. The point is – if your child is old enough to talk and look forward to Halloween, it’s no longer cool to make him a prop. You have a very small window to use your child for Halloween laughs – plan accordingly.

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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    • CW

      My rules are “only positive costumes” and “age appropriate” (so anything Breaking Bad-related would be out for both those reasons) and that all 3 kids have to coordinate. This year they are going as Harry Potter, Hermione Grainger, and Luna Lovegood. In reality that means my 11 y.o and 8 y.o. discuss choices until they agree on something and the 4 y.o. gets told “you are going to be _____”. Next year they want to go as “Hasboro toys” with the girls being My Little Ponies and the boy a Transformer, my oldest DD having failed to convince her brother to dress up as Spike the Dragon from My Little Pony.

      • LadyClodia

        My 4 year old son would totally agree to be Spike or even one of the other ponies.

      • Haradanohime

        Age appropriate and positive costumes are fine limits. But I don’t think I would force a “theme” because then that’s still pushing conformity. I’m all for creativity. I’m all for working together . But pushing they all have to fit in a theme sized box doesn’t seem to suit. You never know when you could be quashing the next sci-fi fantasy squash up creator (Sharnado anyone?) while the Red power ranger defeats the evil Voldemort! Or My Little Pony helps the Hulk deal with feelings! Ok maybe it’s the writer in me that sees the possibilities. But I don’t see the appeal of pushing your child to fit in a theme when maybe they truly want to be something amazing yet it doesn’t go with the “theme.” It could be off putting to their own creativity.(or worse). But this is just IMO.

      • keelhaulrose

        I’m with you. My five year old wants us all to have coordinating costumes that center around what she wants to wear. Like this year she wanted to be Merida from Brave, so she wanted my husband and I to dress as her mom and dad and her younger sister to be a wisp. Little sister wanted nothing to do with that (I have a witch costume she puts on all the time, she wants that). I’m all for positive and age appropriate, but kids should pick their own. If they choose to coordinate themselves, great, but two older kids shouldn’t be deciding for a younger sibling.

      • Andrea

        Why do you make all 3 kids coordinate? The age appropriate and positive thing I get, but why do they have to have a theme? They are separate individuals aren’t they?

      • CW

        They have to coordinate Halloween costumes for the same reason that my Christmas tree only has white & gold ornaments/trimmings: it looks better and as I’m the one paying for everything, I get to make the rules. My youngest daughter absolutely adores her big sister and loves playing “dress up” in whatever big sis picks out for her.

      • Andrea

        Wow……

      • Sara

        …I don’t think it’s the worst thing you can do. My four usually go as a theme. I don’t force it, but it DOES look better.

      • Paul White

        You know, I’m all behind your first two point but your third one sucks, particularly for hte youngest kid.

      • KF

        All 3 have to coordinate, and the youngest gets no choice? I have 8yr-old b/g twins….plenty of opportunities for matchy cutesy costumes but they choose individually.

    • LadyClodia

      My 4 year old is very easily influenced, and I’ll admit that this year I convinced him to be Captain Hook so his little brother could be Jake. My 4 year old does love Jake and the Neverland Pirates, but they didn’t have a Jake costume in his size, so Hook it was. Originally I had wanted to get this adorable fox costume from Old Navy for our toddler, but the 4 year old saw it and freaked out saying that I could not get that. I still have no idea why he had such a strong reaction to it. If I had bought the fox costume I would have let the 4 year old be whatever he wanted. He also loves Tom and Jerry and I gave him that option too, but strangely he didn’t like that. No one will probably be able to tell what they are anyway because it’ll be too cold, and they’ll have to wear coats.

    • Zorbs

      I tried, but my kid rejected every single costume at the store.

    • Lu

      I feel the same way when I see these costumes. Halloween is the one purely kid holiday. Let them be what they want for ONE day!

    • whiteroses

      I disagree that you have small window :) These are some of my godson’s gems from the last few years: a pine cone (his mom went as a pine tree, don’t ask me how), a marshmallow (she went as a chocolate bar), and this year he’s going as a torpedo and she’s going as Rosie the Riveter. I would argue that they come up with funnier stuff on their own than we ever could.

      This year, my son is going as Michael Banks and I am Mary Poppins, but only because he’s a) too young to choose and b) my costume is far more elaborate than his. When he gets older, I plan to let him pick his own costume and if he wants me to coordinate, then I will. If not, that’s ok too. Either way, I’m dressing up, because why not :)

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        He sounds like an accessory, and maybe he likes being that for now. But if he asks to be Superman or something, I hope she’d honor his request. I think it’s fine as long as the kid sees the fun in it and doesn’t have something else in mind.

        Edit: I reread your comment and maybe they are his ideas? Which is great.

      • whiteroses

        Oh, no, you misunderstand. He chose the costumes and TOLD her what she would be.

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        Ah, cool.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      This is exactly what I was thinking when I saw the Breaking Bad stuff! Kids want to do their own thing.

    • Justme

      I wholeheartedly concur…even though I hate it. My daughter wanted to be a store bought Doc McStuffins this year. I envisioned something far less….I don’t know, character-related? Mainstream? I just like homemade, creative costumes I suppose.

      BUT….Doc McStuffins makes my girl very, very happy. And Halloween is decidedly a “holiday” that is NOT about adults, so whatever she wants to be….that’s fine with me.

      • Emil

        way better than princess … sigh

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        At least Doc McStuffins is about a little girl who wants to be a “doctor,” (even just for stuffins) :) It’s an upgrade from princess or Barbie.

    • JD

      My daughter has been choosing her own costume since age two – a pink shark one year and a pink marionette horse last year. This year her costume is “a beautiful butterfly fairy.” I love that her last couple years’ worth of costumes have had the spin of her imagination. When she decided to be a butterfly fairy we went to the fabric/craft store so she could let me know what materials suited her vision.

      I love to make her costumes with her. All I did for her so far this year was form her butterfly wings. She has been adding more glitter and rhinestones every day – Thursday needs to get here soon or she won’t be able to hold them up!

      My two year old chose to be Lightning McQueen. I just cut up a cardboard box to help form the car. When he’s up from his nap we’re going to let him paint it red. I love Halloween with kids!

    • Cee

      “But internet approval is better than what my child wants!”

    • freemane

      Honestly, I’m just jealous of parents whose children will wear what they (the parent) chooses. At about 11 months my son started choosing his own clothes and that was the end of my “cute baby outfit” time. There was the 6 month stretch when he would only wear things with spiderman on them (except on halloween, when he insisted on a diaper with socks and a train shirt!) And his continuing obsession with heavy machinery. I’m currently building an excavator costume…

    • DatNanny

      Thank you! It drives me crazy when I see lists of ‘AMAZING KIDS’ HALLOWEEN COSTUMES’ and it’s 3-6 year olds dressed up as characters they shouldn’t even be exposed to. That is the golden time of Halloween! Why would you rob your child of that happiness and those memories just to get approval from the internet?

      • Cee

        Because Likes, Reposts, Retweets, Repins, Upvotes, and all those are a million times better than a child’s happiness? :p

      • DatNanny

        I can imagine the baby books of the next generation. “Look, aw, here’s the photo of you imitating mommy’s twerking that got reblogged 4,000 times!”

    • CrazyFor Kate

      I say it’s a free-for-all until the kid expresses a preference. So, maybe its first four Halloweens (0-3 depending on the time of year the kid was born), but that’s even pushing it IMO. Until then, I am happy to dress up children in ridiculous pop culture references. Happy Halloween!

      • Andrea

        Three years if you are lucky. A lot of kids by age 3 have ideas of their own!

    • C.J.

      I so wanted my 11 year old daughter to be the Tin Man this year. She played the Tin Man in her school play last year and has the costume. We even went to the theatrical supply store and got her the silver make-up. She looked awesome. She decided to be a flying unicorn.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      My son will be 7 months for Halloween. I’m hoping for another two years of choosing his costume, but I may only get one. I don’t think Halloween is super fun for kids if they can’t be what they want.
      I know when I was 8, I wound up choosing a fairy princess costume so my mom wouldn’t have to spend any money. I’d already been an angel and a princess, so we already had the goods. But at least the idea came from me, and so I still had fun even if it wasn’t my dream costume.

      • Andrea

        I had warned my sister (who has twins, boy and girl, so the possibilities for cuteness are ENORMOUS!) that there are 2, 3 years AT MOST where you will get to pick it out for them. I was right, but she didn’t listen to me, she thought she had time and in the end she only had 1 year (1st year they were only 4 months old and didn’t do Halloween) and then they picked their own.

        Moral of the story: milk it while you can because you don’t get very many Halloweens of mom-picked costumes!

      • KF

        Good for your sister. My b/g twins are 8. He was Luigi (Mario last yr), and his sister could have been forced/bribed/guilt-tripped to be Princess Daisy or Peach but thankfully I let her choose! Quite the concept!!

      • Andrea

        I know right? Good for you.

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    • GOP

      How awesome of you to defend a child’s right to choose their own costume. Too bad you aren’t so sanguine about their rights to be born. You nanny-state TWIT.

    • MommyoftheBoys

      Maria,
      I am the mother of the boys dressed as Walt and Jesse where you suggested that the “Jesse” was too old for us to choose his Halloween costume for him and use him as a prop for the holiday. I would love to clarify a couple of things. The first: these are not the boys Halloween costumes, and never were intended to be. “Jesse” is going as a giraffe on Thursday (he finally settled on giraffe, a long way from his original “silver frog”), and “Walt” will not be Walter White, though as you pointed out, it’s different with infants, anyway. But no, “Jesse” will not be trick-or-treating as a drug manufacturer. Neither will be. Second, this photograph was never intended to be public in the way it has become public. It was posted to my personal Facebook account to the “friends” setting. By posting it at all, I certainly realize I left the option for anyone to download and share the photograph(s) as they saw fit. Lesson learned. But I never imagined opening myself up to the kind of mommy-criticism I have invited as a result of a funny photograph my husband and I staged – as a joke – meant for friends. The boys were not harmed in any way. As far as “Jesse” was concerned, he got to wear a “funny costume” and play by the river with mommy, daddy, and brother, and I took a few pictures. Then he got to eat some lollipops.
      I hope everyone enjoys their Halloween.

      • Deb

        I’m with you. Your kids are lucky to have you as a mom and not those judgemental holier-than-thou types that I saw here in this page.

      • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

        Sorry it took me two days to reply – I just saw this.

        I love the photo you took – I think it’s cute and hilarious. I was using it to illustrate that there is a window when you can laugh at age inappropriate costumes for children. Toddlers and infants don’t really know what’s going on around Halloween – we all know that. The point of the article was to say that when they are old enough to look forward to Halloween, parents should let them pick their own costumes.

        I was using your photo to illustrate that it’s hilarious when kids are really young. I think it was clear – but I also think the reason what I wrote has been misinterpreted is because whoever wrote the post about you “setting the record straight” cherry-picked a quote out of my above story – totally out of context – “Come on, what’s the kid telling his friends? I’m a meth dealer for Halloween! Not cool, parents,”wrote one blogger wrote.”[sic] I wasn’t referring to your photo – if you read my article I think that is clear. I was referring to children old enough to understand and look forward to Halloween being put in costumes they have no idea about. I used the Breaking Bad reference because it is a current one, but you could say the same about children whose parents make them dress like Andy Warhol, or Ronald Reagan – or whatever is beyond their scope of interest.

        I’m sorry this photo has caused you distress. I wasn’t judging your parenting – I really wasn’t judging anyone’s parenting – I was saying I too think it’s funny to dress kids up for adult laughs but reminding parents we have a small window when we can get away with it, hence the title, “If Your Child Is Old Enough To Talk, Let Him Pick His Own Costume.” Trust me, I understand how distressing it is to be attacked by the Internet – it happens to me pretty much daily – so i’m sorry if my article caused you any further, unwarranted stress.

      • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

        Pffft. I’m sorry, Breaking Bad is awesome and Breaking Bad babies are awesome. I was all about the breaking bad Halloween babies.

      • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

        Pffft. I’m sorry, Breaking Bad is awesome and Breaking Bad babies are awesome. I was all about the breaking bad Halloween babies.

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    • WTFkid

      “But come on, what’s the kid telling his friends? I’m a meth dealer for Halloween! Not cool, parents. Poor kid,”

      Do you think babies have these conversations often?

      • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

        I wasn’t talking about her baby – or that picture. I was saying if kids ARE OLD ENOUGH TO TALK they should get to pick their own Halloween costumes. Hence the title,”If Your Child Is Old Enough To Talk, Let Him Pick His Own Costume”

    • KF

      My sister had custom-made Cat in the Hat (her 6yr-old son) and Things 1 and 2 (3 yr-old twin girls.) She said she had to convince her son and doesn’t know how she’ll top these costumes next yr. I hint and hint that trick or treat is for the kids.

    • KF

      My sister had custom-made Cat in the Hat (her 6yr-old son) and Things 1 and 2 (3 yr-old twin girls.) She said she had to convince her son and doesn’t know how she’ll top these costumes next yr. I hint and hint that trick or treat is for the kids.

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