Dressing up for Halloween can be tricky for kids with sensory challenges. Itchy seams, tight collars, and the smell of a mask or face paint can make wearing a store-bought costume unbearable.
Making simple sensory-friendly costumes using comfortable, everyday clothes is an easy and low-cost solution. The best part? You may already have what you need lying around the house.
Start with a soft sweatshirt in a style your child finds most comfortable — hoodie, crewneck, or zip-up. Once you choose the sweatshirt, add details to transform it into a:
- Bat: Glue or sew additional material under the arms.
- Dinosaur: Hot-glue felt triangle “spikes” down the back of a hoodie.
- Jack-o’-lantern: Use black marker to draw a pumpkin face on an orange sweatshirt.
For the ultimate in comfort, use soft pajamas as the base of the costume and go from there.
- Skeleton: Begin with a pair of black, fitted, long-sleeve and long-pants pajamas. Then use white fabric paint or masking tape to create a skeleton.
- Thing 1 and Thing 2: Use glued or sewn felt scraps to turn plain red pajamas into the Dr. Seuss characters.
- Gumball machine: Use hot glue or sticky Velcro dots to attach pom-poms to a solid-colored pajama top.
Costumes using regular clothes
You don’t have to do much to turn your child’s regular, comfortable clothing into a costume. Inexpensive accessories can turn your child into:
- Waldo: Pair jeans with a red-and-white horizontally striped shirt, some fake glasses, and a winter hat. You can even use painter’s tape to add stripes to a plain red or white shirt.
- Referee: Instead of the red-and-white stripe shirt above, buy or make a black-and-white one with vertical stripes. Add a whistle and pair of athletic pants.
- Fairy: Add a pair of elastic band wings to a comfortable dress from your child’s closet.
A solid-colored apron makes a great canvas for many costumes. Decorate the apron (you can use marker, colored tape, paint, or glued-on pieces of fabric) and put it on over your child’s regular clothes or pajamas. With a few strokes your child could be:
- A ketchup or mustard bottle
- A bag of chips or candy
- A tube of toothpaste
- A crayon or a box of crayons
- A cell phone
- Many popular characters
Costumes aren’t the only Halloween trouble spot for kids with sensory challenges. Get tips for making Halloween easier and more fun. And if your child struggles with clothing in general, discover these sensory-friendly solutions.
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About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days.
Keri Wilmot is an occupational therapist who works with children of varying ages and abilities in all areas of pediatrics.