Halloween can be tricky for some kids. Itchy seams, tight collars, and the smell of a mask or face paint can make wearing a store-bought costume unbearable for some kids.
Making simple sensory-friendly Halloween costumes using comfortable basics or even your child’s everyday clothes is an easy 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. That could mean a hoodie, a plain pullover, or a zip-up. Once you choose the sweatshirt, add details to transform it.
Glue or sew additional material under the arms to create a creepy bat. Hot-glue felt triangle “spikes” down the back of a hoodie for an easy dinosaur. You can also stuff old knee socks or balled-up pairs of tights and hot-glue them to dangle off the sweatshirt. This makes your child into an octopus. Or let your child use black marker to color a jack-o’-lantern face on a basic orange sweatshirt.
You can’t go wrong when you start with the pajamas your child already loves as a costume base.
You could start with a pair of black, fitted long-sleeve and long-pants pajamas. Then use white fabric paint or masking tape to create a stick-on skeleton. Or you could use glued or sewn felt scraps to turn solid-color footie pajamas into Thing 1 and Thing 2 from Dr. Seuss. .
Soft-Washed Scrubs or Lab Coat Costumes
Scrubs and lab coats are often soft to start with, and they’re big enough to wear regular clothes underneath them. Scrubs and lab coats don’t just have to be medical costumes, either.
Use a lab coat to make your child into a pharmacist or scientist (evil or otherwise). Hot-glue wisps of cotton onto blue scrubs to make your child into a partly cloudy day. Or turn your kid into an astronaut by using white scrubs paired with a belt, a felt patch on the pocket, a pair of boots, and your child’s bike helmet.
Hooded Bathrobe Costumes
A hooded bathrobe is the perfect base for your budding wizard or aspiring Jedi. Your child can wear it right over clothes. Simply pick a robe in the right color and then cut or glue the bottom and sleeves to the right length. Then add accessories and props as needed.
If your child doesn’t want to be magical or discover the Force, you can add googly eyes to the top of the hood. Glue or sew on felt scraps to turn your child into a favorite animal or monster.
Cardboard Box Suspender Costumes
Most kids use their imagination to make cardboard boxes into all sorts of exciting things. For kids with sensory processing issues, you can harness that instinct to make a costume that barely touches them at all.
Using scissors or a box cutter, take off the top and bottom of the box. Then staple long pieces of wide, heavy ribbon to each inside corner of the box, to use as shoulder straps. Next, help your child paint and decorate the box. It can become a race car, a train, or a horse.
Everyday Clothes Costumes
If dressing up isn’t for your child, pair jeans with a red and white horizontally striped shirt, some fake glasses, and a winter hat, to make your child into Waldo. You can even use painter’s tape to add stripes to a plain red or white shirt.
With a whistle, a black-and-white striped shirt, and pair of athletic pants, your child can be a referee. Add a pair of elastic band wings to your child’s dress to create a fairy. And a pair of overalls paired with a red or green shirt can be a Super Mario Brothers costume.
Need more ideas for sensory-friendly clothes? Try these sensory-friendly clothing solutions.
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About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the director of thought leadership at Understood and author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.” She worked as a classroom teacher and early intervention specialist for more than a decade.
Keri Wilmot is an occupational therapist who works with children of varying ages and abilities in all areas of pediatrics.