What should I do for my baby's first Halloween? Is it OK to trick or treat with a baby?
Let me start by saying Halloween with a newborn often looks a lot different than Halloween with a one-year-old, but I think these tips are general enough that they can be tweaked and applied across the board.
1. Keep expectations low
Your baby won’t remember their first Halloween, so think of this as an introduction rather than a full event.
For my kids, the sweet spot for Halloween was between ages 5 - 12, and it wasn’t until they were toddlers that they even understood the concept, so don’t sweat it if your baby’s first Halloween is uneventful.
2. Pick a baby-friendly costume
If you’re dressing your baby up, think about soft, cozy baby Halloween costumes for their first time out. Pajamas, a fun onesie, bodysuit, or costume headbands can easily fit the bill.
Keep an eye on costumes with small parts that could be a choking hazard and consider using non-toxic face paint instead of masks, which may obstruct breathing (and might piss off crabby infants).
3. Dress in layers
Whether you live somewhere hot or cold, make sure you can add or remove elements of your baby’s costume so they don’t get chilly or overheated. If you’re heading to a Halloween party, make sure you’re packing an extra outfit and the usual gear in case of blowouts or a diaper change.
If you’re dressing up yourself, make sure you’re comfortable, too, as you’ll probably be carrying this little pumpkin around quite a bit.
4. Go early
Generally speaking, most trick-or-treating starts when it gets dark (around 5:30 or 6:00, where I live). If you’re going door-to-door, get out before the big kids get out there and before you creep too close to bedtime to keep Halloween fun.
5. Keep it short
A fun adventure can go south pretty quickly if something unexpected or scary happens. Plus, walking to three houses is like three football fields when you’re little, so keep trick-or-treating short and close to home so you can pull the chute if the wheels come off.
6. Prepare for the poop out
Older siblings might not be keen on cutting the evening short, so bring along a stroller or baby carrier to free up your hands and give your baby a rest. If your baby is really young, consider building a family Halloween costume that includes your carrier, a wagon, or a stroller.
7. Skip scary stuff
Houses with scary decorations or loud noises can be really frightening, so just skip them. There will be plenty of years ahead where they love that stuff and the goal is to have fun and not develop a phobia or future therapy sessions. Also, consider baby-friendly Halloween events in your community, such as costume parades or pumpkin patch visits.
8. Take photos and videos
As a mom, I found all the first Halloweens a blur because I was worn out and tired from being in the baby trenches, so I appreciate all the photos I took during those years.
Do a photo shoot with your baby’s first Halloween costume, carving pumpkins, or any other Halloween festivities so you can look back on them once you finally get a full night's sleep again.
9. Yes, you can skip trick-or-treating
Don’t feel like you have to go door-to-door if you don’t want to or if you live somewhere that isn’t trick-or-treating friendly. Consider hosting a Halloween-themed playdate at your home and invite other babies and parents or family and friends.
10. Enjoy other Halloween activities
Pick out some Halloween books, explore and touch pumpkins and colorful leaves, or check out the neighborhood Halloween decorations in the non-scary light of day. Think about doing some Halloween-themed crafts or art activities like handprint/pumpkin painting or eating some diced apples while watching Harry Potter on the couch.
Don’t be scared of your baby’s first Halloween!
If they freak out, take it in stride. There will be plenty of years when they fully embrace the Halloween fun, so don’t sweat it if they aren’t on board the first time out. I mean, it is a slightly weird concept to go up to a stranger’s door, not go in, get something you could choke on, and then leave.
Personally, I used my baby as a cute prop to get candy for myself the first couple of years – “he likes the cheesies best!” – so don’t overthink it and have fun!