After my last post about my daughter’s latest costume, I thought I’d write a roundup for those of you who are new to my blog. The costumes I made for her were all with the intent of having comfortable dress-up outfits of her favorite characters without annoying itchy fabrics, itchy seams, velcro, and tags like the store-bought costumes.
All 4 are very similar because it’s what we both like and they are fairly easy to create without any sewing involved. While I like to DIY, I hate to sew. The only thing you’ll catch me sewing is easy pillow covers and a curtain hem maybe.
And if you are new to my blog and family life then you can catch up on my daughter’s struggles with sensory issues HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE (and her latest update HERE). She doesn’t have an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. She has just always struggled with behavioral issues that mostly stemmed from her sensory processing disorder.
Sensory friendly Halloween costume tips and ideas
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For children with sensory issues like my daughter, uncomfortable costumes can be a source of anxiety and discomfort. It’s so hard to understand for a lot of people that sensory overload can create such an interruption in daily life. Halloween can be an extremely overwhelming Holiday!
Fortunately, there are several ways to make Halloween costumes more comfortable for children with sensory issues. Here are some tips and costume ideas (that have worked for us) for creating sensory-friendly costumes for children:
Choose the right fabric
For sensory kids, fabrics like polyester or synthetic blends can be uncomfortable and usually create itchy costumes. Honestly, I can’t handle those fabrics as an adult. Choose costumes made from soft materials, natural fibers like cotton or bamboo, or consider making your own costume using these materials. The plain t-shirt dress as a starting point was the answer for us.
Maybe you already have a favorite brand that works for you and you can start with a plain t-shirt, a comfy pair of pajamas, or a plain dress to start your DIY costume the way we did. There are brands that specialize in making flat seams. For example, Primary is a great brand. (They even have a section for sensory friendly Halloween costumes)
Masks can be uncomfortable and may obstruct a child’s vision or breathing. Instead, consider using face paint or makeup the way we did. You can get so creative this way and don’t really need many accessories to create the desired look.
Consider the weight of the costume
Heavy or bulky costumes can be overwhelming for children with sensory issues. Look for lightweight, comfortable materials that won’t weigh your child down. Again, a plain t-shirt costume or a simple Halloween t-shirt can do the trick.
While accessories can add to the overall look of a costume, they can also be overwhelming for sensory sensitive kids. Stick to just a few key accessories that won’t be too uncomfortable. I always gave her several options and sometimes she just wanted to hold them or wear them for the photos because she loved how they looked and then ditched them for the actual trick-or-treating.
Involve your child in the costume-making process
If your child has sensory issues, involve them in the costume-making process to ensure that they are comfortable and happy with their costume. It’s a good idea to let them choose the materials and design elements that they like and feel comfortable with to create the perfect costume that doesn’t trigger their sensory sensitivities.
Consider using compression clothing
We never had to do this suggestion but I know it works for other kids. Some children with sensory issues love compression clothing because it can provide a sense of comfort and security. Look for clothing that provides gentle pressure. I’m the complete opposite and tight clothing drives me crazy.
Have a backup plan
Even with the best intentions, some costumes may still be uncomfortable or overwhelming for your child. Have a backup plan in case your child decides they can’t wear the costume that you have previously chosen together. This was always very important for us because my daughter changed her preferences daily. One day she was fine with something and the next day she wasn’t. I know it is so frustrating and hard to understand but I also always knew that she didn’t do this to get attention or try to be difficult. I saw her struggling and being deeply sad. It breaks my heart when she says she just wants to be like the other kids who can wear whatever they want.
Overall, it’s important to prioritize your child’s comfort and sensory needs when choosing a Halloween costume. With a little bit of creativity and flexibility, you can create a sensory-friendly costume that your child will love. I think we’ve definitely accomplished that over the years.
Our 4 favorite easy sensory-friendly Halloween costumes
For my daughter wearing a wig is acceptable (sometimes) depending on the day. I know that there are a lot of kids who can’t stand having anything on their heads. Let’s face it, wigs can be itchy. So just leave the wig out. The nice thing is you can order the wigs on Amazon and if your child can’t stand the feeling, then you can just send the wig back.
My daughter also doesn’t mind face paint or makeup. Only once she had an issue with the wet feeling while I was painting her face. She did get over it though because she was so excited about the look. Once the paint dried she was good.
The secret to our costumes is that we start them all with the same plain t-shirt dress!!! She just feels comfortable in it. We have never bought a traditional costume. I’ve bought several in different colors and she even wears them to school with leggings and simple furry boots without socks. That is her go-to dress code every day and I’m so glad that we found something that works for her. So why not utilize that for Halloween as well!?! Right?
- DIY maleficent costume
- Queen of Hearts costume DIY
In the below photo, she couldn’t handle the cape which is why I only hung it up behind her so she could have a photo with it. As you can see in the photo before that, she was fine wearing a cape for the Maleficent costume.
- DIY Sugar Skull costume
- Sad Clown Costume
This costume won her first price in school and she loved it so much. It took her a bit to get over this wig though. The wig is clearly not needed and you could dress your child in the same outfit without it.
The accessories I mention in the separate blog posts are duct tape, capes, roses, lace, pom-poms, ribbon, wigs, tights, a crown, a hat, and gloves.
Since I wrote this post she also dressed up in a DIY fallen angel costume which had a long version of the black dress and she only needed wings and makeup. You could make this a regular white angel too but my daughter definitely prefers the spooky costumes.
Since she loves scary and spooky costumes so much, she also dressed up as a zombie soccer player. As her sensitivity to clothes and fabrics improved, she was finally able to handle her soccer uniform but that took a while too.
More sensory-friendly costume ideas for boys and girls
If you have a boy then consider dressing him as a minion, a zombie (hey a zombie can wear anything and it’s all about the makeup), where’s Waldo, Toy Story characters, a Minion, a simple Spiderman, or other superhero, or just a simple character hoodie.
UPDATE: I’m happy to report that my daughter has evolved and as a teenager doesn’t really have many issues wearing clothes anymore. It wasn’t an easy road. We accomplished a lot with a very strict diet to solve candida overgrowth. She dressed for Halloween but wasn’t allowed to have any of the candy.
Our saving grace hasn’t been standard medicine, it was a holistic approach! Every regular doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, and gastroenterologist just wanted to push more meds on her. It was awful. We dropped all of that and my friend from Highschool in Germany is now a holistic practitioner and helped us so much trying to figure out what caused her sensory issues.
I’m not telling you this to tell you all doctors are bad. I’m telling you this in hopes you will find your child’s own unique path. That you should listen to your gut and that there is hope. Hope that your child will improve and that there are others who understand what you are going through. It will get better.
Here is the last costume she let me create with her which is a DIY post apocalyptic costume before she moved on to being a teenager who is too cool for dressing up with her mom. (gosh I’m going to cry)
This outfit would have been impossible before. She would have never tolerated a mask, tight jeans, and all these accessories. I’m so proud of her and how far she has come!
I hope this blog post can help someone out there with finding the perfect sensory friendly Halloween costume that you r child loves and is comfortable wearing. I want them all to enjoy the Halloween festivities.