Keep Halloween Fun for Babies

Mother and Baby at Halloween

For a baby who can’t yet walk or talk, this Halloween is likely the first she will remember of familiar people putting on costumes and making scary faces. To make this a fun holiday for baby, be sure to give her an easy escape. If you are babywearing, a hip carry can give her choice.

Baby Halloween Costumes

Baby Halloween costumes are for us more than for our babies. We can’t resist how adorable they are, of course. Very young babies don’t care, though, so don’t convince yourself that Halloween is important to your baby. Dress up and costumes are for you and for your older children.

Yes! Dress up the baby. Just know that it’s for your benefit.

A Lot of Stimulation

You know your baby. Does he love excitement? Will flashing lights, glow sticks, and wailing ghosts be fun for him? Or, does he startle easily with load noises and surprises? Even a party baby might find his limit on Halloween.

Make sure your baby has a way to choose to participate or not.

Babywearing Hip Carry

If you wear your baby at a Halloween party or as you walk through your neighborhood with older children, having your baby on your hip will allow her to see what you are seeing if she turns one way or let her tuck into you and hide when it is all too much.

A forward-facing kangaroo carry doesn’t give the baby the choice to look on or look away. It’s all stimulation all the time, which could be great for a baby who loves action. A back carry doesn’t let her see everything at the young child height where a lot of interesting things happen, so an active baby might be straining to see more from over your shoulder.

Hip carry leaves the choice to participate in Halloween up to your baby.

NOTE: Only use the babywearing hip carry once your baby can sit well. Newborns or babies who are just gaining head control will need more support.

Image © Olga Bogatyrenko |

Halloween Treat Alternatives

Reverse Trick or Treating cards with fair trade chocolate

Reverse Trick or Treating cards with fair trade chocolate

Before our children are developmentally able to focus on consequences, it’s up to us to help them see alternatives to immediate choices. We can shift focus from GIMME CANDY to things and ideas that will still satisfy in other ways.

I usually welcome my children to have a small amount of Halloween candy. My son has started to realize that he feels very emotional when he has too much sugar. He doesn’t like the feeling of being out of control, so he limits his own candy consumption. His self regulation is a step in the right direction, but I still do what I can to help out. This year, I have more ideas how to divert the candy stream without the result of sad little faces of children deprived of non-nutritive food-like substances.

1. Gifts from the Magic Pumpkin

Nature Mom recently told me the story of the Magic Pumpkin that visits her house each year.

“I had been able to swap out my kids’ collected loot for the first 2 years, but my 5-year old started to catch on last year. So, we changed our tactic and told her we had learned that if we left her collected candy out at night for the Magic Pumpkin to eat, he would leave her something else in its place.

“The idea came from another parent, and I was amazed at how well it went over. We let her pick 3 candies to keep for herself, and she left the rest out for the night. When she fell asleep, we swapped out her candy for a Halloween story book and hair ties.

“I’m hopeful she’ll want to try this again come Halloween. Last year my 4-year old was a willing participant. I think the key is to make the goodies left by the Magic Pumpkin as fun and enticing as candy might be. I love this idea because you can tailor the treats or gifts to your own children.”

Shifts focus from GIMME CANDY

2. Candy Experiments

If you know your child will end up with a bag of candy, and you want to lower the sugar impact, consider diverting the candy from the usual hand-to-mouth race. You could teach them a little science.

Candy Experiments can lead you through dissolving, melting, baking, smashing, cracking, and otherwise destroying candy in the name of science. You can use a coffee filter and dyed candy for chromatography. Dissolve Skittles to determine color density to make a pretty rainbow of unnatural dyes. And, those with patience can watch chocolate bloom as the fats separate out into little circles. They explain not just the what and how but the why.

If you are in Washington, D.C., this weekend, join them at the USA Science and Engineering Festival to see some of these experiments for yourself.

Shifts focus from GIMME CANDY TO EAT

3. Fair Trade Chocolate

I love chocolate. I don’t love the labor issues that come with chocolate. I worry about treating children with a food that other children have suffered to produce.

So, this year my family is Reverse Trick or Treating with a kit we ordered from Global Exchange. When my children go door to door, they will give an information card to people at the first 15 houses so they can learn about fair trade chocolate. There is a piece of chocolate attached to each card as well. Yes, our neighbors expect this kind of thing from us!

Shifts focus from GIMME CANDY

4. Family Party

I have been informed by my son that not only will we be having pumpkin soup for Halloween, we will be having orange rolls and sloppy buffalo joes. After one year, this has become a requirement. I’m thrilled to see that his focus for the day is on nutritious food.

In my fantasy world, I also make homemade candy. About a month ago I made a mild, homemade licorice with fennel from our garden. It tasted great (to both adults) and looked wonderful.

That’s the good news.

I didn’t roll it in sugar or flour as the recipes all suggested. So, follows the bad news. I put some of the licorice in mason jar—and it all melted into a solid mass that is far to hard to even extract from the jars. I had saved a small jar to give Nature Mom when I saw her last week, but it is such a sad, solid, sludgy mess that I didn’t want to embarrass myself with it. (She won’t even know this unless she reads the post!)

So, I would take homemade licorice if I: 1) made it fresh, or 2) gave in and rolled it in flour or sugar. I’m thinking I’ll stick with the homemade orange bread rolls with tiny green bread stems.

This year, we will be taking our nutritious holiday food and spending the Saturday night before Halloween with a group of families who (we hope) will enjoy our contributions to a big dinner. Rather than a planned raid of the neighborhood, we’re off to have fun.

Shifts focus from GIMME CANDY

Halloween Costume Ideas for the Natural Family

Little girl in witch Halloween costume

Halloween is such a beautiful holiday at the end of the harvest. How does it become yet another excuse to wrap our houses and kids in plastic and fill them full of sugar? That is not the way my family celebrates. We embrace the beauty of the season as well as the fun of dressing up and parading around the neighborhood. It’s one of the few times we chat with some of our neighbors. It’s a wonderful time to celebrate abundance by giving out treats—more on treats Friday.

Deciding on a Halloween Costume

Today I was talking to a friend about Halloween costumes. She is someone who is very concerned about her environmental impact, so she was looking for a costume to wear to a family party that wouldn’t require her to acquire. We narrowed her choices down to a preference to wear black.

How could she take advantage of what she has? Well, she has scraps of colorful organic cotton in abundance, so I suggested she be a thieving magpie, since these beautiful black and white birds are known to take little scraps and shiny things as they find them. I love the idea of a magpie Halloween costume for an adult or a child.

Then, I realized she could have a costume together with her daughter. Last year, I gathered such an amazing collection of links to babywearing Halloween costumes with parent and baby. My favorite was an adult spider’s web wearing a baby spider. Granted, the adult wears white with black lines, but it is worth the switch to wear one of the best Halloween costumes I’ve ever seen. My friend is working on convincing her daughter to be a spider, maybe reading a bit of Charlotte’s Web to help her identify with spiders.

As you are considering what kind of eco-friendly and economical Halloween costume you might wear, start with a few preferences or really great pieces that you already have and see what brilliant ideas they might spark. Empty out the play clothes box and let your imagination wander.

Great Green Halloween

Many great green minds have applied themselves to thinking of ways to lower impact of Halloween while still helping your family, especially your young children, have a beautiful holiday. I recommend checking out Halloween Tips from the Environmental Working Group.

Image © Poznyakov |

What Is Halloween for You?

A Girl and Her CatLike so many holidays and community celebrations, Halloween becomes another opportunity for commerce. I see a lot of parents struggling to find the best way to instill in their children deeper meanings for holidays.

Four inches of snow have definitively killed my pumpkin vines. These hearty pumpkins are my last harvest of the season. As we reluctantly let go of summer and face the coming winter, Halloween is a time of gathering within our communities and celebrating endings.

When NatureMom’s oldest turned four years old last year, she didn’t want Halloween to be all about candy. Her daughter was still young enough that going to a few houses was enough for her, so it was easy to make Halloween about community. She told her daughter that Halloween was a time to visit all of their neighbors, find out how their summer went if they hadn’t talked in a while, and ask about whether they are ready for winter. Sharing and talking with neighbors make the evening much less about candy and more about community.

My children know Halloween as a time when their friends and our big circle of families gather together for a celebration. We start in a local park with a farewell to the season, then we share a meal that includes foods from all of our gardens. After dinner, we let one lucky adult take the children out for trick or treating. The rest of the adults stay home laughing and talking until we all just give in and head home. For us, community is built into the holiday.

Among the endings we celebrate as a family are the lives of our loved ones who have died. The scary, ghoulish themes still so prevalent are our sometimes quite awkward way of acknowledging the dead. We like playing with those themes, too. We dress up and have fun. We also slow down for a bit and take the opportunity to tell one another where we’ve been.

A time of endings is also a time of beginnings. Marking the end of one year’s harvest also marks the beginning of the cycle of rest then revival. When my family members have gone around our circle talking about where we’ve been in the year, we then look forward, considering where will are going.

Holidays give us a chance to stop, acknowledge, and celebrate, encouraging our children to become aware of themselves and their own presence within a community.

Happy Halloween. I hope you get a chance to check in with your neighbors and share the end of your harvest.

Image © Mylaphotography |