The 10 Commandments of Baby Halloween Costumes

Children in Halloween costumes.
Mandatory. Chad Baker/Jason Reed/Ryan McVay/Photodisc

If you’re lucky enough to have a baby, mazel tov! From my perspective as a childless person, it seems like one of the best things about having a baby must be getting to dress her up for Halloween: It’s a chance to put an outfit on the kid that makes her even cuter than usual and then show that cuteness off to the world. (And OK, I acknowledge that there are probably other good parts of being a parent too.) But the question of how to costume your baby during one of possibly the only one or two Halloweens in which he or she will be this little is not an easy one. How best to approach this challenge? What are the rules? Glad you asked.

1. If you have a baby, you really should dress her up. It has come to my attention that not all baby owners dress up their babies for Halloween. This is wrong. Think of all the people who don’t have babies, or whose children have outgrown the baby stage. Are you really going to deprive us? At a time like this?

2. In addition to dressing the baby up, you must photograph the baby and disseminate those photos widely. Sorry, these are the rules. You don’t have to take your baby trick-or-treating or to a party, but you must put her in a costume—even if she’ll only wear it for 10 minutes—and you must take pics. (There’s still time to do this if you haven’t yet!) It doesn’t even matter if she’s awake in the pictures, honestly; just give us the pics. And then post those babies. Have you been on social media and/or in the real world lately? Things are very bad there. We need this. Do your part and create some content.

3. Minimal effort can yield great results. If you’re worried about Commandment No. 1, remember that literally anything works—even if the costume is something you bought at the last minute or really isn’t much more than a special onesie. It’s fine, just put a costume, any costume, on your baby! No need to reinvent the wheel here!

4. There are almost no wrong answers. You don’t have to be especially creative. Tons of babies dress up as pumpkins, and guess what? Each and every one of them makes an excellent pumpkin. On the other end of the spectrum, if you want to do something weird or special, go for it! This Halloween will be one of the few your baby isn’t old enough to express any preferences of her own, so if you want to dress her as Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born or a Chippendale’s dancer, I say go for it.

5. You can dress up with the baby if you want to, but this isn’t really about you. Baby cuteness is Priority No. 1. You are an afterthought. Matching costumes can be great, it’s true, but remember who’s the star here.

6. If your baby can’t crawl yet, take advantage of that. Have you ever seen a baby in a pea pod costume? Wonderful! And pea pods are just one of the many fine sack-shaped costumes available in the marketplace for babies who have legs but don’t really use them yet. Also great: mermaids, hot dogs, chili peppers. Any time a costume can emphasize some of the unique features of babies—their chubby cheeks, their bald heads, or in this case, the total incidental quality of their limbs—it’s a win.

7. If your baby is crawling, you may want to dress her as a four-legged creature. Like a bear, tiger, lion, mouse, etc. This is for the very scientific reason that then when your baby is crawling around in the costume, she will look impossibly cute.

8. Try to situate your baby with some other babies. If your baby is dressed as a pumpkin and happens to encounter other babies dressed as pumpkins, you can form a pumpkin patch. Or maybe you can do a couple’s costume with another baby. Even though this is sometimes only cute for problematic reasons—it’s like they’re boyfriend and girlfriend, except they’re babies!—we can put that aside for one day because, well, aww.

9. Consider coordinating with the dog. Though we learned from Commandment No. 5 that no one cares about the adults accompanying the baby, people will care, in the form of coos and squees, if the baby matches the puppy. Neither one of them may like wearing costumes, but everyone else will like it very much, and think of the pictures.

10. Dressing a baby as an old person always kills. A final tip: For some reason, it is always really funny when babies dress as the elderly, especially when they don little wigs made of cotton balls. The same is true for real old people—even though we’ve seen it before, everyone loves a Ruth Baby Ginsburg. Because no one can really criticize a baby. Your honor, I rest my case.