Safety Tips for Playing Dress-Up With Your Kids



No matter what occasion your child is dressing up for, whether it is Halloween, a birthday party, a theme day at school or a costume soiree, don’t forget to take these safety tips into consideration when choosing costumes.


Flammable Costume Materials

No child’s costume should ever include flammable materials in its construction. Kids’ Halloween costumes will be near lit jack-o’-lanterns, while other occasions might see them too close to birthday candles, hot car exhausts when they get dropped off at the party, and winter fires for keeping cozy warm. So, while we don’t expect children to be in hazardous situations while in costume with their friends and family, eliminate this one source of risk by making sure that your kids are garbed in the right kind of materials.

Check labels on purchased costumes. Many will have the words “Flame Resistant” on the label. If not, you can judge how flammable the material is by its components. Polyester and nylon are resistant to flame, and so these are good choices for masks, wigs and other costume components. Whether the fabric of the main part of the costume is flame resistant or not, kids’ costumes should avoid flowing sleeves and pant legs that could brush against a fire source without your child realizing.

Masks With Obstructed Eye Holes

Masks are a lot of fun. Most kids love them because they are easy and fun. But they’re also notoriously hard to see out of.

When you’re shopping for a mask for your child’s costume, make sure that she tries it on carefully before you allow her to go outside with it. One-size-fits-all masks can be too big on small heads, and it only takes a slight misplacement to block kids’  vision. Encourage your child to wear the mask for a few hours before she goes out, and if she has problems seeing out of it before it’s time for the party, you can always take a sharp pair of scissors and gently enlarge the eye holes a little.

For the type of face mask that you tie around the back of the head, problems are usually caused by the straps slipping or breaking and being refastened incorrectly during the party. Help the mask stay on right the first time with some hair clips.

Too-Tight Capes

What do superheroes, witches, warlocks and princesses all have in common? A cape. And so, capes are often an important piece of a child’s dress-up wardrobe. But incorrectly worn capes can be a choking hazard for playing kids. Never put a toddler in a cape, in case he gets it caught on something while no one is watching.

Older kids should be able to wear capes safely, but make sure that the neck fastening isn’t too tight. A quick-release fastener such as hook-and-loop tape or a snap makes it extra safe.

Wrong-Size Shoes

Did you find just the right red shoes for Ironman? Or the right princess slippers? Footwear is an important aesthetic point of a costume, as any six-year-old can tell you. But just because the shoes look great doesn’t mean your kids can play in them safely. High heels put the wearers at risk of twisting ankles or tripping and hurting themselves. Shoes that are too big make it easy to fall down, while shoes that are too tight shoes cause painful blisters and tired feet the day after the party.

Set a rule that every costume has to have sensible shoes. A pair of neutral black shoes could be the answer to success with any costume. Or try decorating an old pair of shoes that fit so that they match the costume.

Dangerous Props

Pirates need cutlasses and queens require scepters. But kids dressing up as these characters need soft, pliable props to play with. Just because Thor wields a war hammer doesn’t mean your mini-Thor should get a real hammer. Look for props that are made of soft and safe materials.

Lion Costume Image Photo credit: Roni G CC BY-ND


About the Author: Marguerite Jones is a stay-at-home mom who enjoys helping her kids choose their costumes. She throws costume parties for kids and adults for all major holidays, and sometimes just for fun.


  1. Janet W. says

    These are all great tips and I will keep this in mind especially when it comes to Halloween this year!

  2. Sandy VanHoey says

    I appreciate all these tips. Safety has to be #1 with our children. I know my grandson is forever in costume even around the home.

  3. Jessica B. says

    Thanks for sharing these tips. My son is just getting into dressing up, so I will keep these in mind when buying costumes and accessories.

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