Whether your little one has a starring role in his "school" production of the Wizard of Oz or you are just looking for a fall-themed Halloween outfit, turning your child into a super-cute scarecrow doesn't have to cause you costume-making anxiety. Enlist your child's help and work together to create an imaginative costume that he will actually want to wear.
1. Involve Your Child
Don't take on the costume making process all by yourself. Just because your child isn't quite ready for her first appearance on Project Runway doesn't mean that she can't help you with her scarecrow outfit. Start by brainstorming ideas together. Make a list of costume ideas and materials that you might need. When you actually start building her costume, ask her to help you gather materials. She can also help with basic parts of the assembly process, such as cutting out paper patterns. As an added bonus, doing things such as using kids' safety scissors or tracing pattern shapes can help your child build her fine motor skills. Even if she only takes a small part in the design process, when the costume is complete she will feel a sense of pride in ownership that will make both of you smile.
If you aren't an expert seamstress, don't worry. While using a ready-made pattern or creating your own allows you to tailor your toddler's costume to his specifics, you can also use regular clothing as part of his dress-up outfit. Start with a fall-colored flannel button-down in reds, browns and oranges. Use one that is slightly oversized so that you can stuff it later to look like he is filled with hay. Add a pair of jeans or overalls for a farm-fresh look. Complete the outfit with a rope belt -- you can use thick yellow yarn as well -- and a straw hat. Stuff his shirt with a few soft towels to give it bulk and add a tuft of hay coming out of the cuffs.
Along with the imaginative dress that goes with costume making, adding a touch of make-up to your toddler's scarecrow will create a special effect. Create a triangle shape on your child's nose, add spotted freckle dots on the cheeks or come up with your own creative idea. Keep in mind your toddler's young skin is most likely much more sensitive than yours. Avoid harsh costume make-up that may cause rashes and never use anything that wasn't made especially for the face. Your toddler's finger paints may seem like the perfect solution to painting a red scarecrow nose on your little one, but these aren't safe for the face. Check the label to make sure that the make-up is non-toxic. If you have doubts, look up the ingredients on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's website or call your child's pediatrician. Always do a small spot test, trying out the make-up on a tiny area, before applying it everywhere.
While it's certainly fun to dress up like a scarecrow, make sure that this costume experience is also safe. Your toddler's newly developed motor skills means that he may have issues walking, or rather tripping. Avoid stuffing the bottoms of his pants with hay, as the streaming strands could pose a tripping hazard. Use a few light-colored pieces or add reflective tape to some spots of your child's costume if he plans to trick-or-treat at night. If you decide to buy ready-made costume pieces, make sure that they are clearly marked as flame-retardant before your little one heads off on a jack o-lantern-filled walk.