Kids Costumes For Halloween – Developmental Benefits Parents Needs To Know!

Kids Costumes For Halloween

Kids costumes for Halloween are so versatile and many are basically dress up clothes!

Costumes are a great way for kids to really get into pretend play scenarios.

Did you know that there are 100’s of kids dress up clothes that can also be used as Halloween costumes?

I say use them all interchangeably and make sure to have them accessible year round.

The Year Round Developmental Benefits Of Kids Costumes For Halloween

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More and more studies are showing that the benefits of all kinds of play, including pretend play, are extremely important to a child’s development in the early years.

Below are just a few ways how kids costumes can be incorporated into pretend play and what the benefits are for your child’s development.

Help Develop Theory of Mind

Theory of mind is being about to take another person’s perspective.  Pretend play is one of the best ways that this can develop.

While dressing up, children take on roles of other people that they may be familiar with from real life situations or that they have heard about through books and stories.

My children loved playing “restaurant” with their pretend play kitchen when they were younger!

They also had this great chef’s costume from Melissa and Doug.

Another role play favorite in our house was pretending to be a “doctor” or “dentist”.

Their doctor costume was also from Melissa and Doug.

By taking on these different roles children can develop compassion for others.

They also learn to see things from another person’s perspective.

It can also increase their ability to work and interact with others.

While playing “doctor”  I once heard my daughter say to her younger brother,  “this needle might hurt a bit, but you need it so you can be healthy. I don’t want to hurt you”.

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Stimulate Creativity and Imagination

This is probably a given but I still want to point it out.

When children play “dress-up” they are transported into fictional worlds that they have created.

My kids also had some hand me down dinosaur costumes that they would pull out of the dress up closet every once in awhile.

They loved stomping and climbing around our basement pretending to be dinosaurs.

I have heard them talk about what dinosaurs might eat and how big they really were.

This simple pretend play activity has also brought up some good questions.

Like when did dinosaurs become extinct and what does extinct mean.

Children who are encouraged to use their imagination often are more creative adults.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be artists or musicians though.

What it does mean is that their ability to think creatively can allow them to become “out of the box” thinkers.

Allow for Self Expression

Children can pretend to be whoever they want when they put on a costume.

By being someone else they can experiment with new ideas, thoughts and feelings.

This allows them to make decisions about things they may like or dislike about the role they are playing.

For example, your child dresses up as a firefighter.

They get on their ride one fire engine and drive around finding fires to fight.

If they are playing with other children (or his parents, siblings, etc.) a discussion may arise where the dangers of fires are talked about.

Perhaps this makes your child realize that they don’t actually want to be a firefighter in real life because fires are dangerous.

But on the other hand they may decide that it is more important to save others and do it safely as a trained firefighter than it is to be afraid of the fire.

When a parent or caregiver gets involved in the dress up play, these types of questions and answers will come up more often.

Facilitate Speech & Language Development

Children who are dressed up and engaging in role play typically are not very quiet.

You can hear them talking about what is going on, what needs to be done, what other roles there are in the scenario, what they think a “______” might say, etc.

Language development encompasses much more than simply speaking.

During dress up pretend play children are learning skills such as:

Problem Solving – e.g. what if the astronaut encounters an alien on her moon landing?

Prediction – e.g. what will happen if the Doctor gives the baby a needle?

Understanding and Using Prepositions – e.g. up, down, in, on, under, beside, in front, behind, etc.

Sometimes the role playing gets so specific that you can hear children changing the tones of their voices depending on their role.

Strengthens The Ability To Self Regulate

Young children struggle with the ability to self regulate their emotions and behavior.

However, dressing up allows them to practice this skill.

Role playing encourages children to take on characteristics of the person their are emulating.

When they do this, children must self regulate (even for a brief time) their actions to fit those of the person they are pretending to be!

One Thing To Note

I do want to point out that you should not feel that you have to buy your child top of the line dress up clothes.

The point is that Halloween Costumes for kids can be used year round.

However, if you are looking for a specific costume, the Melissa and Doug ones are great both from a selection and quality standpoint!

Alternatively, you and your child can get really creative and make costumes from items found around the house.

My kids made surgical masks out of paper towels and pipe cleaners before they had their doctor dress up costume (in the pre-covid days!).

A superhero cape could be made out of an old shirt or pillowcase.

Watch the video below to see just how easily a superhero cape can be made!

Bottom Line

Kids costumes for Halloween should be part of a child’s toy box.

The dramatic play ideas your children will come up with are endless!

And they are learning so much while happily playing.

kids costumes for halloween



  1. AmDetermined

    This article on kids costume for Halloween makes me happy being a parent.  Based on the points that you have listed I am so much waiting for the day that my 3 month old baby will be able to play like this.  I will for sure save this article for future use and I plan to share it for other parents  on my social media to benefit from your post.  

    I love how easy you make it seem for kids to learn while playing without having to have worksheets and textbooks!

    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks!  You still have a bit more time before the pretend play stage.  Usually by the age of 2 kids love to get dressed up!

  2. Adyns68

    I have always liked the idea of having the kids imagine, design and make their own costume, it is really part of the fun. My kids and I will take the time to make them together. And yes, they may not look pretty fancy or exactly as a store-bought one. But it is well worth the fun we have during the entire process of making them.  I’m sure they will have just as much fun pretending with homemade Halloween costumes as they will with store bought ones.

    Great post you made!


    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Making costumes is a great idea!  A DIY kids costume can be used for Halloween, but just like store bought costumes or dress up clothes they can be used year round for pretend play!  Have fun making your costumes!

  3. Steve

    I have two children who absolutely love to play pretend. My son will wear either a Star Wars costume or his tool belt and work on “projects” around the house all the time. He is able to turn most any object he finds into some kind of role-playing object. 

    My daughter loves to dress up into her princess dresses and often will wear her mommy’s high heels. She loves giving checkups while pretending to be doctor.

    I love how you take a look at why it is important for children to have the opportunity to pretend and use their imaginations. So many children are hooked on technology and I think that while they may be using learning apps, they are missing out on such an important part of development.

    Thanks for writing this really cool article!

    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks Steve!  I love hearing about kids who love to pretend and partake in imaginative, creative play.  There is so much learning that occurs when children pretend!  

  4. Antoinette Frank

    Hi. I have twins and I’m really looking forward to when they really start getting into dress up playing.

    We have a fairly tight budget so I was planning on making more costumes, but I’m not a sewer at all. Do you have any more ideas or links for where I can find ways to make costumes at home? Without having to sew? Lol.

    I like using boxes for things. As a kid we had a lot of boxes and sticks to play with, but I don’t really recall what we did or how to make anything with such simple materials.  Besides using a lot of duck tape. Lol. We have some of the basic craft elements for kids and we’re building it up over time so when they’re big enough we will have a good supply.

    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Antoinette.

      Halloween costumes can definitely get costly.  I am also not a sewer so I haven’t even attempted to make any myself.  I am sure if you head over to Pinterest and search for “Easy DIY Kids Halloween Costumes” you will get a lot of ideas.

      I love cardboard too!  My kids often raid our recycling bins to make their own upcycled crafts and projects.  You might like this article I wrote all about kids playing with cardboard.

  5. Katie

    I just loved your article! My children loved to dress up and have had many adventures along the way, now it’s their children doing the same! 

    I love all the tales and stories they have to tell, especially when all the wee people are sorting out who is going to be what character and how they all have to play their part we all have such fun.

    Lets face it many adults still like to dress up to, guess there is a part of us that never truly grows up. Halloween costumes can be used at anytime seems a shame to just use them for the one occasion

    1. Tanya (Post author)

      I also have fond memories of playing dress-up.  But for some reason my mom always packed up the Halloween costumes every year.  We had a separate box full of dress up clothes.  But these were mostly her old clothes.  So we played lots of “school” and “going to work”.

      My kids have a bin full of costumes! Most of these are old Halloween costumes.   I only take out the ones that no longer fit.  But we keep adding to it.

  6. Jessica Hirschenhofer

    I love this article! Not many people emphasize the importance of pretend play these days. With everything hyper scheduled and rigidly outlined for them, children rarely have the time to just play and pretend. I think using halloween costumes as year round dress up clothes is a great idea and I love the how to video you share for a superhero cape. My kids will definitely have a box of dress up clothes when they are old enough and I will be checking out the Melissa and Doug line for them. Thanks for such a great piece!

    1. Tanya (Post author)

      You’re correct Jessica. Nowadays time for free play needs to be scheduled into a child’s busy day, which is quite unfortunate. Thanks for taking the time to read the article and leave a comment!

  7. Randy

    Some great things to think about here – didn’t realize how important this aspect of play is for kids (dress-up/act out kinds of play). The costumes are a great way to facilitate this. You have a lot of good information here and the costumes shown at the bottom are cute – thanks!

    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Randy,

      Thanks for your comment! I love when toys (in this case kids costumes for Halloween) have multiple uses. Pretend play is so important to a child’s development, so why not facilitate it with costumes you are going to buy anyway!


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