Children's Halloween Costumes: What to Consider Before Purchasing

Make sure you know what to look for when shopping for your kids' Halloween costumes

Children's Halloween Costumes: What to Consider Before Purchasing
Image: Morguefile
October 24, 2017

A seizure at a U.S. port of two shipments of children's Halloween costumes with safety issues by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection resulted in many questions about what parents should look for when buying Halloween costumes.

Here are some things to consider:

Are costumes required to be flame resistant?

Yes. Costumes can't be made of fabrics that burn rapidly and intensely. This applies to all clothing, including Halloween costumes.

Are accessories such as wigs, beards, and wings also required to be flame resistant?

Yes. Both Halloween accessories and toys must meet all federal flammability requirements.

Different Halloween costumes have different warnings. Some say "flame resistant." Some say "keep away from flames." Some say nothing at all. Does this mean that some items are flame resistant and others are not?

No. All costumes must meet federal flammability requirements. This doesn't mean that textiles won't burn. All textiles can burn and should be kept away from flames. Parents should look for costumes made from synthetic fibers like nylon and polyester because these materials are less likely to ignite, will resist burning, and will extinguish more quickly if they do ignite.

Manufacturers sometimes promote this by putting a "flame resistant" label on the package. The warning label to keep a costume away from flames is important advice that is provided by the manufacturer.

How can a parent tell if a Halloween costume is safe?

Parents should have two primary concerns when it comes to the safety of Halloween costumes. First, check for any labels on the costume about its flammability and the materials that the costume is made of. Secondly, choose well-fitting costumes that are not too big and billowy.

The seized costumes mentioned above contained lead. How can parents be certain that a costume meets federal lead requirements?

All children's Halloween costumes sold in the U.S. must meet federal lead safety standards. Manufacturers must test costumes if they are made with certain materials or components that could contain lead like buttons, snaps and appliques, as well as other Halloween-themed accessories.