As Halloween approaches, I always hear debate among the parenting community about taking infants trick-or-treating. Parents put so much effort into dressing their wee ones up as everything from pumpkins to Yoda, but they're oddly hesitant to show them off to the neighborhood! Our elders cite “overstimulation” concerns and fear of germs. The all-grown-up and sophisticated parents insist that young moms and dads should hibernate in their homes on All Hallows Eve, lest people think we're tacky and “using” our babies to garner free candy.
So let me be the one to say it: I had an entire maternity ward staring at nether regions as the fiery vengeance of infantile life burst forth from my loins. The least you can do is hand over a mini Snickers.
The first Halloween I spent with my baby was a memorable one. Nate and I lived in a not-so-safe neighborhood where we never felt great about going out for a stroll. Come candy-begging time, however, our hood was overrun with sugar-happy youth. It was the one night per year that patrol was in full force on our street, and I was hell-bent on taking advantage of it. I dressed my family up in matching cowboy outfits and went for a walk. And it felt GOOD.
Our six-month-old passed out in his stroller by the time we reached the second house, at which point it was just an old cowboy and a cowgirl with big shiny buckles, pushing our Britax from home-to-home. We got our fair share of odd looks and the occasional remark like, “Hey! I don't think that baby's gonna be eating this Tootsie Roll,” but for the most part it was a positive experience. Old women cooed over our sweet sleeper, and giddy teens gushed over the tiniest cowboy boots they'd ever seen. My husband and I filled our pillow sacks full of candy that we unabashedly gorged on over spooky movies late into the night (bonus! a stroller makes a great space to stash the sweets).
It was memorable and special, and I don't care what anyone else thought. We've since repeated our stroller-toting Halloween with each of our young children. Instead of letting a holiday slip by unobserved, we made it our own. We stayed up late starting a tradition with our family, laughing and talking about how our lives had changed for the better. For an exhausted couple who hadn't gotten a date night in months, it was exactly what we needed.
So go ahead, new parents. Carve pumpkins, get dressed up, and use your baby to go trick-or-treating. I've saved the King-sized candy bars for you.