As Halloween approaches, my job as a parent of a two-year-old girl is to begin the search for an age-appropriate and affordable costume. Some toddlers of today are very commercial savvy and have a strong preference for a particular character or a subject that appeals to them. My daughter doesn’t verbalize a favorite, so it’s up to me to sort through the myriad of offerings and choose something by my own standards that is cute yet responsible and that might interest her enough to wear it for more than five minutes.

My difficulty with buying most commercially made costumes is the toxicity of the synthetic materials they are usually made of. The non-recyclable vinyl fabrics and accessories just make me cringe and the fear of my child catching fire from an unattended flaming Jack-O-Lantern keeps me on high alert all the while running around the neighborhood, essentially not being able to enjoy myself because I’m so pre-occupied with safety.

The most popular costumes change and cycle through the years, but there are a few timeless favorites that can be homemade or modified to be more eco-friendly. Any versions or modifications made with 100% cotton gauze or muslin instead of nylon or rayon is a safer and much more comfortable choice for active toddlers.

1. Princesses and fairy costumes are usually adorned with glitter and plastic jewels on the bodice, wings, tiaras, wand or shoes. I’m convinced it’s the sparkle that appeals to young girls and they will wear uncomfortable or itchy outfits despite themselves.

2. Any Sesame Street character is another timeless genre for young boys or girls. If you have a creative streak and a sewing machine, the likeness of these old-school buddies can be crafted with colored fabric, yarn, or other easily obtainable recyclable materials.

3. Knights and Dragons maintain their appeal to young boys primarily.

4. Super Heroes of all kinds will again show up on the doorstep for 2012 parties and trick-or-treating.

5. The tried-and-true Halloween staples will always be in the Top 5 list, whether it’s a witch, a ghost, a skeleton or a black cat or spider. Somehow the scare factor decreases when a frightful costume is wrapped around a cute baby face and adorning a mini-body.

Happy Halloween!