Sun Safety: How to help your little one keep a hat on

A hat offers excellent sun protection for your little one. Choosing a safe sunscreen for babies and toddlers can be tricky, and it isn’t recommended for babies age 0 to 6 months. But equally as challenging is the task of helping your little one keep a hat on. 

Hat Tricks - Sun safety for kidsAll across America’s playgrounds, parents are chasing their fleeing children, waving sun hats in the air, pleading and negotiating. Outdoor play is essential for our children’s well-being. Thankfully, you do not have to compromise sun safety this season!

Naturally, we have a few tricks up our sleeve for you!

“I’m too itchy!”

Many children and infant hats have tags sewn into the seam – a perpetual source of irritation for some children. In addition, synthetic fibers such as polyester or nylon, can be scratchy and stiff.

Hat Trick: Snip those in-sewn tags off carefully, leaving no troubling rough edges. Consider natural fabrics like organic cotton, hemp or bamboo that allow air to circulate freely around little heads and ears. Avoid synthetic hats labeled with a UPF rating – many have been treated with chemical UV absorbers or chemical sunblock and off-gas a nasty odor your child may be trying to distance herself from.

“I’m too hot!”

With good intentions, some hats are designed to stay on so that the brim hugs the child’s head, optimizing the chances of the hat staying put. However, while that pressure helps to keep the hat on, unfortunately, this design traps heat around little heads.

Hat Trick: Help your little one keep a hat on by choosing one that’s designed to ‘sit’ gently on your child’s head, such as a bonnet or bucket style that allows air to flow freely.

“Simon says!”

Remember the first time your child used a gesture or phrase that sounded like it came straight out of your mouth? That’s because children learn by imitation, and modeling your choices is no exception.

Hat Trick: If you are not doing so already, be sure to keep a hat on yourself. Your child will soon see that ‘we put on our hats before we leave our house’. A simple way to motivate your child to wear her own!

“Fit to be tied.”

Some children will be bothered by the edges of a Velcro closure rubbing against their chin. Others may be preoccupied with the possibility of a snap closure accidentally snapping their skin. Says Dr. Uyen Nguyen, a Los Angeles-based occupational therapist working with children with sensory processing challenges, “Some children cannot stand pressure. Others find clothes irritable and scratchy. We all have individual differences. When we accept, learn and connect, we can find a solution.”

Hat Trick: If your child feels everything from the seams in her socks to the tags on her clothes, consider opting for a hat with soft straps that tie under the chin, or just to the side. That way, the hat can be worn snug, loose to allow room for braids and pony-tails. Or if the hat sits easily on the child’s head, straps can simply be left hanging down.


It’s much more challenging to encourage a habit when we are wishy-washy about it ourselves. Our children look to us for guidance. Help them out by keeping your routine consistent.

Hat Trick: Hang a special hook at eye level near the front door where her hat can ‘live’. Upon re-entering the house, it can be her job to help the hat go back to its home. Hang a fun photo of your child wearing her hat, right above the hook. Her hat will become the last thing she puts on as she leaves the house, and the first thing she takes off as she comes in the house.

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