My second daughter was only a few weeks old when my husband came running into the back yard, where I was holding her, watching the sun glisten off her strawberry blonde hair.
“Put a hat on her!” my husband said urgently. He plopped a sunhat on her tiny head. “You have a lot to learn about raising a redhead,” he said to me.
It was true. Although my older daughter is fair too, having a redhead required me to really up my sun protection game. Add in the fact that my husband is from Australia, where sun protection is a national art, and you can say I’ve learned a lot, including how critical a good sun hat is. Now 3 and 7, my girls no longer argue about sun hats, because they know dad (and now mom) won’t budge on sun safety. Although it can take a while to win the battle of wills getting baby to keep a hat on, trust me when I say eventually it will click. And having a cool, comfortable and cute hat that baby loves will make that process even easier.
- Do babies need sun hats?
- iPlay Breathable Flap swim & sun hat
- Simplicity Hat Bucket Baby sun hat
- Janie and Jack Girl Mauve Chalk Dahlia Print head wrap
- Flap Happy Baby Swim flap hat
- Gap Baby Recycled Stripe Swim hat
- Green Sprouts Flap Sun Protection hat
- H&M Cotton Sun hat
- Hanna Andersson Sunblock Swim hat
- JAN & JUL GRO-with-Me Kids Floppy sun hat
Do Babies Need Sunhats?
In short, absolutely. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can damage your baby’s skin, so it’s important to use some form of sun protection when outside. While sunscreen is a great way to shield your kids from the sun’s harmful effects, it isn’t recommended for babies younger than six months old. What is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), however, is protective clothing—like a sun hat—that can help keep your little one safe from the sun’s harmful rays.
The AAP recommends that parents choose sun hats that have at least a 3 inch wide brim to ensure coverage from the sun. And in general, they note that you should choose tighter-weave fabric, as looser weaves let in more UV light. The tighter weave fabric, the more likely it is to have protection from the sun.
With that in mind, I set out to find the very best sun hats for the summer of 2021. Here are Truly Mama’s top picks for some of the best baby sun hats on the market.
iPlay Breathable Flap Swim & Sun Hat
This is the very first sun hat I ever bought, and still one of my go-to favorites seven years later. If you’re going to purchase one sun hat for the summer, make it the iPlay. This hat has everything: it’s light and comfortable, but its broad brim and neck flap provide lots of sun protection. The hat is made with UPF 50+ sun protection fabric, which means it blocks out 98% of harmful rays. Best of all, the hat is waterproof—the brim is even designed to keep its shape when wet—which makes this the perfect hat for baby while they splash in a kiddie pool.
When it comes to a good hat, security and fit are key to making sure that your baby actually wears it. The iPlay has an elastic band at the back, so that it can grow with baby and always have a snug fit. The ties beneath the chin are great for when your little one is stubbornly trying to pull his hat off. This hat is also extremely light, making it more comfortable for your little one.
- Machine washable
- Made with UPF 50+ sun protection polyester fabric
- Waterproof, and will keep the brim structure when wet
- Legionnaire-style extension protects baby’s neck
“I bought this hat for my 9 month old son to wear at the beach/pool. It is so light and airy yet offers great sun protection while on our beach walks. It is perfect to wear while in the baby carrier so that the sun is to the back of his head/neck. Thank you for such a perfect beach hat!”-BuyBuyBaby.com review
Keep in mind:
White is a tricky color with babies, but the fact that this hat is machine washable in cold water makes it slightly easier to keep clean. Plus, the light color is great for keeping your little one cool. If you’re determined to find a colorful hat, iPlay offers those in other styles.
Simplicity Hat Bucket Baby Sun Hat
If you’re searching for a classic style sun hat, look no further than the Simplicity Hat Bucket Baby Sun Hat. This wide-brimmed and fashionable hat is perfect if you want your baby to match your own wide-brimmed hat during your next trip to the beach. Can’t you just see the adorable photos already? That brim isn’t just for looks. It combines with the UPF 50+ UV Sun Ray Protection polyester to keep your little one well-protected from the sun. The adjustable tab means you can customize this hat to fit your little one, while the tie strap beneath the chin ensures that it will stay on.
There’s something about a wide-brimmed hat that screams summer. You and your baby can both channel your inner movie star next time you’re at the beach or poolside by donning matching wide-brimmed hats. The best features of this hat are the lightweight material, adjustable sizing and chin-tie.
- UPF 50+ UV sun ray protection
- Adjustable sizing using drawstring at the back of the hat
- Breathable, quick-dry material
- Size for 2-4 years: 21″ circumference
- Blocks 98% of sun rays
Keep in mind:
While a floppy hat can be downright adorable, it can also be a bit of a hassle. This hat isn’t designed to keep its shape when wet, so it can easily begin dropping into your baby’s eyes, which can add to their hat frustration. For active babies, a hat with a structured brim is likely the better choice.
Janie and Jack Girl Mauve Chalk Dahlia Print Head Wrap
If you're looking for a head wrap to cover your baby's curls or keep that style intact, this wrap from Janie and Jack is definitely where it's at. Featuring 100% cotton fabric that will be comfortable even when playing in the sun and sizes all the way from newborn to 12 years old, it's perfect for all ages and styles. It's also stretchable so it will fit over different hair styles and has matching options. Plus, it's machine-washable so you can simply toss and go when it's wash day.
While not specifically UV-protective, this head wrap is great if you need to keep your little one’s hair covered from sun or water in between wash days. Pair it with a brimmed hat for extra coverage or pick up a pair of baby sunglasses to keep your tot’s eyes shaded from the sun.
- 100% cotton
- Stretchy fabric to fit over different styles
- Matching sizes for the whole family
Keep in mind:
While downright gorgeous, this baby head wrap is on the pricier side, so price check before you buy if budget is a concern. Additionally, it’s not made of UV-protective materials, so keep this one for short outings or shaded playtime.
Flap Happy Baby Swim Flap Hat
If you’re trying to balance fashion and function, the Baby Swim Flap Hat is for you. The hat has a brim in the front and a flap in the back to keep your baby’s neck shaded. Unlike other hats that come in solid prints, the Baby Swim Flap Hat comes with a size guide to ensure the perfect fit for babies with head circumference up to 22”. The one downside to this hat is that it doesn’t have a tie or snap, so it’s best for little ones who have already been trained to leave their hats on their head (You go, mama!).
Once you’re done battling your little one and they’re happy to wear a hat, you can expand your sun hat repertoire. Put the Baby Swim Flat Hat at the top of your list. The firm brim and neck flap make this hat very functional. At the same time, the hat doesn’t sacrifice fashion, with details including fun patterns and a ruffled brim upping the cuteness factor.
- UPF 50+ material blocks 98% of harmful rays
- Made with quick-drying, lightweight material that’s great to toss in your bag and go
- Foam visor
- Made from sustainable materials and recycled plastic bottles
- Sizes S-XXL
Keep in mind:
If your little one still tries to ditch their hat on occasion, this isn’t the sun hat for you. The elastic gives a firm fit that can keep up with active little ones, but there are no snaps or ties to keep the hat in place if your baby tries to tug it off.
Gap Baby Recycled Stripe Swim Hat
What is it about stripes that are so irresistible? This summer, lean into a nautical theme with this blue-and-white floppy-brimmed sun hat from The Gap. What’s neat about this one is that you can feel good about supporting the earth while you’re out enjoying nature, since this hat is made with 60% recycled polyester. That’s a great way to keep your little one safe, while also protecting the world he’ll grow up in.
This baby sun hat lets you stick to your principles around consumerism, while also getting an adorable and functional sun hat for your little one. The 60% recycled polyester material blocks out 98% of harmful rays from the sun. In addition, the Velcro chin strap, which fastens near baby’s ear at the edge of the hat, will help keep it in place.
- Offers UPF 50+ sun protection
- Ribbed texture and stripes provide lots of character
- Sizes 0-24months
Keep in mind:
Of all the ways to fasten a hat, Velcro might be the most flimsy. If your little one tries to pull their hat off, the small Velcro section might not be enough to deter them.
Green Sprouts Flap Sun Protection Hat
When it comes to function, the Green Sprouts Flat Protection Sun Hat has everything that a great sun hat needs. There’s a long brim that shades not only your baby’s face, but her chest as well. Plus, a generous neck flap covers the back and sides of the neck. In short, this hat provides more protection than many of the competitors, while also being adjustable and easy to secure. What’s not to love?
If you want to ensure that your little one is as safe as possible from the sun, this is the hat for you. First, consider the coverage. The long, firm brim and wide neck flap protect your little one’s chest, neck and head from the sun. Despite that, the lightweight polyester material ensures that your baby won’t get too hot. The hat has an adjustable band at the back, which makes it easy to secure a snug fit, while the chin ties make it hard for baby to remove the hat when they’re not supposed to.
- Polyester material offers UPF 50+ protection
- Adjustable band to customize fit
- Chin ties keep the hat on baby’s head
- Lower price point than most competitors
Keep in mind:
The Green Sprouts Flap Sun Protection Hat is a really great option that comes with plenty of protection and fun colors. However, it is imported, so if a made-in-America hat is important to you, you’ll want to skip this one.
H&M Cotton Sun Hat
This cotton sun hat by H&M combines the cuteness factor of a baby bonnet with the function of a wide-brimmed beach hat. The result is simply irresistible, especially when it’s paired with H&M’s adorable prints. The chin ties are also cotton, so they won’t irritate your baby’s skin while they keep the hat firmly in place. Best of all, this hat is more affordable than many competitors, so you can get it in every print.
Want your little one to look vintage chic this summer? H&M has you covered with this adorable cotton sun hat. The textured yet lightweight fabric gives the hat a bonnet feel, while the small brim casts just enough shade on your baby’s face. This hat is available in solid prints or fun patterns, so you can match your mood.
- Machine washable
- Shorter brim won’t get in baby’s eyes
- 100% cotton construction
- Sizes NB through 4 years
“The fabric is natural and thin. Just exactly what my kid needs for hot days in summer! The hat also has strings so you don’t need to run along the beach to catch the hat every time wind takes it off my kids head!”-H&M review
Keep in mind:
Unlike many other sun hat options, this hat is not rated for sun protection. As always, it’s best to pair this sun hat with an infant-safe sunscreen containing at least SPF 50 for babies over 6 months old.
Hanna Andersson Sunblock Swim Hat
Did this hat actually make me squeal out loud when I saw it? Who’s to say, but this I know for sure: lobsters and nautical stripes are a dime a dozen on summer outfits. But orcas, narwhals and seals? That’s a look that’s sure to stand out. This hat is functional too, with a lightweight, quick-dry material and chin ties.
Your little one will stand out at the kiddie pool with this whimsical and fun pattern—especially if you splurge for the available matching swimsuit. But let’s focus on just the sun hat for now: it has everything you could want, including a wide brim, quick-dry fabric and chin ties to keep it in place. All I want to know is, do they have this in my size?
- Quick-dry nylon and spandex material
- Machine washable
- Available in multiple patterns and colors
- Sizes XXS-M (I thought this was a bit strange, but when in doubt, go by head circumference, which is 17.5″ to 22″)
Keep in mind:
What not to love about this one? Hanna Andersson has prices that are higher than some competitors, but they’re also known for having great sales.
JAN & JUL GRO-with-Me Kids Floppy Sun-Hats
Are you looking for a hat that will last your baby this summer and next? You can find it with the GRO-with-Me. There’s one size for infants under 6 months, and another that has an adjustable fit meant to work for babies ages 6-24 months. The hat also has a size for bigger tots and kids up to 12, so this is a great option for matching siblings. Plus, with more than 30 prints to choose from, there’s something for everyone.
This JAN & JUL hat is the only one in the roundup that has an important safety feature: a snap that will break the chin ties free if your little one ever becomes entangled in something. Although that’s unlikely, we love the peace of mind that the safety snap brings. Other perks of this hat are the very adjustable size, with toggle adjusters on the back of the cap and the chin straps. Having so many patterns to choose from just adds to the fun.
- Designed to fit ages 6-24 months with one size (an infant size is also available)
- 30+ patterns to choose from
- Break-away safety strap disconnects the chin straps if your child becomes entangled
- Folds to fit into a pocket for easy and compact travel
- 100% cotton
- Stay-up wide brim
Keep in mind:
There’s always a debate between one-size-fits-all and one-size-fits none. Although it’s great that this hat is so adjustable, that can also mean that it’s too big and floppy to properly fit babies at the younger edge of the age range.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should my baby start wearing a sun hat?
Putting your baby in a sun hat right from the start can help your baby get used to wearing something on their head and make it less of an issue once they can grab it themselves. This will help protect your newborn from the sun while also getting them accustomed to the sensation of wearing a hat.
Does my baby need to wear a sun hat with UPF?
Not necessarily. A sun hat with a UPF certification means it has been tested and proven to block out a percentage of ultraviolet rays, but you can find other fabrics that will also protect your little one. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends choosing clothes made with a tight weave. You can hold the fabric up to the light to see how tight the weave is and evaluate how much light shines through. The less light you see, the more protection the fabric will offer from the sun.
How do I keep my baby’s sun hat on?
Sometimes your child will resist wearing a hat no matter what you do. But there are some ways you can help your baby get used to it. First, it’s important to get the right fit and make sure the hat is comfortable for your baby. You can also get a hat with a chin strap and adjustable elastic to make the fit more snuggly. Starting early with making a sun hat a regular part of your baby’s routine can also help decrease battles over wearing one down the road.
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