Toddler on the beach wearing a sun hat

How To Keep A Sun Hat On A Toddler

Finding the right sun hat that your toddler is going to be happy wearing can be a total game changer. It means you aren’t going to be spending hours chasing them around a playground trying to get a sun hat back on their head. We’ve had plenty of feedback from parents over the years about the toddler sun hats their children like to wear and their tips for getting them to keep the hats on their kids. In this blog we've included tips on how to keep a sun hat on a toddler, what to think about when buying a sun hat and some of what we consider to be the best sun hats for kids.

Toddler wearing sun hat at the park

Getting the right fit for toddler sun hats

Firstly and fairly obviously the hat has to fit. If a sun hat is too big then it will slip over your toddlers eyes and get in the way of playing. If it’s too small it won’t sit properly on their head and will be slipping off and generally a bit uncomfortable to wear. A lot of kids sun hats now are sold with sizing and a head circumference measurements which is really handy as age ranges can be a bit misleading when it comes to hats. 


To measure head circumference you measure around the largest point of the head. The best way to do this is to use a flexible (tailors) tape measure and place it just above your child’s eyebrows and measure above their ears to the most pronounced part at the back of their head. If you can’t find a tape measure simply use a piece of string, shoe lace or equivalent then use it as you would the tape measure and get the measurement by holding the string up to a ruler afterwards. 

Once you have a head circumference you can choose a hat for your child easily online without the stress of them having to try it on in a shop. The ideal kids sun hat will give you a head circumference range and have some adjustability so you can fine tune the fit to get it just right for your child and expand it as their head grows.

Toddler wearing sun hat at the park

Tips for keeping sun hats on toddlers

Once you've chosen the right sized sun hat for your toddler you may need encourage them to keep it on their head. First remove any labels that might be scratchy, also explain that mummy and daddy, older siblings wear the same hats too and if that fails then simple distraction can often work.

  • Scratchy labels: A toddler will reject a hat if there are any annoying labels that scratch. Remember quite often toddlers don’t have that much hair so a label that is a bit scratchy can be really annoying for them and then they'll chuck the hat off. I also think that straw hats are not a great idea for young children as there’s too much potential for them to be a bit itchy.


  • Mini-Me Tactic: I’ve seen parents very successfully get a sun hat on to a toddler by chatting to them about the hat their older siblings or parents are wearing and telling them this is their special hat so they can be just like the big boys and girls or like Mummy or Daddy. This mini-me tactic can be really useful and once the hat is on for a minute or so you’ve usually won the battle.

  • Distraction: As I mentioned above as long as you can get a toddler to keep their sun hat on their hat for a minute they’ll probably forget it’s there and you can relax. For really young toddlers who are not going to understand the mini-me explanation a good old fashioned distraction is worth a go. Give them a breadstick, point out a dog or a truck, whatever fully occupies their mind and whilst they are engrossed get the hat on quick and then don’t fuss with it.

Toddler pulling a sun hat off

Different types of sun hats for toddlers and children

There are many of different types of sun hats for toddlers; Baseball caps, Booney hat, bucket hats and more. We've run through the main types of toddler sun hats here with some pros and cons.

Baseball Hats for Toddlers

These are really popular with parents and usually come with a strap that can be adjusted at the back.

Toddler baseball caps have rigid peak which shades their face from the sun and won't flop down in front of their eyes. Also a big plus is that baseball caps are really easy to pop on without any fuss. The downside of baseball caps is that they don’t give any coverage to the sides of the head or back of the neck, and as your toddler is likely to be running around all over he place this isn’t ideal. Trucker hats are very similar to baseball caps but tend to have a mesh material on the back of the cap which is great for ventilation but provides limited sun protection. 

School waterproofs fabric

Bucket Hats for Toddlers

Bucket hats are great for even, all round sun coverage. For toddlers it’s really handy if the hat has a chin strap which is either closed by velcro or has a quick release breakaway strap. With a chin strap secured their hat won’t blow off in the wind and also it makes it a bit more tricky for them to pull off. Bucket hats for toddlers are best when the brim isn't too wide or floppy so it isn't annoying them by falling in front of their eyes.


If you’re likely to be using this type of hat near water it probably best to get one that’s not made of cotton so it’s quicker to dry out if it ends up in the pool. Also bucket hats tend not to have size adjustment straps so you may find your child grows out of this type of hat faster other more adjustable hats.

School waterproofs fabric

Booney Sun Hats for Toddlers

Booney hats are like bucket hats but have a wider and stiffer brim. They give excellent sun shade with the all round brim being usually at least 2" wide. The kids versions are often made with foam inserts in the brim which gives structure so the brim doesn’t flop into your toddlers eyes and also bounces back into shape if the brim is folded. Handily the foam brim also means the hat will float if it ends up being "accidentally" dropped into the water!

School waterproofs fabric

Booney Hybrid Sun Hats for Toddlers

Hybrid Booney, I might have made this name up but personally I think this is the best type of sun hat for a toddler. This type of hat has a structured brim like a booney but with a neck cape at the back. This means you get the best combination of shade on your toddlers face and full neck coverage and they can fall asleep in a push chair or stroller comfortably without the hat riding up. This type of hat usually has an adjustable strap or elastic at the back so you can achieve a secure fit.

Sunday Afternoons Toddler Play Hat

Which are the best sun hats for toddlers

Any sun hat is better than no sun hat at all, and likewise if a toddler will happily keep a less than ideal sun hat on their head - then again this is better than nothing. However if you are looking for one of the best toddler sun hats to protect your child then the following brands are worth a look:

Sunday Afternoons is a US company that specialises designing hats for toddlers, children and adults. Their Sunday Afternoons Kids Play Hats are extremely popular and for the feedback from our customers is amazing:

"Bought this for my 2 year old granddaughter, best sun hat ever, it shades all of her face and is light weight and comfortable"

"Stays on. Can also wear in pool. Provides great sun protection."

"Such a great hat, brilliant coverage but my little girl can still see a lot."

If you want to see the full range of Sunday Afternoons kids' sun hats available in the UK then cheout our video below:

Patagonia kids range also have some great baby and toddler sun hats. The reversible Sun Bucket Hat is always really popular and starts at newborn sizes through to 5 year olds. If you are interested in the range of Patagonia kids sun hats then have a look at the short video below which we have put together covering the main features and sizing of the hats:

And finally...

And finally, if you are just having one of those days and your little one is point blank refusing to wear their sun hat no matter what you try and do to encourage them, then there's no harm in admitting defeat and going and play in the shade. The photo below is from a sun hat photo shoot where the game became to chuck the hat off your head as soon someone puts it on you… we persevered for half an hour and then gave up!

Toddler running away from sun hat

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