Do you want your children to spend more time outside playing, but you’re worried about sun protection?
Ears and scalps can burn in just minutes on a really sunny day, so it’s important to protect those areas.
The solution? Sun hats!
These hats let them have the carefree, fun childhood in the sun you want them to have while protecting their delicate little features from harmful rays.
We’ve rounded up the best sun hats for kids to help them stay safe while in the sun.
Product Comparison Table
Best for Babies
SwimZip Unisex Hats
- UPF 50+ sun protection fabric
- Corrosion resistant eyelets
Best for Girls
Tuga Bucket Hats
- Excellent sun protection
- Lightweight and wide brim
Best for Bigger Kids
Outdoor Research Rambler Hats
- One-handed drawcord adjustment
- Floating foam-stiffened brim
Best Wide Brim
I Play Sun Hats
- Quick-dry material
- Adjustable toggle
- Wicking liner for comfort
Best Chin Strap
Outdoor Research Helios Hats
- Water-resistant & breathable
- Wicking and quick-drying
- Breakaway removable chin cord
Best for Boys
Dinosaur Flap Hat
- Optimal protection
- UPF 50+ fabric
- Breathable and quick drying
Best for Toddlers
Twinklebelle Sun Hat
- 100% Cotton
- Breathable 50+ UPF fabric
- Easy toggle adjustment
- 1 When Should Kids Start Wearing Sun Hats?
- 2 How to Choose a Sun Hat for Kids
- 3 The Best Sun Hats for Kids of 2021
- 4 The Bottom Line
When Should Kids Start Wearing Sun Hats?
Sun hats are a great idea right from the very beginning. They make sun hats you can strap under your baby’s chin, fastening with a snap or a drawstring so they stay put.
A newborn’s skin is so delicate and unaccustomed to sunlight that they can burn easily. It can set them up for dehydration depending upon how long they’ve been out in the sun.
In addition, a single severe sunburn as a baby or child can double their risk of someday developing melanoma (1).
If you want to make sure your child misses the most harmful sun rays of the day, keep them out of the sun during the hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.
You should keep using sun hats until your child no longer lets you as they get bigger. But you’ll be able to call the shots for years, which will give your child plenty of sun protection.
While they’re young, teach them about sun safety so they’ll remember that lesson as they get older — you can use fun videos to help you.
How to Choose a Sun Hat for Kids
When your child is heading outside, you may think any old hat is good enough to offer sun protection. And it’s definitely better to use a regular hat than nothing at all, but your best bet is to look for one specifically made for use in the sun.
Here are some features they should have:
A UPF Rating
Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) is much like the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) that is used for sunscreens. The only difference is that UPF applies to clothing, not a lotion.
A UPF rating is used to let consumers know how well a clothing article or hat can block ultraviolet radiation.
If an article of clothing or hat has a UPF of 25 that means that just 1/25th of the sun’s UV radiation will work its way through the fabric and onto a person’s skin (2). The highest UPF factor is 50 plus.
While you can buy hats that don’t have UPF ratings, you may not be getting great protection from the sun. Still, if you don’t have a hat with a UPF rating with you and your child is about to get some sun exposure, a regular hat is better than using nothing at all.
A Back Flap
Back flaps are a good idea for sun hats because they help protect your child’s back of the neck from sunburn.
If you have a daughter with long hair, it’s not as much of an issue — their hair will help protect their neck. But if you have a son or a daughter with short hair, you should consider getting a hat with a back flap.
On some of the hats, the neck flap also goes down over the ears and onto the side of the neck.
That’s particularly useful because ears are often one of the most exposed and sun damaged spots on men. As such, it’s one of the prime areas for skin cancer to strike (3).
A Wide Brim
The brim should be wide enough and long enough to provide enough shade for your child’s face. That will give their nose additional protection from the sun.
You can get that added protection with bucket style hats that have the same length of the brim all the way around. Or you can opt for a trucker style hat with a wide front brim.
A Chin Strap
Chin straps on hats are good for more than just babies. They also are a great idea for older kids, particularly ones who like to wear their hats but are in windy areas, like beaches.
For toddlers who can’t stand having a tight chin strap against their skin, you can opt to use a drawstring cord instead. It’ll stop the hat from blowing away in windy conditions.
If you use a drawstring cord type of strap that does hug snugly to the chin, it’s best if it is a breakaway chin strap to prevent choking or suffocation hazard.
A Moisture Wicking Barrier
When your child is outside in the summer, they’re going to become a sweaty mess in record time. Part of this is because it’s hot out, and part of it will be because they’re kids and they naturally are going to be very active.
You might be content sitting in the shade, sipping on an ice-cold beverage while you watch them, but they’re going to be running around like they’ve just gotten a Get Out of Jail Free card.
Because they’ll be so sweaty, it will be good if there is a headband or sweat-band built into the hat to absorb all the moisture from their foreheads.
The Best Sun Hats for Kids of 2021
Here are our favorite sun hats for kids.
1. Tuga Girls Reversible Bucket Sun Hat
This hat is like getting two hats in one because it’s a reversible design that lets you choose between wearing a brightly-colored pattern on one side or a solid color with a little pattern on the brim on the other side. You’ll have a lot of colors to choose from with this bucket hat.
The fabric of the hat has a 50 plus UPF rating so you can rest easy that you’re blocking 98 percent of both UVA and UVB rays.
The hats will even work for sensitive skin. And it’s so lightweight, your child will feel comfortable wearing it all day.
It has an adjustable chin strap you can remove if your daughter won’t be out in windy conditions.
The hat has a wide brim to protect your child, and they come in four sizes.
2. SwimZip Unisex Wide Brim Sun Hat
This hat is a great choice for babies because it comes with an adjustable chin strap that will fit around thinner babies and those who have lots of adorable chins from all that baby fat. The chin strap breaks away to help avoid choking hazards.
It also has a head strap to make it even more adjustable so your baby will be comfortable.
It comes with the highest UPF rating, 50 plus. It has a wide brim all around the hat to give your baby shade from every angle. It comes in multiple colors so you’ll be able to find one to coordinate with whatever your baby is wearing.
Here is one of the features that kicks this hat up to the next level, especially if you’re looking for a hat for your child to wear to the beach — it floats!
3. Outdoor Research Kid’s Rambler Sun Hat
Your big kid will feel like an explorer wearing this hat around. It looks like something an archaeologist would wear as he heads off for a dig. You’ll get a few solid colors to choose from, which may be more appealing to bigger kids for matching their outfits than a bright pattern would be.
While it’s not a 50 plus UPF rating, it does have a decent UPF rating of 30 plus. It also has a stiffened brim so it won’t fold down around them and it will give a lot of shade.
Older kids can get a lot sweatier than younger kids because they’ll probably spend more time outside with their friends. This hat has a headband in it for added moisture control and for more comfort.
The hat also has a drawcord, which can be adjusted, as well as a breakaway chin cord for emergencies.
4. i Play Baby and Toddler Sun Hat
This hat has a wide, oversized brim that will keep your baby’s skin well protected from the harsh rays and it has a UPF of 50 plus.
It comes in a number of solid colors — they don’t have any wild-looking patterns that will clash with your baby’s clothes. There are bright colors as well as neutral ones that will go with any outfit.
These hats will fit babies and toddlers from newborn to 4T. They have chin straps you can tie to keep the hat anchored to your child’s head in windy conditions, like a day at the beach. You’ll be able to concentrate on keeping them safe and having fun instead of keeping track of their hat all day.
If this hat gets dirty, you can toss it in the washing machine to clean it. The hat also has an adjustable toggle that will keep a tighter fit on your baby’s head and can be loosened as your baby grows.
5. Outdoor Research Helios Sun Hat
Best Sun Hat With a Chin Strap
This sun hat offers a UPF of 30, and it also has an external drawcord adjustment. The chinstrap is removable in case your child doesn’t want to wear it some days.
While these hats could be considered unisex because of their muted colors, they do look more suited for boys than for girls.
It comes in three different sizes, and it has a transaction headband to wick away moisture from your child’s forehead. The hats are lightweight and dry quickly if they get wet from a day at the beach or because of excessive sweat.
The brim is wide enough to keep the sun off their face, but not so wide that it would impact them if they’re having a very active day and don’t want a huge brim in their way. They can be rough and hands-on while wearing this hat.
6. Dinosaur Flap Hat
This sun hat should be given the stamp of approval by boys everywhere because of its cool dinosaur prints. While kids will like it for its appearance, parents will appreciate that it has a long flap on the sides and back to protect their child’s neck and ears from the sun.
The flaps are breathable so your child won’t be irritated and won’t feel like they’re carrying the weight of the world on their head. Because the material is so lightweight, they’ll get some breathability for their head even while they’re being protected.
It also has a long bill on the front of the hat to give plenty of shade for your boy’s nose.
This hat has a UPF rating of 50 plus and is made of swimsuit material so it’ll work well whether your little dino is in or out of the water.
You’ll have to measure your child’s head to ensure a good fit because there are four sizes available group according to age.
7. Twinklebelle Toddler Sun Hat
These hats come in more than just the standard solid colors or crazy patterns — they also offer plaid and argyle. Made out of 100 percent cotton, they are good if your baby has sensitive skin.
The 50 plus UPF rating means you can trust this hat to offer superior sun protection — the best you can get. It has a chin strap that will keep it anchored to your baby’s head, which is essential because if your child takes it off often, it won’t do much as a sun protector.
The hat folds easily so you can stick it in your pocket or diaper bag when it’s not in use. The front brim of the hat is reinforced so it will stay up instead of flopping into your baby’s eyes.
The hat comes in three sizes that will work for babies all the way through school-aged children.
The Bottom Line
Our number one pick for best sun hats for kids is the Tuga reversible bucket hat, if you have a girl. If you have a boy, you may want to consider the SwimZip unisex hat.
The reason the Tuga hat is a good pick is because it’s reversible — it’s like getting two hats for the price of one. And the 50 plus UPF rating will certainly help you sleep better at night.
Your child will be comfortable wearing it and it has a removable, adjustable chin strap.
A sun hat is one extra thing to think about, but remember, whatever steps you can take now to prevent excessive sun exposure will help your child in the future.