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How to keep a hat on a toddler

Does your toddler always seem to wiggle out of their hat? Here’s my best tried and true advice for how to keep a hat on a toddler!

Toddlers are so fun. I mean, really they are but also, they can get on your every nerve.

And sure, they’re learning boundaries and seeing what they can get away with. But man it can be frustrated.

Today’s post was prompted by this morning’s activity. We went to our local county park which features a long wooden dock stretching across marsh to an island in the middle with a circle loop trail.

Halfway back across the dock, my daughter took her hat off and tossed it off the dock. It happened so quickly that neither my husband or I could react.

Of course it landed 8 feet down and 10 feet away in pluff mud, which if you aren’t familiar is basically stinky, saltwater quicksand we have here in coastal South Carolina.

I was shocked that my husband was able to fish the hat back out with a long branch. Literally, shocked.

But, anyways, I wanted to hop on and chat about keeping hats on your kids’ heads so you don’t end up laying on your stomach on a dock trying to fish their hat out of the mud. Again.

fishing a baby hat out of the mud
Fishing a kid’s hat out of the mud

Why should your toddler wear a hat?

The obvious reason to wear a hat is sun protection. Babies and toddlers have extra delicate skin and hats protect their face, ears, and neck.

Hats also keep the sun out of their eyes. My kids HATE sun in their eyes, especially in the stroller, and I have found that a hat can really help to prevent that!

What kind of hats for toddlers

There are a few types of hat styles for babies and toddlers:

Look for hats with UPF protection to help get that extra sun safety.

Hats toddlers can’t pull off

The natural reaction to toddlers who pull off hats is to get one with an adjustable chin strap and put it on and tighten it.

I find this to be the best option for babies. They don’t really understand instruction and having it tied in place means that they will probably leave the sun hat on their heads.

However, toddlers are smart and will pull the strap right off. Chin straps mean nothing to a two year old.

tips to keep a hat on a toddler

How to get a toddler to wear a hat

My toddler doesn’t leave the house without a hat – and that’s by his own choice! Here’s my tips for how we got there.

baby and dad in a hat

Start from a young age

File this under ‘not helpful’ if your kid is already 3, but if possible, put a hat on your baby from birth.

It’s good sun safety, but when babies wear a hat, they get used to them. It’s just as normal as wearing pants.

Start them early to avoid a fight later in life.

toddler in a flappy hat

Let them pick the hat

It is so important to let your toddler pick the hat. I shop on Amazon, but you can do it in store, too.

Just present 2 options (that you are OK with either – there can’t be a wrong answer) and let them pick.

Let them pick their favorite color option or design. If they like a TV show, find a hat that goes with it.

If they love it, they will want to wear it.

toddler in a panda hat

Have several hat choices

Have a few hats for each kid. My son has a bucket hat, a flappy hat, and a baseball hat. They are all on the hooks in our mudroom and he can choose any one any time.

He loves making choices and is very opinionated – he wants to wear the one he wants, which can be annoying, but hey, that’s him insisting to wear a hat!

strawberry picking field

You need to wear a hat, too

Make it a family affair. Be a good role model and wear a hat too.

My husband always wears a hat so this was easy for him. But, I never was a hat person.

I now wear a hat every time we go outside. My dermatologist is happy and it honestly makes me smile when my son runs up to me holding my hat, wanting to go play in the yard.

Make sure the hat fits

Kids grow fast, and sometimes you don’t notice that their head grew. If they are constantly pulling their hat off, maybe it is uncomfortably tight.

Similarly, make sure it’s not too big. A big hat will slide into their face and be annoying. I’d rip off a too big hat, too.

toddler wearing a baseball hat

No hat, no play

This is a last dash effort for me, but simply say no hat, no play. You want to go outside? Shoes and hat! Want to go to the pool? Grab a hat! It’s required, if they don’t want a hat, that’s fine but we will stay inside instead.

Obviously that won’t work for mandatory errands but for fun playtime it’s a great way to incentivize it.

How do I keep my toddler’s hat on?

You can’t super glue a hat to your kid’s head. As tempting as it may be. You need to make it fun for them to wear the hat and make it a normal occurrence. Just like they wouldn’t go outside without pants, make a hat a normal part of their routine.

How do you keep a hat on your toddler?

Thanks for reading!

celebrating with kids about us image

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