"Should my baby wear a hat?" If you've landed on this article, you're probably wrestling with question in some form. "Will a hat make my child lose their hair?" "Do babies need a hat to keep warm?"
As a mom to four little boys, and as the owner of a baby hat company, I've heard it all when it comes hats and little ones. Here's what I've discovered:
Hats & Newborns
In the hospital or birthing center: you may be offered a tiny hat to place onto your baby's head immediately after the birth. Surprisingly, you might want to wait on putting on this hat. Instead, place your baby skin-to-skin on mom or dad's bare chest to regulate baby's body temperature and initiate bonding.
Leaving your new infant's head uncovered allows the new baby scent to create a rush of oxytocin, which will cause the uterus to contract and safely expel the placenta. The new baby smell is precious, and best not to replace this Mother Nature experience with the laundry detergent scent on a hat.
In other cases, if you are separated from your baby, have a premature or sick baby, or your baby is having a few troubles after the birth experience, a hat and socks (plus putting baby in an infant warmer) are good options.
Our recommendation: Wait a few days after birth before adding a hat (either a cold weather or warm weather style) as the season suggests.
Are there social or emotional benefits for my newborn wearing a hat? In my experience, putting a hat on my newborn has resulted in a comforting effect for them. They snuggle right in and feel secure, just as a blanket swaddle provides comfort.
As a side note: newborn hats also protect them from unwanted pats or unexpected kisses from strangers.
Are baby hats safe for newborns? Do baby hats pose a choking hazard? Will a hat change the shape of your baby's head? See answers to these and other common hat safety questions here.
Hats for Cold Days & Hats for Warm Days
When outdoors, there are a few reasons you should consider a hat for your child. One is heat loss through the head, and the other is protecting your baby from the sun's damaging ultraviolet rays.
"I'd probably say under 55 [fahrenheit] degrees consider a hat for warmth, over 75 [fahrenheit] for sun protection," says Dr. Hannah Chow, MD, a pediatrician at Loyola University Health System
Sun exposure is dangerous for newborns (due to the risk of sunburn). In addition, a newborn’s skin is too sensitive to apply sunscreen, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation website. If you take your newborn infant outdoors, keep him in the shade to protect his skin. A wide-brimmed sun hat adds extra protection for the newborn’s face, ears and neck.
A hat made with natural mix fabrics will be cool and light enough to protect your baby from the sun's exposure and warm enough to keep him comfortable when the weather is cold.
Avoid headwear made with animal fur and vinyl. They may be cute, but these materials pose a choking hazard. Always monitor your infant while wearing a hat, especially when they are asleep.
How to tell if your child needs a hat: Do a neck check. The easiest way to tell whether your baby is too warm or too chilly is to reach under his clothes to check his arms, eyes, or the nape of his neck. Those little hands and feet are soft to squeeze, but they’re always cool to the touch in young babies (making them an unreliable temperature gauge).
How to keep a hat on your baby:
Does your baby keep tugging at their hat? Does your infant seem uncomfortable in their new hat? Here's a few tips to help your little one ease into becoming a Little Sun Hat lover:
1. Help your baby feel that hat wearing is natural.
Introducing headwear early in your infants's life will help him adjust into a life long hat lover. Start with soft caps and bonnets, and graduate into sun hats/winter hats.
2. Choose a hat with chin straps or ties. Straps and ties help to keep the headwear securely on your baby's head and often deter them from tugging or pulling the hat off.
3. Be persistent. These tips help with a reluctant hat wearer.