We’re a very outdoorsy family which means spending a lot of time in the elements, whether wind, rain or shine.
However, when our daughter Eden spent a week in hospital at four months old with excruciating eczema nearly all over her body, our very lifestyle was up in the air - during the summer at least.
We were advised to keep her out of sunlight in the warmer months, but this was totally at odds with our lifestyle. We rarely spend any weekend at home or indoors, especially in the summer months. Helped in part by a three month furlough, our 2020 summer was spent visiting the forests, lakes, hills and mountains of the south of Wales and we were keen to do the same again as a family of four.
Naturally, we wanted to find a way to maintain our family’s lifestyle without compromising Eden’s health.
Having already offered us a pair of Keen Kids Newport H2 Sandals for our three year old, Raife, the team at Little Adventure Shop gave us the opportunity to try out the Kids Play Sun Hat from US brand Sunday Afternoons.
Little Adventure Shop is an online retailer specialising in clothing, footwear and equipment for...you guessed it, little adventurers!
The Sunday Afternoons hat retails for £22.95, come in seven different colours and patterns, and sizes include small (6-24 months), medium (2-5 years) and large (5-12 years).
Although Little Adventure Shop has gifted us the sun hat, I’m under no obligation to give a positive review.
It’s quite difficult to convey your first impressions of a hat, because, well… it’s a hat.
However, there were some things that jumped out at us straight away - first off was how flat it could be packed, which is ideal for any family on the move a lot. It also looked to be extremely well made, which is something that has certainly stood up to the test of a baby obsessed with putting everything, and I mean everything, in her mouth.
Unfortunately the Great British weather wasn’t doing us many favours around the time we received the delivery. Knowing how much Eden dislikes wearing hats, however, we used the gloomy weather to test out putting the hat on her at home and get her used to wearing it.
Obviously, it came straight off for the first few goes (partly because we didn’t adjust the chin strap tight enough!), but by the time July's heatwave and Eden’s first birthday approached, she was more than comfortable wearing it. The head strap, which adjusts the size of the hat itself and allows it to expand as they get older, is easy and quick to operate - which is essential when dealing with babies!
Bring me sunshine
It’s July 2021, the summer holidays have started and parts of the UK hit record temperatures as Wales is baked in 30°C sunshine. Roll on late afternoon and early evening trips to the beach with the kids.
Naturally, this was the ideal time to try out the Sunday Afternoons sun hat. Feeling slightly nervous as this was probably the first time Eden had spent any real length of time in strong sunlight and high temperatures, we opted to keep her in the shade for a chunk of the trip.
Thankfully, in the time she did spend in the sun, the hat did its job perfectly. The depth of the front rim gave her face plenty of protection and kept it entirely covered in the majority of positions and angles a near-one-year-old can get herself into. The front rim is sturdy enough to hold its shape and maintain protection without drooping down over Eden’s face. Meanwhile at the back, the less structured neck veil also ensured her neck received total protection from beaming sun rays.
The performance of the sun hat during the early evening visit and limited exposure to the sunlight gave us more than enough confidence for another trip to the beach a few days later. This time it would be the middle of the day in hotter temperatures, on a different beach that provided absolutely no natural shade whatsoever. We fashioned a small patch of shade from her pushchair and attachment umbrella, but it was clear the sun hat would need to step up to the plate. And step up to the plate it did! Again, Eden’s little face and neck were covered the entire time and kept her well protected. In fact, such in the depth of the front rim that her limbs were covered too.
As parents, we all know that suncream is horrendous for staining clothes. But that isn’t an issue for the hat, even when your little one lunges at your hand and sends the cream up into the air and all over the top of the hat. Most of the cream disappeared with a quick wipe of the finger, and was totally gone after a gentle brush of a baby wipe.
The week-long heatwave (and probably the British summer!) may be over, but we’ve still been able to use the sun hat in more every day settings. It provided ample protection during an unexpectedly warm and sunny BBQ for her first birthday as she crawled around the garden. And the lack of structure in the neck veil means it’s more than comfortable for Eden to wear in the pushchair, whether it’s a visit to the farm or a walk in the park.
Pros and cons
In all honesty, it was really tough to come up with a negative of these sun hats. And there is absolutely no doubt that the pros far outweigh the cons. It is just exactly what we need to allow us to continue spending our time outdoors while making sure that Eden’s skin is taken care of.
At first, I looked wide-eyed at the price, but knowing the job it does and that it will cover Eden from 6 months to 2 years makes it excellent value. And, the larger ones offer an even bigger size/age range without the price going up so there’s even more value for money if you have older children.