In the ever more contradictory discussion around sun protection (wear sunscreen! Go sunscreen-free to avoid vitamin D deficiency! Sunscreens contain carcinogens!) it's nice to know that there is a way to protect your kids from the pain and likely health risks of sunburns, without having to expose their delicate faces and necks to the possible and unknown risks of exposure to the cocktail of chemicals in most commercial sunscreens. What is that way, you ask? Hats! Specifically, hats that are comfortable, lightweight, attractive, washable, and adjustable to fit your kids for years and years.
Baby and Kidz Banz hats come in many colours and are made of a fabric that gives them a UV protection rating of SPF 50+. They were designed in Australia where they get a LOT of sun, so you know they'll work just about anywhere. They come in two sizes, the Baby size (up to 19" or 48cm), and the Kidz size (up to 22" or 56cm) and have an integrated elastic/hook & loop strap to customize the fit. I have two of the blue hibiscus print ones for my son, and a green hibiscus print for my daughter.
The hats must be comfortable, because my son is more than happy to wear it, it rarely falls off (only if it's really windy) and there are no fussy chin straps to deal with. A friend of mine has another breed of the Kidz Banz hats for her daughter, I think it may be solid colour cotton instead of polyester, and the bucket part does not seem to be as deep as the hibiscus print, so it is a bit heavier and doesn't stay on as well. So if you are getting one, I would recommend the lightweight print ones over the solid colour ones.
I have washed my son's hat more times than I can count, and it still looks as good as the day I bought it. It is flexible and easy to cram into your purse or beach bag, it doesn't kink or wrinkle so you don't have to worry about any awkward folded brim situations.
Check out the selection and other Baby/Kidz Banz products on their website at http://www.banzworld.com. If you are patient, you can stay tuned to http://www.babyhalfoff.com where the hats occasionally come on sale for about $7 each.