Boys' Caps: Pudding Caps


Figure 1.--This Rubens painting from 1635 appears to show one of his children wearing a "pudding" cap.

Definition

A "pudding cap" was a toddler's cap with a thick roll or cushion around the head. The name of these caps [pudding] was probably the origin of the term "puddin' head." It is easy to imagine one affectionately calling a toddler "little puddin' head."

National Terms

These caps were called "pudding caps in England. One report from late 17th century France refers to a boy wearing a] "pudding" cap, known in French as a bourrelet. The name apparently comes from bourre'e, meaning to dance, because the movement of a toddler's first steps somewhat resembled dancing.

Chronology

These caps were widely worn in the 17th century. This practical crash helmet" for toddlers seems to have disappeared by the late 18th century.

Design

Sometimes the entire cap was padded, but most often the padding was only in a thick roll or cushion that circled the head. This padding protected the head from injury when the little one fell. Babies still fall frequently at the toddler stage today, but in the days of long skirts and petticoats it must have happened almost every time a child tried to crawl or stand. Antique baby clothes usually show signs of heavy wear at he front hem, caused by its being caught between the floor and the child's knees or feet. Some museum dresses have the front hem completely worn to tatters.

Sources

Estelle Ansley Worrell, Children's Costume in America, 1607-1910, (New York, 1980, Charles Scribner's Sons), pp. 20 and 31





Christopher Wagner






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Created: March 14, 1999
Last updated: Hanuary 15, 2001