“Not unlike the stylish bicycle helmets worn by today’s children, this is a beautifully made example of protective headwear worn by children in the early 19th century. Pudding caps or bumpers were padded hats commonly worn by small children learning to walk to protect their heads from any falls. It was thought that if children fell too frequently unprotected their brains would turn to a soft pudding-like consistency, hence the name “pudding cap.” Children were often referred to as “little pudding heads” because of this belief. A linen or muslin cap was commonly worn underneath. The quality of materials and craftsmanship used in this particular example suggests that this cap was owned by an affluent family.” (via The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Cap)
This is a beautiful example of a pudding cap, but I wonder why the met has dated it to the early 19th Century. They were also extremely common in the 18th Century. Perhaps it has a provenance that they don’t share it the description?