Best Mosquito Repellents for Babies and Young Children

Mosquitoes

The weather’s getting warmer, and that means it’s mosquito season. Mosquitoes are one of the world’s leading health hazards, acting as vectors for dangerous diseases like malaria.

Babies’ immune systems are still developing, and they can be more sensitive than adults to mosquito-borne pathogens. It’s important to keep them protected from mosquitoes and other biting insects, especially if you’re planning on being outdoors for a long period of time.

There are many types of mosquito repellents in the market, but not all of them are considered safe for children under two years old. The most popular active ingredient is DEET, a chemical with an odor that mosquitoes will instinctively avoid.

However, it isn’t considered safe for very young children, especially babies under two months old. Fortunately, there are other safe products you
can use to protect infants from mosquitoes.

Mosquito Repellent for Babies and Children

Baby-Safe Mosquito Repellents

Babyganics Bug Repellent Spray

This product, formulated for babies and toddlers, combines insect repellent with an SPF-50 sunscreen, making it a great choice for spending a day out in the sun. It does not contain phthalates, a family of ester salt chemicals that are known to be toxic to the kidneys, liver, and reproductive system. It’s also free of PABA (4-aminobenzoic acid), which can cause allergic reactions in some people, and free of parabens, which may act as carcinogens.

It’s hypoallergenic and tear-free, making it suitable for babies with sensitive skin. The insect repellents it contains are natural compounds produced by plants to ward off insect predators. This includes rosemary, citronella, lemongrass, geranium, and peppermint.

Be sure to reapply the spray frequently enough. The directions recommend reapplying every 80 minutes for UV protection, and every two to three hours for insect protection. Products like this one, which use natural plant-based ingredients may need to be reapplied more often than bug sprays containing synthetic pesticides like DEET.

Pitch & Trek Bug Repellent Bracelet

Along with topically applied repellents, a bug repellent bracelet can also help keep mosquitoes and other biting insects away from your infant or toddler. This bracelet uses organic, natural plant-based ingredients to repel mosquitoes – specifically, citronella and lemongrass.

Available in ten packs, these bracelets are small and light, making them easy to carry with you on camping trips and hikes. Because of their coiled design, they can fit both children and adults.

Because mosquito repellent bracelets don’t provide full body coverage, they’re most effective when used in combination with lotions or sprays.

Baby Stroller Mosquito Net

Chemicals (including those from plants) are one way to keep mosquitoes, biting flies, and other insect pests away from your baby. But physical barriers, like netting, are also a good idea.

This versatile, sturdy mosquito net fits over your stroller, car seat, bassinet, or baby carrier. It’s made from stretchy fabric, and can expand up to 150 cm. The mesh is fine enough to keep out even the smallest midges and gnats, while still allowing plenty of airflow through.

Mosquito Repellent for Babies: What to Consider

If you’re going outdoors in the summer, bug spray is a must-have. Mosquitoes are present in pretty much every climate, from the jungles of South America to the frigid boreal forest of Siberia. They’re notorious disease vectors, so it’s important to keep them off of young children with vulnerable immune systems.

Not all insect repellents are safe for babies. Most products use DEET as their active ingredient. DEET is a popular synthetic pesticide, developed in World War II, that’s been widely used in commercially available consumer pest repellents since the late 1950s. It works because mosquitoes – as well as other insects, especially in the fly family (Diptera) – seem to dislike its odor, which binds to sensory receptors on their antennae. They’ll stay away from areas where they can smell the DEET.

Although DEET is highly effective at deterring mosquitoes and preventing bites, it is not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for use on babies younger than two months old. Health Canada does not recommend DEET products for children younger than two years. They also recommend only products with less than 10% DEET for kids between two and twelve.

So for babies, it’s a good idea to look for non-DEET insect repellents instead. While DEET is one of the most effective repellents, it’s not the only one.

Many products use naturally occurring plant-based compounds instead. Citronella, lemongrass, rosemary, mint, and other plants contain chemicals — often responsible for pleasant odors and tastes — that protect the plant by warding off insects that would damage it.

These compounds are generally safer for infants and toddlers than DEET.

Along with insect repellent spray, you may also want to use mosquito netting on carriers and strollers outdoors. This physical barrier adds an extra layer of protection against bug bites, especially when combined with sprays and lotions that cover exposed parts of the body.

How Do I Get Rid of Mosquitos In My Baby’s Room?

The last place you want mosquitoes is inside your home, but they can get in through open doors and windows, especially on summer evenings.

If you open the window occasionally in your baby’s room, install a window screen on the outside, with openings small enough to keep out mosquitoes and flies. In outdoor areas like patios, electric bug zappers can help attract and kill insects before they get as far as the door.

Around your yard and property, make sure to remove standing water after it rains. Stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and their aquatic larvae.

How Can I Protect My Baby from Mosquitoes?

While DEET isn’t recommended for babies, insect repellent sprays and lotions containing citronella or lemongrass can ward off mosquitoes. Netting is also advisable.

Are Mosquito Bites Dangerous for Babies?

The bites themselves aren’t particularly dangerous, though the body’s reaction to them makes them uncomfortable. The real danger is from the diseases that mosquitoes can carry. Because they move from animal to animal, drinking blood, they’re a vector for blood-borne pathogens.

Does Johnson’s Baby Creamy Oil Repel Mosquitoes?

Johnson’s Baby Creamy Oil is a popular moisturizing lotion for infants and toddlers. While some people report that it seems to keep mosquitoes away, it isn’t designed or marketed to repel insects. The few controlled studies that have been done have shown no factual evidence for its efficacy as a mosquito repellent.

So don’t rely on Johnson’s baby creamy oil to keep mosquitoes and other biting insects away from your child. Instead, use safe, plant-based insect repellents.