Are Mosquito Repellents Safe for Babies?

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Protecting babies from mosquitoes is important for their health and comfort, but it’s hard to determine which repellents are safe to use. Many store-bought insect repellents list DEET (diethyltoluamide) as the active ingredient. Others contain picaridin as an alternative. Both are considered safe for children over two months old when used as directed. But there are so many types of repellents out there with various added ingredients. Here’s how to navigate which product is right for your child.   

The Right Mosquito Repellent for Babies

Sprays may not be the best choice for babies. (You can’t just ask them to hold their breath while you spray!) Fortunately, there’s a variety of formulations, including lotions, patches, wipes, balms, and clip-on devices, that are available at most retail outlets. DEET products have been available for public use since 1957. They have a long history of safe use and are considered by many experts to be the most effective at repelling mosquitoes. Look for lower concentrations of DEET, and never use products that have more than 30 percent DEET on babies. Higher concentrations are not more effective at repelling bugs, but their protection lasts longer. A 10 percent DEET formula works for about two hours, while a 30 percent one offers roughly five hours of protection. Picaridin is a synthetic compound derived from Piperine, the plant-based chemical that gives black pepper its strong flavor. It was developed in the 1980s but has only been used in the U.S. since 2005. It is non-toxic and non-greasy, and it doesn’t damage plastics or fabrics like DEET might. (Side note: Unlike DEET products, picaridin is not considered to be harmful to pets, although this hasn’t been fully researched.) 

When it comes to mosquito repellents for babies, parents may be drawn to natural options made from essential oils. There are some essential oil products on the market that are considered safe when used as directed. Just avoid oil of lemon eucalyptus, which is potentially harmful to young children. You can also make homemade mosquito repellents for babies. Be aware that essential oils typically need to be diluted with a carrier oil (coconut or jojoba oil, for example) or other substance before using, and essential oils may irritate sensitive skin. 

Related content: How to Keep Mosquitoes Away from Babies 

Products to Avoid

Besides wondering, “Can I put mosquito repellent on my baby?” parents also worry about using the wrong product, especially if it has atypical ingredients. These guidelines should help you sort things out: 

  • Review product warnings, and follow package directions exactly. 
  • Avoid using “extra” or “maximum-strength” formulas. Use the lowest concentration available.  
  • Never use products with more than 30 percent DEET on children.  
  • If using products with DEET, limit application on your child to once a day. 
  • Do not use items that contain oil of lemon eucalyptus on children under three years old. 
  • Skip wrist-band repellents, due to risks of accidental choking and ingestion of residue. 
  • Avoid using candle-style bug repellents around babies. The fumes may hurt sensitive lungs. 
  • Do not use combination sunscreen–insect repellent products. Although convenient, sunscreen requires liberal applications throughout the day, which leads to excess exposure to the insect-repelling ingredients.    

Where to Apply and Not Apply 

  • Avoid applying products near your baby’s eyes or mouth. 
  • Skip applying to their hands and feet, too. These tiny appendages often end up in little mouths! 
  • Only apply sprays to exposed skin and over clothing. Do not apply repellent underneath clothing or to large areas of your child’s body. 
  • Never spray near a baby’s face. 
  • Avoid applying products on cuts or irritated skin. 
  • If using patches or clip-on devices, be sure they are attached out of your baby’s reach.
     

No matter how devoted you are to keeping bugs at bay, you can’t prevent every mosquito bite! When the inevitable bite happens, wash your baby’s skin with soap and water, and soothe it with a cold compress or a paste of baking soda and water. Check out these treatment tips from our Mosquito Joe® experts to learn more. 

Other At-Home Solutions to Prevent Mosquito Bites

Looking for other ways to prevent mosquito bites? Make sure your yard isn’t a haven for biting insects! Remove standing water, have your gutters cleaned by a pro like Window Genie®, and keep grass, shrubs, and trees trimmed. We recommend The Grounds Guys® for any landscaping service! To reduce the mosquito population even more, get a little help from nature. Many birds love to dine on mosquitoes, and a single bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes in one night! Invite mosquito-eating creatures into your yard by creating friendly habitat for them.  

Perhaps the easiest solution of them all is getting professional mosquito barrier spray treatments from your local Mosquito Joe. Our trained and certified technicians apply specialized formulas that begin working immediately and keep working for 21 days. We offer both traditional and natural treatment options for your yard. Schedule service online or call 1-855-275-2563 to get started today. 

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