Bug bites are the most annoying and one of the worst things to happen – let alone when it happens to a little baby, your tiny bundle of joy. Apart from being scratchy and irritating, what is lesser known for a fact, is that bug bites can actually even go on to transmit more diseases. Even the infamous Zika virus can be transmitted by a mosquito as a carrier from one person to another. Hence, when curating a must-have-care-product-list to welcome your little one, it goes without saying, a bug repellent for babies should be one of the top items on the list.
You might be led to believe that you don’t need a bug repellent since you don’t live in tropical conditions. However, as a matter of fact, everyone needs a bug repellent because bug repellent’s are very well everywhere. Insect and bug repellent’s come in many forms – not only in the spray form as it is widely believed. You can find a bug repellents also in a roll-on form, balm firm, lotion form, and even in the form of a wipe.
Before we get to the list of the best repellents out there, let us first understand what really goes inside most of the recommended, primary bug repellents for babies. Look out for these ingredients and make an informed choice!
DEET is a chemical that is widely used in bug repellents and it is also a favourite of the Centres for Disease Control (CDC). While DEET is really effective and perfectly does what it is supposed to, the one problem with DEET is that it can cause irritation in the eyes, and hence, it is safe for kids and babies- but not safe for babies under 2 months.
Do pick a repellent that has DEET for your baby above 2 months of age and also for yourself if you need one, however, never for a baby under two months. While buying a bug repellent for baby, you may also want to check out the percentage of the DEET in it. This is because more the percentage, more the lasting of the repellent. As a rule of thumb, 10% DEET provides protection for about two hours. It should also be noted that AAP recommends the lowest concentration for babies, even if it means reapplication after a few hours.
Picaridin is an awesome chemical to keep mosquitoes as well as bugs away and it also does not cause any neurotoxicity issues like DEET otherwise might. While picaridin stays for longer (10% lasting up t0 12 hours on the higher side), and it also does not irritate the skin, the problem with picaridin is that it hasn’t received as much testing as DEET.
3. Essential Oils
Essential Oils like cedar, citronella, clove, lemongrass, soybean, and peppermint are most-raved to repel bugs away. But again, none of these are officially ever tested to prove that or a fact. If you have yourself tried essential oils for repelling bugs, you may have noticed that oils do work when it comes to repelling mosquitoes but not as much for bugs. Essential oils can be, though, a great choice for parents who only want botanical solutions for their babies and are located in low-bug, non-tropical areas. Also, do remember, the amazing smell of essential oils can very well at times attract some insects rather than avoiding them! It is best to try a spot-test before covering your baby’s body in essential oils.
Getting to the juice now: To make picking narrowing down on the right bug repellent easy for you, we have made a list of the best 6 repellents. These are safe for pregnant women, babies (of more than 2 months in cases of repellents that have DEET), and children alike-
1. OFF Family Care Smooth & Dry Insect & Mosquito Repellent
Comprising 15% DEET, this is one of the most non-greasy bug repellants out there and is rather known to make the skin feel really nice and hydrated. That one thing that needs to be kept in mind when using OFF as a bug repellent for babies is that this one comes in the format of an aerosol spray. Hence, try not to inhale this spray; hold up your breath, and keep it away from your face while use.
2. Repel Insect Repellent Mosquito Wipe
Doubling up the intensity here. Repel insect repellent mosquito wipes comprise 30% DEET. Super easy to use by virtue of the wipe format, these baby bug repellent wipes come in a pack of 15 wipes. For this one, remember that they might feel sticky and greasy (unlike OFF), and hence, these are more recommended for outdoor use. Your skin will need to be washed off after you are back.
3. Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Picaridin Towelette
Also in a wipe format, these wipes are all the way more convenient than the aforementioned at point #2 since they come in a resealable bag of eight bug repellent packets. As for its composition, an individual towelette contains 10% Picaridin that claims to protect against mosquitoes, deer ticks, gnats, sand flies and biting midges. The con of this one is that it needs to be washed off since it gets sticky and that this one is that since you only get eight uses form one purchase. It might be a little heavy on the pocket, but again, is great for occasional outdoor use. The same composition is also available in a spray format by Avon.
4. Sawyer Insect Repellent
Effective on mosquitoes for up to 12 hours and against biting flies, gnats, chiggers, and sand flies for up to 8 hours, the Sawyer insect repellent is made from 20% picaridin. It is non-greasy, it has a nice citrus-like fragrance and it is also actually even available in a lotion format if you are not a fan of sprays. Besides, the lotion repellent is effective against mosquitoes and ticks for as long as 14 hours.
5. Hello Bello Organic Bug Spray
An essential-oil based repellent, this bug repellent for babies is mainly composed of essential oils, primarily the citronella oil; but also some others that are responsible for its great fragrance. Apart from mosquitoes, it claims to repel 55 other insects. However, it should be known that by virtue of citronella as the primary ingredient, it might attract bees if you are outdoors. This is because citronella smells like flowers and bees love flowers. This bug repellent for babies can last for up to 6 hours.
6. SallyeAnder No-Bite-Me Natural Bug Repellent & Anti Itch Cream
A two-in-one, this bug repellent also helps protect against insects amongst the otherwise regular mosquitoes, black flies, fleas, and ticks. For some more major brownie points, it also does work great as an anti-itch cream on those pestering bites and bumps. Formulated with essential oils, this repellent is power-packed with an amazing fragrance. Reviewed as ‘little goes a long way,’ which, perhaps, can justify for its otherwise steep price.
While comprehensive lists like ours can help you pick a bug repellent for your bay, for a moment of truth, let us confront the fact that no safe repellent out there is 100% fool-proof and effective. It is ideally recommended to run re-application rounds every few hours if your baby or your location is prone to bug bites. And cases like such, it also makes more sense to pick bug repellents that contain DEET or Picaridin.
For some final factors that you need to ensure as responsible parents when you pick a bug repellent for your baby is that –
- Never pick a bug spray that is made from or contains oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) for babies under three years of age. It is so because these are not recommended for use on babies at least up until they turn four.
- For newborns babies, up until two months, as mentioned earlier, avoid bug repellents with DEET and Picaridin products. As a solution, you could rather go for natural shields like full sleeve clothing or mosquito netting
- Do not apply bug repellent on the palm of the babies or the backside of the hand as babies are most likely to put their hand in the mouth and it might not be a great idea given the chemicals in the bug repellents
- Avoid buying bug repellents that also act as sunscreens because in that case, you will need more reapplications than you need for a bug repellent alone. The increased number of applications means more exposure to chemicals. Instead, apply sunscreen on the baby’s skin and then later mask it with a safe bug repellent
Lastly, of course, make sure you read the labels on the bug repellents very carefully. Research well enough, read as many reviews you can, and only then invest in what is the safest for your little bundle of joy!