Mosquito Repellents For Babies: A Buying Guide
Whether you are out camping, hiking, fishing, or simply enjoying a barbecue in the backyard with friends, you just can’t seem to enjoy the warmer weather without being pestered by mosquitoes. Human skin (and blood) attracts these blood-sucking pests like moths to a flame. They are hyper-sensitive to the warmth emitted by our bodies as well as the odor of the carbon dioxide we breathe out.
Not only are their bites itchy and irritating, but mosquitoes are also the carriers of many dangerous diseases. These include malaria, West Nile virus, dengue fever, the Ross River virus, and the Zika virus. Infected mosquitoes can pass these diseases on to us as they feed on our blood.
Even though most don’t live very long (a few days to weeks, typically), females can live for over 5 months and they breed rapidly. The female of the species is capable of laying at least 100 eggs per clutch, resulting in an equal amount of offspring. After resting for a few days, she can lay more eggs. All mosquitoes require to reproduce is water (such as that found in ponds, streams, creeks, swimming pools, birdbaths, fish ponds, etc.), and a source of food (us!).
Mosquito Repellents For Babies
When under attack by hordes of swarming mosquitoes, the solution for most of us goes without saying. You simply lather yourself up with mosquito repellent to form a chemical barrier between yourself and the bugs. Nowadays, insect repellents come in sprays, lotions, gels, roll-ons, and even shampoos. So, there is something out there for just about everyone.
But what about babies? They need protection from mosquitoes, too. But applying a mosquito repellent on your little one requires a great deal of care and caution. Some repellents contain insecticide ingredients that are toxic to children and even potentially toxic to adults as well. Other products are certified as safe for babies and young children. Let’s take a look at which repellent ingredients are safe for babies.
Mosquito Repellent Formulas: Which Ingredients Are Baby-Safe?
With the right formula and the right precautions, mosquito repellents can be baby-safe. Generally speaking, the exception is for babies younger than two months of age. Do not use insect repellents on very young babies. For this age group, be sure to take steps to reduce the chances of their exposure to dangerous insects, including keeping them inside during the times that mosquitoes are active, removing standing water from around your home, and dressing them in long pants and long sleeves when you take them outside.
However, for babies 2 months and older, most repellents are safe. This is great news for those who like to take their little ones out to enjoy nature during the warmer months.
Generally speaking, insect repellent formulas fall into four separate categories, based on their active ingredient.
In the past, most repellents used a synthetic chemical known as DEET (N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) to act as the best line of defense against insects. While it is effective at repelling bugs, the problem with DEET is that many people think it could be toxic to humans – not only children but adults as well. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend using products containing DEET on children below two months of age. Products with only 10-30% DEET are considered safe to use on older children. Products containing more than 30% DEET should not be used on children of ANY age. They are no more effective than lower concentrations and could be toxic at those concentrations.
Some repellents use essential oils from plants like cedar, citronella, eucalyptus, and soybean to ward off mosquitoes. Plant-based repellents are not very long-lasting, though. Protection generally does not last for more than two hours. The exception is oil of lemon eucalyptus, which can be effective for up to 12 hours.
It is recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency along with catnip oil and citronella oil. These plant-based repellents have not been thoroughly tested on children, however. They are known to cause eye damage if used improperly. The Centers for Disease Control do not recommend using plant oil products on children younger than 3 years of age.
Permethrin is another potent insecticide. This substance is a synthetic chemical whose structure resembles a natural insecticide from the chrysanthemum flower. Permethrin is registered for use on clothing only.
It should NOT be applied to the skin. Treat clothing before putting the clothing on (don’t apply permethrin to clothes you or your child are currently wearing). Make sure the clothing dries fully before you put it on. There is no evidence that children are more sensitive to permethrin than adults. Always follow label instructions when applying permethrin to your or your child’s clothing.
Picaridin is one of the newer insect repellent ingredients in town, in use since 1998. Instead of chrysanthemum flowers, its inspiration comes from black pepper plants. It claims to be as powerful and long-lasting as products with 10% DEET, and some experts claim it is a better repellent than DEET.
It is also odorless, colorless, and feels light when applied to the skin. Reported side effects include eye and skin irritation. The EPA considers it safe to use on children and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends it. However, it has not been tested as thoroughly as DEET and the National Capital Poison Center does not recommend using it on children younger than 2 years of age.
Tips for Using Mosquito Repellents on Babies
Never apply repellent on or around your child’s mouth, eyes, or hands. The same goes for areas with cuts and irritated or infected skin. Do not spray repellent directly onto their face. Spray repellent in your hands first and rub the product into your child’s skin.
In fact, whenever possible, try to apply repellents to your child’s clothes instead of their skin. Finally, when you have finished spending time outdoors with your child, bring them inside and wash their skin with warm water and soap. Be sure that you thoroughly wash any treated clothing before allowing them to wear it again.
If you are looking for the best mosquito repellent for babies, infants, and toddlers, then you have come to the right place. This list of those mosquito repellents in different forms will be very useful for you.
So, check out our recommendations and choose the perfect mosquito repellent for your needs. You will not have to be afraid to go outside with your child again during mosquito season!