Summertime is here, and it’s a great time to explore the outdoors with your families. However, warmer weather often means pesky swarms of bugs! Just how do you protect your little ones from those annoying creatures, and what products are safe to use on their sensitive skin?
There are three factors to consider when choosing safe bug repellents for your children:
DEET is the most trusted chemical for repelling bugs, but is slightly controversial. The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) recommends DEET for use as an insect repellent, protecting people against disease-carrying bugs. However, DEET has been known to cause eye irritation and adverse reactions to the nervous system. The American Academy Of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends using products containing 10-30% DEET on infants ages 2 months and older. Do not use DEET-containing products on infants younger than 2 months old. The percentage of DEET in a product does not indicate the strength of effectiveness, but rather how long the protection will last. The AAP recommends choosing the lowest-percentage DEET product and applying more frequently. DEET is safe for use by pregnant and breastfeeding mothers (CDC, EWG).
Picaridan is another chemical similar to DEET that is helpful in repelling bugs - but it doesn’t have nearly as many side effects. It’s not as risky to the nervous system, it has a much milder smell, it’s gentler on the skin, and it is effective for longer periods of time. However, Picaridin is not as widely studied as DEET and the long-term effects of use are not known. Picaridan is safe for use by pregnant and breastfeeding mothers (CDC, EWG).
3. Essential Oils
Essential oils are gaining popularity as families aim to switch to more “natural” products. Essential oils that repel bugs are citronella, cedar, soybean, clove, lemongrass, and peppermint. However, parents should be wary of using essential oils on their babies and children as the oils have not gone through official safety testing. The strength of the oils might irritate sensitive, fragile skin. They also need to be applied more frequently and haven’t been proven to ward off bugs other than mosquitoes. There are also a few essential oils that should never be used on children under 3 years old (OLE and PMD).
There are a few ways to avoid bug bites without using risky products. First, you can choose to dress your baby in loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Using clothing as a physical barrier to bugs is a good first line of defense. Second, you can buy special netting to use on carriers and strollers when you’re outdoors this summer. Using the KeaBabies Nursing Cover as a breathable car seat canopy can be a useful tool during the summer months - just be sure your baby stays cool. When using insect repellent on babies, don’t apply on parts of the body like the hands, face, or open wounds. Limit the use of products with strong scents (your baby’s soap, or your perfume) during the summer, as these scents may attract insects.
Here are some of the top-rated insect repellents for little ones:
If your little one does happen to get a bug bite, first disinfect the area with a gentle soap and water. Apply an antibiotic ointment to reduce itching and pain. You can also use an ice pack to reduce swelling. If the redness around the bite spreads, the swelling continues, the bite becomes hot to the touch and tender, or your child develops a fever, call your child’s pediatrician immediately.
Stay safe this summer, KeaParents!
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
|I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.|