Babies have very sensitive skin and are very vulnerable to bug bites. There are many measures you can take to protect your child from insect bites like keeping the surroundings clean and placing your baby's cradle/cot inside a mosquito net. However, when you take your baby outdoors it can be difficult to protect him/her against bug bites.
The best solution for protecting your baby from insect bites is using a bug repellent. There are many safe insect repellent available over the counter. You can also use natural ones which contain essential oils. Here are some of the best and safe bug repellents for babies and important safety tips that parents should take care of while using any such product.
These come in many forms like sprays, liquids, creams, or sticks. Sprays and creams are easier to use and carry along with you when you are going outside.
Repellents Containing DEET
The bug repellents which contain DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) give the best protection against mosquitoes and other insects. The more the concentration of DEET in the repellent, the longer is the effect of the product. Products containing DEET in 10% concentration last for around 2 hours and products with 23.8% concentration of DEET last for 5 hours. The use of these repellents is not recommended for children younger than 2 months old.
DEET-free insect repellents contain either permethrin or picaridin. Both chemicals are effective against insect bites. However, permethrin only protects against ticks and fleas and is ineffective against mosquitoes and other insects. Permethrin containing repellents can be applied on clothing, sleeping bags, and tents. But never apply permethrin directly on the baby. Be careful while using this product because studies show that permethrin may have harmful effects on human beings.
Picaridin containing repellents are new and supposed to be as effective as DEET ones. Picaridin repellents have no color or odor and have a long-lasting effect. The American Academy of Pediatrics has still not approved the use of picardin as a bug repellent for babies.
Natural Bug Repellents
These contain essential oils like eucalyptus, citronella, cedar, and cinnamon. To make a natural insect repellent at home, mix 10 drops of any essential oil with a carrier oil like jojoba or olive oil. The effect of these oils last for a few hours, so reapplication may be required. These repellents are also deemed unsafe for children under 2 months.
Important Safety Tips
Here are some important safety tips parents should follow when using an insect repellent for small children.
- Avoid taking your baby outdoors at dusk or dawn.
- Do not use scented soaps for bathing your baby, as they attract mosquitoes easily.
- When going outside dress your baby in lose and light colored clothing, and preferably full sleeved tops and pants.
- If you are using a repellent in spray form, do not spray in an enclosed area. This might cause breathing difficulties in the baby. Never spray the repellent directly on the baby's face, instead first spray the repellent on your hands and then apply on the baby's face.
- Before trying any bug repellent, apply a small patch on the baby's arm to check if the baby's skin is sensitive to it or not.
- Do not use repellent near the baby's eyes, mouth, and avoid applying the repellent on cuts. Avoid, using it on the baby's hands as most babies have the habit of putting their hands into their mouth.
- Avoid applying the repellent on the baby's skin, more than once a day .
- Once you and your baby are inside the house, wash off the repellent with soap and water.
- When your baby is sleeping, protect the baby from insects by covering with mosquito net.
- Keep your surrounding area bug-free. You can plant some mosquito repellent plants around your home.
Whichever repellent you choose make sure you follow the above safety tips when applying the repellent on babies.
Disclaimer: This HomeQuicks article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.