Are you worried about mosquitoes biting your baby? With mosquito-borne illness being an ever-growing concern, there’s more at stake than just a little discomfort.
But it can be scary to apply bug spray to our baby’s tender skin. We worry about allergic reactions and if the ingredients in the sprays are safe enough for them.
So we’ve spent a lot of time searching for the best mosquito repellents for babies and kids that are both safe and effective. We’ve tested a wide range of products and have scoured the internet for reviews to ensure they are well-loved by other families too. We’ve listed our seven favorite products and included the answers to all your questions about mosquitoes and babies, so you can enjoy the great outdoors — without worrying about bug bites.
- It’s all-natural
- Doesn’t sweat off
- Long lasting
- Can be used on babies
- Contains sunscreen
- 12 hours protection
- It smells good
- Made with picaridin
- All-natural formula
- Dries quickly without sticky residue
- Gentle on baby’s skin
- Lasts for 8 hours
- A little goes a long way
- Deet free
- Lasts for 6 hours
- Deet free
- Won’t stain on clothes
Do Babies Need Mosquito Repellent?
While you could argue that humans have existed for centuries without having mosquito repellent, it can be an important factor in trying to protect your baby.
Mosquito bites can be painful for babies, and they can swell up way more than the same bites do for adults. Some babies can get severe swelling and even bruises on the bitten area.
- Large swollen area.
- Low fever.
- Enlargement of lymph nodes.
In addition, some children can end up with allergic reactions to mosquito bites.
But those aren’t the only dangers. Babies may also scratch the bite excessively, which can lead to a skin infection that will require medical attention.
And, as everyone knows, mosquitoes carry a lot of diseases. Those diseases can be severe for babies. Some mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S. include the West Nile virus and encephalitis viruses.
Are Mosquito Repellents Safe For Babies?
Nothing is ever risk-free, and mosquito repellents are no exception to that rule.
While it is not a typical reaction and is extremely rare, considering how many people use repellents, there have been reports of considerable side effects from mosquito repellents, including (2):
- Behavioral changes.
However, it’s highly unlikely your child will experience any of these side effects.
The diseases mosquitoes carry can cause a host of symptoms in children.
Although West Nile virus usually causes mild symptoms in children, such as fever, fatigue, and muscle pains, it occasionally makes children very sick. Those with a serious health condition or a weakened immune system are at greater risk of severe symptoms, such as encephalitis, meningitis, and even paralysis (3).
If you’re overly concerned about putting lotions, creams, or sprays on your baby’s body, you might want to check out electronic mosquito repellents that use high-pitched noises to scare off the skeeters. Just be warned, their effectiveness is questionable (4).
Other repellents you could try include clip-ons, bracelets, and sticker repellents.
The Best Baby Mosquito Repellents of 2022
Here are some great baby-friendly mosquito repellents to consider.
1. SallyeAnder No Bite Me Cream
Best Mosquito Repellent Cream
You can use this hand-crafted cream every four hours to keep mosquitoes away. If your baby does get bitten, it can also work as an after-bite treatment.
It contains a strong-smelling mixture of cedar, mint, lemongrass, geranium, clove, thyme, rosemary, and eugenol oils.
While some creams can feel greasy after application, this one doesn’t. You can use the cream on faces if you avoid the eye area. This formula doesn’t sweat off, which is good news for active kids in the summer months.
We also love that this company doesn’t test its products on animals, and all SallyeAnder products are handmade in the U.S.
- It’s all-natural.
- It doesn’t sweat off.
- It lasts for up to four hours.
- It has a strong herbal smell.
- It’s a bit pricey.
2. Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard
Best Mosquito Repellent & Sunscreen Combo
This combination bug repellant sunscreen lotion is rated SPF 30, which is enough to keep your child’s tender skin protected.
It moisturizes dry skin with aloe and Vitamin E, and it doesn’t feel greasy. This lotion doesn’t contain DEET or PABA.
It protects against mosquitoes, black flies, and deer ticks. It’s safe to use on children 6 months and older. It can be reapplied every two hours for insect control, with a maximum of nine times per day — and less frequently for your baby.
This lotion is more bearable for moms who are turned off by the strong smell of essential oil products.
- You can use it on babies as young as 6 months.
- It contains both sunscreen and bug repellent.
- It’s affordable.
- You’ll have to reapply it frequently.
- While the scent is mild, it isn’t odorless.
3. Natrapel Tick & Insect Repellent with 20% Picaridin
Best Picaridin Mosquito Repellent
Picaridin is an excellent alternative to DEET that many families prefer. The Natrapel Tick and Insect repellant is a top choice if you go with picaridin. Picaridin is somewhat safer than DEET and can be used on babies as young as two months old (5).
Natrapel offers 12 hours of protection, so you can deter bugs all day long. It’s perfect for babies and parents, even if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
This bug spray repels insects that carry Lyme disease, Zika virus, malaria, chikungunya, dengue fever, yellow fever, and West Nile virus.
To apply, simply spread in sweeping motions along exposed skin. When applying to faces, spray on your hands first, then dab it across your baby’s face.
Customers who claim mosquitos follow them everywhere praise this product for being the one thing to deter the nasty insects. So, if you’re worried your baby might be an insect magnet, this is a great product to try.
- Made with picaridin.
- Protects for up to 12 hours.
- Super effective.
- It smells good.
- It has a greasy texture.
- It might stain clothing.
4. Babyganics Natural Insect Repellent
Best Smelling Mosquito Repellent for Baby
Insect repellents may get rid of the bugs, but the strong scents can also bug your baby’s nose. Avoid irritation with this sweet-smelling blend made from natural ingredients. Not only is it more pleasant, but it’s free from chemical residue and is gentle on your baby’s sensitive skin.
The formula is non-toxic and free of DEET. It sports 100% natural essential oils, including citronella, peppermint, rosemary, lemongrass, and geranium. This blend smells terrible to insects and mosquitos, but many people claim to like the scent.
This is a spray repellent, so moms should spray it on their hands before applying it directly to their baby’s skin. The lightweight formula dries quickly and won’t leave your child feeling sticky. You should apply it every two hours if you’ll be outside for an extended period.
- The all-natural formula smells great to humans but terrible to mosquitos.
- Easy to apply, dries quickly, and doesn’t leave a sticky residue.
- Gentle on baby’s skin.
- The sweet smell may attract bees.
- The formula is oily and may stain clothing.
5. OFF FamilyCare Insect Repellent – Smooth & Dry
Best DEET Mosquito Repellent for Baby
Formulated with DEET, Off FamilyCare Insect Repellent deters and repels mosquitos. If you’re worried about mosquitos carrying Zika, Dengue, or West Nile viruses — this can help.
This smooth and dry formula is more discreet on your child’s skin as it’s not as oily or greasy as other brands. The aerosol spray makes it easy to apply to skin and clothing.
This repellent also deters other bugs such as biting flies, gnats, ticks, chiggers, and fleas, so your little one can enjoy their summer day outside without any worries.
When applying, always make sure to avoid the eye and mouth area. The best way to do this is to spray it onto your hands first before dabbing it onto your baby’s face.
Although this is an excellent formula for babies, everyone in the family can use it!
- Safe for the whole family.
- DEET deters and repels all kinds of insects.
- Smooth and dry formula.
- Super effective.
- Strong smell.
- Might leave residue on clothing.
6. Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent
Best Alternative Mosquito Repellent
The star ingredient in this insect repellent is the oil of lemon eucalyptus, which is the only plant-based repellent ingredient the CDC recommends. However, it also means children under the age of 3, pregnant women, and breastfeeding moms shouldn’t use this product (6).
For parents concerned about chemicals, this DEET-free product is a nice alternative. And it wards off mosquitos for up to six hours, so you shouldn’t have to reapply it often.
The pump spray is more environmentally friendly than an aerosol can, and the clear container makes it easy to see how much product is left in the bottle.
- It’s affordable.
- It’s DEET free.
- It keeps mosquitoes away for six hours.
- Some people said it didn’t work well.
- It does have a strong scent.
7. Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent
Best Non-Staining Formula
This is another effective product that uses lemon eucalyptus oil. So once again, your child shouldn’t use this spray if they are under the age of 3, and moms should avoid it if they’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
This will protect your child from mosquitoes for up to six hours, but you shouldn’t apply it more than twice a day at the most. This spray doesn’t feel sticky on the skin, which should cut down on complaints.
If you’re using this in conjunction with sunscreen, apply the sunscreen before the insect spray.
You should ensure that you don’t spray this onto your child’s hands to avoid it ending up in their mouth. If it happens accidentally, have them wash with soap and water.
- It’s affordable.
- It’s DEET free.
- It’s long-lasting.
- It can cause skin reactions in some people.
- The lemon eucalyptus oil smell is unappealing to some people.
When Do I Start Using Mosquito Repellents?
How soon you can use repellents on your baby varies, depending upon the ingredients in the formula. You’ll also want to keep in mind that some ingredients work better than others.
The following active ingredients may be used on your baby when they turn 2 months old (7):
But that doesn’t mean all mosquito repellents are safe to use on your baby at that time. You should avoid those that contain lemon eucalyptus oil until your child is at least 3 years old.
DEET is a bit controversial as to when it is safe to use on babies. While the American Academy of Pediatrics says it’s okay to use DEET at 2 months old, other sources say 6 months is a safer benchmark (8).
Keep In Mind
When children are ages 2 to 12, you still shouldn’t use more than 10 percent DEET, but you can increase the frequency up to three times per day.
After a child reaches 12 years old, you can use products containing up to 30 percent DEET (9).
How to Apply Mosquito Repellent to Your Baby
Exercise caution when you’re applying mosquito repellent to your baby. Here are some rules you should follow when you’re applying it:
- Don’t spray it on your baby’s face — instead, spray the repellent into your hands and dab it on their face while avoiding their eyes and mouth. That will protect them from breathing in the spray or getting it into their eyes. You may want to skip applying it to really young babies’ faces.
- Don’t apply repellent to skin that will be covered with clothing. Apply it on exposed skin, and spray it on clothing instead.
- If your baby has a cut or a scratch, you should avoid spraying repellent on that area.
- Don’t overapply. You won’t get any extra benefit by putting too much on.
- When you go back inside, promptly wash your baby to remove any remaining repellent.
- Stop using the product right away if your baby develops a rash. Wash it off of your baby, and call your health practitioner.
- Try to limit the application to one time a day (10).
Can I Use Natural Repellents?
If you hate the idea of using chemicals on your baby, you might want to turn to natural mosquito repellents. There’s nothing wrong with using these products on your baby, but there are a few things you should be aware of first:
- You need to read the label to ensure your baby is old enough to use the product. All reputable mosquito repellents should have an age recommendation on the label, stating when you can use them on children.
- Natural repellents don’t usually protect as long as chemical mosquito repellents do. That may mean you’ll have to keep reapplying them constantly during your baby’s time outside.
The Bottom Line
The SallyeAnder No Bite Me cream is our top pick as the best mosquito repellent for kids. We like that it works both as a preventative and an after-bite treatment — any double-duty product is a win in our books.
While the scent is relatively strong, we like the product’s all-natural ingredients. We also love it’s handmade in the U.S.