Are you worried about mosquitoes biting and hurting your baby?
It can be scary to apply bug spray to your baby’s tender skin. You worry about allergic reactions and if the ingredients in the sprays are safe enough for them.
But you also don’t want your baby to end up sick from a preventable bite, either.
We’ve rounded up the best mosquito repellents for kids that are both safe and effective.
- 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 to spray around, it can be an important trick to have up your sleeve while trying to protect your baby.
Mosquito bites can be painful for babies, and they can swell up way more than the same bites usually do for adults. Some babies can get severe swelling and even bruising on the bitten area. A big local reaction frequently happens for babies.
Signs of larger reactions to mosquito bites in babies can include (1):
- Large swollen area.
- Low fever.
- Enlargement of lymph nodes.
In addition to that, some children can end up with allergic reactions to mosquito bites.
But those aren’t the only dangers of mosquito bites on babies. They could also scratch the bite excessively, which can lead to a skin infection that will require medical attention.
And, as everyone knows, mosquito bites can also carry a lot of diseases with them. Those diseases can be severe for babies. Some of the diseases found in the U.S. include West Nile virus and encephalitis viruses.
Are Mosquito Repellents Safe For Baby?
Nothing is ever risk-free and mosquito repellents are no exception to that rule. They do carry risks with them.
While it is not a typical reaction and is extremely rare considering how many people use repellents each year, there have been reports of considerable side effects, including (2):
- Behavioral changes.
Your child is far more likely to have no side effects from using mosquito repellent than to have anything like this happen to them. And you should also keep in mind, there can be severe health consequences to being bitten by a mosquito too.
The diseases mosquitoes carry can cause a host of symptoms in children. West Nile, for instance, usually only causes mild symptoms in children, such as fever, fatigue, and aches.
But, rarely, some children will get very sick from West Nile. Those who have a serious health condition or a weakened immune system are at greater risk of severe symptoms (3).
If you’re overly concerned about putting any lotion, 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 in question (4).
Other repellents you could try include clip-on, bracelet, and sticker repellents.
The Best Baby Mosquito Repellents of 2021
Here are our favorite baby-friendly mosquito repellents.
1. SallyeAnder No Bite Me Cream
This hand-crafted cream can be used every four hours to keep mosquitoes away. If you do 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. The cream can be used on your face if you avoid the eye area.
This cream doesn’t sweat off, which is good news for active kids as they run around for hours at a time during the summer months.
For moms who are concerned about more than their households, they’ll like that the company doesn’t test their products on animals. All their products are also handmade in the U.S.
- It’s all-natural.
- It doesn’t sweat off.
- It lasts fairly long for coverage — up to four hours.
- It has a strong smell that isn’t for everyone.
- It’s a bit pricey.
2. Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard
This combines the bug protection of a repellent with the sun protection of a sunscreen. It has 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 if necessary. But you should not use more than 9 times a day and fewer than that for your baby.
For moms who are turned off by the strong smell of essential oil products, this one should be more bearable — it’s not nearly as strong.
- It can be used on babies as young as 6 months.
- It contains sunscreen too.
- It’s affordable.
- You’ll have to reapply it fairly frequently.
- While the scent is milder, it isn’t odorless.
3. Natrapel Tick & Insect Repellent with 20% Picaridin
Picaridin is a great alternative to DEET and many families prefer it. The Natrapel Tick and Insect repellant is a top choice if you are going with picaridin. Picaridin is somewhat safer than DEET and can be used on babies as young as two months old (5).
This specific brand 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 breast-feeding.
Now, you can step outside in confidence. This bug spray repels insects that are carrying Lyme disease, Zika virus, malaria, chikungunya, dengue fever, yellow fever, and West Nile virus.
To apply, simply travel 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 away. So, if you’re worried your baby might be an insect magnet, this is a great product to try.
- Made with picaridin.
- 12 hours of protection.
- Super effective.
- It smells good.
- It has a greasy texture.
- It might stain clothing.
4. Babyganics Natural Insect Repellent
Insect repellents may get rid of the bugs, but the strong scents can also bug your baby’s nose. Avoid the 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-greasy, non-toxic, and free of DEET. It highlights 100% natural essential oils, including citronella, peppermint, rosemary, lemongrass, and geranium. This blend smells terrible to insects and mosquitos but is lovely for humans.
Don’t worry though! While it’s definitely got a scent, it isn’t so strong that it’s overwhelming or irritating.
This is a spray repellent, so moms should spray it on their hands and then apply it directly to 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 of time.
- The all-natural formula smells great to you, 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, so be careful if there are a lot of them around.
5. OFF FamilyCare Insect Repellent – Smooth & Dry
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. Easily apply it to the skin through the aerosol can, sweeping it over exposed areas.
Also — this repellent 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 great for babies, everyone in the family can use it! Now, you can all enjoy a care-free day out in the wilderness.
- 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
The star ingredient in this insect repellent is the oil of lemon eucalyptus, which means children under the age of 3 shouldn’t use this repellent. It is DEET free, which moms concerned about chemicals should like.
It wards off mosquitos for up to six hours. That means you should only have to apply it once to your child since that’s a long time for them to be outside. If you’re on a camping trip, you could apply it twice in one day, if needed.
Because it comes in a pump spray, you must remember not to spray it on your child’s face. Spray it into your hands and apply it to their skin that way.
- 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
The ingredient that will keep mosquitoes at bay in this one is also lemon eucalyptus. So once again, your child shouldn’t use this spray if they are under the age of 3.
This will give protection for six hours for your child, 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 the complaints of your kid.
If you’re using this in conjunction with sunscreen, apply the sunscreen first and then this product second.
You should ensure that you don’t spray this onto your child’s hands. If it accidentally happens, you should have them wash with soap and water.
This spray won’t stain your baby’s clothes, which should make moms happy.
- It’s affordable.
- It’s DEET free.
- It’s long-lasting.
- It can cause skin reactions in some people, according to the label.
- The smell is considered a bit much by some people.
When Do I Start Using Mosquito Repellents?
How soon you can use repellents on your baby varies depending upon the ingredients you’re using. And you’ll want to keep in mind that some kinds of ingredients work better than others.
Some of the active ingredients can be used on your baby when they turn 2 months old. Those include (6):
But that doesn’t mean all mosquito repellents are safe to use on your baby at that time. You should stay away from those that contain oil of lemon eucalyptus 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 to follow (7).
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.
How to Apply Mosquito Repellent to Your Baby
When you’re using mosquito repellent on your baby, you have to exercise caution about how you apply it. 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 staying away from their eyes and mouth. That will protect them from breathing in the spray and from getting it into their eyes. For really young babies, you may want to skip applying it at all to their face.
- Only put the repellent on their exposed skin or spray it on their clothing instead. You never want to put it on the skin that will be covered up anyway.
- If your baby has a cut or a scratch, you should make sure not to put repellent on that area.
- Don’t go overboard with it. You won’t get any extra benefit by putting too much on.
- When you go back inside, promptly give your baby a bath to wash off the repellent.
- Stop using it right away if your baby develops a rash while using the product. Then wash it off of your baby and make an appointment with or call your doctor.
- Try to limit the application to one time a day (8).
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 kinds of products on your baby, but there are a few things you should be aware of first:
- You need to read the label to make sure your baby is old enough to use the product. All reputable mosquito repellents should have an age on the label that states when they can be used on children.
- Keep in mind natural repellents don’t usually protect as long as chemical mosquito repellents do. That may mean you’ll have to keep reapplying it 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. It works both as a preventative and an after-bite treatment. I like that it doubles up — anytime you can find a product that pulls double duty as a parent, it’s a keeper.
While the scent is rather strong, I like that its all-natural ingredients. I also love the fact it’s handmade in the U.S.
It can be scary when you see mosquitoes swarming around your baby — after all, you want to protect them from everything. But with a proper mosquito repellent, you’ll have one less thing to worry about.