So you’re looking for the best mosquito repellent—but it gets trickier. You’re looking for the best mosquito repellent—for baby. That means you’re probably eager to find the best bug spray for babies that also happen to be all-natural, as you don’t want baby absorbing any potentially harmful chemicals.
Well, look no further! The Bump has compiled a definitive list of the best bug spray for babies, including natural, organic and waterproof options, all DEET-free. (More on DEET in a minute.)
But before we get into that, let’s talk safety when it comes to bug spray for babies, and how to avoid mosquito bites in the first place. Read the Dos and Don’ts of Baby Bug Spray , courtesy of pediatrician Dr. Tanya Altmann, official medical advocate for Baby Dove.
Dos and Don’ts of Baby Bug Spray
- DO keep your infant and young child’s skin covered in lightweight clothing as much as possible, and try to cover exposed skin—for example, tucking pants into socks.
- DON’T use fragranced products such as scented laundry detergent or lotions, which can attract biting insects.
- DO consider using a mosquito net over your stroller or infant carrier.
- DON’T use insect repellent on babies under 2-months-old.
- DO choose insect repellents approved for use on children and follow directions on the package.
- DON’T use sunscreen and insect repellent combination products. (Or at least avoid them.) This is because sunscreen should be reapplied frequently, but insect repellent should not, as you don’t want to overexpose baby to the components of insect repellent.
- DO apply insect repellent to clothing—instead of directly to the skin—when possible. Spritz the ends of sleeves, pant hems and socks, and the insects will avoid nearby skin. Only apply bug spray for babies onto baby skin when absolutely necessary.
- DON’T apply insect repellent near the eyes and mouth, and, in the case of small children, hands, as they may put their hands in their mouth.
- DO spray repellents in open areas, then quickly move away. This will help you avoid inhaling the products.
- DON’T store products within children’s reach or let them apply their own repellent. Apply it for them, then make sure to wash your hands.
- DO wash off the insect repellent with a hypoallergenic baby wash designed to moisturize, like Baby Dove Rich Moisture Tip to Toe Wash, once you come back inside. Also make sure to throw those clothes in the wash.
DEET Bug Spray
Let’s get the biggest question out of the way first: What is DEET, anyway? DEET is the common name for N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide. Developed by the United States Army in 1946, DEET is the most common ingredient in bug spray and, according to most research, the most effective. (Though some ingredients are believed to be nearly as effective, as of yet, nothing has proven to be more effective.)
An important note: DEET does not actually kill mosquitos. Instead, as advertised, DEET bug repellent truly repels. By messing with the neurons on their antennae and mouths, DEET forces mosquitos to back up—and not just mosquitos. The chemical mixture is effective on flies, gnats and chiggers too.
Of course, while DEET sprays may be the best bet, they certainly isn’t your only one. Many people prefer picaridin, a synthetic created in the ‘80s by Bayer. According to research, picaridin is nearly if not just as effective—and safe—as DEET. Plus, it’s odorless and non-greasy—two points that make it preferable to many (especially moms with sensitive kids!). Moreover, it’s picaridin-based formulas are the best-selling bug repellents in Europe and Australia. So what’s the catch? The snag is that picaridin was only approved for sale in the U.S. in 2005, so while it may indeed be the superior choice, there isn’t enough long-term research to prove that picaridin isn’t harmful years down the line.
Which brings us back to DEET, and probably the top bug spray-related question: Is DEET safe for babies? While rumors about potential DEET dangers have been circulating for years, after much research, the conclusion is that DEET is indeed safe for babies—and everyone else, for that matter. (Though, in the case of young children, Dr. Altmann recommends keeping the DEET count at no more than 30 percent.) The key? Applying appropriately. Spray the DEET bug spray on your hands before rubbing it onto baby. That way, it’s…