Mosquito Repellent for Babies - Is It Safe, When to Use & more

Safe & Unsafe Mosquito Repellents for Infants

Dealing with mosquitoes is not easy and more so, when there is a baby you need to protect. You probably have already put all kinds of physical barriers to ensure mosquitoes do not make it inside your home at least the bedroom. However, they always find their way in, causing trouble to you and your family.

It does not end there. Bugs and other insects may also enter your home and trouble your baby, especially during the monsoon and winters. Making use of mosquito repellents is probably one of the best ways to drive away these insects. However, the question remains; are they good for the health of your baby?

Using mosquito repellents is not a very good (or safe) idea if you have an infant at home. Most of the mosquito repellents are harmful to babies. However, there are a few that you can use safely. Let’s look at them in detail.

Video: Mosquito Repellents for Babies – Which Ones Are Safe?

What Are Mosquito Repellents?

Anything that keeps mosquitoes away is a mosquito repellent. Mosquito coils, mosquito repellent lotions, mosquito repellent sprays etc. all fall under this category.

Different Mosquito Repellent for Babies

Mosquito repellents come in different shapes and forms and whether one is safe for the baby depends on its type. Mosquito repellents like coils and vaporisers give out unhealthy smoke that can harm your baby’s health. On the other hand, repellents like mosquito bands and nets are harmless. We’ll look at both the categories in detail.

1. Safe Mosquito Repellents

  • Protective Clothing

While this does not give 100% results, this is something that you can try to keep most of your baby’s body protected from mosquitoes. Make your baby wear a bodysuit or a onesie to minimise the area of the baby’s skin that is exposed. If the temperature outside is relatively warm, keep your baby inside in a cool room and do not make him wear an undershirt. If you have opted for a shirt and pant, make sure your baby’s tummy is covered properly with an inner to avoid exposing any skin.

Cover the baby’s feet with socks and hands with cotton mittens while he is asleep. One can make use of a hat with a broad brim to ward off any insects from the face. Dress your baby in light-coloured clothes as dark-coloured ones will attract more mosquitoes. Avoid floral prints too, as they can attract other insects.

  • Gels, Creams, Body Sprays, Wipes, Roll-ons

Using one of these is probably one of the best ways to keep mosquitoes and other insects away from your baby’s skin. However, remember, that the effects of these gels and creams last only for few hours, after which you will need to reapply these again.

Do not think that applying too much of these will offer more protection. By doing this, you will be exposing your baby’s skin to toxins, which is not required. Apply the required amount on your baby’s exposed skin. Make sure to go through the instructions thoroughly to know when you need to reapply the cream again, so that your baby always stays protected.

If you have an infant or your baby is less than eight weeks old, do not use a repellent that has chemicals. Look for repellents that come with natural ingredients, so that there is minimal chance of any adverse reaction with the baby’s skin. Mosquito repellent creams that contain lemon eucalyptus or PMD (the synthetic form of eucalyptus) should be avoided when it comes to children less than thirty-six months of age.

  • Mosquito Nets

This is the MOST effective mosquito repellent if you can use it in the right way. What’s the best part of using a net? They have zero negative effects on your baby’s health.

One can buy nets of all sizes. There are mosquito nets for infants and there are nets for baby’s cot and for family beds as well. Mosquito nets are designed for strollers and prams too. Portable mosquito nets are also available, which you can use to cover the baby wherever he sleeps.

However, you cannot use mosquito nets for the entire day, as it can be troublesome when you must feed or change your baby’s diaper frequently at night.

A mosquito net is the best choice when you are sleeping with your baby or your baby does not wake up during the night or he is weaned.

2. Unsafe Mosquito Repellents

  • Liquid Vaporiser

This is probably the most common mosquito repellent that is being used in households. Plug-in vaporisers usually contain harmful chemicals and inhaling these are not good for your baby’s health. Inhaling these harmful fumes can cause breathing problems and aggravate existing ones. It can also cause allergies and irritate your baby’s eyes.

Consider putting the vaporiser on for a limited duration to eliminate all the mosquitoes. Turn it off well in advance so that the baby isn’t troubled by the smell in the room.

  • Foams and Sprays

Pest control foams and sprays are hazardous for your baby. They may cause severe respiratory problems for them. Those planning on using foams and sprays must ensure that there is no route of escape for the mosquitoes in the room. Also, the baby should be left outside until the odour of the foam/spray has subsided.

Fumes and sprays prevent mosquitoes and other insects from entering a certain area. They do not offer protection against mosquito and insect bites. This makes them effective only when they are used in addition to other effective mosquito repellents.

  • Coils

Coils, when used for a long time and when burned indoors, can cause breathing problems and allergies. They produce smoke and there are studies that claim that coils can cause lung cancer. Place coils at all the openings to keep mosquitoes away from the room. Do not use coils inside rooms.

  • Plug-in Mats

The fumes from plug-in mats are toxic in the same way as liquid vaporisers are. So, it is always a good idea to keep them away from your baby.

  • Mosquito Bands and Patches

Clothing strips and wristbands laced with DEET can keep away mosquitoes for over 4 hours. The potency depends on DEET’s concentration in the product. Most experts do not support this method as a safety mechanism for babies as far as mosquitoes are concerned.

  • Mosquito Rackets

Physical barriers are always the best option for babies when it comes to getting rid of mosquitoes. You can use these rackets to kill mosquitoes in the area. However, these rackets do not provide protection to mosquito bites and should be used along with other forms of mosquito repellents.

Rackets are battery-charged and they kill the mosquito upon contact. If you are using this, you need to make sure that your baby is not playing with this.

  • Essential Oils

Candles and incense giving out natural scents that mosquitos are averse to. However, these are not as potent as the chemical based repellents. Scents like eucalyptus, lemongrass, lavender, neem, cedar, and citronella can help repel mosquitoes.

One must exercise caution, as most of the essential oils come with a strong scent and direct contact with the skin of the baby must be avoided. Most of these oils are considered unsafe for babies under the age of two years. Using on the skin can cause allergies. Read the product label well before using it.

Is It Safe to Use Mosquito Repellents With Infants Around?

The answer to this question lies on the type of the mosquito repellent that you plan to use. It is best to not use mosquito repellents like coils and pest control fumes and sprays when your baby is around. Keep your baby away from liquid vaporisers and mats as well. Natural mosquito repellent creams, body sprays, and gels and mosquito nets are the safest options you have.

Why Should You Use Insect Repellents?

It is more than a necessity to use insect repellents, as protective clothing alone cannot offer 100% protection to your baby. Also, you cannot keep your baby inside a mosquito net 24×7. Mosquito bites and insect bites can irritate your baby’s skin and cause itching. Mosquitoes are also carriers of malaria and dengue virus, which can be life-threatening.

How Do Mosquito Repellents Work?

The working of each mosquito repellent is different. Most of the repellents simply keep the mosquitoes at bay but do not kill them and there are few that kill the mosquitoes. The time duration for which the mosquito repellent stays effective depends on its type and its ingredients.

Which Repellent is Best for My Baby?

Choosing the right type of mosquito repellent for your baby depends on factors like your baby’s age, the effectiveness of the type of repellent etc.

Refer to the table below to know the best baby friendly mosquito repellent:

 Type of Mosquito Repellent Pros Cons Safety precautions
Creams, lotions, roll-on sticks, wipes, and body sprays
  • Offers mobile protection to your child
  • Effective both indoors and outdoors
  • Effective for not more than 4-5 hours, after which a reapplication is required
  • May cause allergic reaction and irritation
If your baby is less than 2 months of age, use creams and lotions with not more than 30% DEET, or IR3535, or picaridin. Also, do not spray directly on your baby’s face. Instead, take some in your hand and rub it on your baby’s face. Do not spray on wounds and cuts as well. If you are using body sprays, spray them in open areas, so that your baby does not breathe it in. Apply after the application of sunscreen.
Mosquito Nets
  • Effective both indoors and outdoors and has no negative health effects
  • Needs to be maintained and checked for holes regularly
  • Useless if mosquitoes get trapped inside
Ensure that the net is tied to the corners of the bed properly and there is enough room for your baby to breathe properly. In case of ‘place from the top’ nets, buy sturdy ones, so that they do not collapse.
Liquid Vaporisers Suitable for a limited area
  • Contains chemicals that might not be safe for the baby to inhale
  • Fumes from vaporisers can cause breathing issues and allergies, and eye irritation
  • Does not work during power cuts, as the device works on electricity
It is best to keep the baby away from the room where the vaporiser has been switched on. Take the baby inside only after switching off the device. Keep the device out of reach of toddlers and children. The liquid used in vaporisers is toxic and cause serious troubles if swallowed. The baby should not touch the electrical point of the device as well, as it can lead to electrocution.
Pest Control Fumes and Sprays These are highly effective in a limited area. Fumes and sprays are not good for the baby. Inhaling the fumes can cause breathing problems and allergies.

Keep your baby away from home when spraying the surroundings and inside of your home with pest control fumes.

Once treatment is over, open windows and doors to ensure the fumes go out of your home. Bring the baby inside only when the smell is gone completely.

Coils Coils are highly effective in a limited area
  • Coils give out toxic smokes while burning and this can cause allergies and breathing problems
  • Coils can cause lung cancer if used on a regular basis for a long term
  • Fire risk is involved if not burnt in the correct way

Don’t use coils in closed rooms where family members are present.

Always burn a coil outside your home, in front of doors and windows, to keep away mosquitoes.

Also, burn the coil on a metal stand and away from things that are flammable.

Mats Suitable for indoor usage and a limited area.
  • Gives out poisonous fumes that can cause allergies and breathing problems
  • Does not work during power cuts, as the device works on electricity

Do not use in closed rooms and use it away from your family members

If you are using mats, keep the baby away from the room and bring him inside after switching off the device and ventilating the room

Natural repellents and essential oils Works only in a limited area.
  • Are not as effective as chemical repellents and work for a short time
Don’t use essential oils directly on your baby’s skin.
Mosquito zappers and rackets Work both indoors and outdoors and come with zero health effects.
  • You need to use these physically, every time, to kill mosquitoes that are hovering around
  • Need regular recharging
Make sure toddlers and children are not playing with the racket.

Tips for Using Mosquito Repellents for Babies

When using chemical repellents, make sure the baby is not inside the room. Bring the baby inside only after switching off the device and ventilating the room. Maintaining infant safety from mosquito repellents is important.

Learn About DEET & DEET-Free Insect Repellents

The most common chemical that is used in mosquito repellent creams and lotions are DEET, IR3535, or picaridin. These do not only repel mosquitoes but work as baby-safe bug repellents too. However, don’t use any of these if your baby is less than 2 months old. You can take the natural route, and opt for essential oils or repellents with natural plant oils.

Coping with Bug Bites in Babies

Wrap ice cubes in a towel or take a cool washcloth and apply that on the affected area. If your baby is above two months, you can also apply a paste of baking soda and water on the bites to ease the irritation. Take your baby to a doctor, in case of an infection.

Other Remedies to Keep Mosquitoes Away

Neem is a great natural mosquito repellent for babies. Burn neem leaves to keep away mosquitoes. Tea tree and bath oils, yeast, garlic, cloves, and limes can also be used as natural mosquito repellents.

Suggested Baby Insect Repellents

Mosquito bats and mosquito nets are the safest options for babies. You can also use fabric roll-ons and mosquito patches but make sure to check the ingredients. Mats and liquid vaporisers are safe too, but use them with caution. Lotions are suitable only for babies above two months.

One has numerous options to choose from when it comes to protecting kids against these tiny troublemakers. The focus should always be on methods that cause the least harm and can be used in addition to the more potent ones.

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