If you’re a fan of outdoor activities such as picnics, hiking, fishing, or going to the beach, you know that one of the biggest hazards of having fun in nature is bug bites–not only are they irritating during your activities, but the itching afterward can be a hassle as well. And while you might be able to handle a few bites, we know you want to make your child’s first experiences in the great outdoors the best they can be–which means bite-free.
Not only are they a menace to kids and adults alike, certain bug bites can actually be dangerous, transmitting harmful diseases and even causing allergic reactions. Picking the right insect repellant can be hard enough, but choosing one that is safe enough for your children poses its own unique challenges.
Worry not–our list contains the insect repellents that have been proven effective and child safe, so your tot will stay untouched by pests, and won’t miss out on any of the outdoor fun!
Our Top 3 Picks
- Avon Skin so Soft
- Repellent Towelettes
- OFF! Deep Woods
- Long Lasting Protection
- Sawyer Products Premium
- Protection Against Zika Mosquitoes
Best Insect Repellants for Kids in 2018
Criteria Used in Evaluation of The Top Insect Repellants
While you want your child to have fun during their first experiences outdoors, we know your top priority is to keep them safe, which is why every insect repellent listed above is child safe and worry-free. When doing your bug spray research, you may come across active ingredients that you’ve never heard of, or have been under discussion; here are some facts about what’s in your child’s insect repellent:
DEET is perhaps the most controversial ingredient used in insect repellents because its toxicity is still under investigation. However, DEET has been widely used and revered for a long time, and according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, DEET is safe for children as young as 2 months. Our advice when using insect repellents that contain DEET is to apply only as frequently as the manufacturer recommends, apply away from your child’s eyes, mouth, and hands (as it could rub off if they touch their eyes or put their hands in their mouth), and do your best to wash it off when you’re finished using it.
In contrast to DEET, studies about Picaridin have shown that it is safe, effective, and has less unpleasant qualities than DEET insect repellents. Not only is it just as effective at keeping bugs away as DEET, but Picaridin is also odorless, and doesn’t feel sticky, oily, or greasy upon application. Also, it is safe to apply to plastics, fabrics, and gear, as it won’t stain or harm your belongings.
Essential oils, like Citronella, Lemongrass, Geranium, and Cedarwood are often used in natural insect repellents. While it is advised not to use Peppermint or Eucalyptus oils on children under the age of 6 years old, and Lemongrass on children under the age of 2 years old, any combination of these oils can assist in keeping the creepy crawlies of your child while allowing you sweet-scented fun. Although neither DEET nor Picaridin has shown any harmful side effects when used properly as bug spray, essential oils are a great alternative to the active ingredients in insect repellents.
Each of the listed products above has a convenient application–whether it be a snap-on bracelet, a smooth lotion, or an easily operated spray pump, we want to make sure you’ve got the simplest and quickest insect repellent process. We know you’d rather have the most time possible to be outside, playing with your child, so why slow that process down by spending to much time on bug spray? You can be sure your child will be covered with just a few simple sprays, a quick wipe, or an easy snap.
When you’re having fun in the sun, the last thing you want to do is pause playtime in order to reapply your insect repellent–that’s why we’ve compiled this list with some of the longest lasting–but still kid friendly!–bug spray on the market. While the products on this list vary in terms of ingredients, we’ve paid close attention to the concentration of each; this determines how long your insect repellent is effective. Each product can last anywhere between three hours and 10 days, giving you and your child the longest time possible to enjoy your hike, picnic, fishing trip, or a day at the beach.
What Determined the Top Insect Repellants for Kids in Our List
Safety is a very important concern whenever we talk about products for children. Insect repellants may be sprayed onto the skin, but different children have different skin anatomies and physiologies that can affect the effectiveness and efficiency of the active ingredients of these products. That’s why we only considered those bug repellant products that have been tested and duly certified to be safe for kids. This is important because the chemicals that can present long-term dangers to our kids are as dangerous as the disease-causing agents that are brought about by these insects and bugs. So, the safety of the ingredients that are used in the formulation of the bug spray was crucial. We did include one product that may have a less-than-satisfactory safety profile. However, other concerns were factored into the decision to include it on our list, mostly related to its effectiveness which is the parameter that we next evaluated.
A product’s spectrum of activity was also determined to be important. It makes no sense to get a product that can protect kids against a single vector, although it may work if you go to a place where infections brought about by this vector are rampant. Traveling with several bottles of bug sprays is hardly our definition of efficiency, effectiveness, convenience, and practical sense. So, we chose products that are proven effective against a host of insects or bugs, especially with the threat of Zika in the minds of moms and dads all over.
Tips to Using Insect Repellents the Safe and Effective Way
As we have already mentioned, some insects are fun to behold while others are just pure nasty and mean. While you can always adhere to general outdoor safety tips for children whenever you go out, it makes perfect sense to focus more on how you can use insect repellents in a safe and effective manner since this is your kid’s primary protection against these creatures. Here are a few tips.
- Always read the label of the product that you’re about to apply onto your kid’s skin. Take note of current guidelines regarding the use of DEET especially if you have a 6 month old child as it is considered a big no-no.
- While some products are designed for kids, you are not supposed to let children below the age of 10 years to apply the product onto their skin themselves. Essentially, you’re supposed to keep these products out of children’s reach, even if it is intended for kids.
- Watch where you’re applying the product. As a general rule, you are not supposed to apply these on broken skin as well as skin with signs of irritation or inflammation like sunburn.
- Always spray the insect repellent in an open and well-ventilated area. Do not attempt to apply it inside your motorhome or, worse, inside a tent.
- Avoid spraying the product onto your kid’s hands as he or she may rub these in his or her eyes or even mouth.
- Always reapply an insect repellent after swimming regardless of a product’s claim of superb water resistance.
The Bottom Line
Some insects are very lovely creatures while others are not really that admirable as they bring disease to man. This is a special concern for children since their immunity is not yet fully mature to mount a full defense against vector-borne infections. With these 10 best insect repellents for kids in 2018, you’ll feel more secure about the safety of your kids whenever they’re around insects and bugs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I use sunscreen and insect repellent at the same time?
A: Yes! Sunscreen and insect repellent will work together, just be sure to apply the insect repellent after the sunscreen to guarantee it will be most effective.
Q: Can I use this on my pets as well?
A: It depends on the product! While DEET is safe for humans, it is toxic for animals. Picaridin has not been extensively studied for use on animals, but since essential oils are natural, you can use a few drops diluted in a carrier oil.
Q: Will these products protect against Zika-carrying mosquitoes?
A: While it’s difficult to tell which mosquitoes carry harmful diseases when they’re biting your skin, these products are effective against mosquitoes in general, so as long as you use each product according to the manufacturer’s instructions, your chances of contracting a mosquito-borne disease are minimal!
Q: Are these products safe to use every day?
A: Yes! All of the products on this list are safe for children. When using products that contain DEET, be sure to wash them off when you’re finished playing outside, but feel free to reapply each day it is necessary!
Q: Is insect repellent waterproof?
A: It depends on the product! Some of them work well even when submerged in water – specifically the Citronella infused bracelets–but be sure to read the information on your insect repellent before going swimming or running through sprinklers to know whether it’s necessary to reapply.
Q: Can I use these products if I am sensitive to smells?
A: It depends on the product! Some essential oils–especially Citronella–can be a bit strong for those sensitive to smells, but insect repellents that contain Picaridin will generally be odorless, as long as there are no additional scents added to the formula.
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