11 Safe Bug Sprays For Babies and Kids, According to Pediatricians
Life moves outdoors in the summer. But bugs also set up shop in backyards and wooded areas families may head to for hikes, so if you have little ones, it's about the time of year you're looking to pick up a bug spray for babies or kids.
Baby-friendly pest control is a smart move in the warmer months, since bug bites can be more than just itchy nuisances. "Some mosquitos and ticks can transmit dangerous diseases like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, malaria, and West Nile virus, depending on where you are in the world," says Amanda Stovall, MD, an Illinois-based pediatrician. "Preventing bug bites with clothing and bug spray is the first line of defense."
Products for adults aren't always suitable for kids, so when you're looking for a bug spray for babies or kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both recommend using an insect repellent registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. All of those products must contain an EPA-registered active ingredient, including DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. The former two can be used on infants as young as 2 months old, but that last one isn't recommended for kids younger than age 3, the CDC says. (Even so, make sure to read individual products' labels, because some brands will caution against using their spray up until certain ages that differ from these guidelines.)
Additionally, the AAP recommends sticking to bug sprays containing DEET concentrations of less than 30% when using them on kids, using the least amount of product necessary, only using them once per day (without reapplying), and using the lowest concentration necessary for the length of time you're going to be outside (10% DEET provides about 2 hours' of protection, and 30% DEET provides about 5 hours' worth). Also be sure to wash it off with soap and water once you're back inside for the day, and know that DEET can reduce your SPF's effectiveness, so avoid products that contain both.
It can be tough to wade through ingredient list, so we rounded up a list of 11 bug sprays for babies or kids. These options will help keep your family bite-free — though you should also be sure to wear protective clothing and do thorough tick checks when you come back inside.
A 20% DEET Premium Controlled-Release Lotion will work well against mosquitoes, but Dr. Zimring says he prefers the 20% Picaridin lotion since it also protects against ticks, gnats, chiggers, and flies. (In both instances, he recommends Sawyer brand.)
Part of spending time outside means battling ticks, mosquitoes, and other biting insects. For this, Nelson swears by permethrin.
And out of the products we tested, Dr. Zeichner highly recommends Sawyer Products 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent.