The buzz of mosquitoes is a sure, though unwelcome, sign of summer. With warm days and sunshine comes the pain and annoyance of mosquito bites, something you don't want your baby to endure. If you're uncomfortable with the idea of slathering your infant with chemicals, all-natural insect repellents are an effective alternative.
According to Baby Center, you shouldn't use any type of insect repellent on babies younger than two months. For babies older than two months, several bug repellents on the market are free of N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET) or picaridin, the chemicals contained in most bug sprays. Heidi Murkoff from What to Expect writes that purified forms of plants like citronella, cedar, eucalyptus and soybean can help ward off insects. Their only drawback is that they don't last as long as repellents that contain DEET; some have to be reapplied as often as every 20 minutes. Oil of lemon eucalyptus has proved effective at repelling mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus, according to Brian Clark Howard from The Daily Green. Baby Center, however, doesn't recommend oil of lemon eucalyptus on children younger than 3. Check labels before using to make sure that any natural repellent is safe for use on babies. All repellent products must state any age restrictions.
According to Howard, several effective all-natural insect repellents are suitable for babies and kids. California Baby's sprays use essential plant oils to soothe existing bites while repelling several insects, including mosquitoes. Aubrey Organics offers a DEET-free insect spray that also protects against sunburn. Badger Balm's Anti-Bug tin and balm soothe dry skin and repel bugs with oils of citronella, rosemary, cedar and geranium. Swy Flotter from Kiss My Face uses isopropyl palmitate, which comes from coconut oil, cyclomethicone, which comes from silica, and essential oils to protect against mosquitoes, ticks and other insects. Spectrum Brands' Repel Lemon Eucalyptus insect repellent is effective against mosquitoes for up to six hours. Bite Blocker's herbal wipes make applying repellent on babies and kids easy without getting the product in their eyes and mouths, like some sprays can. These towelettes are made from soybean and coconut oil, glycerin, geranium oil, sodium bicarbonate and vanillin.
How to Apply
Even with all-natural insect repellents, it's important to apply them to your baby's skin carefully. Use bug sprays only in open areas so you and your child don't breathe them in, and don't spray near food. Cover your child's eyes and mouth to avoid getting spray in them. To protect your baby's face, spray the repellent on your fingers then wipe your fingers on her cheeks and forehead. Murkoff warns against spraying on cut, infected or irritated skin. If your baby often puts her hands or feet in her mouth, don't apply repellent there. Wash your little one's skin with soap and water when she comes back inside, and wash any treated clothing before it's worn again.
If your baby is too young for insect repellent or you want to avoid it altogether, other effective ways will keep her mosquito-free. First, dress her in lightweight, light-colored clothing that covers as much skin as possible. Be careful not to overheat her, however, as mosquitoes are most active during the summer. Avoid bright or dark colors or flowery prints. Don't use scented soaps or lotions, since some fragrances can attract bugs. Keep your yard free of stagnant water, which creates a mosquito breeding ground. Mosquitoes can gather in a very small amount of water, so don't let any accumulate in areas where your baby might be. You can also put mosquito netting over your little one's stroller, playpen or infant seat. Finally, using citronella candles, tiki torches and other bug repellents in your yard can cut down on your baby's exposure to the pests. Be careful when using wristbands that contain repellent, since babies tend to put everything in their mouths. Avoid taking the baby outside around dusk or after dark, since that's when mosquitoes are most active.
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