Pesky bugs can ruin a family picnic, hike, or trip to the park.  Make sure your kids are safe from bug bites with kid-safe bug repellent. We’ll tell you what to look for and what to avoid when choosing bug repellent and let you know how to apply the lotion or spray for the best results.

Facts About DEET

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that insect repellents containing less than 10% DEET are safe for children as young as 2 months. Bug repellents with DEET come in varying strengths, some contain up to 30-percent DEET. A higher concentration of DEET makes it last longer, however it doesn’t mean a product is stronger.

Facts About Picaridin

Picaridin is an odorless synthetic ingredient found in some bug repellents. It is relatively new in the United States, but has been used in Europe for more than 10 years. It is like DEET and provides long-lasting protection against bugs. Products with Picaridin can also be used on babies as young as 2 months.

Natural Bug Repellents

Although DEET is safe for use on children, many parents prefer to use bug repellents that are DEET-free. Natural repellents are made with plant oils such as citronella, lemongrass, peppermint, and cedar wood. The main difference is the need to be reapplied more often than products containing DEET.

Natural Ways to Avoid Bites

Have your kids wear loose-fitting, long-sleeve clothing in lighter, muted colors. Wearing socks and shoes instead of sandals can help.  Stay inside early in the morning and at dusk when bugs are the worst. Bugs are attracted to strong scents, so be mindful of lotions. Choosing scent-free options will help lower the insects’ attraction to your little ones.

Applying Bug Repellent

Once you’ve chosen a bug repellent, it’s important that you use it properly. Apply product only to exposed skin. Be sure to avoid hands, eyes, cuts, and irritations. Putting it on your hands first, then rub it on your child so you don’t use too much. Make sure to wash the repellent off when your child is done being outside.

Don’t let bugs stop you from being outside this summer. Here are some things to remember when applying bug repellent:

  • Always follow the instructions for application of bug repellent.
  • Keep in mind that most repellents do not protect against stinging bugs such as bees, wasps, and fire ants.
  • Kids should not apply bug repellent themselves.
  • Wash your hands after application.
  • Don’t spray repellent inside or near food.

We do not suggest using bug spray with sunscreen combination products, because the need to reapply often makes these products not as effective as the separate products are.