Choosing an Insect Repellent for Kids

Between the irritation bug bites cause your children and headlines the West Nile and Zika viruses, at you may feel like confining your kids to screened-in tent all summer. Fear not, responsible parent. We’re here to give you help in choosing an insect repellent for kids.

For best results in protecting your child, follow our tips for safe selection and use of insect repellents:

  • DEET Is OK: Don’t let the long chemical name scare you away: the American Academy of Pediatrics approves the use of DEET insect repellents for all children over the age of two months.
  • Mind Your Concentrations: A spray with a higher concentration of DEET won’t repel more bugs. It will just last longer, so save products with concentrations higher than 30% for long days. Less concentrated sprays are great for playing in the yard in evenings.
  • Once a Day is Best: Only apply insect repellents once a day, so select one with a concentration that provides protection for your schedule.
  • Don’t Spray Faces: Avoid spraying insect repellent onto your child’s face. Instead, spray some in your hands, and rub it on his face like you apply lotion. You’ll also want to keep open cuts from coming in contact with your spray.
  • Know What Works … DEET isn’t the only chemical that keeps bugs away. Picaridin and essential oils such as eucalyptus are effective and safe to apply to skin. Permethrin effectively repels ticks, but should only be applied to clothing, not skin.
  • … And What Doesn’t: Bracelets soaked in repellents, sonic devices or orally ingested supplements such as garlic and Vitamin B1 aren’t effective at keeping bugs from nibbling on your little ones.
  • Of course, dress your child in long sleeves and pants whenever it’s comfortable to provide the best protection against biting insects.