Looking for a safe bug spray for babies that keeps nasty bugs at bay?
We know that as new mom, mosquitoes and other bitty pests are the last thing you want to worry about—bug bites are uncomfortable at minimum and in some areas, can harbor dangerous diseases like EEE or West Nile Virus.
If you’re looking for best bug spray for babies (once they are over the age of 2 months old), there are many things to consider for safety. We’re here to give you a breakdown of the most popular options, including their active ingredients and recommended usage.
- When to use bug spray in babies
- Safety and bug spray: what the experts say
- Should you use lotion or spray?
- Best for pregnancy: Ranger Ready Picaridin 20% Tick & Insect Repellent, Scent Zero
- Best bug spray for travel: Cutter all-family mosquito wipes
- Best Picaridin spray: Sawyer Products 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent
- Best DEET-free: Babyganics Natural Insect Repellent for Babies
- Best tick repellant: Off! Deep Woods Insect Repellent V
- Best organic bug spray: Sky Organics Organic Bug Spray
When to Use Bug Spray in Babies
The CDC recommends only using insect repellent on babies 2 months and older.
To protect newborn infants, you will want to use physical barriers like a sun and bug cover around their car seat or stroller, as well as clothing with long sleeves and pants. (UV-protective clothing is a great choice if you’ll be outside in the sun, since it will pull double duty!)
For babies that are at least 2 months, it is recommended to use an insect repellent or bug spray—specifically one that has active ingredients known to repel disease-carrying insects, like ticks and mosquitoes.
How to Use Bug Spray Safely in Babies
Bug bites are no fun for anyone–and as we mentioned, can even be very dangerous–but it’s also tricky to use bug spray safely on babies. So what do the experts say about using bug spray in babies?
Here’s what the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends about using instant repellant in babies:
- Don’t use DEET on babies under 2 months old.
- Instead, try to use barriers, like mosquito netting on strollers and car seats.
- If you’re going more of a natural route, remember not to use oil of lemon eucalyptus on kids under 3 years old.
- Don’t use combo infant sunscreen and bug sprays.
- Never spray insect repellent directly on you or your child’s face.
- After you and your child are done playing outside, be sure to wash your child’s skin thoroughly with soap and water.
- If your child does seem to have a reaction to any insect repellant, call your baby’s doctor or call the U.S. poison control center at 800-222-1222 for guidance.
Studies have confirmed that products with DEET are definitely the the most effective and offer the longest-lasting protection against insects, but it’s understandable that parents may want a range of choices, so we’ve included a full list of bug sprays for babies that contain DEET, are DEET-free, natural, and use Picaridin (a DEET alternative).
When to Reapply Bug Spray to Babies
The frequency at which bug spray needs to be reapplied is completely dependent on the active ingredients in the insect repellent you are using. We recommend always reading and following the label instructions, as some repellents last longer and you want to be cautious to not over-apply.
Also, you may want to avoid combination products like sunscreen + bug spray, because active ingredients like DEET may reduce the SPF in the sunscreen. We recommend just sticking to straight bug spray to avoid any confusion. If you’re looking for sun protection, check out our guide to baby-safe sunscreens.
Should You Use Lotion or Spray for Your Baby?
Using lotion or a spray comes down to a matter of preference—the active ingredients in the repellent and the bugs they protect your baby against will be the same. For some, lotions may be preferable to sprays since they can be easier to apply, and they offer minimal odor and longer-lasting protection.
You also run the risk of accidentally spraying some of the insect repellant into your baby’s face with an aerosol or trigger spray, so be aware of that when applying.
Best for Pregnancy
Ranger Ready Picaridin spray comes with all sorts of parent-friendly features, including the fact that it’s odorless, non-aerosol, and a 360 wider trigger spray that makes application easier. We also love the non-greasy feel to this spray that doesn’t ruin clothing or feel sticky on the skin.
You can use this spray on children over one year old, but to apply, you may still want to apply to your own hands and then rub in to your child’s skin.
Best for Travel
Cutter All Family Mosquito Wipes are gentle on skin, mess-free, and effective, making them our overall favorite insect repellent for babies.
Application is simple: just remove a towelette from the packet and wipe it over your baby’s exposed skin, avoiding their mouth, nose, eyes, and hands. Since these wipes have a lower concentration of DEET, you may need to reapply if you are outdoors for an extended period of time. We recommend following the label instructions, and always wash any remaining repellent off your baby upon returning indoors.
Best Picaridin Spray
The product is very effective, but the Picaridin has the potential to irritate eyes, so we recommend applying it cautiously. Fortunately, this repellant is so long-lasting you will not need to reapply often.
To apply, gently rub the lotion on any exposed skin avoiding your baby’s face and hands, and as with all repellents we always recommend washing it off your baby’s skin as soon as you are back inside. We love its non-oily texture and that there is no offensive scent. If you are looking for additional protection, Sawyer also offers a fabric-safe bug spray.
Before applying shake the repellent well and spray onto your hands. Next, using your hands apply evenly to your baby’s skin and repeat every 90 minutes, or as needed.
Overall, we love that this natural insect repellent for babies is gentle on skin, has no chemical residue, and is formulated specifically for little ones.
Best Tick Repellant
We recommend applying this potent repellent in an open (and well-ventilated) area, like with any other bug repellent, you never want to spray your baby directly. First, spray into the palm of your hand, then gently apply the repellent to any exposed skin–always avoid your baby’s hands and face to prevent any irritation.
Additionally, be careful to never apply bug spray to broken skin or wounds, and always wash it off immediately upon returning indoors. And although the CDC has deemed DEET to be safe (when used correctly), we try to use this heavy-duty spray sparingly. This is the perfect option for hiking or camping in the deep woods, but we’d opt for repellents with lower levels of DEET for regular day-to-day use.
Best Organic Bug Spray
Because this is a natural bug spray, there are also no “official” instructions and guidelines for use. However, you should still use caution when applying on children. You’ll want to check with your pediatrician before using and take caution to apply a test spot before applying over.
And like all other types of bug spray, you’ll want to avoid applying on your child’s hands so they don’t accidentally rub the spray in their eyes.
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