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No one likes to see their adorable, chunky little toddlers get eaten alive by bugs during an afternoon on the playground. But, finding the best bug spray for toddlers and infants can be a little tricky because some products are not safe to use on children that young. Look no further though, I’ve done all the hard work for you. From reading the research on ingredients to finding the products, I’ve made the master list for best baby bug sprays.
Infant and Toddler Safe Bug Spray Ingredients
DEET is widely regarded as one of the most effective insect repellants available on the market, but it’s not safe for infants under 2 months old.
DEET is generally safe for older infants and toddlers, but you should be wary of DEET’s side effects—some minor (skin/eye irritation), others scary (seizures and other neurological symptoms).
Serious reactions are very rare and are usually linked to repeatedly applying way too much or ingesting it.
Picardin is a solid alternative to DEET. It’s a synthetic repellent modeled after a compound that occurs naturally in the black pepper plant.
Picaridin is thought to be almost as potent as DEET, without the same pitfalls: it doesn’t irritate the skin and eyes, and it’s not stinky. In the US, a recent study found no reported cases of major side effects. For this reason, I consider Picardin to be the top ingredient when picking the best bug spray for toddlers and infants.
Picardin is deemed safe for use on infants. Win!
Permethrin is a very potent ingredient and should not be used directly on the skin. However, it is highly effective for use on gear- like strollers or hiking baby carriers- and clothing.
Since it’s not contacting the skin directly, it’s generally considered safe to use for children of all ages.
Simply spray the gear or clothing the night before and let it dry overnight. BOOM! Insect protection.
Best Bug Spray for Toddlers and Infants
Best Over the Counter Bug Spray
I took several factors into consideration before picking the bes bug spray on the market: how easy it is to find, ingredient safety, side effects, etc.
Sawyer’s Picardin Spray and Natrapel Picardin Spray came out on top. Both are readily avalabile at most major stores and provide protection against bugs comparable to DEET products but without the risk for skin irritation.
- CDC recommended formula of 20% Picaridin is the recommended concentration to guard against diseases transmitted by insects including the Zika Virus, West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Lyme Disease, and Dengue Fever.
- Easy to apply and easy on the air with the Eco-Spray can that delivers even, continuous spray without releasing harmful aerosols.
- Long-lasting repellent effective against Yellow Fever Mosquito, which can transmit the Zika Virus; 3-ounce pump spray
- Fragrance-free topical insect repellent with 20% Picaridin — more effective at repelling biting flies than DEET; repels disease-carrying mosquitoes and ticks (Lyme and Powassan), chiggers, and more
- Spray is effective up to 12 hours against mosquitoes and ticks (14 hours for lotion); up to 8 hours against biting flies, gnats, chiggers, and sand flies
Best Natural and Organic Bug Spray
This is tough.
Mostly because products that use Organic and Natural on their labels usually have plant-based chemicals like lemongrass, citronella, peppermint, geraniol, soybean, and rosemary.
These products aren’t registered with the EPA, and because the agency doesn’t consider the chemicals they contain to pose any serious safety risks, it doesn’t bother to evaluate them- not good.
As a result, the companies that make botanical products aren’t required to prove that they actually work.
We’re going to stick to products with ingredients that actually work.
The only plant- based natural or orgnanic ingredient that repells insects well according to scientific research is Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. But, the Food and Drug Administration recommends against using it on children younger than 3.
So there is no effective organic or natural bug spray for infants or toddlers.
Best Bugspray for Ticks and Mosquitos
It’s important to note that most research does not test products against ticks, but past test results and our research indicate that any product that protects you from mosquito bites is also likely to protect from tick bites.
When it comes to keeping ticks away, there’s one ingredient that does the job well. And that’s permethrin. When you’re really wanting top-notch protection against ticks, Sawyer’s Permethrin Spray is the way to go.
Instead of spraying it directly on your child’s skin, you use Sawyer’s Permethrin spray to treat the gear or clothing your child will be wearing. We use it on our strollers, shoes, socks, etc.
Long story short, when it comes to picking the best bug spray for toddlers and infants, stick with a 20% picardin spray directly on the skin. Or use a permethrin spray on gear and clothing.
Which are you going to try?
- Consumer Reports Insect Repellant Buying Guide
- Consumer Reports Do Natural Insect Repellants Really Work?