It’s that time of year when bugs are everywhere. They fly around our faces, crawl into our homes, and seem especially attracted to children. In some places, bugs can be so ruthless that they ruin a hike, picnic, or afternoon at the park.
Obviously, we want to do everything we can to keep our babies healthy and comfortable. Here is what you need to know about protecting your kids from bug bites.
Children Under 2 Months Old
The only way to protect an infant this young from bugs is to keep them away from bugs in the first place. Unfortunately, that means you’ll spend more time indoors (but that’s pretty standard for infants anyways and safe for multiple reasons).
You should also ensure your doors and windows have screens with mesh tight enough to keep bugs out. This way you can open your windows and door for fresh air without anyone getting bitten.
You’ll have to take your baby outside at some point. When this happens, cover them with light, breathable fabric so they don’t overheat, but so that their skin is protected. Don’t use flower prints and scents because bugs are attracted to those.
If you’re forced to spend some time outside, use a mesh net over the stroller or carrier so air flows through, but not the bugs. Stay away from places bugs congregate, like standing bodies of water (even bird baths are enough to attract bugs), garbage cans, gardens, and untamed foliage.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that bug repellents (even ones without DEET) are not safe for infants.
Children Over 2 Months Old
Around two months it becomes safe to use bug repellent. Even if you don’t live in a place where bugs that bite are common, I recommend tossing a small bottle of repellent in your diaper bag. You never know where you’ll end up and need some.
The Centers for Disease Control says that insect repellent is the best way to protect your baby from mosquitos. Of course, it only works if you use it correctly. Repellent will also work for chiggers, fleas, ticks and ants, but not for wasps, hornets and bees.
The most effective repellents have these active ingredients: DEET, I5353, and Picaridin. It’s best to stick to products with less than 30% DEET. (Higher DEET percentages doesn’t mean the product is stronger, only that it lasts longer.)
You may have heard of a natural repellent made with oil of lemon eucalyptus. It also has a lab-made version called PMD. Neither of these are safe for children under three.
If you have to have natural products, there are some repellants made with plat essential oils (cedar, soybean, peppermint and citronella mostly). These sometimes work, but they don’t last very long. They can also be rough on your baby’s skin over time.
Tips for Applying Bug Repellent
- Always read and follow the instructions on the package.
- Don’t spray or pour it directly on your child’s skin. Put it on your hands first and then baby’s skin.
- Do not apply it to skin that’s scraped, cut, sore, or has a rash.
- Do not apply it too close to the nose, mouth, eyes or ears.
- Only apply it to areas that are not covered by clothing. There’s no reason to put it on skin that can’t be bitten.
- If you’ll be using sun screen, put that on first.
- Don’t use a sun screen and repellent combination product. You’ll be forced to apply it more often for the sun screen protection than you would need for a repellent alone.
- Wash your hands when you’re finished.
Written by Karen Barski, BSN, RN, Mother of five, Certified Infant Care Specialist & Instructor, & Inventor of the Woombie Baby Swaddle
Karen has been an RN for 18 years, and has worked in many different nursing roles. As a Certified Infant Care Specialist, Karen counsels thousands of families yearly on a multitude of issues relating to pregnancy and infancy. Also, as a mother of five, she has invaluable experience and tips to share.
Since 2007, Karen’s company, KB Designs, has invented a line of signature baby swaddle products that have helped parents easily transition their new babies from womb to home. There are multiple designs and sizes so that babies can enjoy the comfort and security of the Woombie up until the time they begin to roll.
Each product has been created and designed by Karen because of a need she identified in her life with her five children. With convenience, safety, and fashion in mind, KB Designs has helped over a half million babies and counting!
For more information, visit www.woombie.com.
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