Ultimate Guide to Bug Repellent for Kids

Protect your kids from bites and itches this summer with the best kid-safe bug repellent.

01 of 17

Preventing Bites

kids holding butterfly nets
Fancy Photography/Veer

Pesky bugs can ruin a family picnic, hike, or trip to the park. Beat the bugs and 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.

02 of 17

Facts About Deet

toddler smiling outside in summer
Fancy Photography/Veer

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that insect repellents containing 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 doesn't mean a product is stronger, only that it lasts longer.

To buy! OFF! Deep Woods Insect & Mosquito Repellent, $11.89; amazon.com

03 of 17

Facts About Picaridin

Mother and daughter outside
Fancy Photography/Veer

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 similar to deet and provides long-lasting protection against bugs. Products with Picaridin can be used on babies as young as 2 months.

To buy! Sawyer Products 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent, $9.99; amazon.com

04 of 17

Natural Bug Repellents

Boy outside
Image Source

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 cedarwood. They generally need to be reapplied more often than products containing deet.

To buy! Badger Anti-Bug Shake & Spray, $20.99; amazon.com

05 of 17

Natural Ways to Avoid Bites

Girl inspecting flower
Image Source

Using bug repellent is one way to prevent itchy bug bites, but there are several other ways to avoid pesky bugs. Have your kids wear loose-fitting, long-sleeve clothing in muted colors. Wear socks and shoes instead of sandals. Stay inside early in the morning and at dusk when bugs are the worst. Don't use scented lotions that can attract bugs.

06 of 17

Thermacell Radius Zone Mosquito Repellent

Thermacell Radius Zone Mosquito Repellent
Peter Ardito

Keep your patio open for play once the sun goes down with the Thermacell Radius Zone Mosquito Repellent. "It releases an EPA regulated repellent that disorients mosquitoes and is based on a natural repellent produced by chrysanthemums," says John Hainze, Ph.D., an entomologist in Seattle who conducted research on the product. "It's been shown to clear the air within a 110-square-foot area, even when there are a lot of biting mosquitoes." The scent-free portable device is smaller than a soda can and lasts for at least six hours on a single charge.

—​Emily Elveru

To buy! Thermacell Radius Zone Mosquito Repellent, $49.99; amazon.com

07 of 17

Bug Repellent Safety Tips

toddler exploring outdoors
BananaStock/Jupiter

Lotions that combine bug repellent and sunscreen might sound like a good idea, but they aren't. The reason is that sunscreen needs to be reapplied every few hours, but you shouldn't expose your children to that much bug repellent. Take the time to apply each product separately unless you know you will only be outside for a few hours.

08 of 17

Applying Bug Repellent

kids' feet in the grass
Image Source

Once you've chosen a bug repellent, it's important that you use it properly. Apply product only to exposed skin. Avoid hands, eyes, cuts, or irritations. You might want to put it on your hands first, then rub it on your child so you don't use too much. 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.

* Most repellents do not protect against stinging bugs such as wasps, bees, or fire ants.

* Kids shouldn't apply bug repellent themselves.

* Wash your hands after application.

* Don't spray repellent inside or near food.

09 of 17

Baby Care Basics: How to Treat Bug Bites

Was your child bitten? Find out the best way to treat the bug bite and soothe away the itch.

To buy! Benadryl Extra Strength Anti-Itch Cooling Spray, $22.42; amazon.com

10 of 17

Bite Blocker

Bite Blocker

The American Academy of Pediatrics says Bite Blocker herbal lotion is a safe, natural bug repellent for kids and women who are pregnant. It is made with natural ingredients and has a protection time of 90-120 minutes. It is safe for children as young as two months. It repels mosquitoes, black flies, and ticks.

11 of 17

Repel Lemon Eucalyptus

Repel Lemon Eucalyptus
Courtesy of Repel

This natural bug repellent offers long-lasting protection for four to six hours, which is similar to projections found in products containing 25-percent deet. It protects against mosquitoes, gnats, and ticks. It is not recommended for use on children under 3 years old and can be applied only twice daily.

To Buy! Repel Lemon Eucalyptus, $7; amazon.com

12 of 17

Cutter Advanced Insect Repellent

Cutter Advanced Insect Repellent
Courtesy of Cutter Insect Repellent

The key ingredient in Cutter Advanced is Picaridin, which is similar to deet. Cutter Advanced is effective for up to two and a half hours and can be applied up to three times daily. Its odorless, nonsticky formula makes it a great choice for kids. It is safe for use on babies as young as 2 months.

To buy! Cutter Advanced Insect Repellent, $10.13; amazon.com

13 of 17

EcoSmart Organic Insect Repellent

EcoSmart Organic Insect Repellent
Courtesy of EcoSmart

This natural and organic insect repellent is safe for kids and the environment. The key ingredient is peppermint oil -- so it smells good -- along with other organic plant oils. Spray it directly on skin to keep mosquitoes, gnats, and ticks away.

To buy! EcoSmart Organic Insect Repellent, $16.54; amazon.com

14 of 17

Insect Repellent Wristband

Orange bug repellent bands
Amazon

The last thing squirmy kids want to do is hold still to apply bug repellent before they go out to play. Skip the spray or lotion and try a bracelet or anklet. The bands are deet-free and contain citronella, lemongrass, and geranium oils. They are effective for up to 100 hours if stored properly.

To buy! Insect Repellent Wristband, $16.95; amazon.com

15 of 17

Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Picaridin

Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Picaridin
Courtesy of Avon

Protect your kids from bugs and bites for up to eight hours with this Skin So Soft spray from Avon. It repels mosquitoes, gnats, no-see-ums, and flies. It is also available in wipes for easy application on the go.

To buy! Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Picaridin, $29.95; amazon.com

16 of 17

OFF! FamilyCare Insect Repellent

OFF! Skintastic Family Formula Spray

The best part about this bug repellent -- aside from the fact that it really does keep the bugs at bay -- is its sweet tropical scent. It contains 4.75-percent deet and repels mosquitoes, gnats, and no-see-ums for up to two hours. Spray it on exposed skin and clothing for the best results.

To buy! OFF! FamilyCare Insect Repellent, $5.88; amazon.com

17 of 17

Buzz Away Extreme Towelettes

Bug repellent
Amazon

These mini wipes are perfect for on-the-go families. Stash them in a diaper bag, in the car, or on your keychain for easy access when you're away from home. They are all-natural, deet-free, and have a nice scent.

To buy! Buzz Away Extreme Towelettes, $9.83; amazon.com

All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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