How to Share Safe Insect Repellents for Toddlers

As a parent, you naturally want to protect your toddler from the discomfort of insect bites. Seeing him scratch away at itchy mosquito bumps or cry in pain from a sting can be heartbreaking. What’s worse, insect bites can lead to a multitude of illnesses, especially for toddlers whose immune systems are under-developed. Protect your toddler from potentially harmful insect bites by applying insect repellent to his exposed skin whenever you are outdoors. Watch what you put on your kiddo, though, as not all insect repellents are safe for use on toddlers.

Insect Repellent Containing DEET

DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is the most common activate ingredient in insect repellents. Although its use on children is controversial, and many of your fellow parents may decry its use, the American Academy of Pediatrics has deemed it safe for children 2-months-old and above. When purchasing a DEET-based insect repellent for your toddler, be finicky — choose a product with no more than 10 to 30 percent DEET concentration.

Also, keep in mind that DEET is toxic if injested and can irritate your toddler’s eyes, so don’t spray it on her face or hands, and use it sparingly on the rest of her exposed skin.

All-Natural Insect Repellent Sprays, Balms and Wipes

Despite the American Academy of Pediatrics’s approval, many parents worry that extended use of DEET on a toddler’s skin is harmful. While no one wants one more thing to worry about, if you are one of these parents, look for an all-natural alternative. All-natural insect repellents come in a variety of forms, including sprays, balms, push-up sticks and wipes. The active ingredients in all of these products are oils, such as citronella and soybean oil.

Homemade Insect Repellent

If you’re worried about some of the ingredients in store-bought insect repellents, make some yourself in your copious spare time. This way, you know exactly what the repellent contains and why your toddler smells funny. Use a combination of essential oils and dried herbs as the active ingredients and mix them into a spray bottle for easy application. If time permits, involve your toddler in the mixing process.

Tell him you are making a magic potion to keep the bugs away!

Products to Avoid

Picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus, also known as P-menthane diol or PMD, are two other active ingredients commonly used in insect repellents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they are not recommended for children 3-years-old and younger, so they’re out for your baby and little buddy.

Other insect repellents not deemed safe for toddlers include electronic or ultrasound devices, repellent-containing wristbands, neckbands or ankle bands, Vitamin B1 taken orally and products combining insect repellent with skin moisturizer or sunscreen.

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