It is important to protect your baby from mosquito bites, even where there is no risk of specific diseases spread through bites. A mosquito bite can be itchy and irritating and can become infected. Mosquitos are most active in the evenings so cover up arms and legs and use a net if possible on strollers and cribs. Also, avoid bright colours and strong scents as these can attract mosquitos. There are a number of products on the market which can be used to prevent your baby from being bitten.
DEET is by far the best product to prevent mosquito bites and there are many products available for younger children. DEET was previously believed to be toxic to young children however The American Academy of Paediatrics now says that DEET is safe for babies as young as 2 months. If your child is going to be outside for a couple of hours, protection with 10% DEET can be used. Products with 30% DEET can be used on babies over 6 months but should be used sparingly. Picaridin is another chemical ingredient found in repellents and can be used as an alternative to DEET however it is not thought to be as effective. The Centre for Disease Control gives the following advice about using repellents:
- Products containing OLE specify that they should not be used on children aged <3 years. Only use repellent products which specifically state age restriction on the packaging.
- Many repellents contain DEET as the active ingredient. The concentration of DEET varies considerably among products. The duration of protection varies with the DEET concentration: higher concentrations protect longer. Products with DEET concentration above 50% do not offer a marked increase in protection time.
- Repellents can be applied to exposed skin and clothing; however, they should not be applied under clothing. Repellents should never be used over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin. Young children should not be allowed to handle the product.
- When using repellent on a child, an adult should apply it to his or her own hands and then rub them on the child, with the following considerations: avoid the child’s eyes and mouth, and apply sparingly around the ears. Do not apply repellent to children’s hands, since children tend to put their hands in their mouths. Heavy application and saturation are generally unnecessary for effectiveness. If biting insects do not respond to a thin film of repellent, then apply a bit more. After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water or bathe. This is particularly important when repellents are used repeatedly in a day or on consecutive days.
Products that contain both repellents and sunscreen are generally not recommended, because instructions for use are different and the need to reapply sunscreen is usually more frequent than with repellent alone. In general, apply sunscreen first, then apply repellent. Mosquito coils should be used with caution in the presence of children to avoid burns and inadvertent ingestion.
If your baby is younger than 2 months or if you prefer to use DEET free products there are many DEET free repellents on the market. You can use a citronella based repellent however make sure to ask in your pharmacy whether the product that you select is safe on baby’s skin. Boots and TMB also sell DEET free repellents suitable for babies over 6 months. Burt’s Bees also produce a range of herbal insect repellents. Another option is insect repellent mini wipes which are easy to use and to carry. Johnson’s Baby also does a range of DEET free baby oil for babies with sensitive skin.
Please note that it is not recommended to use products with oil of lemon eucalyptus on children under the age of 3.
Mosquito Repellent Wrist Bands/ Bracelets
Mosquito bracelets have gotten mixed reviews so remember to have repellent with you just in case the bracelet does not work. You can buy bracelets with or without DEET and also waterproof ones. The bracelet can be used around your child’s wrist or ankle and can be used for up to 180 hours depending on the product. Bug Bands are a reputable manufacturer of repellent bracelets. These bracelets are waterproof and last up to 120 hours. They can be bought on Amazon.
Mosquito patches are gaining in popularity and generally get good reviews. Each patch is a clear, 3″x3″ patch that you peel and stick onto your child’s body. The hip, the rear, the shoulder or the back are recommended. The patch works by delivering a dose of thiamine, or Vitamin B1, into your baby’s skin, which is then absorbed by the body and secreted out. This secretion forms a smell barrier which masks the human odour that is so attractive to biting insects. You apply the patches two hours before you go outdoors. Once applied, the waterproof patch offers protection from biters for up to 36 hours, according to the package.
You can buy mosquito nets for cribs and for buggies from amazon.co.uk or from Boots. Mosquito nets are ideal for keeping mosquitos away from your baby when out in the evenings. They are particularly effective for younger babies or for sleeping toddlers but be aware that older babies and toddlers may try to remove the net. If there is a possibility of mosquitos in your room then a net can be placed over your baby’s or toddler’s cot or bed also. For extra protection you can spray the net with citronella based repellent. If you co-sleep, you can use a big net over your bed. Make sure to keep nets securely attached and check no mosquitoes are caught underneath.
Plug in Mosquito Repellents
Plug in mosquito repellents can be packed or may be available at your hotel. These are quite effective at keeping mosquitoes out of your hotel room but remember that the product can be harmful to babies and toddlers and should be kept out of your child’s reach at all times. Boots sell Repel Mosquito Killer 2 Pin Plug-In which lasts up to 45 days and helps prevent mosquito bites for €12.99. It can be used in many countries worldwide and kills mosquitoes. It lasts up to 45 days for 8 hours a day with no refill.
Mosquito Coils and Incense sticks
Mosquito coils and incense sticks are burned over a number of hours and the smoke emitted keeps mosquitos away. These should be used outdoors only. Many outdoor restaurants in Asia and Africa use these items to keep mosquitos away while you are eating but be aware that some experts warn that they can contain carcinogens and other poisons which can be toxic to babies so ensure that your child is a safe distance away from them and that they do not play too near them as there is also a risk of burning the skin.