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Summertime means bugs, bugs – and more bugs. Choosing the right insect repellent can be a daunting task, especially when there are so many to choose from! Whether you’re spending time in the backyard, camping in the wilderness, or simply taking a hike in the park, insect repellent can help keep biting bugs at bay. Here is our guide to finding the best insect repellents for your kids:

Look For Ingredients Like DEET

DEET – which stands for N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide – is a chemical that is actually found in insect repellents. Most people probably know the chemical by seeing its name on nearly every bug spray package – it’s the repellent you likely used on every camping trip growing up.

Keep in mind the most common active ingredients found in insect repellents are DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE). According to the Canadian Paediatric Society, DEET and picaridin are considered safe and effective for children over six months of age when used as directed. Products containing OLE should only be used on children over three years old.

Get the Right Mix

Insect repellents come in various concentrations, usually ranging from 5% to 30% for DEET and 7% to 20% for picaridin. For kids, it’s generally recommended to opt for a lower concentration of insect repellent, especially for younger children. Start with a product containing around 10% to 15% DEET or picaridin for adequate protection while minimizing potential risks.

Apply Often

Regardless of the type of insect repellent you choose, you should follow proper application guidelines for maximum effectiveness and safety. Apply the repellent evenly to exposed skin, avoiding the eyes, mouth, and hands. For facial application, spray the repellent onto your hands and then carefully apply it to your child’s face. Reapply the repellent as directed, especially if your child is sweating heavily or swimming.

Consider Non-Chemical Alternatives

Want to avoid chemical insect repellents altogether? Try products containing natural ingredients, like citronella, soybean oil, or essential oils, such as lavender, peppermint, or tea tree oil. Keep in mind that while these alternatives may be gentler on the skin, they may not offer as long-lasting or effective protection as chemical repellents.

Watch Out for Younger Kids

When using insect repellent on young children, take extra precautions to minimize exposure and avoid ingestion or inhalation. Dress your child in lightweight, long-sleeved clothing and pants to reduce skin exposure to mosquitoes and ticks. Avoid applying insect repellent to your child’s hands, as they may inadvertently transfer it to their eyes or mouth.

Summertime should = fun-in-the-sun time, not worrying-about-bug-bites-and-disease time. Take the right precautions, and you can be sure that your kids will stay safe and comfortable while enjoying the great outdoors!

Sources – “Choosing an Insect Repellent for Your Child” – Consumer Reports – “What You Need to Know About Bug Spray for Your Kids” – Caring for Kids – “Insect repellants” how to protect your child