Whether your family plans on hiking, camping or just hanging in the backyard this summer, it’s important to protect yourselves from insects. Not only are bug bites itchy and uncomfortable, they also carry a serious risk of diseases, including Zika, Lyme and West Nile virus.
Here are our top picks for highly-rated bug repellents, along with some tips for getting the most protection out of the products.
How to properly apply bug spray to kids
Consumer Reports has a detailed guide on their website for applying bug spray to children. Here are a few of their best tips:
- Make sure to apply your child’s sunscreen first. Give the sunscreen at least 15 minutes to settle before applying bug spray. Avoid using a product that combines sunscreen with bug repellent, as they don’t offer the same level of protection.
- Since mosquitos and ticks can find and bite skin that’s the size of a dime, you’ll want to make sure you’re thorough with application. Always apply in a well-ventilated area that’s away from open flames.
- Don’t spray directly onto skin. Spray your hands first, then rub the product onto your child.
- Spray their face, neck, hands and the outside of their ears, but avoid eyes and nostrils. Don’t forget to cover the feet and ankles, which are lower to the ground and closer to ticks.
- Reapply after swimming or doing an activity that results in heavy perspiration, otherwise don’t overdo it with application. Most products will work for several hours. Wash your child’s skin thoroughly after returning indoors.
Best bug sprays for kids
OFF! FamilyCare Insect & Mosquito Repellent
This big spray has thousands of five-star ratings on Amazon, and for good reason. The product’s powder dry formula prevents skin from getting oily or sticky, plus the aerosol spray allows for easy application. It does contain DEET, which the Environmental Protection Agency says is safe to use on kids two months and older, as long as the concentration is under 30%.
Aunt Fannie’s Mosquito Wipes
Bug repellent wipes are convenient to throw in your bag while on the go and super easy to use on wriggly little ones. These wipes are made from essential oils, including peppermint, lemongrass and cedarwood, so they have a pleasant botanical smell, too.
Ben’s Tick Repellent Spray
Tick bites can lead to Lyme disease in some cases, so strong tick repellent is your best bet while spending time in wooded areas. This spray is family friendly, non-greasy and claims to work for up to 12 hours. It can also be used on clothing and camping gear.
BuggyBands Mosquito Bracelets
Essential oil repellent bracelets are a great backup option when your family is outside all day and you aren’t able to reapply bug spray (like at a ball game or theme park). Plus, the bands are comfortable and water-proof.
If you live in an area with gnats or other biting flies, you know what a (literal!) pain they can be. This botanical bug ointment promises to protect against the pests, along with mosquitos. Grab their 2-oz spray before you head out on vacation.
YaYa Organics Baby Bug Ban
Here’s an ultra-gentle spray for babies and toddlers six months and up. The plant-based repellent is made with organic castor, soybean essential oils, and is a non-greasy alternative to aerosol sprays.
Ranger Ready Picaridin 20% Tick & Insect Repellent
This award-winning repellent offers 12 hours of protection from ticks and mosquitoes and 8 hours from chiggers, flies and fleas. It’s safe to use on children over one year of age and for pregnant moms as well.
Hello Bello Organic Bug Spray
Have a child with sensitive skin? This is the repellent for you. Hello Bello’s line of bug sprays are 100% organic, hypoallergenic and non-irritating, so your child will be both protected and comfortable. Even better, reviews say that the essential oil-loaded spray smells amazing.
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Avon has the best mosquito repellant without any harsh chemicals!