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The 9 Best Bug Spray for Babies to Keep Mosquitos and Insects Away

Did you know that babies can get impetigo, cellulitis, and even lymphangitis as the result of a mosquito bite? Not to mention the risk of West Nile Virus or even the Zika virus.

Since babies can’t protect themselves, it’s up to us parents to make sure that they are safe from all insects. But how do you ensure your baby is fully protected from biting bugs like mosquitoes and ticks? 

Check out our list below of the best bug spray for babies. You’ll find a great option that will be safe and effective at protecting your baby’s health every time your family goes outdoors!

Always consult with your pediatrician before starting any new products.

Best Natural Bug Spray: California Baby Bug Repellent Spray
Best DEET-Free Bug Spray: Babyganics Natural Insect Repellent
Best for the Whole Family: Cutter All Family Insect Repellent
Longest Protection Time: Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent

Best Natural Bug Sprays for Babies

California Baby Plant-based Natural Bug Repellent Spray

California Baby Plant-Based Natural Bug Repellant Spray (6.5 fl. oz.) Skin Safe, Plant-Based Formula for Babies, Toddlers, Kids | Outdoor Protection from Mosquitoes (2 Pack)

California Baby Plant-based Natural Bug Repellent Spray is also free of the chemical DEET and uses cedar pure essential oil with lemongrass and Citronella to protect your baby’s new skin. This is a great best bug spray for babies for your family and this product won the Eco Excellence Awards’ Best Skincare for Baby awards a few years ago. 

Parents attest that it is very effective in hot climates like Texas and Florida and works well for children with sensitive skin.  Parents also say that this natural insect repellent has a pleasant scent, which is rare in a bug spray. With two travel-size bottles, you get one to put in your car and one to put in your diaper bag for total convenience.

It does contain potential irritants/allergens.

Babyganics Natural DEET-Free Insect Repellent

Babyganics DEET Free Travel Size Bug Spray, 2oz

Babyganics Natural DEET-Free Insect Repellent is a natural way to protect your baby from nasty and itchy bug bites.  The idea is that insects do not want to land on an oily substance which means your baby can deter mosquitoes and other biting bugs by wearing this DEET-free formula on their skin.

Parents love products by Babyganics and this plant-based bug spray is from this trusted brand.  You will feel confident knowing your little one is protected with natural essential oils and safe ingredients rather than harsh chemicals.

It does contain potential irritants/allergens.

SALLYEANDER No-Bite-Me Natural Bug Repellent & Anti-Itch Cream

SALLYEANDER No-Bite-Me Natural Bug Repellent & Anti Itch Cream - Safe for Kids and Infants - Repels Mosquitoes, Black Flies, Fleas, and Ticks - 2 oz

SALLYEANDER’s No-Bite-Me Natural Bug Repellent & Anti-Itch Cream is a high-quality bug preventative cream that you will love to use on your little ones. It is DEET-free and made with organic ingredients including a blend of 16 essential oils (Cedar, Mint, Lemongrass, and more). 

Each application of this bug repellent lasts up to 4 hours of protection. Does your little one already have a bug bite? You can also use this as an anti-itch cream to soothe those itchy bug bites. Keep in mind that this container only holds 2 oz of cream, so it is small, but it is effective!

It does contain potential irritants/allergens and ingredients with potential toxicities.

Badger Balm Anti-Bug Travel Stick

Badger - Anti-Bug Balm Tin, DEET-Free Mosquito Repelling Balm, Badger Balm Bug Repellent, Certified Organic Insect Repellent, 0.75 oz (3 Pack)

Badger Balm Anti-Bug Travel Stick for babies ditches all chemicals, including DEET, and instead uses organic ingredients, like citronella, cedar, and lemongrass essential oils to defend against bug bites.  It is safe for your entire family (including your baby) and you might even like the scent (which is pretty rare in a bug spray!).  You can buy it in a twist-up stick or in a spray which is super helpful for little ones.  You will likely feel this natural insect repellent on your skin as it uses oils to protect you from bugs.

If you will be in the sun and also need protection from bug bites, Badger offers a combination product that is an anti-bug sunscreen.  This may be helpful with your children so you do not have to apply several products on their skin. 

Keep in mind that reapplication is likely necessary to keep your baby protected from harmful sun rays and bug bites.  This product is natural so reapplication is not harming your baby’s skin.

It does contain potential irritants/allergens.

BuggyBands Mosquito Repellent Bracelets

BuggyBands Mosquito Bracelets, 48 Pack Individually Wrapped, DEET Free, Natural and Waterproof Band

The Mosquito Repellent Bracelet 20 Pack with 4 Patches are a great alternative to actual bug spray.  It is also DEET Free which is great for your little one’s skin. But what you really will love is how they can fit your child’s wrist, no matter their age! Each purchase includes a pack of 48 colorful repellent bracelets.

Place them on your child’s wrist and enjoy gentle protection that won’t touch your baby’s skin. It uses natural ingredients like citronella and lemongrass oil to keep bugs from snacking on your baby’s delicate skin. Take these portable bracelets wherever you go! 

It does contain potential irritants/allergens.

Best Bug Sprays for Babies

Cutter All Family Insect Repellent Pump Spray

Cutter All Family Insect Repellent Pump Spray, 6-Ounce

If you need absolute full coverage, Cutter All Family Insect Repellent Pump Spray uses only seven percent DEET and it has proven to safeguard against ticks and the types of mosquitoes that carry dangerous diseases like Zika and West Nile viruses. 

The Cutter spray makes for an easy application as you can simply spray on any exposed skin.  With a low concentration of DEET (only 7%), it is effective for around two hours of protection. 

Be sure to wash it off after you no longer need protection from biting bugs like mosquitoes and ticks.

It does contain potential irritants/allergens and ingredients with potential toxicities.

Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent Fisherman’s Formula 

2 Pack of Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent Fisherman's Formula 4 oz spray SP544

Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent Fisherman’s Formula will offer your family solid protection for up to twelve hours against not only mosquitoes but also dangerous tick bites that carry the risk of Lyme disease.  It has proven to protect against other biting insects for up to eight hours of protection. 

It has a pleasant citrus scent and feels non-greasy on your skin.  Sawyer products use 20% picaridin concentration as well as the piperine molecule that occurs naturally to repel insects.

It does contain potential irritants/allergens and ingredients with potential toxicities.

AVON Skin SO Soft Bug Gaurd Plus Picaridin 

AVON Skin SO Soft Bug Gaurd Plus Picaridin (4.0 Fl Oz)

Avon is a brand that has been around for generations.  The AVON Skin SO Soft Bug Gaurd Plus Picaridin comes in a convenient spray bottle with a lid.  It is great for use on the go or to just keep in your bag or car for last-minute use. 

Parents say it is highly effective in protecting against many biting bugs including mosquitoes and ticks, plus sand flies, gnats, no-see-ums, and biting flies.  It is DEET-free and uses 10% Picaridin (which is a lower concentration) to protect your baby’s skin against bug bites. 

Be sure to wash your little one’s skin after use and keep it away from the eyes and mouth and keep their eyes closed while spraying or use a face shield.  This set comes with twenty-four convenient wipes.  These are great for traveling when you cannot bring liquids in your bags.

It does contain potential irritants/allergens and ingredients with potential toxicities.

Sawyer Permethrin Clothing and Fabric Insect Repellent

Sawyer Products SP602 Premium Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent Aerosol Spray, 9-Ounce

Sawyer Permethrin is a pre-treatment for clothing and fabrics. You can safely spray it on a child’s clothes, outdoor blanket or pack n’ play to keep insects away.

The repellent lasts for up to 6 weeks or 6 washings.

If you prefer not to put anything on your baby’s skin, but still want some protection, this might be your best choice. Sawyer says it is safe for pregnant women as well.

It does contain potential irritants/allergens and ingredients with potential toxicities.

Baby Bug Sprays Compared

The table below compares only the recommended products on this page. A low or high Price means it is low or high compared to the other products listed. The Popularity Score reflects how often readers click on and buy the product. The Quality Score is our assessment of the overall performance and satisfaction with the product compared to others in the table.

FAQs for Best Bug Spray for Babies

Many of the ingredients included in these products are controversial, or have limited or no data/research on use for babies.  Some ingredients have been linked to health problems.  Many products have not been evaluated by the FDA.  Since no studies have been conducted with these products on babies there is no absolute certainty that these are 100% safe.  Always consult with your pediatrician before starting any products on your baby.

What is DEET?

According to Wikipedia, DEET is N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, or diethyltoluamide, which is the most common and active ingredient in many insect repellents. 

It is an oily slightly yellow product that is intended to be applied to the skin or to clothing to provide protection against mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, chiggers, leeches, and many other biting insects.  It does not kill insects but truly repels them by bothering the neurons on their antennae and mouths.

Is DEET safe for babies?

According to experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics, DEET is safe for babies

Some have speculated on the potential dangers in using DEET but after much research, the conclusion is that DEET is indeed safe for babies and everyone else in your family.  I found some research that said that breathing in DEET can cause symptoms like breathing difficulty, burning eyes, headaches, and a few isolated incidents of seizures.  Be sure to use it as directed and do not inhale this chemical at any time.

What is Picaridin?

Picaridin is new to the United States as of 2005.  It is a synthetic created in the 80s by Bayer.

According to research, picaridin is nearly as effective and safe for baby’s health as the chemical DEET. It is odorless and non-greasy.  Picaridin-based formulas are the best-selling bug repellents in other parts of the world, including Europe and Australia. 

Baby Bug Spray Suggested Use

For newborns ages two months and younger, the Centers for Disease Control recommends avoiding products containing DEET and Picaridin. You can use physical barriers like mosquito netting for strollers, clothing, and natural bug sprays for babies (see our list of natural options).

For older babies and children, Seattle Children’s group (the same ones that gave us those scary side effect in the intro) recommends using DEET for baby’s skin and permethrin for clothing to provide the best protection.

Tips for Baby Bug Sprays

Wipe and clean your baby’s skin once the bug spray is no longer needed.Avoid use of anything with added fragrances like lotions, sprays, or laundry detergent (here’s the best baby lotions).
Tuck socks into pants.Do not leave bug spray in a child’s reach.
Be sure not to apply bug spray to open skin or wounds.Do not apply bug spray to your baby’s hands if at all possible, since baby’s tend to place their hands in their mouth.
Bug spray should not be used on newborns.  Suggested use should begin at two months old.Do not apply bug repellent near your baby’s eyes, nostrils, or mouth.
After using bug spray, be sure to wash your baby’s clothes once you go inside.Do not forget to wash your hands after applying the bug spray to your baby so that residue does not get your baby’s eyes or mouth.
Dress your baby in lightweight clothing. Don’t forget the best baby sun hat.Do not apply bug spray in a closed area.  Apply it in an open area to avoid your baby (or you!) inhaling it.
You can apply the bug spray to your baby’s clothing and blankets to deter insects as well.  This may help minimize how much you must apply to your baby’s skin.Don’t forget that reapplication may be necessary for some bug spray to remain effective; follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how often to reapply. 
Apply product to your hands and then rub onto baby’s skin rather than spraying it directly onto your the skin.Use a lightweight blanket or mosquito net to cover your baby.

Tip: try an enclosed beach tent with netting if you are going outdoors. We’ve reviewed some in our Best Baby Beach Tent article.

Which Bug Spray is Right for You?

If you are like me, mosquitoes find me and my kiddos very easily.  I also want to protect my little ones from painful and harmful bites. 

Each parenting style is different. You may be a mom who would only choose an entirely natural product with essentials oils.  Or, perhaps your family will travel to an area that is high-risk for getting bitten by a disease-carrying mosquito or Lyme disease-carrying tick and you must choose more complete coverage with products that contain DEET or Picaridin.

Sadly, no insect repellent is completely and perfectly effective.  But we have offered you a variety of the best bug spray for babies here, no matter your parenting style.

Pick the one that makes sense for your family and go play in the great outdoors!

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Jennifer T. Trent, MD FAAD is an acclaimed dermatologist with over 50 articles published in peer-reviewed journals. She is also an author of numerous medical texts addressing surgery and wound care as well as dermatologic diseases and therapy.

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