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Spending time outdoors with your children is a lovely way to bond, but it can come with a particularly pesky drawback: bugs.
For most of us, mosquitos are merely a minor irritation, one that we can eradicate with a simple mosquito repellent. But it can feel unnatural (and downright unsafe) to spray your children's delicate skin with chemicals, especially if they're very young.
Unfortunately, the alternative is arguably worse; not only are mosquito bites capable of causing your child great discomfort, but they can also spread disease. If you're taking a trip abroad, it's important to protect your kids against insect-transmitted diseases such as Dengue Fever, Zika and West Nile viruses.
That's where a good insect repellent comes in. This is a substance (usually a cream, oil or spray) that we can apply to the child's skin in order to discourage mosquitos and other insects from landing there and biting them. Naturally, when searching for the top mosquito repellent for kids, we're looking for something that will actually work: a solution that actively repels mosquitos but that also doesn't include any nasty ingredients which will irritate our children's skin. Some people prefer to use natural insect repellent, just to be safe.
DEET, one of the key ingredients traditionally used in mosquito repellents, is an effective means of warding off bugs, but there's been a lot of talk over the past few years about how safe it is for babies. In fact, it is perfectly safe for children 2 months or older, as long as you use a concentration of 30% or less, and apply it as directed on the bottle (so be sure to read the label!). It will still be just as effective at a lower concentration, but it won't last as long; the key to safely using a DEET-based product is to go for the solution with the lowest concentration that'll still protect your child for the amount of time you need. You may also have heard of Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus products (not to be confused with natural lemon eucalyptus); it's important to note that these products are often not recommended for children under three.
When using a spray or lotion that you have to apply directly onto your child's skin, make sure to decant the product into your own hands first, then rub them over your child's exposed skin, avoiding the eye and mouth areas. Do not use any on your child's hands, as they are likely to put them in their mouths.
For more information and our recommendations on the best mosquito repellent for babies and kids, read on.
Our Top Choice
Vie Green Baby Squeeze & Stick Mosquito Patches, 48 Patches
These 100% natural mosquito patches are an excellent choice for young babies or kids with sensitive skin, as they don't need to come into contact with the body to function. Squeeze the patch to activate, then stick it onto clothes, the bed, the buggy, the wall or the body (anywhere, really!) and it will provide an impressive ten hours of protection. Making use of a unique blend of essential oils to ward off mosquitos and other nasties, these patches are an excellent, versatile product perfect for family members of all ages.
Best Natural Mosquito Repellent
Incognito Anti-Mosquito Spray, 100ml
This DEET-free formula is mega-popular with parents the world over. The key component is oil of lemon eucalyptus, an active ingredient that is as effective as DEET when it comes to repelling bugs, though sometimes needs reapplying more frequently; this one lasts for up to five hours. The smell isn't too overpowering, it's all-natural, non-greasy and fits inside your travel luggage. Plus, it's vegan and environmentally-friendly.
Age: 6 months+
Best Expert-Recommended Insect Repellent
Moskito Guard Insect Repellent Spray, 75ml
Recommended by the World Health Organisation, this spray really works. It contains Picaridin, a DEET alternative that's milder and more popular in Europe as a super-effective means of warding off biting bugs. Boasting long-lasting protection of up to eight hours, this spray is also waterproof, making it a great option for swimming holidays. Plus, the smell is completely palatable (something of a rarity when it comes to insect spray).
Best Natural Mosquito Repellent For Babies
Vie Anti-Mosquito Spray-On, 100ml
This natural spray is dermatologically tested, making it a perfect mosquito repellent for babies with sensitive skin. Suitable for babies 3 months or older, this hypoallergenic spray contains all-natural ingredients and just one spritz provides protection for up to six hours.
Age: 3 months+
Jungle Formula Insect Repellent Lotion For Kids, 125ml
A bug spray for kids isn't the best option for all children, particularly babies. The lotion is a good one to use with little ones if you're looking for something easy and stress-free to apply. From popular UK brand Jungle Formula, this mosquito cream is DEET-free, alcohol-free and offers up to six hours' protection against mosquitos and other biting bugs. Dermatologically tested and sensitive enough that you don't have to worry about applying several times throughout the day.
Age: 12 months+
Best 2-In-1 Product
Avon Skin So Soft Original Dry Oil Spray, 150ml
Though not marketed as a bug spray, Avon's Skin So Soft Dry Oil Spray has become something of a cult product when it comes to bug-repelling, with countless reviewers labelling it a 'life-saver'. It contains citronella oil, which masks the scents that radiate from our skin that attract insects. It's not recommended for children under 5, but for families with slightly older kids, it's a lovely alternative to traditional bug repellent that will keep the critters at bay whilst also leaving the skin feeling soft and silky.
Best Plug-In Mosquito Repellent
Jungle Formula Mosquito Killer Plug-In Insect Repellent
If your child is reluctant to cover themselves in sticky bug spray, a mosquito repellent plug-in can be a good idea, particularly if you're sleeping in a hot climate. Just plug it in in the bedroom before your child goes to sleep and the device will secrete an insecticide vapour that will keep mosquitos at bay all night. This mosquito plug-in comes with a child-resistant lock, is completely odourless and lasts for up to 45 nights. It comes with a two-pin plug so is best suited to European holidays, but can be used in the UK with an adaptor.
Best Home Remedy
Johnson's Aloe Vera And Vitamin E Baby Oil, 125ml
Though not definitively proven, many swear by aloe vera as an effective means of repelling bugs. If you're looking for a remedy that's widely available in supermarkets and that you can be sure is baby-safe, this Johnson's Aloe Vera Baby Oil is definitely worth a try. Specifically designed to nourish and soften your baby's skin, if you find it works for you, it could prove to be the most gentle and safest mosquito repellent for babies (and super affordable too!).
Best Mosquito Repellent Bracelet
10 Insect Repellent Mosquito Bands, The Mosquito Company
Some are sceptical about bug repellent bracelets, but they're worth looking into if your child is averse to creams or sprays, or has particularly sensitive skin. Slip them around the ankle or wrist and the band will release a super-concentrated, all-natural essential oil formula that will keep those pesky bugs at bay. They have the benefit of being leak-proof and supposedly last 250 hours!
If you are jetting off on a family holiday for some fun in the sun, we're here to make your packing and preparation much easier. Take a look at our list of the best beach shoes for your kids to keep them safe when they venture out into the water. We've also got the beach towels covered so you can take your pick, because who said a beach towel can't be practical and stylish?
Originally from Manchester, Olivia has spent the last couple of years living between Toronto and Vancouver. She now works as a freelance writer in London and loves literature, travel and eating anything sweet. Her love of spending time with children began when she worked as an au pair in Paris.