Babies & ToddlersKidsPre-SchoolPrimary School

Every conceivable baby-friendly hack for mozzies

If you are wondering how to keep mosquitoes away from your child, check out these ways for a mosquito-free home.

Summer is in full swing and that means mozzies biting your precious tot in the middle of the night, while out strolling through the park, and during their afternoon nap. What can parents do to protect their children from these annoying bugs? Read on…

Avoid mosquito repellents and electric burners / mats

When it comes to repellents, the main chemical you’re trying to avoid is DEET, which is the most common active ingredient in insect repellents (when reading product labels, look out for N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide or diethyltoluamide). But even so, the American Academy of Paediatrics has still given DEET the green light for infants over two months of age! So it’s really not a train smash to use, if nothing else seems to be working.

Opt for products with 10% to 30% DEET concentrate where possible (although in India, I was merrily using 100% DEET, strong enough to be used in chemical warfare). In terms of electric plug-in burners / mats / vapour-releasing devices, some studies have shown that the fumes emitted can cause breathing problems, eye irritations, and allergic reactions. But again, no conclusive ruling either way, and many paediatricians recommend using these.

Is citronella essential oil safe?

There are some concerns around the use of citronella essential oil. Although natural, you should not apply citronella essential oil directly to your baby’s skin or in close proximity to your baby’s eyes, nose, or mouth. In some studies, citronella has been known to cause skin allergies or irritate a baby’s airway. Do not use essential oils on or around your baby if there is a history of asthma or difficulty breathing. That said, citronella is a main ingredient in many of the approved products available for use on babies (when used in the correct way). If you’re concerned, check with your baby’s doctor before using citronella.

Opt for natural alternatives

For moms and dads who want to avoid the chemicals, you have the following options: 

  • Natural skin application repellents (safe for use from three months)
  • Chemical-free electric options
  • Physical barriers such as cot nets, insect screens, fans/aircon
  • Essential oils and scents (non-skin application). You can buy any of the essential oils from any pharmacy or health shop.

How to use essential oils

  1. You can leave any of these in a saucer or bowl in close proximity to where your baby sleeps, but well out of reach of your baby.
  2. Or apply the oil to a piece of cotton wool and leave it in close proximity to where your baby sleeps, but out of reach of your baby.
  3. You can also apply directly to your baby’s cot pillow or sheet (just a few drops). Or dilute in a spray bottle of water and spray onto linen.

Use these essential oils on their own or mix them together

  • Citronella essential oil (you should always dilute citronella oil with another oil or with water)
  • Peppermint oil (also good for keeping spiders away!)
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Lavender oil
  • Vanilla essence
  • Leave an open jar of Vicks / menthol / camphor close to where baby sleeps, but out of reach

A word on stick diffusers

Mozzies aren’t fans of vanilla scent, so you could use a vanilla scented stick diffuser in your baby’s room. Bonus is that baby’s room will also smell divine!

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