The best insect repellents for children – and the family

by Piper Huxley |

Summer is here – and it’s likely you’re heading abroad or spending a decent amount of time outdoors. With this, comes a price. There is nothing more irritating than getting some nasty insect bites. So, here at Mother & Baby, we’ve made it our mission to stamp out any itching to ensure a happy holiday. We’ve put together the best insect repellents for children – and everyone else.

Luckily, there are plenty of products out there that will help keep the pesky mosquitoes at bay.

But, first, some questions have been answered for you.

What is DEET – and is it safe for kids?

Diethyltoluamide – more commonly known as DEET – is a common active ingredient found in insect repellents. It can be applied to the skin or to clothing and provides protection against mosquitoes, flies, ticks, fleas, chiggers, leeches and other nibbly insects.

Though DEET may be the most effective form of repellent, it is not advised to use on children under twelve. So, please avoid insect repellents containing DEET this summer if you have little ones. Plus, do not allow your children to apply the repellent themselves.

Most cases of severe side effects caused by DEET involve frequent long-term application on the entire body. However, for some individuals, DEET can lead to some more serious side effects.

According to Dr Axe, it is possible in some serious cases that DEET can cause skin reactions, seizures, fatigue, respiratory conditions and possibly even cancer.

So, what is safe for the kiddies?

What scents keep mosquitoes away?

Many natural scents that are appealing to humans work as a repellent for insects. These include:






You can find these ingredients in products such as candles, plug-in devices or natural sprays. Additionally, you can apply any of these scents as an essential oil on your skin as a natural deterrent.

Ready, Steady, Spray…

The best insect repellents for children UK 2022

If you are looking for as much protection as possible against pesky mosquitoes and insects, DEET provides you with the best protection. Each pump of the spray will last six hours before re-applying is needed. This spray is suitable for use on children over 12 years of age.

Suitable for: 12+

Review: "Absolutely Amazing product! I Work with animals, so all sorts of flies and they won't come near me when wearing this and normally I get eaten alive, especially by horse flies. Very pleased."

This bug spray is perfect for little ones as it does not contain any DEET or Picaridin. The spray shields you from mosquitoes, midges, sandflies, horseflies, ticks and other bothersome bugs. It also lasts for five hours and is approved by the Vegan Society.

If you use this spray to protect a very young baby, the brand recommends spraying the formula mainly on clothes and lightly on their skin.

Suitable for: 6 months +

Review: “Absolutely fantastic. Total natural, safe protection and great for children with sensitive skin as well as adults. We've had no bites when wearing this in mosquito-laden areas. Works in tropical/malaria zones as well as places with, well, lots of bugs and insects - a fantastic alternative to DEET.”

If you are looking for a bug deterrent that you do not apply to your skin, then this candle is infused with citronella oil, green citrus with undertones of fresh, clean fragrance. Additionally, the fragrance is safe for humans, pets and the environment; it’s biodegradable and eco-friendly. Also, it comes in a beautifully packed bowl so that it will be great in any room or patio.

Suitable for: All ages

Review: “This La Jolie Muse Citronella Candle is really good value for money and presentable. The candle comes attractively boxed and is in an attractive tin complete with a lid. Being a soy candle, it burns quite cleanly. Still, the citronella scent is unmistakable and highly effective at warding off flying insects which are proving a real nuisance during this unusually hot spell. We love this candle and think it's very good value for money.”

Another alternative to sprays is insect repellent bracelets. This bracelet from The Mosquito Company lasts for 250 hours before needing to use a new one – ideal for family holidays. This natural formula contains oil of citronella, lemongrass, and geraniol oil. It’s suitable for children, too. This is one of the best insect repellents.

Suitable for: 6 months +

Review: “These are the first brand I have found that is actually big enough to fit around my ankle and yet have enough tension to actually use to tie my hair, although once stretched they do not seem to shrink. Even so, I have used the same one in my hair overnight for a week. Overall, I think they are better value for money than the other brands I have tried and I will be buying them again.”

Patches are also a great way to deter bugs. These mosquito patches also repel other insects such as midges and are suitable for all ages. You do not need to apply the patch directly to the skin. Instead, you squeeze the patches to activate the deterring essential oils. Once the patch is active, you can attach it to clothes, car seats, prams and cots. This natural and simple formula contains citronella and lemon eucalyptus oils and will last up to 10 hours.

Suitable for: All ages

Review: “I always use these around my son's bed at night in mosquito areas, and he never gets bitten at all. Used when he was 18 months old and now again at three and a half years old. Recommended product!"

The Hospital of Tropical Diseases recommends this maximum strength formula from The Jungle Formula range and now has a line for children that does not contain any DEET. It is suitable for children over one year old and will protect your children for six hours and ward off mosquitos, midges, horseflies and ticks. One thing to note is that the formula will not be strong enough if you are going to countries with insect-borne diseases such as Malaria. In that case, you will need to apply something with more strength.

Suitable for: 12 months+

Review: “Worked really well for my 1-year-old daughter. She hardly got bitten. We stayed a month in Bangladesh. There were a lot of mosquitos more than usual, but this worked great.”

This new formula from Boots helps prevent mosquito bites and lasts up to 45 days. For use in many countries worldwide, this pack comes with a three-pin plug and one liquid refill. This product has been tested for efficacy against common mosquitoes (Culex quinquefasciatus), Tiger mosquitoes (Aedes albopictus) and yellow fever mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti) that can spread e.g Dengue Fever, Chikungunya, Zika Fever, and Yellow Fever viruses. You’re well equipped with this one.

Make sure to read all of the information before purchasing and using.

Suitable for: USE ONLY in positions inaccessible to children and animals.

Review: “After questioning what had been biting me for a month and purchasing one of these I was right to suspect it was mosquitos. The morning after I plugged it in I found 8 dead. I get eaten alive and this worked wonders.”

Related: Boots Insect Killer Refill

This effective plant-based mosquito repellent made with Citriodiol will shield your child for 15 days after opening. So they will be protected for all bloodsucking pesky mosquitoes and bugs.

Suitable for: 3+

If your baby or toddler has sensitive skin then this natural DEET-free formula is made with sensitive skin in mind, so could be a good choice if your child has eczema. This spray stops babies from getting bitten, using p-menthane-3,8-diol (synthesised from lemon eucalyptus). This spray claims to protect for up to six hours.

Suitable for: 3 months+

Review: “I was worried about purchasing this as my son has really bad eczema, and I was worried it either wouldn't be strong enough to deter the mosquitos or would flare up his eczema, but honestly, I was so pleased and glad I got this! So gentle on my son's skin (he has extreme eczema too) didn't flare him up at all, and he didn't get bit all holiday, unlike us, so we started using this instead and never got a bit too. Really recommend it!”

Made with the same formula as the best-selling incognito spray, this roll-on insect repellent will shield you from bugs for up to five hours. The formula is DEET-free making it the perfect family-friendly repellent. This is one of the best insect repellents you can grab on the market.

Suitable for: 3 months +

Review: "Ideal for the little ones in the family, non-greasy and works!"

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