Ticks and other bugs — like fleas and the dreaded mosquito — are just a part of life during the warmer months in certain parts of the country. And if you live in or near a wooded area, it’s more likely than not that you’ll see a tick in your lifetime, whether it’s on you, your animals, or even your baby. Prevention is key to ensuring you and your family are safe from ticks this summer, but what are safe ways to prevent them? Can you use tick repellent on babies?
The use of the chemical DEET — which is the main ingredient in bug sprays — and its effects is a hotly debated topic. However, pediatrician Jarret Patton says it’s safe in small doses in children 2 months of age and older. “Insect repellents are a great way to prevent ticks and other biting or stinging insects from munching on your baby. Insect repellents with 15 to 30 percent DEET are safe, however, repellents should not be used under the age of 2 months,” he says to Romper in an email interview.
If you’re still a bit wary about DEET and its effects, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides some natural compound-based products for consideration, but also noted, “Products made from these ingredients have not been evaluated by EPA for effectiveness.”
According to the CDC, mixed essential oils such as rosemary, lemongrass, cedar, peppermint, thyme, geranium, and citronella are said to repel black-legged ticks (and mosquitoes, in my personal experience). You can purchase the oils separately at your local holistic or wellness store and create a mixture of them with water at home, just be sure you research the right measurements. Or you can buy pre-made sprays in certain brands of repellents that you can find at natural food stores. In addition to protecting your baby and yourself from ticks and mosquitoes, you'll smell really good, so that's a plus.
Other natural repellents the CDC noted on their website included essential oil from the leaves and stems of tomato plants, garlic oil, and certain fungi.
Like with any kind of spray, make sure to keep it away from your baby’s eyes and mouth, and don’t put it on their hands to reduce the risk of them rubbing their eyes or putting their hands in their mouth. Whether you use a repellent with DEET from the store, or use a natural brand, it’s always a good idea to protect your baby (and yourself) from ticks. Be sure to consult with your doctor before putting either repellent on your baby’s skin.