Our kids are young explorers, and no matter how well we protect them, sooner or later they meet with the real world. Even though our surroundings can be very beautiful, there are also many hidden dangers that our children eventually meet. Various insects, like mosquitoes, ticks and all the other pests that roam in our Australian nature, are among the top enemies for our kids while they play outdoors. It’s impossible to keep all pests away from your child, but there are a few remedies you can try to limit their exposure. Here are our top recommendations:
Protect babies wisely
For babies that are six months old or younger, we recommend that you don’t use any repellents – be it from natural ingredients or store-bought. Their skin is still too sensitive, and applying such products may result in allergic reactions. For example, oil repellents from lemon or eucalyptus aren’t recommended for kids under three years old.
Instead, use covers on the strollers, either the original netting or just install a new one. And if you’re going camping somewhere, make sure there is netting on the tent.
Wear clothes with coverage
Second best way to protect yourself from outdoor pests, other than staying inside, is wearing clothes that cover your skin. Bugs and mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, so when you go out in that period, make sure your kids are appropriately dressed – pants, long sleeves, etc.
Colours also matter! Scientists have found that mosquitoes really like the colour blue, and other dark colours, so try to avoid them. Instead, go for green or khaki.
And if you want to go the extra mile, buy repellent-infused clothing. As you can probably guess by the name, these clothes come with the insect repellent embedded in the fabric, so you can avoid applying any sticky creams or sprays.
However, even this is not 100% effective, since some mosquitoes are able to bite through the fabric if it’s not very thick unless it’s the repellent-infused clothing.
Hydration is key
Garden insects, especially mosquitoes, are quite attracted to sweaty, hot skin, so to avoid that, make sure you’re well hydrated. Keep a water bottle close to you and remind your kids often that they need to take a break from games and drink water, as they are very likely to forget. And that’s just one of the many reasons why you should make sure your kids are well hydrated. If you’re somewhere on a camping trip, you probably wouldn’t it to end early because of exhaustion or dehydration.
Use fragrance-free body care products
Just as insects are attracted to the smell of sweat, they are also big fans of overly fragrant hygiene products or toiletries. So whenever you’re going out, make sure that the whole family is wearing fragrance-free deodorant, body spray, perfume, etc. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put any, of course. Just look for unscented natural toiletries without a ton of chemicals and artificial odours, it’s way safer for your child’s health.
Apply bug sprays and creams
Of course, the most logical thing you can do is apply a bug repellent cream or spray. What you should know about those is that almost all of them contain an ingredient called DEET. And the more it has of this ingredient, the more potent the repellent is. Which is why it’s vital to look at the levels it contains because it might be dangerous for your kid.
For children from six months to 12 years, search for a repellent with no more than 10% of DEET inside. The recommended application is no more than three times for older children and only once for those younger than two. The effect usually lasts for about 2.5 and 4.5 hours.
Apply the repellent on the clothes, before your kid puts them on, so you can avoid direct contact with the skin. If you want to put some on their face, make sure you’re using a product that is safe to be applied on sensitive skin, and even then, don’t spray directly. Put some on your hands and gently rub it on the face, avoiding the eyes and lips.
If you also want to apply sunscreen, make sure to do it before you put the repellent on and wait at least 20 minutes between applications. When you go home, wash it off.
If you don’t like the smell of the repellents or your kids hate being sprayed with it, buying a bug-repellent bracelet is a great alternative. They are unique gadgets that come in many different models and are suitable even for the youngest members of your family.
These bracelets emit insect-repellent chemicals that create a shield around the person wearing it. Don’t worry as they are entirely safe for your kids! And if you don’t want to put in on your body, just fasten it somewhere close.
Make a bug-repellent spray from essential oil
As we mentioned, outdoor pests are quite attracted to certain smells. However, some absolutely repel them, and luckily, a lot of them come in the form of essential oils. These include various herbs and plants that are quite potent when it comes to odour, and most pests hate them. So if you don’t want chemicals anywhere near your children, create your repellent spray with essential oils from those plants.
Here is a list of pest-repellent plants:
- Tea Tree
Choose a fragrance your kids like and start preparing the solution. Mix from 10 to 20 drops of the essential oil of your choice with half a cup of witch hazel, a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol and half a cup of lukewarm water. Shake your concoction properly before each spray since oil is heavier than the water and they usually separate. You can even let your kids decorate the bottle and turn into a protection spell or some other game to make the whole experience fun.
Dryer sheets in your pockets
In dryer sheets, you can find beta-citronellol and linalool, which are two ingredients proven to repel bugs. Linalool is naturally contained in lavender and basil which, as you already know, both emit an odour that insects hate and avoid. Beta-citronellol, as you can probably guess, is found in citronella, which is also an effective repellent.
So for comfortable protection, just put a couple of dryer sheets in the pockets of your kids and even rub them on their hands, arms and any exposed skin, except the face.
Take care of the bites immediately
No matter how hard we try, it’s impossible to entirely avoid getting bitten, especially if you have kids running around for hours, falling to the ground, into bushes, playing with sticks, etc. All of this is an amazing experience, of course, but it often results in bug bites that can ruin any game.
When your children get bitten, start by doing a cold compress to decrease the overall burning sensation and itching, as well as reduce potential swelling. An ice pack would be ideal, however, if you don’t have one close, moisten a hand towel or a piece of fabric with cold water and press it to the bite.
Another thing you must do is to stop your kids from scratching, no matter how hard it might be. A good tactic is to distract them with something since they are very likely to forget about the itch if they have something more interesting to look at. If that doesn’t help, apply any cream with hydrocortisone, on small areas only, and places away from the mouth or eyes.
If your little one is quite sensitive to insect bites, give them an antihistamine that is safe for kids, preferably one you’ve used before and your child is used to.
If the case is more severe, immediately take them to a doctor and don’t try any DIY medications or techniques. Allergic reactions can be very dangerous, so you have to be careful. hazardous
Outdoor time with your children can be a truly memorable experience, and it’s up to us, the parents, to make sure it’s filled only with nice memories. Protect your kids, instruct them properly before playing, and make sure you are prepared with all the necessary things. And if this outdoor activity is in your own backyard, make sure to consult with a professional who will check if your garden is safe and pest-free.