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How to Protect Your Child from Insects

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Nothing ruins a picnic, playdate, or outdoor party faster than pests. And it seems like bugs like little ones even more than adults (must be that young blood)! But there are ways to keep bugs and their bites at bay. We compiled these 10 ways to keep your kids protected.

1. Seek Out Non-Toxic Bug Spray

a mom spraying insect spray on her son

Thankfully, bug spray has come a long way since we were kids. Gone are the days of stinky, toxic concoctions that probably did more harm than good. Now mamas can choose from a variety of organic, herbal, all-natural potions that are well-reviewed and effective. Do be careful when applying to kids and babies: always read the label to make sure the product is safe for your child's age group, and never spray it directly on your little's face.

2. Use a Net

a mosquito net on a baby bed

An effective way to keep your baby safe from bugs is with some insect netting that you can drape over a stroller, car seat, or crib. If you plan to be outdoors for awhile and your baby is not mobile, consider buying a pop-up tent, which also provides your little one with a shady spot to nap!

3. Watch Where You Roam

a toddler standing in a flowery field

Keep your little away from places where stinging bugs dwell. Ticks and chiggers like long grasses and wooded areas. Mosquitoes are most common in weedy or wooded areas and by standing water. Bees are common in gardens and picnic areas.

4. Dress Appropriately

a mom and son hugging outside

Bugs can't bite what they can't access! Conceal your baby's delectable skin in long pants and shirts made from a tightly woven material. Tuck pants into socks. A hat with a brim can help deter bugs from snacking on your little one's neck and ears.

5. Avoid Peak Times

lots of mosquitos

Like humans, insects have regular hours and schedules that they keep. For example, mosquitoes tend to be dusk to dawn creatures, and the peak season for ticks is April to September. If you can, plan activities and vacations with bug season in mind.

6. Don't Disturb Ants

Little boys using a magnifying glass in a park

Families who live in the southeastern United States share the land with fire ants, which both bite and sting something fierce. Teach your little one to stay away from all ant mounds and to be careful picking up sticks and pieces of wood, instructs the CDC.

7. Bathe After Bugs

a toddler climbing out of a bath

If you've been in an area with ticks, giving your little one a bath within a few hours can help you check for the buggers and also wash off any who haven't yet burrowed their way in. It's also good to wash off any bug spray you might have applied, which will reduce unnecessary exposure to those chemicals.

8. Evict Them

an empty bird bath

Any standing water is a potential mosquito breeding ground. Prevent them from taking up living in your backyard by regularly emptying any containers collecting water, including kiddie swimming pools, bird baths, roof gutters, flower pots, and fire pits.

9. Do a Tick Check

a baby naked looking at the camera

If you have been out in an area known to have ticks, do a thorough check of your little one, especially the hair and in the warm crevices like the belly button, underarms, around the waist, and behind the knees. Be sure to look over dogs and shake out any gear as well, to search for stowaways, recommends the CDC.

10. If Necessary, Do the DEET

A chemically-based bug spray might be a necessity If you'll be headed into a region that has bugs carrying Lyme disease or West Nile Virus. Products containing DEET are generally deemed safe for babies more than six months old, according to the Mayo Clinic. Use a spray that contains 20-30% DEET and take care to keep the spray off your little one's hands. Apply it only to exposed skin, and wash it off as soon as you are inside. You can also treat clothing and gear with a solution containing .5% permethrin, says the CDC. Never use DEET on babies younger than six months old.

 
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