Do you have an “outdoorsy” family or does everyone prefer a nice cozy day inside? Even if your family is not the camping type, getting the kids outside for some recreation is essential to their health and well-being.
Nothing beats a nature walk in the woods or a fun afternoon at the playground to lift the spirits. Of course, being outdoors does come with a price – bugs! Yes, insects also like being outdoors. They think they own the place!
Bug bites or stings are common when kids play outdoors and a bug bite could irritate child’s skin for days. In addition, some insects carry nasty diseases that can be passed on through those bites. So, avoiding insects is wise. So, instead of giving up your outings, find a way to repel those little creatures.
The best, safest way to repel insects is to make your own homemade natural bug spray using all-natural ingredients. Parents prefer to use homemade natural bug spray because the chemicals in products like DEET are, well… pretty nasty.
The Problem With DEET
Your child’s pores absorb everything and anything you put on the skin, including products like DEET which contain chemicals and additives that could cause the body harm.
A 1980’s study was documented where DEET was used by National Park employees for a set amount of time, and during that time a quarter of them experienced horrible side effects like feeling dizzy, experiencing burning on their lips, feeling sick and getting rashes.
Even more worrying was a test that followed on animals which showed using DEET for a prolonged period has the ability to kill brain cells and cause behavioral changes.
Very scary stuff, right?
You may consider using a natural product from a supermarket as an alternative, but you can’t guarantee the product is all natural as advertising laws only require you have 10% natural ingredients in the whole product. So, the other 90% could unfortunately be chemicals.
So, it isn’t hard to see why homemade natural bug spray is preferable to parents when it comes to the health and safety of their children. These magical mixes can easily ward off nasty bugs, they are much better for the environment which is heavily affected by chemical use, they are safe to use, and they smell great too!
So are you ready to make some child-friendly bug spray for your little outdoor explorers?
Can You Just Blend Any Essential Oil to Make Child-Friendly Natural Bug Spray?
You can mix any essential oil to create an amazing bug spray but there are lots of considerations to make before applying the mix to a child or adult in order to keep everything as safe as possible:
Phototoxic Essential Oils
Some essential oils are phototoxic, which means they can make the skin more sun-sensitive. This sensitivity can lead to blistering, burning and inflammation of the skin. In the case of insect repellent for children, it is best to avoid phototoxic essential oils altogether to be on the safe side. You can find a good list of phototoxic essential oils here.
Dilution of Your Solutions
Essential oils should always be diluted because using them at full strength could irritate the skin. Diluting essential oils is usually done with a product like coconut oil because water and oil don’t mix.
Be Aware of Allergies
Children and adults using the bug spray should take note of any unwanted reactions to single oils or certain oil combinations so as not to use those ingredients or combination of ingredients again.
When creating your bug spray think about how it will be used, which will affect what you put in it. A bug spray going onto the skin to keep the bugs away from the body needs careful consideration to ensure it doesn’t cause a reaction, is safe for the skin of the person using it, and to ensure proper dilution.
A bug spray for a diffuser, which is used to keep bugs away from somewhere like a back porch or camping setup, can be much stronger and the ingredients can be mixed much more freely.
Use by Pregnant Women or Children
Some oils cannot be used during the first trimester of pregnancy, and some can’t be used at all during pregnancy and breastfeeding. They can cause all kinds of strange symptoms and issues you wouldn’t expect essential oils to cause, such as contractions.
You can find an extensive list of unsafe pregnancy oils here, but if you are every unsure, always check with your healthcare provider first. Certain oils are also unsafe for use by children, and the safety of use then varies again depending on the child’s age.
You can find an extensive list of oils and whether they are safe for children here. Again, if you are ever unsure check with your healthcare provider first.
The Bug Repellent Essential Oils
Lots of oils are bug repellent, but we have selected a special few to go in our awesome homemade natural child-friendly bug spray recipes below.
- Witch Hazel – Wards off mosquitoes, reduces inflammation, soothes skin and is generally safe for use by children of any age, but should be used with caution as contact dermatitis can occur
- Lavender – Repels moths, fleas, flies and mosquitoes, aids sleep and relaxation, suitable for children of any age
- Geranium – Repels mosquitoes, soothes acne and skin inflammation, generally safe for children of all ages
- Patchouli – Wards off mosquitoes, spiders and flies, has antiseptic properties and is generally safe for children aged 2 years and over
- Spearmint – Repels mosquitoes, ants and flies, has antiseptic properties and is generally safe for children aged 2 years and over
- Citronella – Wards off mosquitoes, flies, moths and spiders, has antibacterial and antiseptic properties and is generally safe for children of all ages
- Lemongrass – Repels spiders, moths, flies and mosquitoes, has antiseptic properties and is generally safe for children ages 2 years and over
Natural Bug Spray Recipe for Children Ages 3+
This recipe creates 4 oz. of bug spray suitable for children over the age of 3 years old.
- 1 x 4-ounce glass spray bottle
- 2 oz. of witch hazel
- 2 oz. of distilled water
- 5 drops of lavender essential oil
- 5 drops of geranium essential oil
- 2 drops of patchouli essential oil
- 8 drops of spearmint essential oil
Place the essential oils into the 4oz bottle followed by the distilled water. Swill together, then add the witch hazel. Spray when needed.
Natural Bug Spray for Children & Adults of All Ages
This recipe creates 8 oz. of bug spray suitable for the whole family to use.
- 4 oz. witch hazel
- 4 oz. coconut oil
- 15 drops geranium
- 15 drops citronella
- 14 drops lavender
Place the essential oil in an 8-oz. glass bottle and add the coconut oil and witch hazel. Swill together and then spray when needed.
Natural Bug Spray Protects Your Whole Family Safely
Making a natural bug spray is a really great alternative to chemical-laden options like DEET. However, essential oils should always be used with caution. Take care to:
- Be aware that a lot of information on essential oils is conflicted, so seek professional advice from a healthcare provider if you are unsure
- Be careful with phototoxic essential oils and perform a patch test 24 hours before using any homemade bug spray on your child’s skin
- No essential oil should ever be ingested
- Avoid spraying the mix into the eyes. If this does happen use coconut oil or a similar oil to clean the eyes with a paper towel
- If at any point an extreme allergic reaction is apparent, or you are concerned essential oils have been absorbed when they shouldn’t have been, seek emergency help
As long as you exercise caution, natural homemade bug spray is a great mixture to use to protect your children from nasty bug bites. It is just as effective as the often highly-priced, chemical rich alternatives you can buy from the store.
Once you’ve gotten used to mixing and making child-friendly bug sprays like the ones above in our recipes, you’ll be making your very own effective, natural, safe and beautifully scented mixtures in no time.
Your family can be bug-bite free all whilst saving their skin and the environment of unnecessary chemical use.
Paul Turner is the man behind TakeOutdoors.com which he shares all his knowledge and experiences on camping. Looking for a challenging camping activity? He’s got a comprehensive beginner guide to backcountry camping get you started.
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