Babies and insect repellent: What you need to know

Photo by Håkan Dahlström.

Insect repellent is not recommended for children under 6 months of age. Use bug netting over cribs, playpens and strollers.

For products containing DEET, Health Canada recommends up to 10% concentration:

  • For children aged six months to two years, applied no more than once daily.
  • For children aged two to 12, applied up to three times daily.
  • One application of 10% DEET offers three hours of protection against mosquitos.

They also recommend that products containing the following not be used on children under 3:

  • P-menthane 3.8-diol
  • Citronella
  • Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus

Soybean Oil

Soybean oil, a 2% blocker repellent, is a personal insect repellent that provides protection for three and a half hours against mosquitos and for up to eight hours against black flies. There are no age restrictions or limitations on frequency of use with these products.

Tips for using insect repellent on infants and children:

  • read and follow directions on the product label
  • apply it to your own hands and then rub it on them
  • apply only to exposed skin and on clothing, never apply under clothing
  • do not apply to cuts, wounds or irritated skin
  • do not apply to young children’s hands and avoid contact with eyes and mouth
  • apply only a small amount, heavy application is not needed for effectiveness
  • after returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water
  • apply only in well ventilated areas and avoid applying around food
  • if you suspect that your child is having a reaction to the repellant, stop using immediately, wash it off their skin and get medical help. Take the product container with you.


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