I don’t just get bitten by mosquitos, I get ravaged. Mauled and massacred. A single mozzie bite will leave my skin looking as if it were attacked by angry hornets on heat (interestingly enough, not a single mozzie came near me in pregnancy. Utterly bizarre). But I am a walking, talking human mozzie magnet. And #babyjake has inherited my sensitive skin. So keeping the mozzies away is my life’s ambition.
With the scorching summer heat, the Mozzies have moved in! Here are your top Anti-Mozzie Safe Solutions for the little ones…
TO USE OR NOT TO USE:
As with all things baby related, there appears to be more paranoia around the issue than need be.
General consensus though is to try and avoid mozzie repellents and electric burners / mats that aren’t approved for use on babies / kids.
When it comes to repellents, the main chemical you’re trying to avoid is DEET, which is the most common active ingredient in insect repellents (when reading product labels, look out for N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide or diethyltoluamide).
But even so, the American Academy of Paediatrics has still given Deet the green light for infants over 2 months of age! So it’s really not a train smash to use if nothing else seems to be working. Opt for products with 10% – 30% Deet Concentrate where possible (although in India, I was merrily using 100% Deet, strong enough to be used in chemical warfare).
In terms of electric plug-in burners / mats / vapour releasing devices, some studies have shown that the fumes emitted can cause breathing problems, eye irritations and allergic reactions. But again, no conclusive ruling either way and many paeds still recommend using these.
The bottom line: where possible, I personally prefer to avoid chemicals and opt for natural alternatives. But there’s no need to be neurotic either! Be sensible and rational about it: If you’re travelling to a high risk Malaria area, rather use the chemical-based stuff that is guaranteed to work. Because the potential risk of some Deet is a lot less worrying than potentially fatal diseases like Malaria or Yellow Fever.
Either way, it’s clear that moms are looking for natural remedies rather than reaching for that bottle of Tabard. Because no mommy out there is keen to unnecessarily lather her baby in toxic bug killers.
So for the mommies who want to avoid the chemicals, you have the following options:
1. Natural Skin Application Repellents (safe for use from 3 months)
2. Chemical Free Ultra-Sonic Electric Options
3. Physical Barriers (e.g. Cot Nets & Anti-Mozzie Sleeping Bags)
4. Essential Oils & Diffusers (Non-Skin Application)
I’ll take you through each of these options, and provide some really nifty tips and tricks.
1. NATURAL SKIN APPLICATION REPELLENTS (SAFE FOR USE FROM 3 MONTHS)
There are some really nice natural options available, all of which claim to do the same thing: keep mozzies away while being safe for use on baby’s sensitive skin.
They all use a very similar concoction of natural (Deet free) ingredients, and while some work better than others, they’re all roughly the same thing at the end of the day.
So choose whichever works for you based on smell, price, availability and personal preference
- Pure Beginnings Natural Insect Repellent Stick, R48 from Baby City, Dischem and various health shops
- On Guard, R35 – R55 from Dischem (available as a spray, roll on or gel)
- So Pure Spray, R46 (Citronella free). All major retailers (Dischem / Baby City / Pick n Pay) as well as 4akid
- No Squito Baby Lotion, R40 from Dischem (but be warned, this stuff absolutely stinks. No wonder the mozzies stay away. I gagged and had to have an emergency bath after using this stuff)
- Oh Lief Olive Balm, R78 from various pharmacies and health shops / Kids Emporium
- Bennets Mozzie Stick, R37 from all major retailers (Dischem / Baby City / Pick n Pay)
- Pigeon’s Wipes, R42 from all major retailers (Dischem / Baby City / Pick n Pay)
- Johnson’s Aloe Vera Creamy Oil & Soap. Not intended for mozzies but it appears that the aloe scent deters them! Moms swear by this range. Be sure to get the green bottle (Aloe range). From all major retailers (Dischem / Baby City / Pick n Pay). Some moms also swear by Vicks – simply apply to baby’s skin before bedtime.
- Purity Elizabeth Anne’s Baby Spray, R35 from all major retailers (Dischem / Baby City / Pick n Pay)
The downside to using a natural product such as those listed above, is that the effects generally tend to wear off after 90 minutes. So they’re not ideal for an overnight solution. And anyways, I’m often too lazy to diligently apply each and every night before bedtime. So that’s why Vital Protection is a brilliant alternative, because you treat the linen, not the baby 🙂
If you’d rather not apply a product directly to your baby’s skin, you can treat their cot linen / sheets / curtains / carpets with Vital Protection. One application lasts 3 months / 30 washes. Which makes it a seriously convenient option.
Vital Protection does contain a synthetic chemical (Permethrin) but the product is SABS tested and safe for babies (when instructions are properly followed). Once dry, the product cannot transfer from textile to skin. Available at all Cape Union Mart and Outdoor Warehouse outlets.
Tip: We spend a lot of time in the garden, where the mozzies attack us, even during the day. So I’ve treated my outdoor baby picnic blanket with Vital Protection to try keep the mozzies at bay while outdoors.
2. CHEMICAL FREE ELECTRIC OPTIONS
As far as electric plug-in burners (coils, mats, diffusers) are concerned, some studies have shown that the fumes emitted can cause breathing problems, eye irritations and allergic reactions. So avoid these where possible. There are some other options out there that work on high frequency ultrasound emissions rather than chemicals… I’m just not entirely sold on their efficacy. But when used in conjunction with something else, they seem to help.
These are probably (definitely?) more of a gimmick than anything else, but what’s the harm in leaving it plugged in? So I leave one plugged in #babyjake’s room 24/7 in the hope that it does something. It’s totally harmless, and might help to scare off the one odd mozzie.
- Chicco Ultrasound Plug, Baby City
- Lifetrek Family Eco Friend (R299) Available from Cape Union Mart, Outdoor Warehouse, Game, Makro, Builder’s Warehouse
3. PHYSICAL BARRIERS
Your best bet for young babies is ultimately a mosquito net over the cot. You get nice ones from Mr Price Home, as well as the Crazy Store / Makro / Cape Union Mart / Takealot / Game / Shoprite.
Cot nets are best suited to very young babies who won’t be able to pull it down and get tangled in it.
ANTI-MOZZIE SLEEPING BAGS
I’m a fan of baby sleeping bags at the best of times, and these have just taken things to a whole new level! Treated with an all-natural mosquito repellent that lasts for up to 20 washes, this is a genius invention! The repellent is made from an odour-free eucalyptus extract that provides 90% mosquito repellency. Available in sizes 0-6 months, 6-18 months and 18-36 months in both Blue and Pink, from R599. Order from Parental Instinct.
If you’re in an area that has a really intense mozzie infestation (close to a river for example), you can have insect screens installed on your bedroom windows. This way, you can still sleep with open windows, as no bugs can get in. Not the cheapest route, but if you are desperate: http://www.cornerstarafrica.co.za/window-screens.
FAN / AIRCON
Point the fan away from the cot. As long as the air in the room is circulating, this seems to help decrease the presence of mozzies quite a bit. But I would still use something else in conjunction with a fan (we get mozzies even when the aircon is on).
4. ESSENTIAL OILS & DIFFUSERS
If you want to avoid applying anything directly to your baby’s skin, or if your baby is younger than 3 months, here are some good remedies:
*A note about the use of Essential Oils with babies: Do not apply Essential Oils directly to a baby’s skin. Although natural, you should not apply Citronella directly to your baby’s skin or too close to your baby’s nose / mouth. In some studies, Citronella has been known to cause skin allergies or irritate a baby’s airway. Do not use Essential Oils on or around your baby if there is a history of asthma or difficulty breathing.
You can buy any of the Essential Oils from any pharmacy, health shop or Dischem.
How to Use:
- You can leave any of these in a saucer / ramekin / dish / bowl in close proximity to where your baby sleeps, but out of reach from baby.
- Or apply to a piece of cotton wool / cotton wool ball and leave in close proximity to where your baby sleeps, but out of reach from baby.
- Or you can also apply directly to cot pillow / sheet (just a few drops).
- Fill a spray bottle halfway with water. Add 30-50 drops of Essential Oils. And spray on your window frames/sills and around the cot.
Use on their own or mix together:
- Citronella Essential Oil (you should always dilute Citronella oil with another oil or with water)
- Peppermint Oil (also good for keeping spiders away!)
- Eucalyptus Oil
- Lavender Oil
- Vanilla Essence
- Witch Hazel
- Dettol! Mozzies don’t like the smell of Dettol, so you can also dilute some in a spray bottle and spritz away.
- Leave an open jar of Vicks / Menthol Camphor close to where baby sleeps
Mozzies aren’t fans of vanilla scents, so you could use a Vanilla Scented Stick Diffuser in baby’s room. Bonus is that baby’s room will also smell divine! You can also add some of the other Essential Oils to a stick diffuser. @home sells stick diffusers for R139
Or go seriously DIY and use an existing raid electric burner – just refill the cartridge with diluted citronella or lavender oil, and voila, you’ll have a poison-free, electrically scented DIY diffuser.
How nifty is this DIY solution! Sheer brilliance. Instead of burning insecticide, just empty the liquid out (wearing gloves by simply removing the little stick) and replace with diluted Citronella Essential Oil or Lavender Oil to create your own electric diffuser.
CITRONELLA PATCHES (R23 FOR A PACK OF X10)
These are by far my best discovery! Dischem sells these Citronella-infused patches in packs of x1o.
I love the fact that nothing ever touches #babyjake’s skin, and they seem to do the trick for repelling mozzies. When playing outside, stick to the back of your kid’s clothing, so they don’t pick at them.
For bedtime, I stick 1 or 2 of these around the cot, out of reach, and change them once every couple of days once the smell has faded.
Life Trek also make similar patches (Available from Cape Union Mart, Outdoor Warehouse, Game, Makro, selected PNP’s, Builder’s Warehouse)
#BABYJAKE’S MOM’S VERDICT:
Here’s what I do, and it’s been working (for the most part):
- Dischem Citronella Patches (stuck around cot, replace every few days) or make your own DIY Citronella burner using an existing Raid / Baygon Liquid Plug In
- Ultrasound Plug (Chicco or LifeTrek) left in wall socket 24/7
- One of the natural sprays if needed (can also apply Vital Protection to cot linen or get an Anti-Mozzie Sleeping Bag from Parental Instinct)
- Vanilla Scent Diffuser (can also mix with some Citronella Essential Oil)
- Treat outdoor baby blankets / picnic blankets with Vital Protection
Final Tip: Leave an open stick of a Peaceful Sleep roll-on in your baby’s room (obviously far out of reach from baby!). Better than applying to your baby’s skin directly.
But, if you’re inundated with mozzies and your baby is still being chowed to pieces after all of the above, just use good old Tabard / Peaceful Sleep / Raid (plug ins and repellents)! I’m fairly certain we’ll all live to tell the tale 🙂
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