How to Keep Mosquitos Off Your Kids Without Slathering Them In Chemicals


Despite having lived in Colorado for the first 18 years of my life, it seems there was one aspect of life here I willingly blocked from my mind, only to be reminded in a painful (and annoying) way now that we're back home ... mosquitoes.

Little bloodsucking demon bugs from Hell, they are. If the Devil has a winged friend, it's a mosquito. My 2-year-old now sees things flying in the house and yells, "Bad 'squito!" and tries to slap it (or her brother's head ... though I doubt she sees a bug every time she does that.)

My poor little kids are being eaten alive, and I'm having a hard time sorting through tried-and-true methods versus wastes of time, since I'm not willing to cover them in chemicals, but I've got to figure out something since the West Nile virus still is active around these parts. And no one likes to be itchy.

We live near a lake, and a river, and the horse field across the street has a lot of standing water, so morning and evening are bad enough that we practically can't even go outside. We can't go dump the lake every 4-5 days to kill mosquitoes before they hatch.

burts bees bug repellentI love citronella candles, but with a 2-year-old and a 7-year-old who doesn't look where he's going, I'd be practically asking to have one of my kids burned, or my house set on fire. I currently have some Burt's Bees Herbal Insect Repellent which definitely does help, but even without the chemical smell, it still smells strong, and I don't really want to cover all of us head-to-toe in the spray every single time one of us wants to set foot outdoors, and I'd really prefer not to reek of citronella and rosemary oil every time I go out in public.

We're trying to follow the rules of wearing light-colored clothes, pants/longer sleeve shirts and all that, but with the temperatures in the upper 90's and no air conditioning in our house (yet), that's a tough pill to swallow. Speaking of pills, popping garlic cloves like pills daily is said to make your sweat and body oils reek like garlic (and has great health benefits) but try making a 2-year-old swallow a clove of garlic. Not happening.

I heard you can keep the 'squitos away by putting dryer sheets in your pockets. They make me sneeze, and it's not exactly chemical-free... at all.

Planting lots of lemongrass and rosemary is a suggestion I've found a lot, but critics say it's the oil from crushed leaves that is a deterrent, so we'd have to roll around in the plants for them to provide any protection (though I may do it anyway -- the planting, not the rolling -- since there's no harm in planting new things).

Oil of lemon eucalyptus is shown in studies and recognized by the CDC as providing similar protection as low levels of DEET, and doesn't need to be scrubbed off every time you go inside. Always a plus.

Hubby's idea is to get citronella, lemon eucalyptus, lemongrass and rosemary oils and put them on wool dryer balls so the oils are on our clothes, which I like but can't find any thing that can help me figure out if that'd be worth the investment into the oils. Sigh!

What chemical-free mosquito repellents do you have personal experience with? Any new ideas for me? Anything I shouldn't waste my time trying?


Images via Wm Jas/Flickr;

skin care, alternative medicine, toddler health


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Joy Krell Hopkins

Interesting. We're going camping and can't find anything safe that provides protection against mosquitos AND ticks (and other nasty bugs). There are lots of natural products out there for the mosquitos but I have  yet to find anything that protects against multiple bugs.

Abby Lynch

Thank you for this article! This is a major problem I've been having lately. In live in Houston and we have a nasty mosquito problem here. My son is only fifteen months so there is NO WAY I'm going to douse him in Off to get the nasty little buggers away from him. But he loves to be outside, especially at night while the sun is going down. I feel bad every time he goes to the backdoor saying "outide, outide!" and I have to tell him no. I'll try some of these things out, and see if I have any success with them.

FebPe... FebPenguins

Avon Oil and water mixture. Seems to work. Repel makes a lemon Eucalyptus deet-free repellant.


imnotyoo imnotyoo

Chickens protect against multiple bugs, but then you'd have chickens.

Kaide... KaidensMama1107

Skin so soft! Works like a charm and its just dry oil spray..

nonmember avatar jackitiger

My son uses the Herbal Armor recommended above and it works well though it is fragrant. He also has a chemical free repellent bracelet that he wears on his ankle. It works very well!

kisse... kisses5050

 Cedar,sandalwood, juniper pine and lavender oil...BUT Natural does not always mean "safe" you must do research... Example a lot of oils can be very harsh on little skin...and cinnamon can actually cause blood thinning...  

Julie Altham

We use Skedattle which is prob similar to the Burt's product. I like that it is eco-friendly, kid safe, and works really well but it is more expensive than the deet products.

nonmember avatar Jordana

Hey, I use the Awaken Body Mist from Arbonne. It's from there Aromassentials line. It has lemon and coriander oils as it's base. also has clover, ginseng and birch extracts. I've become a consultant since I love it so much. Also the baby line is great, the diaper rash cream is the only product that has stopped my kids from itching if they do get bites.

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