Natural Mosquito Repellent Safe for You and Your Baby

Start Using Natural Insect Repellent Free of DEET like Citronella

Since babies aren’t born with an innate ability to swat mosquitoes and keep flies away, so we have to do that work for them. And while fears of the West Nile Virus and other vector-borne diseases may have you reaching for the DEET-based insect repellents at your local drugstore, there are methods for fending off these pests without putting your family’s health at risk. In this article you will learn about the common chemicals in insect repellents and how you can start using natural mosquito repellent. 


Common chemicals in bug repellent

When looking for a baby bug spray for your little one, you should balance your concern over insect-carried illnesses with serious interest in reducing the toxicity of any product you apply to baby’s skin. Baby’s bodies are much more sensitive to toxins, absorbing them more quickly and processing them faster than we do as adults, so try to avoid the following bug spray chemicals:

  • DEET: Known by many names, including Autan, Detamide, Delphene, Naugatuck Det, Off, and Flypel, this chemical is widely heralded as the most effective bug deterrent, but it comes at a cost. Scientists know DEET as a pesticide that has been linked to many health problems, including rashes and swelling, acute toxicity, as well as reproductive, mutagenic, and organic toxicity. DEET also has many environmental setbacks—it harms aquatic life and is a neurotoxin for cats and dogs.[1] Ecolife recommends that you look for other alternatives, but if you do use products with this ingredient, make sure it’s at concentration no higher than 10% for your children.
  • Dimethyl phthalate (DMP): Like all phthalates, this one should be avoided. It is said to be a known human immune system and respiratory toxicant and may have a negative impact on liver, kidney, and blood in humans.[2]


How to prevent mosquitos and bugs

Instead of using a product on your baby’s skin, there are many manual ways to prevent bug bites naturally. For instance, you could try any combination of the following bug-busting habits:

  • Standing water: Remove standing water from your yard to prevent mosquitoes from breeding near your home. This includes pet water bowls, eaves troughs, and stagnant water features.
  • Proper clothing: Dress your baby in bug-fighting clothing that covers most of their skin, such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and a hat. If the bugs can’t find her skin, they can’t bite!
  • Marigolds: These plants naturally repel mosquitoes by giving off a smell that bugs don’t like, so plant some around your yard.
  • Citronella: Though not as effective at DEET, citronella will help to ward off bugs in your yard. Burning a candle or incense stick with this herb gives off a pleasant scent, too.
  • Mosquito traps: There are many mosquito traps on the market today that attract and kill the bugs before they can get to you. However to be truly eco-friendly, these should operate without the use of electricity or fuel, so keep that in mind as you shop. Pheromone mosquito traps are a perfect example and can be bought at your local home improvement store or online at EarthEasy and OakStump.
  • Sage and rosemary: Burn some of these herbs in your fire pit or add them to your BBQ to fend off mosquitoes.

Try these essential oils: 

  • Eucalyptus: This is great insect repellent, though it must be at a concentration of 70% cineole for the best results. Brands include: Carrot Tree Soaps, Skeeter Skatter, Kiss My Face.
  • Lemongrass and cedar: These two are sweet-smelling and effective bug deterrents. Try out Soothing Herbals, Buddha Nose, California Baby.
  • Neem oil: Extracted from the leaves and seeds of a tree grown in India, this vegetable oil contains a compound called sallanin which helps to keep mosquitoes away very effectively. Check out Ark Naturals.
  • Soybean oil: Here’s another natural ingredient you can use to make your own baby bug sprays. Look for Bienella, JASON.

Homemade bug repellent recipes

There’s a plethora of recipes for making homemade insect repellents with any number of the above ingredients. If you’re a DIYer at heart, try out these great options:

As always, when looking for any personal care products and ingredients to make your own, be sure to keep the health of animals in mind by purchasing products made without animal products, byproducts, and free of animal testing. Spy the Leaping Bunny Logo or the Certified Vegan Logo to be sure that you’ve got a cruelty-free product or homemade insect repellent ingredient.



1 Pesticide Information Profile - DEET. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2010, from Cooperative Extension Offices of Cornell University, Michigan State University, Oregon State University, and University of California at Davis:

2 Dimethyl phthalate. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2010, from Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database:


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