Adults, kids, and babies react differently to bug bites and the bug sprays made to protect them

Kids have thinner skin, a larger body surface area (BSA) to weight ratio, higher respiratory rates, and are more prone to dehydration or to have immature blood-brain barriers.

The smaller the child, the more exaggerated this differences is, meaning smaller children, especially babies, are more susceptible to bug bites.

Children will also have greater reactions to the sprays, lotions, or wipes we use on them as protection from those bites. Child and baby-safe bug repellents come in sprays, but also in balms and towelettes (wipes) which prove effective more often.

In this Pest Strategies product review you’ll learn the answer to questions like:

  • What are natural bug sprays?
  • How do natural bug sprays work?
  • What makes natural bug sprays safe for children and babies?
  • Most importantly, what our top picks for the best natural bug sprays are!

Top 4 Best Natural Bug Sprays for Babies and Kids

  1. Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent
  2. California Baby Plant-based Natural Bug Repellant Spray
  3. Greenerways Organic Bug Spray
  4. All Terrain Kids Insect Repellant

1. California Baby Plant-based Natural Bug Repellant Spray

This California baby natural bug repellent uses cedar oil, citronella, and lemongrass oil as the active ingredients. It doesn’t have DEET, permethrin, or any other harsh chemicals in it. It does have vegetable glycerin in it so it may leave a shiny residue.

It is dairy-free, oat-free, gluten-free, and soy-free. It is also nut-free except for coconut so you shouldn’t have to worry about any allergic reactions. It is safe to use on any baby over six-months-old. Under six months, you should use something else.

This is an excellent natural insect repellent made in the United States, it’s Eco-friendly, price-competitive, and has a pleasant scent that isn’t overpowering. It requires frequent reapplication though.

The Good:

  • Nice scent
  • Allergy-tested

The Bad:

  • Needs to be reapplied frequently


  • DEET-free
  • No harsh chemicals
  • Safe for babies under six months

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2. Greenerways Organic Bug Spray

This essential oil-based, organic bug spray from Greenerways is a great choice to protect kids from biting insects. Its soothing formula is ideal for sensitive skin. And it contains no harmful chemicals or pesticides.

It repels fleas, ticks, and flies using a combination of certified natural contents. The active ingredient is soybean oil, which is proven to work against several types of bugs. Other materials include citronella, cedarwood, and lemongrass oils.

Greenerways Organic Bug Spray is deet-free and is safe for babies and people with sensitive skin. It is also environmentally-friendly and okay to use when pets are present.

Certified non-GMO and organic Greenerways Organic Bug Spray contains no parabens or phthalates. And all ingredients are hypoallergenic.

The Good:

  • No toxic chemicals
  • Safe for children and pets
  • No noxious odors
  • Certified organic

The Bad:

  • May not work around large mosquito infestations
  • Requires liberal application of product to get results
  • Fragrance may be too intense for some
  • Hard to use the spray bottle, and it won’t pump sometimes


  • No toxic chemicals
  • Safe for children and pets
  • No noxious odors

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3. All Terrain Kids Insect Repellant

Developed by people who love the outdoors, All Terrain Kids Insect Repellant keeps flies and mosquitoes off children. And it does this without the use of harsh chemicals. Its deet-free formula keeps insects away safely, allowing children to play without being ravaged by bugs.

All Terrain uses a potent mixture of natural essential oils to help repel mosquitoes, flies, and ticks. It combines soybean, citronella, peppermint, and cedar oils to deliver a knockout punch to flying insects. And it is certified GMO-free.

All Terrain Kids Insect Repellant comes in a handy non-aerosol bottle. It is also safe to spray directly on clothing. And it won’t harm pets or the environment.

The Good:

  • Natural ingredients
  • No harmful chemicals
  • Non-aerosol pump
  • Works well, especially for mosquitoes

The Bad:

  • May not work as well for ticks or fleas
  • Spray pump may get jammed
  • Bottle may be prone to leaks


  • Natural ingredients
  • No harmful chemicals
  • Non-aerosol pump

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4. Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent

The CDC has compiled a list of EPA-approved insect repellents including DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE) for protection against mosquitoes, ticks, and a wide variety of flying, stinging bugs.

This repellent works effectively for up to six hours before you have to reapply it, and carries with it a clean, fresh eucalyptus scent. This natural repellent is 100% natural and DEET-free, giving you hours of protection without exposing you or your children to harsh chemicals.

Be aware though, the EPA recommends not using Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus on children under the age of three. It’s safe for children over that age though, as long as you don’t get it in their mouth, nose, or eyes.

The Good:

  • Not greasy
  • Won’t stain clothes
  • Inexpensive

The Bad:

  • Some people are allergic
  • It has been known to attract bees


  • DEET-free
  • Completely natural
  • Six hours of protection

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What Are Natural Bug Sprays for Babies and Kids?

“Natural” is a much-abused word but for our purposes, we’ll use it to mean the absence of man-made chemicals or ingredients. We’re only going to consider bug sprays that use ingredients found in nature. They might have to be squeezed or extracted from their source, but that’s the extent of it.

This means we’ll be looking at sprays (along with some balms and wipes) that are based on essential oils. However, essential oils don’t feel oily. They are called oils because they are oil-soluble chemicals in various plants, flowers, nuts, and vegetables.

There are many options for repelling bugs aside from pesticides. Researchers at the Clemson College of Agriculture have published a whole list of non-chemical means of killing and repelling bugs, including the use of essential oils.

How Do Natural Bug Sprays for Babies and Kids Work?

Bugs, especially mosquitoes, are attracted to our body heat and the CO2 we exhale during respiration. Natural bug sprays attempt to confuse their senses by masking our body odors, heat, and CO2.

Because children and babies have a higher respiration rate than adults, bugs will naturally be drawn to them, often in preference to adults. You may need to use extra spray on children and babies to cover up the odors that attract bugs.

This will be tempered by the fact that younger children tend to have more sensitive skin than older ones, so always check the label to see what age group the spray is meant to be used on.

How Do You Find The Best Natural Bug Sprays for Babies and Kids?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) doesn’t recommend using DEET-based products on children under the age of 2 months. The CDC offers the same advice even though they admit the EPA doesn’t limit their use on infants.

Nonetheless, many parents have become distrustful of DEET and other repellent pesticides such as permethrin. In response to the demand for DEET-free insecticides and repellents, manufacturers have turned to essential oils as an all-natural alternative.

Are Natural Bug Sprays for Babies and Kids Effective?

Yes, although the efficacy will vary from one product to another. Furthermore, some products will require more frequent applications than others. DEET-based sprays will last for 6-8 hours at a time but essential oils may only last for 2-3 hours, sometimes less.

Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE) is mentioned by the EPA on the same page as DEET for preventing mosquitoes and ticks. It has been tested and found to be effective. Many other essential oils have pest control histories that go back for centuries.

How To Use A Natural Bug Spray for Babies and Kids

1. Applying Natural Bug Spray for Babies

Spray their arms, legs, and torso but don’t put it on their hands. Don’t spray their face either. Instead, spray it on your hands then rub your hands around their neck, forehead, ears, and back of the head. Don’t put it around their cheeks, mouth, or eyes.

Babies can’t tell you when they’re being bitten by bugs so keep a close eye on them to make sure it hasn’t worn off.

2. Applying Natural Bug Spray for Toddlers

The same general rule applies to a toddler but you can rub some of the spray on their cheeks. If they’ve outgrown the stage of putting their hands in their mouth, you can put some on their hands too.

3. Applying Natural Bug Spray for Children

Older children should be treated in the same way. You can lightly spray their face if they keep their eyes closed and you hold your hand over their lips. Older kids, such as teenagers can put it on themselves.

Are Natural Bug Sprays for Babies and Kids Safe Around My Pets And Children?

The only honest answer is, “Yes, but . . .”

Allergies are a common problem among children, especially infants and toddlers. Because essential oils are plant-based and haven’t been processed, allergic reactions are an ordinary occurrence.

Before using any bug spray on your children, spray some on a tiny bit of their skin. The upper arm is a good place for the test so they can’t get their mouth on it. Examine the site for the next few hours to see if an allergic reaction occurs. If not, then that spray will be safe to use on your child.

Natural bugs sprays are safe on older children but infants have a terrible habit of putting their hands in their mouths. If you put a spray on their hands, keep a close eye on them to make sure they don’t do that. This is an issue regardless of what kind of bug spray you use.

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