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9 Best Bug Sprays And Lotions For Kids

Mom spraying two boys with bug repellent in the woods.

Choosing the correct bug sprays for kids can make or break your summer! Warm weather provides more precious time outside, but this newfound freedom unfortunately also means more bugs! As parents, we know bugs can be a tricky part of enjoying the great outdoors. It is no fun to have itchy kids. Plus, who wants to be constantly swatting the bugs away while trying to play? This summer, a lot of families are choosing national parks, camping, and RVing, making these questions all the more relevant. To help you better enjoy your outdoor family adventures, we’ve rounded up a list of the 9 Best Bug Sprays For Kids

Parents can decide which of these three sections detailing the best bug sprays for kids is best for them. Our first section, DEET Free Mosquito Repellents for Kids, highlights versatile options for any situation, ideal for all ages. For those looking for a heavy-duty option, we have also included Safe DEET Bug Repellents for Kids. Finally, if you are looking for an alternative option, two of our Facebook members submitted Essential Oil Bug Repellents for Kids. No matter what option to choose for your kids, you’ll feel satisfied knowing you’ve kept them bug-free to continue enjoying your family’s outdoor adventures!

DEET-Free Bug Sprays for Kid

Mosquito biting the skin

It’s no secret bug sprays are a popular product on the market. Have you ever walked down the bug repellent aisle at your local grocery store? There are so many options! It can quickly become overwhelming. A few options are better than others, however! Many families prefer DEET-free bug sprays for kids, given the chemical’s debated safety concerns for younger children. Here are the top DEET-free bug sprays for kids to help you narrow down your search!

Skin So Soft Bug Guard

Bottle of Skin So Soft bug spray. One of the best bug sprays for kids.

Why Our Families Love It

Skin So Soft Bug Guard was the most recommended bug sprays for kids when we polled our Facebook group Families Love Travel. It is most effective against mosquitoes, deer ticks, gnats, no-see-ums, sand flies, and biting midges. Skin So Soft also uses Picaridin, which is a bug repellent alternative to DEET that has low-odor and a non-greasy feel. Plus, Skin So Soft comes in easy-to-use towelettes! The products are perfect for applying to children, simple to pack, and great for traveling.

Badger Anti-Bug

Three Badger Anti-Bug balm packages staged together. It is one of the best bug repellents for kids.

Why Our Families Love It

Badger Anti-Bug Balm is certified organic and features a pleasant smell. Made without chemicals, Badger Anti-Bug is also proven to last up to 3 hours, making it great for active families. This eco-friendly bug repellent is also easy to apply. Families can get it in a balm or a spray form. Finally, your kids will love the cute badger cartoon featured on the packaging!

Babyganics Natural Insect Repellent

Spray bottle of Babyganics, a natural insect repellent. It is one of the best bug sprays for babies and kids.

Why Our Families Love It

Babyganics offers families a natural alternative to the usual bug sprays for kids. It is also one of the best bug sprays for babies. Made entirely of plant-based ingredients, it will keep mosquitoes, gnats, and flies away from little ones for the long-haul! Additionally, it can also be purchased in spray or towelette form. Families will love its non-greasy application and low-odor as well! Gentle on skin, it is also non-toxic, should it happen to end up in your child’s mouth.


A spray bottle of Natrapel, one of the best bug sprays for kids.

Why Our Families Love It

Natrapel is registered with the EPA, proven to repel mosquitoes and ticks for up to 12 hours. Natrapel also uses Picaridin, a popular DEET alternative. Approved for use of children over 2 months, making it one of the best bug sprays for babies. In addition, Natrapel can be used by those pregnant and breastfeeding. Best of all, the Natrapel spray can also be found in a variety of sizes, making it perfect for family travel and storing at home! 

Sawyer Insect Repellent

Spray bottle of Sawyer insect repellent, one of the best bug sprays for kids.

Why Our Families Love It

Sawyer Insect Repellent is a fragrance-free bug repellent that uses Picaridin, a DEET alternative. It is effective against flies, mosquitos, ticks, and more. Families will love that it comes in lotion and spray. In addition, Sawyer offers lotion dispensers for a refillable, eco-friendly option. Sawyer also claims that it will not harm clothing, backpacks, or other materials (perfect for loading the kids in their car seats after a long day outside!).

Safe DEET Bug Sprays for Kids

DEET has gotten a bad reputation in the past. However, both the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics have confirmed that DEET is safe for children over 2 months, provided the concentration is between 10% and 30%. DEET bug repellent should not be used on infants younger than 2 months, though. Here are our recommendations for safe DEET insect repellents for kids!

Repel Insect Repellent

Aerosel spray bottle of Repel Insect Repellent. One of the best bug sprays for kids.

Why Our Families Love It

Repel Insect Repellent contains 15% DEET, creating a barrier of protection against mosquitoes, ticks, gnats, flies, no-see-ums, and fleas. Repel is also resistant to perspiration, which means it only requires one application. Families will love that Repel comes in a variety of appealing scent options. It’s also pretty versatile, available as a lotion, aerosol, towelette, or pump. Repel Insect Repellent is definitely an all-purpose bug spray for kids that families will love!

OFF! Deep Woods Insect & Mosquito Repellent

Aerosel spray bottle of Off! Deep Woods insect repellent.

Why Our Families Love It

OFF! Deep Woods Insect & Mosquito Repellent with 25% DEET works to protect against mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies, gnats, and chiggers. It claims to apply dry, meaning skin won’t be left oily or greasy. OFF! Deep Woods has also been a go-to option for families camping, fishing, and outdoor adventuring for decades. Its long-lasting protection means one application allows a full day of hiking, exploring, and fun outside with your kids! 

Sawyer Products Ultra 30% DEET Insect Repellent Lotion

Two bottles of Sawyer Ultra 30 Insect Repellent lotion. One of the best DEET bug sprays for kids.

Why Our Families Love It

In addition to non-DEET options, Sawyer also has a 30% DEET insect repellent. It is effective against mosquitoes, ticks, flies, chiggers, fleas, and no-see-ums. With up to 11 hours of protection, one application means a full day of fun! Families will love that it is non-greasy, odorless, and resistant to perspiration. Additionally, it is non-staining, which projects clothes, car seats, and backpacks.

Essential Oil Bug Sprays for Kids

White hands holding three bottles of doTerra essential oils: Frankincense, Lavendar, and Balance.

Recently, a lot of families have been looking for chemical-free alternatives to a number of household items; toothpaste, kitchen cleaners, and sunscreen, for example. Many families swear by the use of essential oils as a bug repellent for kids. As such, we have included two essential oil bug repellent options submitted by our Facebook members.


Firstly, two contributors to our Facebook group shared that they use lavender essential oil as a mosquito repellent for kids. Not only is it a more long-lasting and affordable alternative, but it smells a lot better too! Lavender has also been used for centuries as a natural bug repellent (often as a deterrent to moths in dresser drawers!). Today, some recent studies affirm its efficacy for warding off unwanted insects, maintaining its safety for children as well.

A Recipe for an Essential Oil Bug Spray

Hand with a bug spray bottle spaying the kids hand

Luckily for parents who love to DIY, you can make your own essential oil bug repellent at home. So if you’re looking for an effective essential oil recipe to make in a jiffy right now, search no further! One of our Facebook members, Mia De Jesus, graciously provided hers to publish on Families Love Travel.

Essential Oils Needed

  • Cedarwood – 15 drops
  • Lemongrass – 15 drops
  • Citronella – 15 drops
  • Germanium – 10 drops


Mix the above ingredients with distilled water and plain witch hazel. Maria shares that this recipe for an essential oil bug repellent can be “sprayed on skin and clothes”.

Looking to compare multiple recipes? Another recipe for an essential oil ug spray can be found here, by Facebook member Jill Robbins on her blog Ripped Jeans & Bifocals.

Enjoy the Great Outdoors!

Mom and son look over and outlook onto cliffs and water near Olympia.

No matter which bug repellents for kids you ultimately choose, be sure to read and follow its provided instructions. Using these safety guidelines will ensure proper use, as well as a long-lasting effect. We hope this article on the best bug spray for kids helped you identify the best options for your family this summer. Now, get outside and have some fun!

Thank You to Our Community!

Four kids cuddle with a puppy amoung the cliffs of Sedona, Arizona.
Photo Courtesy: Missi Dunham

A special thank you to the Families Who Love to Travel Facebook community! Many of them submitted their favorite bug sprays for kids to share with other families. Families Who Love To Travel is a group of amazing families who love adventure and exploring through travel. Join the Facebook community, follow us on Instagram, and find us on Pinterest. Each platform allows families to connect with other families who love the unique experiences travel has to offer!

Please note: We use some affiliate links. So we may receive a small percentage of sales or other compensation from the links on this page.All prices listed are accurate at the time of publication.

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The Families Love Travel Team has a zest for life and an even bigger passion for globetrotting! Comprised of real-life travel professionals, we work hard behind the scenes to provide dynamic solutions for adventuring with children. Our enthusiastic team understands the challenges that often accompany traveling with kids and is committed to making Families Love Travel an inclusive space to convey these experiences.
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