Protect Your Children Against Sun and Bugs

sun safety for kids

There's no clearer signs that the first long weekend of summer is arriving than heat, humidity, and bugs. Before you cover your small child in sunscreen or bug lotion this summer, consider the non-toxic options you can take to minimize their exposure to the sun, and bug bites.

Be Mosquito Unfriendly

  • Avoid playing or walking in long grass from dusk to dawn.
  • Avoid fragrances. Mosquitos like the smell of sweet. During bug season wash clothing in unscented laundry detergent, and avoided scented baths before going outside to play in the evening.
  • Dress your child in long-sleeved, light clothing. Tuck pants into socks.
  • Use mosquito netting over strollers.

 Sun Safety Tips

  • Play in the shade.
  • Avoid direct sun during the midday hours (10 am-3 pm).
  • Get a wide-brimmed sun hat that covers your child's ears, forehead, and neck.
  • Use a sunshade over strollers.
  • Keep your baby hydrated by breastfeeding frequently or offering other fluids.

Combined sunscreen and bug spray mixtures should be avoided as sunscreen needs to be reapplied throughout the day.¹ Since insect repellent is a pesticide, you'll only want to apply as necessary to minimize exposure to the chemicals. Never let children apply their own bug and sun cream because they could ingest the chemicals as they often put their fingers in their mouths.

Bug Spray For Kids

Bug sprays are considered a pesticide. Depending on the ingredients, Health Canada recommends very limited amounts for use with children under two. Babies under six months should not use any bug sprays.²

Environmental Working Group (EWG) cautions that essential oil based bug repellent should be used only in areas with low-risk to bugs as there is not enough data about their risks and effectiveness for longer periods of time.² If you're keen to try a botanical-based spray, All Things Jill Outdoor Joose is an option to explore for babies over 12 months and Zoe Organics Insect Repellent for children over 6 months.

Sunscreen For Babies & Children

Babies under 6 month old are generally not recommended to wear any sunscreen since their bodies absorb more of the ingredients so you'll want to be diligent about monitoring their sun exposure.

Choose a safe sunscreen free from oxybenzone and paragons. Goddess Garden and Badger are two popular options. Goddess Garden has an unscented cream option to keep your baby fragrance-free. Badger offers scented options including soothing Chamomile and Calendula for sensitive skin.

Both brands score a 1, signifying a low hazard, on EWG's 2017 Sunscreen list. They also coral reef and ecosystem safe for lots of swimming in the lakes! Plan to reapply after 40 minutes in the water.

If you prefer using a sunscreen spray, first spray it on your hands and then spread it onto your child's skin. This helps to achieve fuller coverage.

And if you're like me, and sometimes run out of products at last minute, try ordering two of your preferred child-safe sunscreen and one bug spray early in the season to avoid last-minute purchases of products full of toxic ingredients.

 

¹ Government of Canada: Insect Repellents

² EWGs Guide To Insect Repellent

8 Comments

  • ginabad says:

    What great products! My kids are too old to qualify for the program, but I’m so happy to have suggestions on bug spray. That is such a challenge – we usually just try to avoid bugs, LOL! (not always an option)

    • Sara Vartanian says:

      We try to avoid bugs, too! There are really limited options for bug sprays for kids that don’t contain DEET. Last year in Canada, the government banned Citronella based ones as an option but now they are bringing them back. I think it will take awhile for the companies who stopped production to be able to come out with the products again.

  • lorialper says:

    I’ve never heard of terra20’s CleanStart program. Thanks for sharing the info. I’m on the hunt right now for great sunscreens and bug sprays for this season. There are so many new brands and formulations out there-it’s fun to find a good non-toxic fit.

    • Sara Vartanian says:

      I love trying new options as well, Lori! That way, I can find the one that is the best fit for our family 🙂

  • mindfulmicaela says:

    I’d love to find a natural bug spray that really works! Pinned this on my eco baby board!

  • Betsy (Eco-novice) says:

    Great list of sunscreens! And a good reminder to be cautious with bug sprays.

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