We all know how annoying red, itchy mosquito bites are. If you’re in the unlucky 20% who are absolute mozzie magnetsy ou’ll be an expert.
With traditionally tropical mosquito-borne diseases, such as Ross River virus, marching their way south in Australia, it’s become more important than ever to protect your baby’s sensitive skin from mozzie bites.
Studies have shown that using inspect repellents containing DEET (the stinky repellents you remember from your childhood) and picaridin (the not-so-stinky modern alternative) is the most effective way to keep the buzzing bugs at bay.
This is great news for your older kids, but most insect repellents can’t be used on babies under 12 months old.
While you’re enjoying those first gorgeous, sleep-deprived months of life, here are the best ways to protect your young baby from mosquitoes this summer.
1. Mosquito-proof your house
Your baby will probably spend most of her time at home. It makes sense to keep her main environment bug-free.
Make sure you have fly-wire screens on all the windows and doors and keep the doors closed.
Of course, this is easier said than done if you have older kids who love nothing more than to drive you mad by going in and out all day and leaving the door open every time they do.
2. Cover your baby’s skin when outside
Babies need some sunlight and fresh air to get enough vitamin D for bone growth and development. As much as we’d all love to wrap our kids up in cotton wool until they develop some sense and proper coordination, they do need to venture outdoors regularly.
Before you head out dress baby in light, full length clothing to make sure the mozzies are less interested in munching on your little munchkin and have a hard time finding any skin to bite make sure it’s not peak biting time – stay indoors at dusk or later.
3. Discourage mosquitoes from hanging out in your backyard
Short of draping your entire backyard in repellent-impregnated mosquito nets, you’ll never be able to chase away the mozzies entirely.
However, there are few things you can do to make it so uncomfortable for them that they might just decide to go and hang out at someone else’s party:
- Get rid of any standing water – mozzies love a good pond, neglected bucket of water or kiddie pool to lay their eggs in.
- Plant a few rosemary, basil, lemongrass, garlic or marigold plants around your backyard. Not only will they look and smell lovely, they’ll also produce fresh ingredients for your summer salads and barbecues. Best of all, mozzies hate the smell. Other great options are citronella, catnip, horsemint and the native ‘Mozzie Blocker’ plant (Leptospermum liversidgei).
4. Use a cot mosquito net
A cot mosquito net provides a canopy of protection from bugs while your baby is sleeping. This is especially useful if you live in areas with lots of mozzies, such as wetlands or the tropics, or you don’t have fly-wire on the windows and doors.
Cot mosquito nets come in two main designs:
- The classic style with a mesh curtain flowing from an attachment in the ceiling to the surround the cot.
- The modern version – a sturdier canopy fitted to the cot itself, with a wide zip to get baby in and out.
Wishing you a mozzie – and itch free – summer!
Rebecca Stephens is a Melbourne working mum of two gorgeous boys (aged 4 & 2) and wife to a wonderful man with his head in the clouds (he’s a pilot). You can find her on Twitter or Facebook. Rebecca has her own blog, Seeing the Lighter Side of Parenting.