Despite the medical community’s acceptance of DEET (the most common chemical used in insect repellents, developed for military use in highly infested areas), the American Academy of Pediatrics has also accepted the effectiveness of DEET alternatives . When given the choice, I would definitely prefer to cover my child (and myself) with the less toxic alternatives.
Of all of the bug repellents that I have tried, my favorite, by far, is California Baby’s Bug Repellent Spray natural bug blend .It’s active ingredients are the bio-pesticides lemon eucalyptus and citronella–and it has a lemony fresh smell (something like a clean kitchen floor!) I do recommend spraying it on your fingers and rubbing it on your child instead of spraying directly so that you are less likely to get any in anybody’s eyes (they also have a lotion, but I prefer the complete non-greasiness of the spray). Though there are products available that combine bug repellent and sun screen, the AAP recommends using separate products so that you do not slather yourself with repellent each time you need to apply more sunscreen.
My husband, my two year old and I have all used this bug spray this and last summer…and have had many fewer painful bites to show for it!
AAP and EPA guidelines for using all insect repellents (including traditional repellents as well as bio-pesticides):