Mosquito Bites on Babies

Depending on where you live, mosquitoes tend to be a summertime staple—and, sometimes, a pest all year long! Chances are, you’ll have to deal with mosquito bites on your baby or older kids at some point or another. Luckily, these itchy bites are usually just a nuisance and nothing more. However, read on to learn how to prevent and treat mosquito bites on newborn babies, toddlers, and older kids, plus when to call your child’s healthcare provider.

What Does a Mosquito Bite Look Like?

Bug bites on babies and older kids are a common part of childhood, so it helps to know how to distinguish a mosquito bite from other insect bites. What does a mosquito bite look like and feel like? Mosquito bites typically cause a stinging sensation, followed by a red, circular mound (similar to a hive) that’s itchy with a tiny puncture in the center.

When a mosquito bites your baby’s skin, it injects saliva, and the swelling, redness, and itchiness are all part of the body’s natural reaction to the saliva. Some people are more sensitive to mosquito saliva than others and may have a stronger response when bitten. Additionally, the body gradually builds up a slight defense to mosquito bites; because babies are new to the world, they won’t have built any protection yet and their reactions to bites can be stronger.

Other signs of a mosquito bite can include

  • a very large area of swelling and redness

  • multiple hives

  • a low-grade fever

  • body aches

  • swollen lymph nodes.

In some babies and older children, mosquito bites on the face can lead to swelling around the eyes, too, and in general bites on the face cause more swelling than bites on other parts of the body. If your child experiences any of these additional symptoms of mosquito bites, it’s best to consult their healthcare provider.

Are Mosquito Bites Bad for Babies?

Some parents wonder when to worry about a mosquito bite on their baby or toddler. Although mostly just an itchy nuisance, mosquito bites on anyone (whether babies, older kids, or adults) come with some small risks. If your baby is allergic to mosquito bites, an anaphylactic reaction is possible, though very rare, and usually includes symptoms such as

  • extreme swelling (hives) on the skin

  • swelling of the tongue or mouth

  • trouble breathing

  • wheezing

  • weakness or unconsciousness.

An anaphylactic reaction is an emergency, so take your baby to the Emergency Room or call 911 if they exhibit any of the above symptoms.

Mosquito bites are known to transfer diseases—including chikungunya, dengue, Zika, and malaria—which are not common in the United States but may be more readily found in other countries. If you’re planning to travel abroad with your baby, contact your child’s healthcare provider ahead of time and follow the prevention strategies listed below.


How to Prevent Mosquito Bites on Babies and Older Kids

Prevention is your chief goal when it comes to mosquito bites on your newborn infant, baby, toddler, or older kids—really, for anyone of any age. This means learning about the habits of these insects and taking steps to minimize exposure to them whenever possible. Here are some measures you can take to deter mosquitoes and protect not only babies and small children but the whole family from being bitten:

  • Use netting and repair screens. Ensure that your home’s window screens (as well as tent screens when you're camping) are intact. If you find holes, you can use simple screen repair kits that typically work by affixing a sticky piece of new screen over a hole. For an added layer of protection when sleeping outdoors, or to cover strollers and cribs, use mosquito nets.

  • Cover skin with clothing. Mosquitoes have a harder time biting through clothing, so dress babies and kids in long pants, long sleeves, hats with netting, socks, and closed-toed shoes.

  • Avoid dressing in bright colors or floral patterns. As these insects seem to be attracted to brighter clothing and also to flowery prints, stick to muted colors and patterns.

  • Skip scented products. Use unscented detergent and soaps, as mosquitoes and other bugs may be more attracted to sweet or perfumy smells.

  • Keep cool. For older kids in particular, mosquito bites could be a result of sweating, as the bugs are attracted to the smell. Keep your little ones cool and hydrated throughout the day.

  • Avoid outdoor play and water at specific times. If your kids want to play outside or at the beach or pool, avoid dawn and dusk as well as nighttime, when mosquitoes are more active.

  • Clean up around your home or property. Besides the obvious pools, rivers, and beaches, mosquitoes can make their home in any type of water, especially standing water. Check around your home or property and be sure to empty and clean up clogged gutters, wading pools, birdbaths, firepits, flowerpots, and anything else that collects water.

Should You Use Insect Repellent on Babies?

A common question about preventing mosquito bites on babies is whether to use an insect repellent. One common and effective active ingredient in many insect repellents is DEET, and it's important to follow some guidelines about the use of DEET-containing products and insect repellents in general:

  • Don't use any product containing DEET on babies under 2 months old.

  • Apply insect repellent sparingly on babies and children, and make sure any repellent you use contains no more than 30 percent DEET.

  • Avoid applying repellent on specific areas of the skin, especially the face and hands, or on a sunburn, any type of rash, or cuts or wounds.

  • Wash off the repellent with soap and water upon returning home.

Different ages call for different approaches to many common ailments. Track your little one’s development and learn more about what to anticipate with our baby growth chart below!


How to Treat Mosquito Bites on Babies, Toddlers, and Older Kids

Although prevention is the first step, know that even when you’ve taken all possible precautions, you’re likely to find mosquito bites on your children from time to time. They can happen to anyone! Some home remedies and other strategies for treating mosquito bites on babies and older kids can help relieve redness and itchiness. Continue reading to learn

  • what to put on your baby or toddler to treat mosquito bites

  • how to relieve a mosquito bite itch on babies and toddlers

  • how to treat mosquito bites marks on babies, toddlers, and older kids.

Home Remedies for Mosquito Bites on Babies and Older Kids

Try these home treatment strategies for mosquito bite relief in babies, toddlers, and older kids:

  1. Apply lotion or cream. Certain creams and lotions can help temporarily relieve mosquito bite itching for babies and older kids. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider first, but some common creams that they may recommend include calamine lotion and nonprescription hydrocortisone cream. You could also use a paste made with baking soda and water.

  2. Apply a cold compress. Because the bite is probably swollen and red, you can soothe the itchy pain with a cold compress or cool cloth.

  3. Help your child avoid scratching. Watch your child and try to keep them from scratching too much. Scratching can lead to skin fissures and infection, which can then leave marks on the skin. Talk to your baby’s provider if mosquito bites result in marks, as some creams can help minimize any scarring.

A soothing lotion and a cool compress are simple but effective treatments for mosquito bites and marks on babies, toddlers, and older kids. They can help relieve discomfort from an itchy or a swollen mosquito bite on any part of the body, including the head and face. Just be extra careful when applying lotion to the area around the eyes and mouth.

If you get the “OK” from your child’s healthcare provider to use these lotions and creams, consider keeping them in your baby’s first-aid kit, as mosquitoes can bite at any time!

For older children, your child's healthcare provider may suggest additional at-home treatments for mosquito bites, or may recommend or prescribe an antihistamine medication to help with itching. Just remember to avoid any medication that’s not recommended by the provider.


The Bottom Line

Kids love to play outside when the weather is warm, so know that mosquito bites are bound to happen at some point. Follow our advice for preventing mosquito bites on babies and older kids, plus how to treat the bites when they happen. You don’t have to let your summer fun be victim to these annoying pests! A few tricks tips can go a long way.