When my son was an infant, we didn’t live in an area with tons of mosquitoes, fleas and ticks to my knowledge. I cannot remember treating a single bug bite on him in his two years of life. But, since we’ve moved to the Pacific Northwest and now have a woodsy area across the street and are in nature more, things might be different.
Those red bumps we get on ourselves are so itchy and frightful looking when they are huge, aren’t they? Have you seen one on your little human’s body? Poor baby!
I am a total bug-phobe and tend to get startled when I see any kind of bug in my house or outside. Bummer for me, because I have seen so many new bug species since we’ve moved and the house spiders are much bigger here than where I am from in Southern California.
So yes, I’m a little nervous to experience the Spring and Summer seasons in this new environment (bug season). Becoming more knowledgeable about how to treat insect bites on my little one may actually come in handy in my future.
What will it be? Long legs, tiny bodies, jumpers or wings?
Let’s face it: no matter what the size, bugs are gross and we don’t want their germ carrying bodies on our little ones.
Mosquitoes, fleas and ticks tend to reside near bodies of water, tall and thick grassy areas and in the woods or forest. They also are out in larger quantities during the warmer times of the year.
When it’s time for your little one’s Easter egg hunt in the grass for example, you’ll want to take note of where he/she is hunting. During the Summer, with BBQs come ants, bees, wasps and hornets. If you’re near bodies of water, then you’ll likely have to prepare for mosquitoes.
It would be best to stay aware of where you will be and for how long you will be there prior to your outing. If your baby is playing in-doors with nicely sealed screens, you have nothing to worry about.
If you know you will be outside for several hours you’ll want to plan for your day and take preventative measures for bites.
- Try dressing your little one in lighter colored clothing so that any bugs or tick attachment is easily visible. Also lightweight long sleeves, pants and hats will help keep skin covered.
- Apply sunscreen to parts of exposed skin only. Then apply child safe bug repellent on top, again, only to exposed skin.
- Don’t let your child go barefoot in the grass.
- Avoid letting your child drink from open sweet drink containers if there are a lot of bees, hornets and wasps nearby.
- Avoid trashcans that can draw in ants, and bees.
- If your baby is going to sleep outside, you may want to invest in a mosquito net for protection. For example, there are some available for strollers, carriers and an overall tent space.
- There are child safe mosquito and bug repellents that are available for use depending on your baby’s age.
- Avoid scented lotions or soaps which can attract bugs.
How dangerous can a bite be?
- Wheezing or trouble breathing.
- Vomiting or abdominal pain.
- Hives or a rash on other areas of the body.
- Sleepiness or confusion, possibly signs of shock.
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Swelling of the lips or throat.
Your best bet would be to try to keep your child calm, keep them from choking on any vomit and administer any CPR or infant CPR if needed while waiting for help.
Emergency/medical personnel will likely administer a shot of epinephrine if the allergy is severe and provide you with future recommendations should they believe this scenario could repeat due to allergies.
Non-allergic bite remedies.
According to Babycenter:
- Remove any stingers. If you child is stung by a bee, wasp, fire ant or tick, try to scrape any attached bug out with a clean finger nail, knife or credit card. This will ensure the bug doesn’t break off at the head and stay attached which can happen using tweezers.
- Clean the area. Wash the area with soap and water and keep your little one from scratching the area as best as you can. If it seems that itching is nagging at your baby, or the area still seems red and swollen, try an ice pack for some cold relief.
- Treatment. Remedies on the market include some topical creams and anti-itch gels depending on age. Also if swelling or redness persists, acetaminophen and Ibuprofen may be used. Of course you will want to read labels and give the proper dosage for your child’s age and size or contact their pediatrician.
- Calamine lotion. Works to help with itch as well as a baking soda and water solution. Simply dab either of these on the site of the bite.
- Monitor the bite. Continue to monitor the bite, as sometimes it is common for other symptoms to arise later such as fever, sore joints, swelling of the lymph nodes. If this is the case, contact your pediatrician.
Ticks and lyme disease.
I remember learning about Lyme disease in school and it was quite frightening for me to picture this tiny bug in-bedding it’s head under my skin and sucking blood out of me! At least mosquitoes are somewhat discreet blood suckers!
Ticks can fight to stick to you or your baby and can be difficult at times to remove.
If you are taking your child out where ticks might be prevalent, just be sure to monitor their skin during the day and then again when you get back inside for the day/night. Go over their skin inch by inch, look all over!
Not all ticks carry the bacteria which causes Lyme disease but unfortunately some do. Some tick bites can be treated with antibiotics if they are caught right away. But this is not always necessary.
A sure sign of a tick bite causing Lyme disease is the bulls-eye pattern it makes. Sometimes though, this pattern may not be present. There will be a red spot surrounded by a red ring on the skin.
According to Lymedisease.org, some symptoms include:
- A flu-like illness (fever, chills, sweats, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea and joint pain).
- Some have a rash.
- Bell’s palsy (face drooping).
Some preventative tips for protecting your child from ticks according to Babycenter would be:
- Long sleeves and pants tucked into socks.
- Clothing made of slick material so that ticks have a harder time keeping their grip.
- Light colored clothing again so that ticks are easy to spot.
- Tick repellent.
In conclusion, there are a lot of safe bug repellents on the market for baby. Be sure to read our guide on baby-safe and effective repellants.
I would recommend to keep a proactive mindset when going outdoors with your little one to prevent any bites in the first place. Be aware of your environment, dress accordingly, guard accordingly, and check that baby when you get home and at bath time. For your baby’s sake, better to be safe than bitten!