Category: Recipes

My Favorite Homemade Natural Bug Repellent for Babies and Kids


There are a million great natural ways to ward off mosquitos and other bugs as the temperature rises… Okay maybe not a million, but at least as many as there are kinds of bugs to fend off ourselves and our young ones. That said, if you’re anything like me, you’d rather someone give you a favorite recipe — and save your brain cells for harder questions like, “what was I in my past life?” (my eight year old), or “why is he not asleep at 11:30pm?” (me, regarding my five month old).

So, for Recipe Weekend, I’m sharing with you my new favorite recipe for natural, homemade bug repellent. I formulated this recipe based on what will work, but still be gentle enough to be used on both my little guys — and not stain anybody’s cute white summer tees. The geranium in this recipe is especially good for ticks, the citronella — and virtually everything else included — repel mosquitos and other bugs via smell, but still smell great to most human types.

Natural Bug Repellent: safe enough for Baby too

Here it is (for an 8oz batch):

  • 4oz witch hazel
  • 4oz almond oil

These are the carriers. Mix together, then add these essential oils:

  • 15 drops geranium
  • 15 drops citronella
  • 7 drops eucalyptus
  • 7 drops lavender
  • 7 drops lemongrass

(optional: repel bugs, and make it smell extra yummy):

  • 5 drops rosemary
  • 5 drops peppermint

This recipe can be mixed and matched based on what you have available. The general formula for a good homemade bug repellent for babies and children is roughly a 1:10 ratio of essential oils to carrier liquid, or roughly 30-50 drops per 8oz of ‘carrier’. I love this formula because witch hazel is a great carrier for essential oils, is super-gentle for babies’ skin (its my favorite formula for diaper rash!) and you can buy it already infused with lavender. (It’s also great if heaven-forbid you get bitten.) The almond oil is high in vitamin E, so again, a skin-nourisher — and the rest, well, they’re the gold standard in essential oils that discourage bugs from hanging around.

These smells not your cup of tea? Experiment with formulas you like best. You can substitute out any of the above (I personally would keep the geranium, but anything else is up for grabs) and use any member of the mint family (catnip is particularly effective), cedarwood (very earthy, woodsy smell), lemon, even vanilla. You can also sub out the almond oil for purified water. I like the almond oil for its silky smoothness and absorbency, water provides a lighter spritz.

Apply liberally as you like, at least every 2-3 hours. On my baby, I tried just a little on his sensitive skin first, since everybody is different. Now we’re ready for my absolute favorite activity: staring up at the sky under our wide oak tree on our mowed-slightly-less than-we-ought-to lawn. Feel free to join us.

Natural Remedies for Bug Bites and Bee Stings: #2 in our Natural First Aid Series

Well, it’s official. Sitting in the pre-tornado humidity of our Spring evening in Austin, it happened…my first mosquito bite of the season. Fighting back the urge to cry, “I’m not ready!”, I am reminding myself that this Friday for Recipe Weekend we’ll be posting a recipe — and mixing up a batch! of natural homemade bug repellent that will hopefully make this first bite my last.

But I know that this first bite heralds the start to an entire post-Winter season – of camping trips, picnics, pool parties, trips to the park, summer vacations — and general outdoor merriment that comes with the lurking dangers of everything from yellow-jacket-riddled trashcans to noseeums and sand fleas.

So as we welcome the return of long sun-lit days, and these unwelcome accompanying hazards, I want to refresh everyone’s memory on the best easy remedies to stop the gnawing itch of bug bites and the pain of stings. If forewarned is really forearmed (as my mother likes to say), impending Spring and Summer fun just got a little bit safer.

For MOSQUITO and other BUG BITES, have you tried:

  • A drop of tea tree oil dabbed gently on the site of a bite or applied to a band-aid which then covers the bite area can provide both soothing relief, and ward off infection. Add a drop of lavender essential oil for increased pain and itch relief.
  • A cotton ball soaked in witch hazel can provide immediate pain relief, and stop the swelling of a bug bite.
  • Ice cubes!!! Ice cubes are a great, easily-accessible and free line of defense against itch and swelling.
  • Calendula — Both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, calendula oil or cream is one of the most effective remedies in the bug bite repertoire. Just rub it on the site. And p.s. it’s also great for cuts, wounds and rashes.
  • Aloe vera gel — its not just for burns, it’s a great itch, irritation and wound healer.

For Ant Bites:

  1. Start by washing with soap and water.
  2. Apply apple cider vinegar directly to the bites.
  3. Finish with healing salve, baking soda mixed with a dab of water or green clay

For BEES, WASPS and other nasty STINGS:

  1. Scrape out the stinger with a fingernail or credit card (avoid pulling it out with tweezers, which can release more venom into the site of the sting).
  2. Wash the area with soap and water
  3. Apply an antiseptic, such as witch hazel or apple cider vinegar.
  4. Mix baking soda with water until it forms a paste and apply to the area. The baking soda will tenderize the skin, relieve pain, and stop inflammation. You can also try meat tenderizer mixed with water. The bee sting venom is made up of proteins, which the meat tenderizer breaks down.

Other Options:

  • lavender-blossomFor stings, place a slice of papaya over the site for up to an hour. The papain enzyme in papaya is excellent at breaking down the venomous proteins causing inflammation and pain.
  • One drop of lavender essential oil at the site of the bee sting can have a potent pain relieving and anti-inflammatory effect. For wasp stings, try 1-3 drops of lavender essential oil, and 1-3 drops of tea tree oil for extra anti-inflammatory effects and pain relief.
  • Basil: basil has been shown to be an insect repellent, a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory for bee stings, and a great reliever of spider bites. For spider bites, 2-3 drops of basil oil on a band-aid works best. For bee stings, you can crush fresh basil and place it directly on the site of the sting after cleaning. Then plan on eating Italian food for dinner. (I dare you not to crave pesto after using this remedy.)
  • Keep plantain leaves on hand. If a bee strikes, after removing the stinger, chew up the leaf, or bruise it with your hand and then apply it directly to the site of the sting. It helps draw out the venom and ease the pain.

For Bites All Over:

  • Is your child covered in bites, or stand in an anthill? (I did, once, and the fire ants were merciless…) Put them in a bath of apple cider vinegar or baking soda — about 1/2 C for each 6 inches of water.
  • Support your child internally by giving him Vitamin C, digestive enzymes with protease, and plantain or echinacea tincture to stop the swelling.

Fact or Fiction: A few years ago, I was stung by a Texas scorpion. Coming from California, where apparently the scorpions are of a more dangerous variety, I called a medical hotline immediately. The nurse on call, after ascertaining that I was not suffering any severe allergic reaction, suggested that I place a penny on the site of the sting. While in my case I can’t be sure that it was the penny, the ice packs, or just time that cured my pain, I have since heard stories both refuting and supporting the “penny cure.” Just remember to clean the penny first.

When to seek medical help with a bug bite or sting:  

The area of the sting or bite swells up, such as the entire wrist arm or leg where it occurred; there is any difficulty breathing, dizziness, nausea, or other signs of severe allergy; the pain and inflammation does not subside, even after hours of treatment. Bee stings can cause especially severe reactions. When in doubt, have it checked out.


I forget how quick French toast really is to make. It combines the protein of the eggs with the complex carbohydrates of the bread, which satisfies the protein – complex carbohydrate balance that feeds little one’s brain. Equally important, he loves it!

This recipe is easily modifiable for food sensitivities and preferences, and feels like a treat to my son. With nearly 12 grams of protein per slice, this is a breakfast that seems like a decadent treat, and still gives us the protein/complex carbohydrate balance we’re looking for. This recipe is my variation on a wonderful Good Housekeeping recipe (thanks, for posting!) that we’ve amended to accomodate my son’s favorite ingredient (cinammon, cinammon, cinammon!), and his food sensitivities.

2 large egg whites
1 large egg
8 slices firm bread (whole wheat, or brown rice bread work well)
3/4 C milk (rice and almond milk also work)
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
dash of cinnamon

Whisk together all wet ingredients with the salt and cinammon. Dip bread in the mixture, being sure to coat both sides. place bread on a greased skillet (vegetable oil spray works well here). Cook approximately 3 minutes each side – until lightly browned, then flip.

Top it with a dusting of cinammon if you desire, then serve with a side of seasonal fruit. Raspberries, bananas, blueberries all work well here — even right on top! A delicate drizzle of real maple syrup also makes it a touch more decadent.

** For an even easier start to your morning, try Baked French Toast by placing the bread in a casserole dish and pouring the egg mixture on top. Then refrigerate overnight, and bake in the morning in a preheated, 425degree oven for 30 minutes (or until the toast is lightly browned). Thanks to for this great idea!