Seven ways to protect your baby from mosquitoes bites
Mosquitoes can bring with them all sorts of illnesses. Dengue, chikungunya and malaria are among the more common mosquito-related illnesses in India. Fortunately, they are preventable. Here are some ways to protect your baby and your family against mosquitoes.
1. Dress to protect
One of the most effective ways of protecting your baby is to minimise the area of exposed skin. Choose lightweight knits and cotton garments that allow the passage of air while covering your child's body.
Clothing should be loose-fitting, because mosquitoes can bite through tight-fitting clothing. Shorts, skirts, dresses, sleeveless tops and dresses are best avoided during the mosquito season.
Younger babies can be dressed in onesies or body suits that cover as much of body as possible. If you're dressing your baby in a two-piece set, ensure her tummy is well covered with an inner vest.
For older babies pick long pants, a lightweight long-sleeved shirt or top and socks and closed shoes. A broad-brimmed hat can help to keep insects away from the face.
The colours you choose also play a part. Light-coloured clothing appears to be less attractive to many biting insects, including mosquitoes. On the other hand, dressing your baby in dark bright colours or flowery prints will attract mosquitoes and insects.
2. Choose the right mosquito repellent
Chemical repellents are considered the most effective mosquito repellents available. Most of them are effective for about two to five hours after application, depending on the concentration of the chemical in the product.
However, do not use repellents on babies less than two months of age. For babies over two months of age, experts recommend that parents choose the lowest concentration of chemical possible.
The most common chemical in Indian mosquito repellents is N, N-diethyl-benzamide (DEB). Some repellents contain DEET as well. Don't use a repellent with more than 30 per cent DEET, picaridin or IR3535 on your baby.
Learn more about how to select the right mosquito repellent.
3. Bring out the nets and screens
Nets can be very effective if used well and the advantage is that, they have no negative health effects. If you share your bed with your baby, you can use a big net over your bed. Make sure to keep nets securely attached. Check to see that no mosquitoes are caught under the net.
If your baby sleeps in a cot next to your bed, you can use a separate cot net. However, keep in mind that cot nets can become ineffective if you are taking your baby out of his bed to feed or change a nappy several times a night.
Keep your baby's cot, pram, stroller, and baby carrier covered with mosquito netting at all times, both indoors and outdoors.
Mosquito screens on doors and windows
To keep mosquitoes out of your house, install wire mesh and screens on doors and windows.
Nylon insect screens are another good option. These screens are attached to the windows with Velcro and can be regularly washed.
These measures will prevent mosquitoes, bugs and insects from entering your home. And will let you enjoy the benefits of fresh air, day in and out.
Close any gaps in the window or door frames as well. Attach pest control door stopper brushes on doors so that insects and bugs don’t find their way in from under the doors.
4. Choose mosquito repelling fragrances
You'll find a range of products, from incense sticks to scented candles and essential oils, that repel mosquitoes and can also help to keep your house mosquito-free and smelling nice.
Some scents such as lemongrass, citronella, cedar, neem, lavender, eucalyptus, and soybean can help repel mosquitoes. On the other hand, floral and fruity scents perfumes tend to attract mosquitoes and insects.
It’s possible that some products contain synthetic compounds or a mixture of fragrances that might attract mosquitoes. So, as far as possible, try to use fragrance-free lotions, soap, oils, shampoos and toiletries.
5. Don't rely entirely on home remedies and natural repellents
Many mums swear by home remedies and natural methods of repelling mosquitoes. Some mums prefer to use homeopathic treatments while some may choose to use cloves (laung) in lime (nimbu). However, there's not enough evidence to prove how efficient they are.
If you want to try home remedies, take care to always use other ways of repelling mosquitoes alongside. Use repellents that are applied to the skin, protective clothing and/or mosquito nets.
6. Clear mosquito breeding grounds
It's important to get rid of any places where mosquitoes thrive. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water and can lay their eggs in very small amounts of water.
Make sure that any water tanks, drums and buckets are covered so the mosquitoes can’t get in. Don’t leave water in coolers, plant pots, flower vases, indoor plants and pet dishes for too long.
It takes seven to 10 days for mosquito eggs to hatch. So, change the water in containers often. Clean all water containers once a week. Make sure to scrub the sides well.
Add a few drops of kerosene oil to open drains, small ponds and other places where stagnant water remains. The oil forms a thin film over the water and stops mosquitoes from breeding.
In many areas, there will be spraying or fogging organised to get rid of the mosquitoes, but you could do a check around your own house or your own building to make sure that there's no standing water or areas where mosquitoes could breed.
Remove any dry or rotting leaves, old tyres, tin cans, jars, bottles or empty flowerpots around your home. They can all collect rainwater.
7. Learn to recognise and prevent mosquito-borne diseases
Mosquitoes thrive in warm and humid weather so be cautious during the mosquito season. To keep your family safe, learn about the symptoms, treatment and preventative measures of mosquito-borne diseases.
The dengue virus is carried by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and spread through their bites. These mosquitoes tend to bite during the day. They are most active in the early morning and late afternoon. The mosquitoes carry the virus for life, which is about 40 days.
There is no vaccine, and you cannot be fully immune to dengue if you’ve had it just once. The dengue virus has four different, but closely related strains. Read more about dengue in children.
Chikungunya is spread by the bite of an Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same mosquito causes dengue. This mosquito typically bites during the day, especially in the mornings and late afternoons.
There is no vaccine against chikungunya, but according to the evidence available to date, if you get chikungunya you should have life-long immunity against the disease. Read more about chikungunya in children.
Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite which infects a certain type of mosquito. These infected mosquitoes spread malaria when they feed on humans.
There are four types of malaria parasites which infect humans. They are:
Plasmodium falciparum and plasmodium vivax are the most common. Plasmodium falciparum is the most deadly.
Unlike dengue and chikungunya, the mosquitoes that spread the disease are most active at night, during the period between dusk and dawn.
Unfortunately, you cannot be completely immune to malaria, if you have had it just once. Your body gradually acquires some natural immunity, but only after repeated bouts of the disease.
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