6 Pregnancy-Safe Bug Repellents

How to keep your skin (and baby) safe from bugs this summer.

6 Pregnancy-Safe Bug Repellents

You can’t watch the news (or go on Facebook) without hearing about Zika and pregnancy . And where there’s info about Zika, there’s usually recommendations of DEET -- the chemical most commonly found in conventional bug repellents in the US. DEET is hugely effective at preventing mosquitos and ticks and is recommended by the EPA, CDC, ACOG, and AAP for use on adults, children over 2 months of age, and even on pregnant women. But some people still harbor doubts about the safety of DEET.

After all, it is a synthetic compound, and it has been proven that, at 100% concentration, it literally melts plastic. Originally developed to protect soldiers in the army in the late 1940s, there is still some confusion among the scientific community about exactly how DEET works, and some evidence that it causes neurological side effects in some animals. One recent study found that people with routine exposure might be more prone to insomnia, mood disturbances and impaired cognitive function.


We always recommend talking to your doctor about what’s safest for your pregnancy, especially when it comes to Zika. But if you are looking for a natural bug repellent, here are some great options that are safe for both pregnant women and children.

(I’m not going to lie; all of these options pretty much smell the same. They all have that herb-y, natural smell, that isn’t exactly perfume but is a whole lot better than the scent of chemical bug spray!)

1. Captain Blankenship Sail Away Bug Spray

Star ingredient: Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus

The CDC website lists oil of lemon eucalyptus oil as a good option to prevent mosquito bites! This light, crisp spray goes on easily without feeling oily at all. It uses Lemon Eucalyptus as a natural alternative to DEET, and also tosses in known bug repellents like organic Rose Geranium and Peppermint essential oils keep away ticks. Buy it here, $25

2. Erbaviva Buzz Spray

Star ingredients: Catnip and Citronella

This spray is organic, and it contains the Lemon Eucalyptus listed above, citronella AND catnip! The EPA recommends a few different skin-applied ingredients to deter mosquitos including Catnip and Citronella, so this spray covers a lot of bases! Buy it here, $20

3. Zoe Organics Insect Repellent

Star ingredients: Organic Essential Oils of Lemongrass, Peppermint, Rosemary and clove (and more!)

This luxe, 100% organic option contains no Lemon Eucalyptus oil. Instead, it uses a blend of organic essential oils that are so gentle you can rub it into your hairline and face! Since this formula is soybean oil-based with additional castor seed oil, it's also nourishing to boot! Zoe Organics can double as a body moisturizer! Buy it here, $20

4. Bubble and Bee 100% Organic Spray

Star ingredients: Organic Essential Oils of Geranium, Clove, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Rosemary

This product is actually USDA certified organic. It contains no water — as it says on the package, “Why pay for water?”— and thus also doesn’t need preservatives. Every ingredient is an active ingredient, so there are no extra fillers or frills. Also free of Lemon Eucalyptus oil, this spray promises to be gentle and fresh-smelling. Buy it here, $9.99

5. Badger Anti-Bug Balm Stick

Star ingredients: Citronella, cedar, and lemongrass in Stick form!

For on-the-go ease, we love Badger’s Anti-Bug Balm Sticks. They come in travel or full size, are easy to apply anytime, anywhere, and are certified organic. This a great option for kids who might not want to rub in oils like the options listed above. Buy it here, $11.10

6. Soapwalla Kitchen “The Spray”

Star ingredient: Lemon Eucalyptus

The ultimate multi-tasker, this made-in-Brooklyn spray contains Lemon Eucalyptus to deter mosquitos, plus a bunch of other essential oils that make it work as a hand sanitizer, yoga mat deodorizer, and clothing/shoe refresher. It’s alcohol-free and safe to use with kids. Score! Buy it here, $16:

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.

Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin

Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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