Is there anything worse than finding potential bed bug bites on baby?
Mind you, it’s nobody’s idea of a good time to share their home with a bunch of parasitic insects whose sole purpose is to suck your blood. Bed bugs are fundamentally upsetting in a way that few other insects are.
But that kind of psychological stress is made even worse when babies are involved.
It’s a natural instinct for a parent to protect their young. But protecting yourself from bed bugs is a challenge, let alone protecting a baby that can’t fend for itself.
Babies present unique challenges when it comes to dealing with bed bugs. But there is a lot you can do, both to prevent your baby from getting bed bug bites in the first place, and to treat those bites if they do appear.
Bed bugs aren’t known for their mercy. They will happily feed on young and old alike. They are more than willing to bite infants, and the padding of baby’s cribs can offer an irresistible breeding ground for these nasty bugs.
But before you vow to live with your baby inside a hermetically sealed bubble until the child is ready for college, consider these tips instead to prevent your baby from getting bed bug bites in the first place.
Are These Actually Bed Bug Bites on Baby?
Before you go full Starship Troopers on the invading insects, it’s a good idea to make sure that it is actually bed bugs that you’re dealing with.
Babies are prone to several rashes and infections that can be confused with the itchy red bumps left by a bed bug’s bite. Briefly, these conditions include:
- Baby acne (not as cute as it sounds)
- Keratosis pilaris, or chicken skin, which actually is about as cute as it sounds. So not at all, then.
- Erythema toxicum, which can manifest as red bumps in the first two weeks of life and is often mistaken for bedbug bites
These are all common conditions that will need medical treatment, either from an over-the-counter remedy at the pharmacist or else from a doctor.
You don’t need us to tell you to not be complacent when it comes to your child’s health. There are rashes, such as meningitis rash, which are serious enough to require urgent medical attention when they appear in infants.
The trick to identifying bed bug bites is to know that bed bugs tend to bite in clusters.
Even an individual bed bug will often bite a person, including a baby, more than once in a single feeding.
Unlike the bites of other bloodsuckers such as fleas, which tend to congregate around the ankles and feet, bed bugs will bite anywhere on the body that they can get to.
So if you’re finding tight clusters of multiple bites on your baby’s skin, there’s a good chance that it is indeed bed bugs you’re dealing with.
How to Prevent Bed Bug Bites on Baby?
You know what they say about an ounce of prevention, right? Well, it’s never more true when it comes to bed bugs.
The best way to keep bedbugs from biting your baby is to make sure there are no bed bugs in your house to begin with.
And the best way to make sure no bed bugs get in your home is to block off the typical channels by which bed bugs spread from house to house.
The easiest way to do this is to be very wary of used furniture, as this is a major cause of bed bugs.
But wait, you say – I don’t have any used furniture. Where did I get bed bugs from?
Be aware that bed bugs can be found anywhere, including inside hospitals, so when you return from the maternity ward, your new bundle of joy may not be the only thing you’re bringing back.
How to Protect Baby from Bed Bugs?
No matter how you got bed bugs, the biggest issue now is getting rid of the bloodsuckers. And since you’ve got a baby, you’ll want to wage war with bed bugs in the most natural, non-toxic way possible.
Lucky for you, there are several all natural and highly effective ways to kill bed bugs. Here are the most effective things you can do right now…
Wash and dry everything you can
Bed bugs die at high temperatures, so if in doubt, run anything you’re suspicious of through a hot cycle in a dryer. This will kill both adult bed bugs and eggs. Any clothes you took to the hospital can be treated this way.
The same goes for bedclothes, such as sheets, blankets, and pillowcases. It also applies to any soft toys you have for your baby.
Steam everything else
Bigger items such as suitcases and overnight bags can be treated with steam, which is a highly effective and all natural way to get rid of bed bugs.
You can use a steamer to kill bed bug families on pretty much anything you own. And the fact that this method sterilizes as well in a totally natural, non toxic way makes this one of the best ways to get rid of bed bugs when you have a baby at home.
If you don’t have a steamer yet, there are very affordable bed bug steamers that don’t break the bank and go a long way toward combating bed bugs. The best bed bug steamer, in our humble opinion, is the the McCulloch Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner.
It’s affordable, extremely versatile and it heats water to over 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is more than enough to destroy generations of bed bugs.
Protect your baby
While you get busy clearing the house of bed bugs, you’ll want to protect your little one from getting any more bed bug bites.
The easiest way to do that is to protect your baby’s sleeping space from bloodsucking intruders. The first step is to get a crib and/or playpen mattress cover to seal off any bed bugs that may be hiding in the crib mattress. It’ll also prevent any new bed bugs from taking residence in the crib.
Next, set up bed bug traps under each of the crib legs so that any bed bugs that attempt to climb onto your baby’s crib get caught before they can get anywhere near your baby.
And finally, a good idea is to also cover your baby’s crib with a strong mesh netting. Bed bugs have been known to climb up walls and then drop down onto beds to get to their unwilling victims so a netting cover will do its part to keep parachuting bed bugs away from your baby.
Note: Make sure that you position the crib away from walls or any piece of furniture that touches the crib. Bed bugs can and will climb anything they can to get to their human prey so don’t give them the chance!
And just like that – voila – you have successfully protected baby from getting bed bug bites without even resorting to pesticides.
How to Treat Bed Bug Bites on Baby?
Okay, now that your baby is protected, how do you go about treating the existing bed bug bites on baby?
Because these bites really, really itch.
Just like you, the baby won’t feel the bugs actually biting. These nasty insects are far too crafty for that. What it will feel instead is the itching that follows a bite as the body’s histamine reaction attempts to stave off infection.
In the case of babies, this is especially problematic because they are likely to cry and wake up the whole house.
Also, you can’t reason with them. A baby will try to scratch any bites it has, no matter what you say. And scratching runs a risk of secondary infection, actually making the itching worse.
The baby’s tiny nails can often be surprisingly sharp. Make sure you keep your baby’s nails clipped so that any damage they do to their skin is minimal.
Many of the antihistamine remedies that work on adults can also be used on babies. Be careful what you apply to your babies skin, though.
Due to their smaller size and habit of putting their hands in their mouths, babies are at greater risk than adults from poorly applied treatments.
Which is why natural ointments such as aloe vera are a good idea. Make sure to rub any ointment you use thoroughly into the babies skin. The less they can get on their fingers and from there into their mouths or eyes, the better.
Another great option to provide relief for bed bug bites on baby is Aveeno Baby’s Eczema Therapy Soothing Bath Treatment. It’s marketed to relieve baby eczema but its moisturizing, soap free formula with added natural colloidal oatmeal works great for soothing bed bug bites as well.
Lastly, if you’re finding that the natural products just aren’t strong enough, you could consider a corticosteroid cream.
This ointment is usually available over-the-counter and will significantly reduce the itching and inflammation of your baby’s skin. Apply it with care, though. Don’t apply corticosteroid cream to a baby’s face or to skin folds.
Also, be aware that long-term corticosteroid use can thin the skin over time, so this is best used as a temporary treatment to provide instant relief while you find a better solution.
In extreme cases, bed bug bites can cause severe allergic reactions up to and including anaphylaxis. If you’ve tried everything else to treat your baby and nothing seems to be working, don’t hesitate to pay a visit to the doctor.
It’s hard enough to sleep knowing you have bed bugs in the house. Add a screaming baby to that equation, and you may feel like you’re never going to get a moment’s sleep again.
But with a little care and attention, you can greatly reduce both the risk of your baby being bitten in the first place, and the effects of any bed bug bites it does get.
If you’re unlucky enough to have bed bugs at the same time you’re welcoming a new baby into your home, don’t despair. You’ll get through this.
And when your child is writing their Nobel Prize acceptance speech, I hope they remember to thank you for your patience.