Discovering fleas on your pets or in your home is never a nice experience, particularly if you have young kids or a baby. Having had this realization myself, I wanted to share some of the most effective remedies that are still ok to use if you have young children at home.
So how do you get rid of fleas with young kids and/or a baby at home? Effective child-friendly flea remedies:
- Topical spot-on treatment such as Frontline or Advantage (when dry)
- Oral flea protection
- Bathe pets with plenty of soap
- Wash and tumble dry bedding and fabrics
- Diatomaceous Earth
- Vacuum daily for 2-3 weeks
If your current treatment plan is not working, it’s a good idea to consult your vet as they can give you tailored advice for your situation.
Using Anti-flea Chemicals With Kids At Home
It’s reasonable to have reservations about using chemicals and compounds to treat fleas, particularly with children at home. However, if you decide on a more natural approach, you will most likely have a long and painful battle on your hands and the sad truth is that you may not be successful.
Having a flea infestation at home with young kids comes with its own risks. At the end of the day, fleas are parasites which live off of the blood of animals. Aside from just being an annoyance, they can spread germs and even transmit disease. Therefore they should be dealt with as quickly and effectively as possible.
No chemicals or compounds currently used to kill fleas can be guaranteed as 100% safe for people or pets. However, most reputable flea treatments have been created with human safety in mind. As with any household chemicals, you just need to exercise a little precaution when applying and storing them and always read the label!
The products which I have mentioned in this article, have been selected as they are effective and comparatively safe to use around children, so long as proper care and caution is taken.
Spot-on Topical Flea Treatments
One of the best ways to treat fleas is at their food source i.e. your pet and topical ‘spot-on’ flea treatment is a good solution.
It’s usually applied to the back of your pet’s neck so that your pet can’t reach it with their mouths. The medication dissipates into your pets natural skin oils which then kills fleas for up to a month, making it one of the best preventative measures for fleas.
Due to the fact that the treatment relies on your pets natural skin oils, it’s important not to bathe your pet 3 days before application, nor afterward for the product to have maximum effect.
Frontline and Advantage are recommended by most vets as they are some of the safest and most effective flea medications available. However, the chemicals used can be unsafe when wet, particularly if ingested. It’s advised that you do not pet or play with your animal until the product is completely dry.
If you have children, it’s best to apply topical treatments when your children have gone to bed for the night, in order to give the product as much time as possible to dry. You should also wash your hands thoroughly after use.
Oral Flea Treatments
Oral flea treatments are tablets or small chews which you can feed to your pet. They work by transferring pesticide into your pet’s bloodstream. They are harmless for you and your pet but when fleas decide to have their next meal they will be killed.
The beauty of this is that the pesticides are safely contained in your pet’s bloodstream, so your child will not be exposed.
Another positive of oral flea treatments is that they are far faster acting than most spot-on treatments. The downside is that they will usually only last around 24 hours meaning your pet will not be protected against future infestations.
If you choose to use an oral flea treatment I would recommend using one such as Bravecto or Comfortis.
Bathe Your Pet With Plenty Of Soap For Fast Flea Relief
After noticing fleas on your pet, one of the safest and quickest ways to regain some sanity is to bathe them. This will also give your pet some fast relief and help to stop the itching.
There are some special flea shampoos which you can purchase which work well, however, generally anything that produces a lather will drown the fleas. Many people recommend using dish soap as it destroys the fleas exoskeletons.
For dogs, you can also add a touch flea repelling oil to their baths, such as tea tree, eucalyptus, citronella, lavender or others. Just bear in mind that most pets are highly sensitive to odors, so try not to use too much as your pet may not be too happy. Also, these are generally not recommended for cats as it can make them sick.
Hot Wash And Tumble Dry Bedding To Irradicate Fleas
A lot of flea treatments specifically target adult fleas on your pet, however, a large proportion of the flea population is made up of eggs and larvae. Many of these will fall off of your pets onto anywhere they spend their time, and particularly in their bedding.
It’s important to think of all of the places your pet rests in order to treat them too. Many flea eggs will fall in these places ready to start the next generation.
Washing fabrics in hot water will usually be sufficient to kill off any eggs that may have fallen off your pet. Tumble drying will also kill off fleas at any point in their life cycle.
Kill Fleas Inside And Outside With Diatomaceous Earth
Another option for eliminating fleas is to use food grade Diatomaceous Earth. A lot of people swear by this method as a great natural alternative to chemical pesticides. One drawback is that it can be quite messy.
Diatomaceous Earth is a powder made up of tiny fossilized organisms called diatoms. It works by lacerating the exoskeletons of fleas and ticks (along with various other types of insect and spider). It then goes on to kill the insect by dehydration.
Always ensure that you are using food grade Diatomaceous Earth as opposed to the type which is used for cleaning pools. Diatomaceous Earth for pools is toxic for pets and humans.
To apply Diatomaceous Earth around the home, simply shake an even layer of powder over the area you are trying to treat, then leave it for 2-3 days before vacuuming. You may want to wear a mask and keep your children and animals clear while you are applying the product as a lot of powder will go air born.
If your pet spends a lot of time outside, or if you suspect that your flea problem may be coming from wild animals around your home, Diatomaceous Earth can also be used outside. Again, just sprinkle it around the affected area. You will have to re-apply another layer if it rains.
You should avoid dusting flowers and areas where beneficial insects such as bees may land as it may negatively impact them also.
Vacuum Daily for 2-3 weeks To Remove Fleas From Your Home
Vacuuming frequently is a very good way to remove fleas from your home. It’s simple, cheap, clean, effective and readily available to most households. Vacuuming your home will remove eggs and larvae from your carpets along with any adult fleas that may have fallen off your pet.
2-3 weeks of vacuuming are recommended. The lifecycle of fleas is around 2 weeks so any eggs or larvae that have been laying dormant and out of reach will have hatched by this point, giving you the best chance of catching all of them.
Vacuuming daily in the areas where your pet spends a lot of time and every few days everywhere else should be sufficient. It is also best to empty your vacuum in an outside garbage can every time you vacuum. This will ensure nothing escapes back into your house!
Will fleas harm my baby? Fleas have the potential to harm babies in a number of ways. They can transmit various diseases to humans including typhus and plague. Young children are more likely to have allergic reactions to flea bites. Babies are also likely to scratch bites, causing open wounds which can become infected.
Do fleas live all year long? In warmer climates, fleas can live all year long. Frost can kill fleas at any point during their life cycle, so long as they aren’t protected in deep undergrowth. Fleas residing on their warm-blooded hosts can also survive the cold. Pets usually live indoors where fleas can breed all year round.