Are Pesticides for Bed Bugs Safe for Kids?

Bed bugs are nasty little critters that you'd just as soon keep out of your house. Reddish-brown in color, bed bugs feast on human blood and live in mattresses. If you encounter evidence of bed bugs in your bedrooms, it might be necessary to call in a trained professional to remove them from your home. However, many of the pesticides used to eliminate bed bugs aren't safe for kids. Understanding your options can help you make the right choice for your family.

Pesticides for Bed Bugs

If you catch sight of bed bugs, you might be tempted to reach for the closest can of bug spray. However, not all pesticides are appropriate for use on bed bugs. The Montana State University Extension encourages consumers to choose pesticides that are clearly labeled for use on bed bugs. At the same time, follow the directions for use very carefully to ensure that you're using the right amount, as too much pesticide can be harmful to children. It's also important to make sure you use a bed bug pesticide approved for indoor use as outdoor products can be too powerful for contained spaces, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms of Pesticide Exposure

A bit of exposure to bed bug pesticides aren't always a problem, but if you use the wrong product or too much of it, your kids are at risk of overexposure. The risk is higher if you get pesticides on your child's bedding or other items in her room that she later puts into her mouth, notes the CDC. It's also dangerous to allow kids to return to a pesticide treated home too soon. If you notice any symptoms of pesticide poisoning, contact your child's doctor or go to the emergency room right away. Symptoms to look for include:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • muscle tremors
  • notes the CDC on the Consumer Reports website

Calling a Professional

If you have kids, but you also have bed bugs, calling a professional might be your best bet, according to the Vermont Department of Health 2. Professionals are trained to safely spray for and eliminate bed bugs from your home without causing harm to your children. Hiring a professional to spray for bed bugs allows you to clear your kids from the home during treatment, which makes the process safer for your family. Another benefit is that an exterminator typically returns to ensure that bed bugs are gone and can give you clear instructions for keeping your kids safe after spraying.


Pesticides aren't the only option for keeping bed bugs out of your home. For starters, make sure you don't bring bed bugs home and keep your mattresses sanitary. If your home is infested, the Vermont Department of Health suggests washing all bedding, curtains, stuffed animals and clothing in hot water to kill bed bugs and their eggs 2. Use a stiff brush to dislodge the bugs and eggs from your mattress and vacuum them up. Place the vacuum bag in a sealed plastic bag and take it outside to a trash can right away. If you find bed bugs in your box spring, seal it in a large mattress cover and throw it away. Cover your mattress with a plastic dust mite cover to suffocate bugs that might still be lurking.