Caring for a baby feels like a never-ending task. Parents got their hands full to ensure that their newborn will be safe and healthy. And in the long list of must-haves, humidifiers are often the most confusing. Does your baby really need it? Is it safe in the first place? Knowing why and when to use a humidifier for baby are critical to ensure that it’s safe for your little one.
In this post, I will discuss the use of humidifiers, their benefits to infants, and how to use them properly.
When to use a humidifier for baby
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends using cool mist humidifiers for infants. It helps maintain ideal humidity to keep your newborn comfortable.
But the question is this: when do you actually use it? Experts say that humidifiers are largely helpful for babies born during the winter season. This makes perfect sense as the winter air is dry and harder to breathe for infants. However, the answer to whether you should keep it on all the time depends on the humidifier type you’re using.
Take note that vaporizers can be dangerous as it uses heat to disperse the moisture. When left overnight, the heat can build up and lead to burns on a baby’s very sensitive skin.
When in doubt, it’s best to consult your baby’s pediatrician for specific advice based on your child’s condition.
Benefits of humidifiers for babies
When used properly, humidifiers will bring a myriad of benefits for babies. Remember that infants breathe faster than adults, so they are prone to respiratory issues when the air is too dry.
Aside from that, the following are the benefits of using a humidifier for babies:
1. Relieves nasal congestion
Humidifiers help keep the air moisturized, which will make it easy for infants to breathe. Babies breathe faster than adults, which makes them easily prone to congestion when the air is dry.
The moisturized air will open up the nasal passages and allow congestion to dissipate. It will also prevent throat dryness. All of these translate to better sleep for babies as well as their parents.
Take note that many pediatricians discourage the use of cold medicines on babies, especially newborns. In this case, humidifiers will be a big help to prevent irritations, so your little one won’t be required to take medicines.
2. Eases cradle cap
Cradle cap is a scaly and often greasy condition that occurs on the infant’s head. It’s also concentrated around the ears. While cradle cap doesn’t seem to bother most infants, it can start to cause discomfort when not addressed.
A humidifier can help soften the dry and flaky scalp of your baby. It will help reduce the irritation and redness, but you should still consult your child’s pediatrician for other tips.
Remember that humidifiers only help but not cure skin problems in babies. If your child’s cradle cap and eczema persist or become worse, you should talk to a physician right away. Your child may be suffering from a skin problem.
3. Reduces snoring
It may surprise some people, but yes, babies do snore. However, it’s normal and unlikely to be a problem.
This happens because newborns are yet to clear up the remaining amniotic fluid on their nasal passages. However, snoring can also be a sign that your baby has clogged or dry nasal passages, which requires immediate attention.
Using a humidifier can help with the latter. It will open up the child’s airway to reduce snoring. But if you’re worried, it doesn’t hurt to consult a doctor.
4. It prevents chapped baby lips.
Like adults, babies can also get chapped lips, which can be painful for the infant while breastfeeding. Babies have very delicate skin, and their lips can crack and bleed when the air is too dry. When this happens, the infant may stop bottle-feeding or breastfeeding due to the pain.
Adding a humidifier in the nursery room will help soothe the lip problem of your baby. Don’t try to use your own chapstick since it has ingredients that could be harmful to infants. If you’re keen to further moisturize your baby’s lips, you can ask the pediatrician for options.
5. It keeps the skin soft.
Humidifiers help prevent a baby’s skin from getting too dry. Remember that babies floated in amniotic fluid for nine months, and the outdoor environment can be pretty harsh for their skin. To compensate, you can use a humidifier to keep a healthy level of moisture in the air.
Paired with regular baths, humidifiers can ease the peeling, dryness, and redness of an infant’s skin. This is very helpful for newborns prone to eczema and other skin problems.
6. Faster recovery
If your baby has a cough, colds, and other respiratory illnesses, a humidifier can help speed up his or her recovery. Humidifiers make this possible by keeping the ambient air comfortable.
By making it easier for your little one to breathe, there will be higher oxygen intake, which will help in the baby’s recovery.
7. Keeping the room cool
Lastly, humidifiers help keep your baby room cool. This way, your little one can sleep soundly without sweating too much. Paired with proper ventilation, a humidifier is an excellent way to improve the indoor air quality for your little one.
How to choose the best humidifier for babies
Not all humidifiers are suitable for babies, so you have to be very picky with what you’re going to buy. For parents buying a humidifier for their baby for the first time, the following tips will help:
1. Look for a quiet unit.
Parents always look for quiet humidifiers. Besides, there’s no use for a device that will keep your baby awake and crying in the middle of the night.
Humidifiers emit a certain level of noise, but try to look for one with a quieter operation. This will allow your baby to sleep in peace without the disturbing whistle of vapors coming out of the appliance.
In general, a humidifier that’s louder than 50dB will start to annoy a baby. The quieter, the better. Of course, this shouldn’t be at the expense of function and safety.
2. Choose one that’s easy to clean.
Next, choose a humidifier that’s easy to clean. Take note that you need to always clean the tank and dry it before each use. This is to ensure that the humidifier isn’t harboring molds and pathogens.
Make sure that the tank is easy to access and clean. If it requires you to use a screwdriver to open the humidifier, you should look for another unit.
3. Opt for a cool-mist type
The AAP recommends using cool mist humidifiers for babies. This keeps the air cool while preventing burn risks associated with warm mist types.
Take note that warm mist humidifiers boil the water in the tank to produce vapors. As a result, a curious child may get in contact with the device and suffer from serious burn injuries.
4. Check for an auto humidistat.
An auto humidistat automatically adjusts the mist production based on the room temperature and humidity levels. This prevents your baby from getting exposed to dry or very moist air. It also lets you turn the humidifier on throughout the night without having to get up and adjust it manually.
When it comes to your baby, you can’t take chances. It’s important to have full control of the humidifier to prevent injuries and health problems.
5. Get the right size and capacity.
Like air purifiers, humidifiers are rated based on the room size where it’s intended to be used. It’s often measured by the size of the tank.
In general, I suggest going for a moderate tank size so that it will have enough load to last through the night. Auto shut-off feature is also a good choice to prevent the risk of overheating should the humidifier runs out of juice.
6. Consider the directional flow.
The directional flow of the humidifier is simply how the mist is ejected into the air. It allows you to choose where you want the mist to go. It’s only a small aspect but helpful to prevent the moisture from being too concentrated on one spot.
7. Check the lights
Another important thing to check is the lighting of the humidifier. Always opt for subtle and soothing light to prevent disturbing your child’s sleep. There should also be an option to turn off the lighting.
8. Invest in baby-rated humidifiers
Above all, you should get a humidifier that’s tried and tested safe for babies. This will give you peace of mind that it’s safe to use around infants. In this case, the best person to consult is your newborn’s pediatrician.
Tips when using humidifiers for babies
To ensure that the humidifier remains safe and beneficial for the baby, you should keep the following points in mind:
- Keep it clean. On average, humidifiers should be cleaned once a week to remove dirt and sediments that are left behind. If your baby has sensitive lungs, you should clean them every day to be sure.
- Dry the tank. After cleaning, let the tank dry first. This will let the germs die before you refill them with water. You can also disinfect it with white vinegar, but make sure that you rinse it well.
- Change the filter. For humidifiers with filters, it’s important to replace or wash them regularly. You should also use the manufacturer’s recommended replacement or the best performance.
- Don’t use essential oils! As much as you’d want to make your nursery smell like aromatherapy, it’s not good for the baby. You should first talk to your baby’s pediatrician before diffusing any types of oils. Remember that babies are sensitive and very vulnerable. Your well-meaning use of essential oil may end up in a frantic hospital visit.
- Use distilled water. For my baby, I only use purified or distilled water when using the humidifier. Avoid tap water as it contains minerals that could clog the humidifier and irritate the baby. To be sure, use the same drinking water you’re giving your baby.
- Monitor the humidity levels. You’re not supposed to use humidifiers blindly without checking the humidity levels. The ideal humidity for babies is around 30% to 50%. Anything beyond that is uncomfortable and can cause respiratory problems.
- Maintain proper ventilation. It’s important to prevent over-humidifying the nursery room. It will help a lot to keep interior doors open for the excess moisture to dissipate. This will also keep the air moving, which is crucial in reducing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Where should I put the humidifier in my baby’s nursery?
A: It’s important to place the humidifier at least three feet away from your baby. You should also point the humidifier nozzle or airflow away from your baby to prevent excessive exposure to the mist. Also, make sure that the humidifier is secured on a flat surface with a tray in case leaks occur.
Q: Can humidifiers cause mold?
A: Humidifiers can cause the proliferation of molds if not used well. Make sure that you clean the filter with vinegar to prevent the accumulation and growth of mold spores. You should also match the humidifier’s size to the floor area of your baby’s nursery. This way, there wouldn’t very high levels of humidity in the air that could cause molds.
Q: Can a humidifier make a baby sick?
A: Humidifiers can help prevent a slew of health problems among babies. But if not used properly, it can do the opposite. Dirty humidifiers can harbor bacteria, viruses, and mold spores that will wreak havoc on your child’s health.
Q: Can I put Vicks in my baby’s humidifier?
A: Vicks Vaporub should never be used on babies under the age of two. You should also consult a doctor before putting Vicks on the humidifier. As much as it offers a cool and soothing odor, it could be harmful to some babies.
Q: Is it okay for my baby to sleep with a humidifier?
A: It is safe for babies to sleep with a humidifier since it moisturizes the air, which helps reduce nasal congestion. However, make sure that you keep the humidifier clean and with just the right level of humidification. This way, your baby won’t suffer from excessive moisture as well as the threat of molds.
Knowing when to use a humidifier for baby is crucial for your newborn’s safety. Don’t hesitate to ask the pediatrician about it to get professional advice. Most of all, you should keep the unit clean to prevent the proliferation of germs and molds. You should also observe your baby so that you can spot early signs of irritations.
Home Air Quality is founded by Bernard K to provide information on Indoor Air Quality in Homes and enlighten people about what they need to know about creating and maintaining a comfortable and healthy home environment.
We believe that “Quality air brings a healthy life.”