Are Humidifiers Good for Babies?
Getting your home ready for a new baby can seem like a never-ending task. Whether you’re a first-time parent, or an established family, the list of must-haves and to-dos stretches on and on. You’ve got the crib and decorated the nursery, but have you thought about getting a humidifier?
You might be wondering whether or not humidifiers are good for babies, or maybe you’ve heard all about the benefits of using a humidifier for your baby and you’d like to know more. In this article, we examine the use of humidifiers for babies and what you’ll need to be aware of to keep your little one safe and healthy.
How a Humidifier Benefits your Baby
It’s no secret that babies are fragile and sensitive, especially newborns and those less than 12 months old. While we try to fulfill every possible need to make our children more comfortable, sometimes we forget about the very basic element of the air around us.
Humidifiers can be very beneficial for your new little one; here are some of the best direct benefits these appliances can provide:
Prevent Dry Skin
Babies have soft, fragile skin: after nine months bathing in amniotic fluid in the womb, babies often develop dry, flaky skin when confronted with drier environment of the outside. This can be exacerbated in winter when our heating systems warm up air and dry it out or in summer when our AC keeps us nice and cool but also dries out the air.
Keeping the air in your baby’s nursery at recommended humidity levels by using a humidifier will help to stop your little one’s skin from drying out. Dry skin can cause peeling, discomfort and rashes, all of which can be alleviated or even completely prevented by using a humidifier.
Dry air can also dry out or nasal passages over time, which in turn dries out the mucus that we rely upon to capture any germs before they can get inside our bodies and make us sick. Your baby is more vulnerable to infection at such a young age. Even if you or your partner is breastfeeding and sharing essential antibodies, you can still go one step further to help to protect your baby from getting sick by using a humidifier. This will help keep your baby’s tiny, sensitive nasal passages naturally moist and thus can give them another layer of protection from nasty airborne microbes.
Ease Coughing and Congestion
Should your baby catch a cold, it can be heart-wrenching watching them struggling to breathe due to nasal congestion. Young babies often cannot be given traditional cold medicines, which can leave you feeling pretty helpless as you wait for the cold to pass. Using a humidifier can help your baby to breathe easier by opening up the nasal passages, relieving congestion, and easing that unpleasant dry-throat feeling so that you and your baby get some rest.
Best Types of Humidifier for your Baby
If you’ve never had a humidifier before, you may be a little surprised to learn there are several different types available. Let’s take a look at the types of humidifier that are most recommended for babies:
Evaporative Cool Mist Humidifiers
This is one of the most common types of humidifier and you’ll even find them in nursery themed models to fit in with your decor. Cool mist humidifiers make use of a wick that draws up water from the water tank up to the fan. The fan then disperses the moisture as tiny water droplets into the air and around your baby’s room.
The advantages of this system is that these evaporative, cool mist humidifiers are self-regulating so you won’t run the risk of over-humidifying your nursery. When the air reaches a comfortable moisture level, it will absorb less moisture so less water will evaporate. The fan will also make a certain amount of gentle, white noise that can be useful for helping your baby to get to sleep.
Ultrasonic humidifiers use ultrasonic vibrations to create tiny water droplets. They work a little like a speaker from your home entertainment system except they are completely silent. They will need to be used with distilled water to ensure that they do not release unwanted mineral particles from the water into the air. Some parents prefer the white noise produced by fan models, but if you’re sharing a room early on in your baby’s life you may want a silent model you can sleep through.
2-in-1 Air Purifier & Humidifier
A combination air purifier and humidifier can cost a bit more, but that extra cost is well worth the extra peace of mind as these machines will purify the air that your baby breathes and make sure that your home is at an optimized comfortable humidity level. If anyone in your family suffers from allergies, you should definitely consider purchasing one of these models. They are also a great idea if you have pets in the home and are worried about all of the extra particles and pet-dander in the air. Your baby’s first few weeks of life are when they are at their most sensitive and most vulnerable, so using a two-in-one air purifier and humidifier can make those weeks both easier and safer.
Warm Mist Humidifiers
You may have been thinking about using a warm mist humidifier like the Vicks V745 for your baby because they can be comforting when your child has a cough or cold. We do not recommend them for your baby’s nursery, however, as they contain hot water and eject high temperature steam that can cause burns. If you still decide to use one, be sure to use it only under supervision and always well out of the reach of your children.
Recommended Humidifier Features for Babies
When your purchasing a humidifier for your baby, check out what features are available on the models you’re considering. Certain features can be more useful than others and when it comes to getting your nursery ready to welcome home your newborn it helps to have everything ready and in good working order.
Make sure, above all, that your humidifier for your baby is easy to clean. Some have detachable, dishwasher-safe water tanks that can be a blessing in those early, sleep-deprived days when you’ve got a thousand other things playing on your mind. Basically, the easier it is to clean, the better. Stagnant water is a breeding ground for germs, so you really need to make sure that your humidifier gets a good clean on a regular basis.
What is the recommended maximum room size? If it’s for a small nursery then most humidifiers are likely to be a decent enough size. If you spend a lot of time with your baby in other rooms that are much bigger, though, you may wish to consider one that will be effective in larger spaces as well.
Some humidifiers, such as the Levoit LV400CH, also have a nightlight function that can be useful and provide a gentle glow. This can be particularly handy when you want to check on your baby without risking waking them up by turning on the main lights or tripping up over nursery toys.
As humidifiers are increasingly recognized as an essential piece of equipment for babies’ wellbeing, manufacturers offer more baby-friendly designs. With a choice of bright colors and animal themes, there’s an increasing array of options that can make your baby’s humidifier a nice decorative nursery piece as well as an essential device to ensure their well-being.
If you are using a humidifier with an air purifying function, check how often you’ll need to replace the filters and where you can purchase them from. HEPA filters are some of the best available and can remove over 99% of particles from the air that your baby breathes.
Maintaining your Baby’s Humidifier
While a humidifier is an excellent way to ensure your baby’s comfort and wellbeing, it’s essential that you clean it out on a regular basis. Cleaning out the water tank several times a week will ensure that no bacteria start to develop in the stagnant water. You can either do this by hand or place your water tank in the dishwasher if recommended by the manufacturer.
It is also important to ‘dry out’ your humidifier when you wash the reservoir. If the inside of the device remains damp then germs will still be able to breed there and reintroduce themselves to the tank. This isn’t complicated: simply place your humidifier (minus the water tank) somewhere warm and allow it to fully dry out once or twice a week.
You may also have read that you should use distilled water in your humidifier. This is particularly important for use in your baby’s humidifier. Distilled water does not contain any minerals, so the moistened air will be cleaner and contain fewer microparticles. Furthermore, using distilled water in your baby’s humidifier will help to reduce bacterial growth and the build up of limescale and other deposits that may adversely affect the functionality of your humidifier. Remember, as babies are more sensitive and fragile than us, these little details can make a big difference to their wellbeing, especially during those early days.
Nowadays with our advanced heating and cooling systems in the home, humidifiers have an increasingly important role to play in keeping our families healthy and comfortable. It is particularly important that your baby is not over exposed to dry air, as this can put them at greater risk of illness and discomfort.
Now considered by many as an essential piece of nursery equipment, a humidifier for your baby will help keep them healthy and comfortable. They can be used to purify the air as well as improve humidity levels, help to keep skin hydrated, and ease any coughs or colds. The gentle whirr of the fan in some models could even help you to get some extra precious moments of sleep, something that can truly make all the difference when you’re a new parent.