Kid's Nightstand with Canopy Humidifier

What Does a Humidifier Do for Babies?

The efficient planner that you are, you likely used a combination of BuyBuy Baby, Babylist, Pinterest, and What to Expect When You’re Expecting to create your baby registry. 

While developing your robust registry, you may have encountered a few humidifier recommendations among the “must-have” lists. You might be thinking: why would you request a humidifier for your baby when you don’t even have a humidifier for your own personal use? 

Both you and baby can hugely benefit from the use of a humidifier. The recommended level of humidity for your home is between 40% and 60%. The average home has a humidity level of 10% during the winter months, which can cause a heap of inconvenient side-effects like dry throat and skin, congestion and more.

What is a Humidifier?

A humidifier is a device that releases water vapor into the air to increase the moisture level also known as “humidity.” The primary purpose of a humidifier is to replace moisture in the air that is lost as a result of the weather or seasonality. 

Humidity levels vary depending on temperatures, the month of the year, and geographical location. In general, the summer months bring with them a higher level of humidity, particularly in Southern states and on the East Coast. The winter months, on the other hand, create lower levels of humidity with the dry, bone-chilling temperatures.

Baby on Bed Laughing

Benefits of Humidifiers for Babies

“Humidity 101” is not a typical class offered in pregnancy or parenting classes, though it should be! 

Stable humidity levels by use of a humidifier can drastically improve cold symptoms and reduce congestion for your little one. Humidifiers can also temper mild skin conditions like eczema or dry, itchy skin, which are extremely common as a result of baby’s exceptionally sensitive skin.

Relieve Cold Symptoms

Unfortunately, getting sick is a normal part of a maturing immune system, and all babies will get sick at some point in their first year and onward. 

During the first two years of your bean’s life, over-the-counter medications like cough syrup and cold medicine are generally prohibited. The increased level of humidity created by a humidifier device can reduce dry coughing, calm sore throats, ease congestion, and help them sleep through the night with ease and comfort. 

Watching your child suffer is excruciating and incredibly stressful on parents. The regular use of a humidifier during the winter months, or the temporary use of a humidifier when your mini is sick, can speed up the recovery process and regulate their respiratory functions.

Ease Congestion

Just as the change in weather conditions alters the efficiency of your sinus function, the same thing can happen with your baby. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, changes in humidity levels or temperature can signal a swelling of the membranes in your nasal passageway, which causes stuffiness and/or a runny nose. The use of a humidifier to maintain a humidity level between 25-40% during the winter months can prevent congestion or ease the symptoms.

Improve Dry Skin

Transepidermal water loss (TEWL) is a natural skin regulation process that explains the evaporation of water from the skin into the environment. 

In dry or low humidity environments, water evaporates at more rapidly from the skin causing chronic dryness and irritation. For babies with eczema, dry conditions trigger eczema flare ups, which can be extremely irritating.

Baby's Home Swing

What is the Best Humidifier for a Baby

When searching for the perfect humidifier for your smooshkin’s nursery, there are a few key features you should add to your checklist: low noise, easy to clean, cool mist, and moderate tank size. Read on to learn why these crucial features will make your life easier.

Low Noise

Repeat after me: “Never wake a sleeping baby.” 

During the first year of a baby’s life, sleep is a volatile habit at best. When your baby successfully accomplishes some quality shut-eye, the very last thing you want in the whole world is to interfere with that precious slumber.  

A silent or low noise humidifier is imperative to keeping your baby asleep while providing the incomparable benefits of increased moisture levels.

Easy to Clean

What is brown or green and thrives in moist environments? You guessed it! Mold. 

Humidifiers require regular maintenance to ensure safe use and prevent the formation of mold or “white dust,” which is caused by mineral build-up in the water tank. It is recommended to deep clean your humidifier every 2-3 days and wipe down the external components after each use. As a new parent, this may sound like a daunting task between cleaning the Diaper Genie, washing countless bottles and picking up toys every four seconds. 

Cleaning your humidifier does not have to be a laborious task if you choose a model that is easily disassembled. Just plug your sick and fill it with a 3:1 hot water and white vinegar mixture (you can add a few drops of lemon essential oil for good measure, which is perfectly safe for children) and dunk those components into the solution. Bonus points if you let the baby watch! They need to learn cleanliness at some point; why not now?

A Cool Mist Humidifier

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns parents of the potential dangers regarding the use of a warm mist humidifier for infants and young children. The AAP recommends cold or cool mist humidifiers for your child’s nursery, instead. 

Warm mist expelled from humidifiers is perfectly safe for children; the warmness of the mist is not the issue in question. The issue, however, is that children touch every single thing they can reach with their sticky hands! (How are their hands always sticky?!) Warm mist humidifiers boil water from the water tank to produce the warm mist. The humidifier components can be hot to the touch and run the risk of burning your precious little one’s hands or face if they get up too close. 

If you have a ledge or shelf that securely out of reach from your child, you can safely use a warm mist humidifier while avoiding a pull-down situation. It is always best to take extra precaution and make sure the cord is either safely secured to the wall or hidden from your child’s eye.

Moderate Tank Size

When selecting a humidifier for your little bundle of joy, it is best to find a device with a moderate-sized tank and an auto shut-off feature. 

You want your humidifier tank to last through the night to ensure your munchkin gets the full benefits of humidifier use. A tank with a 2-4 hour fill will need multiple water refills throughout the night. No, thank you! An 8 to 12 hour tank will prevent middle of the night wake-ups, which, let's be honest, you would like to avoid for the rest of your life after baby's first year.

The auto shut-off feature comes in clutch when the water tank runs out in the early morning or when your baby wakes up. Count this as one less thing on your overflowing to-do list!

Sleeping Baby