Family and Friends Health Care

Humidifiers for Babies and Children

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When your kids don’t sleep, neither do you. And that means you’re likely bracing yourself — and prepping — for cold and flu season. If you’re wondering if you should add a humidifier to your shopping list, you may want to hear what our experts say about these handy devices.

What Are Humidifiers?

Humidifiers are machines that increase the humidity (the amount of moisture) in the air. Adding a humidifier to your home is also a way to help make your child more comfortable during the winter months when there’s an uptick in cold, flu and upper respiratory viruses, all of which can lead to congestion, cough and other bothersome symptoms.

Benefits of Using a Humidifier

One of the biggest benefits of using a humidifier in your little one’s room is helping them get a better night’s sleep.

Other benefits include:

  • Creating white noise
  • Easing congestion
  • Preventing dry skin
  • Relieving a cough
  • Soothing sore throats
  • Staving off eczema

How Do Humidifiers Work?

Each humidifier brand has unique product functions, so reading the owner’s manual before introducing it into your child’s room is important. But the purpose of all humidifiers is the same: to release steam into the air. There are two basic types:

Warm mist humidifiers, also known as vaporizers, heat water in a tank and release hot steam into the air around you.

Cool mist humidifiers have no heating element. They use room-temperature water to disperse a cool mist into the air.

Warm Mist vs. Cool Mist Humidifiers

If you’re considering a humidifier this season, you may wonder what type best fits your needs. The American Academy of Pediatrics put the age-old debate to rest by recommending that families only use cool mist humidifiers. The recommendation concerns keeping children safe, based on the potential that warm mist humidifiers can cause burns if your child’s skin or eyes come into direct contact with the hot steam or water droplets.

With that recommendation in mind, there are also two kinds of cool mist humidifiers:

  1. Evaporative humidifiers use a wick or filter to pull water from a tank and a fan to disperse mist into the air
  2. Ultrasonic humidifiers use a vibrating disk to release water droplets into the air, which turn into vapor

When choosing your cool mist humidifier, though, there aren’t any right or wrong answers. Evaporative humidifiers are more straightforward, while ultrasonic models have more bells and whistles like ultra-quiet mode, automatic shut-off, built-in clocks and color LED lights. So, it’s all just a matter of personal preference.

Humidifier Tips

When using a humidifier, you should follow all instructions and note any warnings the manufacturer issued.

For a safe and effective humidifier experience, keep these tips in mind:

Choose a Humidifier With an Automatic Shut-Off Feature

Humidifiers with an automatic shut-off feature will power off when the water tank is empty.

Place Your Humidifier in a Safe Spot

Keep your humidifier at least six feet from your baby’s crib or child’s bed, with all cords tucked out of reach.

Regularly Clean Your Humidifier

Add fresh water daily and clean it at the manufacturer’s recommended frequency to prevent bacteria from growing inside a humidifier.

Select the Right Sized Humidifier

Humidifiers are rated for specific square footage. Using one that’s too large for a room can create a moisture build-up and lead to bacteria or mold growth. Using one that’s too small for a space won’t make enough moisture in the air to help your child sleep better.

Use Distilled Water in Your Humidifier

Tap water contains minerals that can create a breeding ground for bacteria inside your humidifier, which can enter your home’s air.

We’re Always Nearby When You Need Help

Humidifiers are one way you can help keep your kids feeling their best during the dry winter months. You can also help keep them healthy this cold and flu season by ensuring everyone in your home practices good hand-washing, gets their flu vaccine and sees a doctor if they aren’t feeling well.

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