Humidifier Use for Your Baby: When, Why, and How

By: Evan Scoboria, Last updated: June 28, 2023

As parents, we all want the best for our babies, and part of ensuring their comfort and health involves understanding when and how to use a humidifier in their rooms. This article aims to provide comprehensive information on the benefits and risks of humidifiers and tips on how to use them safely and effectively.

Humidifier Use for Your Baby

When to Use a Humidifier for Your Baby

Humidifiers add moisture to the air, which can mitigate the effects of dry conditions and help to soothe certain discomforts that babies often experience. Here's a more detailed look at when it might be the right time to use a humidifier for your baby. 

During Dry Seasons

In many regions, the air can become particularly dry during winter when heaters are frequently used. Conversely, air conditioning units can strip the air of their natural humidity in hot and dry climates or during the summer months. Both these situations can cause your baby's skin to dry out, leading to discomfort. They can also dry out their nasal and throat passages, making them more susceptible to colds or other respiratory issues. Using a humidifier during these times can help maintain a healthier humidity level in the room.

When Your Baby is Ill

If your baby has a cold, the flu, or a stuffy nose, a humidifier can help ease their symptoms. The moist air produced by a humidifier can thin the mucus in your baby's nose, making it easier for them to breathe. This can be particularly helpful during nighttime or naps when a stuffy nose can disrupt sleep.

Signs of Dry Skin or Chapped Lips

Babies have sensitive skin that quickly becomes dry, flaky, or irritated. If you notice these signs, or if your baby has chapped lips, a humidifier can add moisture to the air and help keep their skin and lips hydrated.

It's important to remember that while humidifiers can be beneficial, they're not a cure-all and shouldn't replace a visit to the pediatrician if your baby is ill.  

Remember to maintain your humidifier correctly, as a poorly maintained humidifier can harbor harmful bacteria and mold. It's also essential to ensure that the room doesn't become overly humid, as this can promote the growth of dust mites and mold. The optimal humidity level is between 30% and 50%. Some humidifiers have a built-in hygrometer (or purchase one separately) to monitor room humidity levels.

Benefits of Using a Humidifier for Your Baby

Using a humidifier for your baby can have several benefits. It can create a healthier living environment, ease symptoms of illness, and even improve sleep. While we advise a different humidity range for children's rooms than we do for babies, most of the benefits below apply to choosing a humidifier for a child's room

Relieves Cold Symptoms and Respiratory Conditions

As mentioned earlier, one of the key benefits of using a humidifier is that it can alleviate symptoms associated with colds, the flu, or other respiratory conditions. Humidifiers produce moisture that can thin the mucus in your baby's nasal passages, reducing congestion and making it easier for your baby to breathe. This can be particularly beneficial at night, helping your baby sleep more comfortably. 

Moisturizes the Skin

Babies have sensitive skin that can quickly dry, especially during winter or dry climates. A humidifier adds moisture to the air, which can help keep your baby's skin hydrated and prevent issues like dryness, flaking, and even eczema. The same applies to the lips; a humidifier can help prevent or alleviate chapped lips.

Helps with Sleep

A humidifier can create an optimal sleeping environment for your baby. Dry conditions can cause your baby's throat and nasal passages to become dehydrated, leading to discomfort that can disturb their sleep. By maintaining a healthy level of humidity in the room, a humidifier can help ensure your baby has a comfortable night's sleep.

May Prevent Nosebleeds

If your baby is prone to nosebleeds, dry air might be a contributing factor. Keeping the air in your baby's room moist can help prevent nosebleeds by lubricating the nasal passages.

Soothes Allergies

If your baby suffers from allergies, a humidifier can help soothe these symptoms. Allergens like dust mites and mold thrive in dry conditions, and adding moisture to the air can help keep these allergens under control.

Remember, while a humidifier can offer numerous benefits, it's essential to maintain it properly to ensure it's safe and effective. Regular cleaning is crucial to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria. Also, keeping the humidity level between 30% and 50% will prevent the development of allergens such as dust mites and decay in the room.

Risks of Using a Humidifier for Your Baby


While humidifiers can help create a more comfortable environment for your baby, having too much of a good thing is possible. Over-humidification can lead to excess moisture on surfaces, which can encourage the growth of mold and mildew. This can exacerbate allergies and asthma and even lead to new allergies. The recommended humidity level in a room is between 30% and 50%.


If you're using a warm-mist humidifier, there's a risk of burns. These humidifiers heat water to create steam; if your baby gets too close to the machine, it could get burned by the hot water or steam. For this reason, it's often recommended to use cool-mist humidifiers in children's rooms.

Growth of Bacteria and Mold

Humidifiers can also become a breeding ground for bacteria and mold if they aren't cleaned regularly. The warm, damp environment is perfect for these organisms to grow. When the humidifier disperses the moisture into the air, it can disperse these harmful organisms, potentially leading to respiratory problems. It's crucial to clean the humidifier regularly, following the manufacturer's instructions.

White Dust

Ultrasonic humidifiers can sometimes produce fine white dust that settles on surfaces in the room. This dust is a byproduct of the minerals in the water used in the humidifier. While it's not generally harmful, it can be an irritant, especially for babies with sensitive lungs or existing respiratory conditions. Using distilled or demineralized water in your humidifier can reduce the amount of dust produced.


While some babies might find the noise of a humidifier soothing, others might be disturbed by it, especially if the humidifier is loud. If you notice that your baby is having trouble sleeping with the humidifier on, consider getting a quieter model or placing it farther away from the crib.

As with any appliance, using humidifiers safely and responsibly is essential. Please follow the manufacturer's instructions for use and cleaning to avoid potential risks.

How to Safely Use a Humidifier for Your Baby

Choose the Right Humidifier

First, you'll want to choose the right humidifier for your baby's room. Cool-mist humidifiers are generally recommended for use in children's rooms because they don't have the burn risk associated with warm-mist humidifiers. If you choose an ultrasonic humidifier, remember that these can produce white dust from the minerals in the water, and consider using distilled or demineralized water to reduce this.

Position It Correctly

Place the humidifier in a safe location in your baby's room. It should be out of your baby's reach and not too close to the crib or bed to prevent accidents. Also, please ensure the humidifier is on a flat, stable surface without being knocked over.

Maintain the Right Humidity Level

The recommended humidity level is between 30% and 50%, and going beyond this range can lead to mold and bacteria growth. You can use a hygrometer, a device that measures humidity, to keep track of the humidity level in your baby's room.

Regular Cleaning

Regular cleaning is crucial to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold in the humidifier. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning. As a general rule, cleaning the humidifier every three days is recommended. Never leave stagnant water in the tank between uses.

Use Distilled or Demineralized Water

Using distilled or demineralized water in your humidifier can help reduce the production of white dust, which can irritate babies with sensitive lungs. These types of water have lower mineral content compared to regular tap water.

Monitor Your Baby

Lastly, constantly monitor your baby when using a humidifier. If your baby seems uncomfortable, or if you notice any changes in their skin or breathing, turn off the humidifier and consult your pediatrician.

In conclusion, a humidifier can be a great tool to help your baby sleep more comfortably, especially during cold, dry months or when they're sick. However, using it safely and responsibly ensures your baby reaps the benefits without any potential risks.


Humidifiers can be a valuable addition to your baby's room, especially during the colder months or if your baby suffers from dryness or congestion. However, it's essential to use them safely and to understand both the benefits and potential risks. With the right approach, a humidifier can help provide a more comfortable environment for your baby. Please remember, always consult with your pediatrician or a healthcare professional when you have a doubt.