Keeping their baby healthy is the #1 concern for any parent. If dry air bothers your little one, I can wholeheartedly recommend humidifying your baby’s room with a humidifier.
Understandably, though, you might wonder how to use the unit safely. Dozens of parents have asked me how close the humidifier should be to a baby’s bed.
That is a very good question to ask! I wrote this guide to help you place a humidifier correctly in your baby’s room and protect the health of your infant.
How Close Can You Safely Place a Humidifier to Your Baby?
Always put a child’s humidifier at a central location at least three feet away from your baby and all other objects.
This is the single most crucial safety rule I can give you when placing a humidifier in your baby’s room.
However, there are several other factors to consider as well. Below, I will go over the key details so you can keep your infant or toddler healthy and safe.
Distance from Baby’s Crib or Bed
As I mentioned, place the humidifier at least three feet away from your baby’s crib or bed for maximum safety. This way you’ll ensure that a curious child can’t reach the humidifier and knock it over, causing accidental water spills.
Placing the device a safe distance away from the crib is particularly important if you use a warm mist humidifier. Warm humidifiers rely on boiling water to produce steam.
Placing this device too close to the bed could make your baby uncomfortably hot or even cause burns. If possible, I would avoid using warm mist units around children altogether.
Correct Height from the Ground
The best place for a humidifier is at least two feet off the floor. This allows more effective moisture diffusion throughout the room.
It also reduces the chances of moisture seeping into the floor or carpet and causing damage or mold growth. It will also help keep the device out of your small child’s reach.
If this is unduly difficult in your situation, you can still use a humidifier in your baby’s room. Most humidifiers will work on the floor, especially if they shoot the vapor stream at an upward angle.
However, you must make sure to place the humidifier somewhere your baby can’t get to it. I strongly advise you never leave your child unattended with a humidifier on the floor.
Whether on a table or on the floor, always put the humidifier on a solid, steady, and flat surface that doesn’t absorb water. I usually place a plastic tray or special water-resistant mat under my humidifiers.
Direction of the vapor stream
I recommend buying a humidifier that emits steam or mist at an upright angle for the most efficient moisture dispersion.
If your humidifier doesn’t aim the vapor stream upwards, make sure it’s not blowing directly at your baby or any furniture or walls. Angle the humidifier stream toward as much empty space as possible.
Aiming the humidifier unit at the bed could add too much moisture to that small area, which can cause serious health issues. Additionally, a strong water stream could soak your baby’s sheets, clothes, and stuffed animals.
If your humidifier blows water mist onto walls or furniture, the moist surfaces could experience water damage and begin to grow unwanted mold. I’ve seen bedrooms with mold growth behind curtains — that’s not a healthy environment for a baby.
Aiming the vapor stream right is particularly important with hot and ultrasonic humidifiers. A warm mist humidifier produces hot steam, which could cause burns if aimed directly at the child. Ultrasonic humidifiers don’t have filters, so they could blow mineral dust and bacteria onto the crib and endanger your child’s health.
Proper Placement in The Nursery
Place the humidifier at a central location in a nursery. This way it can disperse moist air freely without the risk of causing health problems or mold growth.
However, you may not always be able to have the humidifier in the center of the room. In these cases, you can have the humidifier off to the side, as long as it’s at least a foot away from the walls and not in front of any vents.
You should also keep your baby’s humidifier away from direct sunlight. Sun’s warmth could cause bacterial growth in the water tank, which can result in respiratory problems if ejected into the baby’s room. I’ve also seen humidifiers overheat in hot sunlight.
Correct Humidifier Placement (By Type)
There are many types of humidifiers on the market. Each of them works differently and requires unique safety precautions — especially when used around babies.
Here’s my list of factors you should consider with the most popular humidifier types.
Cool Mist Humidifiers
Place cool mist humidifiers toward the center of the nursery, a couple of feet off the ground. Aim their spouts upwards, but if that’s not possible, direct the water vapor toward as much empty space as possible.
That said, the optimal place for a cool mist humidifier will depend somewhat on the layout and structure of the room. Make sure to keep the device a foot away from walls and electrical outlets.
An ultrasonic humidifier is a specific (and my favorite) type of cool mist humidifier. They are rather efficient at pumping out moisture, so ultrasonic humidifiers do not need to be very close to your baby.
Note that an ultrasonic humidifier doesn’t have a filter, so make sure not to aim its spout toward your baby’s crib. Even if an ultrasonic humidifier spouts water mist directly upward, I still recommend keeping it a few feet from the baby’s bed.
Evaporative humidifiers use a fan to blow cool air over a wick filter to create water vapor. The filter can remove impurities from water, which can benefit your child’s health.
However, the fan tends to make them fairly noisy. Having the unit too close to your baby’s bed could disrupt their sleep.
Some evaporative humidifiers have their fan blades behind grille slats that could let small fingers slip through. Ensure the humidifier is out of your child’s reach or consider a different humidifier type/model.
Warm Mist Humidifiers
Warm mist humidifiers boil water to produce hot or warm steam to humidify the air. The water or steam could cause burns, so it’s particularly important to place these machines far away from your child.
Some modern humidifiers, however, don’t get very hot. You can put these humidifiers closer to a crib or child bed if space is limited or more intense humidification is needed. Yet, I would play it safe and not use warm units around babies.
Vaporizer is really just a special term for a warm mist humidifier that may be able to produce medicated steam. Vicks is the most famous vaporizer brand with Vicks VapoSteam and Vicks VapoPads. However, I strongly recommend avoiding using these products around a baby.
Are Humidifiers Good for Babies? (4 Benefits)
Humidifiers add moisture to the room and improve air quality, which can benefit your baby’s health in many ways. The most significant humidifier benefits for babies include:
Prevent some infections: Relative humidity in the 40–60% range impedes flu virus transmission. Moist air makes it harder for viruses to survive, while well-moistened airways can keep viral particles out more efficiently. (1)
Help nasal congestion and ease coughing: A humidifier helps keep nasal passages moist, which reduces itchiness and mucus production. Your child can get relief from coughing, a stuffy nose, and sore throat without medications.
Reduce dry skin and eczema: Babies are more prone to skin issues and rashes from dry air, and some even temporarily develop eczema. Humidifiers are a chemical-free way to keep your baby’s skin moist, which will soothe pain and itching caused by dry skin.
Act as a natural sleep aid: Aside from physical comfort, the consistent white noise of a humidifier, along with the lighting, could be calming to some babies. Air humidity also reduces congestion, helping your baby sleep better with a clear airway.
Reduce allergies: Humidity levels between 30-50% reduce the growth of mold and dust mites. As the levels of these extremely common allergens drop, your baby can breathe easier and will experience less irritation and coughing.
Relieve asthma symptoms: Adding humidity to your child’s living environment can moisten airways and relieve some asthma symptoms. However, make sure you don’t let the humidity levels get too high — excess moisture in the air could worsen these symptoms (as I personally know all too well).
Safety Advice For Using Humidifiers in Nursery
Although you now know where to put your humidifier, there are additional smaller details that help you keep your baby safe. Here are my humidifier safety tips that can help your baby sleep comfortably without concerns.
Choose the Right Type of Humidifier
Choose a humidifier that works for the specific layout, structure, and size of your child’s bedroom. Also, consider things like lights and noise level when picking a humidifier.
Clean the Humidifier Regularly
You must keep your humidifier clean. An unwashed humidifier could get moldy or become a paradise for harmful bacteria that it will turn into airborne pathogens. Clean a child’s humidifier every day with a mixture of water and vinegar to ensure a healthy environment.
Keep Electrical cords out of the way
Most humidifiers have a power cord, so make sure it doesn’t pose a tripping hazard that could cause your child or you to knock over the device. Tape the cord to the floor if possible or run it along the walls.
The Ultrasonic Vs. Warm Mist Debate
In general, I recommend you avoid using warm mist humidifiers in children’s rooms. The hot water and steam could cause burns and tipping the humidifier over could pose a fire hazard.
Ultrasonic humidifiers are generally the best for babies, but they have their own risks. If the water has a lot of minerals in it, the humidifier could spew white dust all over the room, which can have adverse health effects. If you choose an ultrasonic humidifier, always use distilled water in it instead of tap water. (2)
Monitor Humidity levels
Buy an accurate hygrometer so you can monitor the humidity levels in your child’s room. This way you can easily ensure the relative humidity stays within acceptable levels.
People Also Ask (FAQ)
What humidity level is safe for babies?
The best relative humidity level for a baby is 30-60% — the same as for adults. Humidity levels above 70% could cause bacterial or mold growth, while humidity below 30% is likely to cause dry skin and airways, leading to itching and coughing.
What type of humidifier is best for a baby?
You should use only cool mist humidifiers in your baby’s room, since they have no hot parts or boiling water, making them much safer around small children. I recommend you avoid using warm mist humidifiers in a baby’s bedroom.
Can I leave the humidifier on all night for my baby?
In general, it’s safe to leave a humidifier on throughout the night. I recommend investing in a humidifier with an automatic shut-off function and a built-in humidistat. This way the machine will shut down if its water reservoir runs dry and it won’t ruin the air quality in your baby’s nursery.
Are Vicks humidifiers safe for babies?
Avoid using Vicks humidifiers around babies. It’s questionable whether they provide additional benefits compared to regular humidifiers and you shouldn’t expose babies younger than 2 years to Vicks products.
How can I humidify my baby’s room without a humidifier?
You can add humidity to your baby’s room by placing a dish of steaming hot water in the room. Make absolutely sure the container is on a sturdy platform well out of an active baby’s reach.
Where to place a humidifier in a baby’s room depends on the floor plan, the climate in your home area and individual residence, and your family’s habits. With my basic safety guidelines, you can avoid putting the unit too close to the baby.
Using a properly placed humidifier has greatly improved my health — and it can do the same for your child. Keep my tips in mind and you may soon see a great improvement in your childs health!