My baby has a cold – what do I do?

It’s the middle of the night, and you hear it: the cry of your baby with accompanying cough and congestion. Since cough and cold medicines are no longer considered appropriate for babies, you’ll need to consider other drug-free options for easing your little one’s discomfort. A humidifier may just be the answer.

Why a humidifier?

A humidifier works with the body’s natural mechanisms by emitting cool or lukewarm moisture into the air, which is naturally soothing to the airways, making it easier to breathe and manage congestion. This is especially beneficial to babies, as their airways are small and are easily irritated and are easily clogged with congestion. While a humidifier will not prevent an illness, it can certainly help ease your baby’s symptoms while the illness runs its course.

Other benefits:

While warm mist humidifiers (or “vaporizers”) are considered useful for older populations, they are not recommended for use with young children according to the American Academy of Pediatrics due to the risk of scalding. Additionally, the warm steam can quickly create an uncomfortable, stuffy environment in a room, and the vaporizer unit is more prone to mold and bacteria growth. Cool mist humidifiers are considered to be a safe and effective alternative.

Choose a humidifier that will meet your needs. A wide variety of sizes are available, from mini especially suited for travel to whole house/apartment units suited to humidify every last bit of square footage in your home.

A central humidifier connects to your heating and air system in your home or apartment and provides moisture to air throughout the entire home. This type of humidifier, whether the larger version of the smaller unit styles that uses a water tank or the type that connects to your water, is an investment in the air quality throughout the home and is beneficial for your baby and everyone else in the home. Check with your heating and air professional if you’re interested in this type of installation.

Room humidifiers generally operate via ultrasonic vibrations, rotating disks, or fans that blow air through a wet wick, filter, or belt. Variations in colors and styles are available — you may even be able to find a humidifier that matches your baby’s nursery. Available colors include pink, yellow, green, and the standard blue, as well as pastel colors, and available styles include cows, pigs, monkeys, owls, frogs, and even Hello Kitty. Humidifiers range from large, bulky shapes to sleek, teardrop shapes with everything in between.

Some humidifiers come prepackaged with the option to add menthol, essential oils, and other types of aromatherapy. We advise that you check with your baby’s pediatrician before using these types of aromatherapy, especially if your baby has a respiratory condition such as asthma.

How to use a humidifier


If your humidifier doesn’t seem to be working properly, try the following:

Additionally, we recommend purchasing a hygrometer so you may check the humidity levels in your home. A hygrometer looks similar to that of a thermometer and is available for purchase in local hardware and department stores.

Using a cool mist humidifier is an excellent way to safely and effectively treat the symptoms of your baby’s cough and cold. Humidifiers are a great benefit for everyone in the home!