Should You Use a Humidifier or a Vaporizer to Ease Your Baby’s Nasal Congestion?

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The day will come when you’re watching your beloved little angel sleeping when out of nowhere comes a rattle in their small chest.

This rattle could indicate the beginning of nasal congestion, and it’s normal in babies of all ages.

As adults, we can blow our noses clean and clear our throats whenever we want to – or take drugs and nasal spray to clear up congestion. But a small child or baby cannot do any of these things.

In addition, finding a medication safe for babies and powerful enough to clear up congestion can be tricky.

Numerous health sites recommend using a humidifier or similar appliance for adults in the battle against itchy eyes, congestion, and a dry throat – but what about infants?

Studies have shown that a humidifier or a similar device, like a vaporizer, can benefit your baby and let them breathe easily. It may even assist the struggle against allergies or the common cold.

But what is the best appliance to keep your baby’s air comfortably moist – a vaporizer or a humidifier?

And if you use a humidifier, should you purchase a cool mist or a warm mist machine? In this short guide, we’ll walk you through each type of appliance’s pros, cons, and dangers, emphasizing its use in a baby’s room.

Why Dry Air Is Especially Bad For Babies

vaporizer for baby congestion

Congestion or congestive-associated symptoms in babies are usually caused by dry air, allergies, or respiratory diseases such as common colds or asthma.

When congestion occurs, the delicate nasal cells swell and, in most cases, produce excess mucus. This causes difficulty breathing and a rattly vibration in the chest or back of your child’s neck.

During the winter, it will be common for your home’s central heating to be in full use constantly, drying the air and further irritating a baby’s delicate mucus membranes.

Usually, baby congestion will clear itself up within a week to ten-day period, but if it doesn’t, your child’s breathing might get harder and harder until they start coughing. A prolonged period of congestion, especially in combination with dry air, can lead to nasal cell splitting and bleeding.

A vaporizer or humidifier can add moisture into the air without creating a moist atmosphere and let babies feel the relief they require to get a fantastic night’s rest.

Types Of Humidifiers

A humidifier is an indoor device that generates tiny water droplets to moisten the air.

Most humidifiers hold fresh/distilled water in a reservoir and include some way to remove bacteria, allergens, viruses, and germs from the water before dispersing water vapor into the room. Then, they evaporate the water using one method and use a fan to blow humified air back into the room.

There are several types of humidifiers available, including:

1. Portable Humidifiers

Portable units are the most commonly purchased humidifier. You can find various units in warm and cool mist versions.

Portable humidifiers fit anywhere on the ground or any shelf in the nursery, with minimal energy required to operate the internal operating system.

Some might need batteries or have to be connected to an electrical socket.

Portable models can be a bit loud, although most units emit a low hum which could soothe your baby during rest.

2. Central (Whole House) Humidifiers

vaporizer for baby congestion

Central unit humidifiers are installed directly into your home’s central heating system and will use drums, vibrations, and other methods to add moisture to the air.

Whole-house units are more expensive than portable or console units, but they last longer, don’t require manual refilling with water and require less maintenance over time.

In addition, they hold a greater volume of water than a traditional faucet, and they’re usually controlled by a control panel, which allows for a lower level of misuse.

3. Console Humidifiers

Console humidifiers – swamp coolers or evaporative humidifiers – are larger than portable electric models.  Designed for use in larger spaces, console units disperse water droplets to a wider area and multiple rooms.

That said, console humidifiers tend to be bulky and loud, so most homeowners avoid them.

4. Cool Mist Humidifiers

Cool-mist humidifiers use mechanical pressure nozzles or evaporation plates to convert water into water vapor. 

These are the safest humidifiers to use in an infant’s room due to their cool operation.

5. Warm Mist Humidifiers

Warm mist humidifiers use electrical or gas heating elements to evaporate water and create water vapor.

If you choose a warm mist humidifier, use extreme caution around babies, children, and pets because the mist can be hot and burn them.

Reports of little kids and babies receiving second-degree burns are not uncommon. So if you choose a warm mist unit, ensure your device is placed far away from their crib.

6. Vaporizers vs. Humidifiers

vaporizer for baby congestion

A vaporizer is similar to a humidifier in that they both release moisture into their surroundings. However, vaporizers boil water to sterilize it, then release warm steam into the air rather than cool or simply warm water vapor.

Boiling water near a crib carries significant risks.

A vaporizer includes an inner holding container filled with water heated by an internal heating element and then uses a fast-moving blower to divide the water into drops to introduce moisture into a room.

One of the benefits of a vaporizer is that it releases cleaner water than a humidifer because boiling water kills allergens and bacteria, emitting fresh steam into the room.

You can also use any water quality in a vaporizer – including tap water. Another benefit of a vaporizer is its ability to heat the baby’s nursery environment as the hot mist lingers in the air. 

Final Thoughts

After looking at a vaporizer and a humidifier, deciding which one you want to use in the nursery should be much simpler. After that, it’s up to the parents, and they should not be influenced by hearsay but by what they believe is best for their baby.

Look at different brands and models to see which ones offer interesting features while checking their maintenance, repair, and warranties. Some devices require a more rigorous maintenance schedule, which increases the total number of tasks that need to be done during the day.

Frequently Asked Questions About Vaporizers vs. Humidifiers

Q: What is the difference between a humidifier and a vaporizer?

A: Both are ways to add humidity to an indoor environment. The main difference is that a humidifier disperses water into the air through a nozzle or through evaporation while maintaining a safe temperature. In contrast, a vaporizer boils the water inside a chamber and releases it as steam.

Q: How do I know if my humidifier needs cleaning?

A: If any residue or mold is growing on the unit, it should be cleaned immediately.

Q: Can I use a humidifier to treat colds?

A: Yes! A humidifier to help with nasal congestion is a great way to relieve symptoms. All you have to do is turn on your humidifier and let the mist fill the room. Choosing a unit with an essential oil diffuser is a great way to disperse soothing scents that can further ease symptoms.

Q: Is using a humidifier safe for infants and young children?

A: Yes. In particular, cool mist humidifiers are safe to use in a baby’s room.  On the other hand, warm mist humidifiers and vaporizers use heating elements, requiring more care where they can be placed to avoid potentially burning a young child. 

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