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Your baby will typically get six to eight upper respiratory infections in his first year and your doctor will almost certainly recommend that you buy a humidifier. The moist air of a humidifier helps baby breathe more comfortably and it can also ward off infections, croup and allergies, and alleviate the chapped and overly sensitive skin babies are prone to. Here is a quick walk-through of what you need to know to keep your nursery humidified. 

Safety
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a cool mist humidifier, with absolutely no heating mechanisms, for your child s room. Steam-style or warm mist humidifiers are less safe because they heat water to humidify and pose a scalding hazard if the unit is tipped or pulled over. They can also cause burns if a youngster puts his or her face directly into the humidifier s hot mist.

Size
Humidifiers are often rated by square footage. Multiply your nursery s length and width to get a square foot measurement. But don t stop there: Think about your windows, gas heat, extreme temperatures, low outdoor humidity and vaulted ceilings, and consider whether your baby s door is often open to the larger home. These will all have an effect on the humidity in the room. The advertised  for rooms up to 400 square feet  sounds generous, but it s for optimal conditions. When in doubt, buy a safe humidifier for a slightly larger area and use it at a lower setting.

Using Your Existing Humidifier

Air-O-Swiss U200
If it s a cool mist unit, your existing humidifier may work for baby s room. Check its room-size ratings. Set at a lower speed and it may well work for baby s small room. The Air-O-Swiss U200 is a good example. Even if you purchased this safe, cool-mist, ultrasonic unit for other humidification purposes, it's also ideal for baby. Its carbon filter removes unwanted chemicals and its patented technology inhibits microbial growth. Add an automatic shut-off, a humidistat that can control humidity levels and three mist-output levels, and you have an air humidifier that's easily repurposed for your baby's nursery or child's bedroom. Make sure it keeps humidity levels between 40 and 60 percent, and baby will breathe more easily. If you let it get much over 60 percent, you ll dampen everything and encourage the growth of mold and mildew.

Buying One Just for Baby

If you decide to buy a dedicated baby humidifier, there are two kinds to consider   evaporative or ultrasonic humidifiers. An evaporative humidifier works by forcing air through wet filters to produce cool mist. The filters need to be cleaned frequently or you ll see a build-up of bacteria and dirt. An ultrasonic humidifier works by vibrating a water-covered disk to make micro-fine moisture, which is then blown into the air. Ultrasonic humidifiers put everything that s in the water in the air. Unless you use a demineralization filter or cartridge, hard water may leave white dust on furnishings. You can also use purified drinking water or distilled water to help eliminate this extra dust. Here are a few suggestions for useful units for baby, divided up by the two model types.

Evaporative

Vicks Starry Night Cool Mist
The Vicks Starry Night humidifier projects calming, color-rotating stars on the ceiling while it provides soothing cool mist. It comes in green, blue or pink, weighs about 7 pounds and you can use Vicks vapor pads with it for additional sick-room soothing. 

Ultrasonic

Daphnie the Duck, Cool Mist
Does your child love cats, cows, dragons, ducks, elephants, frogs, monkeys, owls, pandas, penguins, pigs, tigers or trains? If so, Crane makes a humidifier with a design just for your little one. Each of these character humidifiers uses ultrasonic technology to humidify rooms up to 250 square feet. They have an automatic shut-off feature and run almost silently. If you'd rather not go the cute route, a similarly functional unit is available as a Crane Drop Shape humidifier.

Safety 1st Ultrasonic 360
Safety 1st Ultrasonic 360 is a cool mist humidifier with two rotating nozzles. If you have two sick children, you can point one nozzle toward each. The unit s water tank is treated with an antimicrobial agent to protect it from mold and germs. It has a variable mist control that lets you make large or small output changes, and it can cover areas from 300 to 500 square feet.

With a young one in your home, you ll need a cool mist humidifier sooner than you realize. Consider buying one early or adding this type of product to your baby registry. You ll be far better prepared to help your baby breathe better when colds and flu hit. Run it on a regular basis and you ll help prevent the chapped and itchy skin babies are prone to. By keeping your baby s respiratory system healthier, you may even ward off one or two of your little one s first infections.

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