Keeping a humidifier in your infant’s room is a great way to improve the air quality and help him or her get a restful sleep. Once you purchase one, it will also come in handy later in your baby’s life when he or she might pick up a cold from the kids at school. Humidifiers lessen the painful effects of a dry nose and throat, and they make the winter months more bearable on the tender mucous membranes of a child or an infant. Many doctors recommend keeping a humidifier running when your child is sick, but research shows that it’s extremely important that you clean it every day. Humidifiers are breeding grounds for mold, and airborne mold can have seriously negative effects on children of any age.

A recent study shows that airborne mold spores present in an infant’s life might lead to lifelong asthma. No matter the source of the mold, it caused wheezing in infancy and asthma later in life. Mold tested in the study included that from water damage, musty conditions, and dirty humidifiers.

Cleaning your humidifier is easy, but doing it right does require diligence. Especially if the system is right in your baby’s room, you need to change the water every day and clean the filter. Stagnant water breeds mold, so you need to stop the breeding by replacing the water every day. The movement caused by the bubbling mechanism is not enough to prevent the growth of mold spores. If you don’t clean it diligently, you’ll be doing more harm than good by keeping it running for your infant or child.

Similarly, just because you don’t see any mold doesn’t mean it isn’t there. The mold caused by humidifiers gets pushed into the air and it isn’t visible to the naked eye. No matter how often you run your humidifier, it’s safe to assume that your baby will be breathing in mold spores if you don’t clean it daily.

A humidifier is an excellent investment when you have a baby, and it will even be helpful for many years to come. However, be diligent in cleaning the system every time you use it so that mold isn’t being released into your house. Mold can have a lifelong impact on your baby, so avoid it as much as possible. Otherwise, your attempts at making a healthy environment for your baby or young children will be reversed.

Source: Paula Rosenbaum et al: Indoor Airborne Fungi And Wheeze In The First Year Of Life Among A Cohort Of Infants At Risk For Asthma. Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology Volume 20 pp. 503-515 October 2011

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