When you think about it, a pediatrician’s job isn’t all that different from a veterinarian’s. Both deal with patients that can’t talk. Babies can show you when they’re in obvious distress, but for the most part, it’s up to the parents to figure out what’s wrong.
In some cases, you can indeed tell what baby needs based on the sound of her cry.
What if something in her environment is making her uncomfortable, though. An itchy blanket, maybe simple boredom, or even air that’s too dry?
Sometimes, the only way to remove the source of their irritation is to simply try one thing after another until they’re content once more. Inadequate humidity, on the other hand, leads to a variety of tell-tale symptoms. Ignoring these will at best lead to more interrupted sleep for both of you. At worst, your baby may get sick when this could have easily been avoided.
Fortunately, fixing the problem is simple. There’s a huge range of good humidifiers on the market today to suit every budget.
Watch out for Dry Air Symptoms in Babies and Toddlers
All of the following dry air symptoms can have more than one possible explanation. If you see your baby suffering from more than one of them, though, or you already suspect that the air in baby’s room is too dry, you should probably get a hygrometer – a humidity meter – to make sure. These are pretty cheap considering the peace of mind with which they can provide you – 40% to 60% relative humidity is considered optimal.
The following are all indications that too-dry air is harming your child:
- A persistent dry cough. Low humidity dries out the lining in the nose and throat, leading to irritation.
- Eczema and other rashes or dry, cracked skin.
- Needing another layer of clothing or blanket to be comfortable. One of the effects of low humidity is to make a room feel colder than it actually is.
- Dry, red eyes and nosebleeds.
- Unusually frequent waking and crying at night (use one of our best rated baby monitors to pick up this up). This can result from a variety of humidity-related causes that may not be obvious, like thirst or itches caused by dry skin.
- Frequent colds. Many germs thrive in colder, drier air, while low humidity affects our mucous membranes and makes us more vulnerable to infection.
Are Humidifiers Good for Babies?
Small children are far more susceptible to the effects of overly dry air. Their immune systems aren’t very strong, their airways are smaller and hence less robust, their skin is incredibly delicate, and they may suffer from mild dehydration without you (or even they themselves) realizing it.
Considering the inconvenience to you any of the symptoms above can cause, not to mention your child’s suffering, getting a humidifier for under a hundred dollars seems like an excellent idea.
There are a couple of things to consider before you go out and buy one, though.
Most importantly, you should select a cool-mist model if there’s any chance of a toddler cozying up to the appliance and getting burned as a result. In addition, one that includes a filter and sterilizing UV light will keep your baby safer from germs.
This isn’t a substitute for regular cleaning, though. Also, as any detergent residue left in the tank will end up infusing the air in the room, it’s a good idea to select a machine that’s easy to clean without using chemicals.
Finally, it’s worth looking for a humidifier that you can use with medicated compounds and aromatherapy oils. This capability will be a lifesaver if your child ever has difficulty breathing, and with the right scent may even help her fall asleep.