Are Plug-In Air Fresheners Safe For Babies? The Truth About Plug-In Air Fresheners and Babies

Plug-in air fresheners harm babies by affecting their health and being unsafe. Air fresheners of any kind include harmful chemicals that a baby shouldn’t breathe in, which may cause several respiratory issues and developmental delays. A baby’s lungs are still developing, and strong smells and chemicals can hinder respiratory development. Plug-ins are also unsafe for toddlers as they might pull them, accidentally insert their fingers in the socket out of curiosity, or even lick the freshener. Instead, you can make your own air freshener out of natural ingredients and strive to keep your house smelling fresh in various other ways.

A house with babies will sure be a bit messy and smelly compelling you to use an air freshener to spruce things up. You do want your baby to sleep in an odor-free nursery that gives them a peaceful night of sleep.

An air freshener would mask babies’ odors and keep the house smelling fresh.

But is it okay to use a plug-in air freshener around a baby? Is it harmful? What other things can you do to keep your house odor-free?

Is air freshener needed for babies?

Air fresheners are a great way to ward off strange smells that might go around the house with a baby.

With your little munchkin in the house, it’s common to experience smells going around the house, such as farting, pooping, burping, spitting, and peeing.

While you can’t control these smells and stop them from coming, you sure can mask them with an air freshener.

Amongst all these natural smells, you might feel compelled to use an air freshener to bring some much-needed fragrance around the house.

But before anything, is using an air freshener even safe for babies? What about using a plug-in air freshener?

Is air freshener safe for babies to breathe?

Your little one spends half of their time in the nursery, their safe space, where they majorly sleep or play around.

But of course, you can’t keep your little one in that one room for a long time due to fear of smell reaching other parts of the home.

While using an air freshener seems a good idea, its chemicals might not be suitable for your baby to inhale.

Some air fresheners contain phthalates, which are harmful to babies when inhaled and can damage the liver and lead to developmental delays in babies.

An infant boy is on his tummy playing with blocks in the living room

They also emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which contribute to indoor air pollution affecting indoor air quality to a great extent.

Many plug-in air fresheners contain chemicals that can be toxic to both people and pets, and for kids, it’s even more harmful since their lungs are still developing.

These aerosol sprays contain at least one chemical, including benzene, ethanol, diethyl phthalate, or terpene.

  • Benzene is a carcinogen that can cause headaches, dizziness, neurological damage, and blood disorders.
  • Diethyl phthalate is an endocrine disruptor linked to reproductive problems and developmental disorders.
  • Terpene is a neurotoxin that can cause respiratory issues and irritations.
  • Ethanol also irritates the respiratory system.

When you use it indoors where your baby is present, the chemicals emitted can lead to potential health issues such as sensory irritation, respiratory symptoms, and dysfunction of the lungs.

You must know that your little one is still in the developmental stage. Their respiratory system is still developing, and babies need to be in a natural environment surrounded by fresh air free of pollution.

This also includes not using an air freshener or scented candle.

A plug-in air freshener can react with ozone to produce secondary pollutants such as formaldehyde, secondary organic aerosol (SOA), oxidative products, and ultrafine particles.

All of this can lead to damaging the central nervous system and alter hormone levels.

Why are plug-in air fresheners unsafe for babies?

Another primary reason for not using a plug-in air freshener around babies is that it’s just unsafe to leave them in such a situation.

For newborns, it’s still not something to worry about, and you could use it once in a while because they can’t run around and remove the air freshener from the socket or get harmed in any way.

But a toddler can quickly jump around and reach where you’ve placed the plug-in air freshener and try to remove it or grab it. In this process, they can get hurt or be intrigued to insert their finger in the socket.

The sockets are primarily at your toddler’s level, so using one would make things worse than better.

How to avoid using plug-in air fresheners?

With a little one in the house, you can’t control all kinds of smells they produce, and of course, you love them, but you would also like to keep your home smelling fresh and clean.

While using a plug-in air freshener is obviously not a good thing to do due to safety concerns and its harmful impact on your baby’s health, you can do various things to keep your house smelling good.

1. Throw away dirty diapers immediately

A dad is changing his infant baby's diaper

Of course, you know you need to throw away dirty diapers, but sometimes what happens is that you keep the diapers collected somewhere and get busy with other things.

But it would be best if you threw away the diapers immediately.

While hundreds of things are on your to-do list, one basic trick to prevent the smell from accumulating in your house is to neatly wrap up the diaper and throw it in the dustbin immediately. 

It’s better to have a different bin for all the dirty diapers and throw it out each morning. Please don’t keep the bin full for more than one day; otherwise, it will start smelling.

2. Open the windows

Your nursery should be open and wide with windows in it. Having a sun-facing nursery is necessary because you wouldn’t want your baby to stay in a room that doesn’t get plenty of sunshine.

It would also smell moldy and affect your baby’s health.

At least once a day, open the windows to allow ventilation, removing all kinds of smells while allowing fresh air.

If you think the air is too cold outside, keep your little one in another room while you ventilate their room.

3. Change the sheets

Mom is about to do laundry while holding her infant baby

Keeping the same sheet on your little one’s crib can also start smelling. Do change the sheets at regular intervals.

If your baby has spilled something, immediately change the sheets and air out the mattress in the sun if possible. Sunlight acts as a natural bacterial killer.

4. Clean out your baby’s room daily

Keeping your baby’s nursery clean is much needed to prevent diseases and bacteria from developing.

So dust around the nursery, and clean the nooks and corners as well. You can wipe the furniture clean with a fresh-smelling cloth.

Don’t let the empty baby’s bottle accumulate in the nursery. Take the bottles and wash them out or at least soak them to avoid that milk smell in the bottle.

5. Change diaper elsewhere

Sometimes when you keep changing the dirty diapers in the nursery, the smell can still remain.

One trick to avoid that is changing the rooms between changing diapers.

After a couple of weeks, you can change diapers in another room; this way, the dirty diapers smell won’t remain in the nursery.

6. Use a homemade air freshener

Even after all this, if you still want that fresh smell, why not just make your air freshener?

Instead of that fake perfumy smell, you can get the natural ingredients and make your DIY air freshener.

This would also not affect your little one’s health; you can use it as often as you want without thinking about how your baby is affected.

Mainly they include water, baking soda, rubbing alcohol, and essential oils. With essential oils, you can experiment with different smells, such as lavender, lemon, grapefruit, jasmine, etc.


Are air fresheners okay around babies?

In general, you should avoid using any scented material around your baby, including aromatic candles, air fresheners, or essential oils as well.

Any scented thing also contains other harmful chemicals for the baby to breathe in, which can affect their respiratory system and cause irritation or develop health issues.

How can I make my house smell good with kids?

With kids, it’s sure to become a mess, which can develop various smells in the house. Ventilation is of utmost importance to keep the house odor-free.

If your house is sunlight-facing, keep the windows open and remove curtains to let the morning sunshine in.
Change your bedsheets every 15 days or, if you wish, then 10 days.
Don’t consume food in bedrooms and eat or drink only in the dining room.
Dust around your room and the entire house every 3-4 days, and you’ll be surprised by how dirty things get.
Air out your comforter every 15 days in the sun to let out any smells trapped in it.
Try using a homemade air freshener.
Get houseplants to keep the air flowing.
You can also get fresh flowers every now and then if it fits your budget.

What can I use to absorb bad smells in a house?

Some natural elements can keep various smells away or neutralize the foul odor by masking them.

You can use coffee grounds, tea, vinegar, baking soda, and oats, keep them in a bowl and leave them in the room.

You could also try making an air freshener out of these by yourself.

Are diffusers okay around newborns?

Don’t use diffusers around a newborn who hasn’t turned 6 months old.

Even after that, it’s unsafe to use any scented thing around babies since their lungs are still developing.

These aromatic materials contain chemicals that are bound to cause irritation or development delays in them.

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As a writer for 1happykiddo, Saumya wants to help new parents and older siblings help raise the newest member added to the family. Her parenting tips come from her experience of being 15 years older than her youngest sibling. When not writing, you can find her reading novels, traveling, and cooking nutritious meals.

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