Finding The Best Humidifier For Your Baby’s Nursery: Tips and Top 5 Reviews 2017
Does your infant or young child often wake up with a stuffy nose, suffer from coughing throughout the day, or catch colds more frequently than seems normal? If your home or climate is especially low in humidity, adding a little moisture back into the air with a handy humidifier just might help.
Dry air is uncomfortable for everybody – it can lead to itchy skin, dry eyes, sore throat, and a whole slew of other everyday symptoms that many people take for granted. But finding the best humidifier for baby nurseries isn't just a matter of comfort. With their delicate bodies and undeveloped immune systems, nobody feels the effects of dry air more than infants and young children.
For babies, low humidity levels are more than just uncomfortable. Dry air easily irritates the sensitive lining of the nose and throat, increasing the risk of developing colds and sometimes even serious infections. Not to mention, this irritation is a common cause of those annoying stuffy noses that make it harder for babies to breathe, sleep, and nurse. Anybody would be fussy under those circumstances!
The good news is that there are plenty of humidifiers on the market, spanning a wide variety of forms and features to suit just about any situation. Whether you're looking for something to tide your family over during the dry winter months or need something durable enough to run year-round, there's sure to be something out there that fits your preferences as well as your budget.
Which Humidifier Style Is Right For Your Nursery?
Let's take a look at a few things to consider when you're shopping for your next humidifier for your babies. It's easy to become overwhelmed by the vast number of options, but you can narrow down your selection quickly just by deciding between the important features and comparisons below.
Cool vs Warm Mist
- Ultrasonic vs Evaporative
- Filtered vs Filterless
While cool mist humidifiers use ultrasonic or evaporative technology (more about that below), the mist from warm mist models is actually the result of steam. Warm mist humidifiers are considered more sterile than cold mist options because the water in the tank is brought to a boiling temperature as the steam is released into the room, killing any germs or viruses that might be lurking in the water.
The power of warm mist humidifiers does come with an increased sense of responsibility. It's important to keep these humidifiers out of reach of children because the heating element – and sometimes even the mist itself – can cause burns with direct contact.
Consider any mobile toddlers or younger children who might have access to the infant's nursery before investing in one of these powerful warm mist units. On the other hand, even cool mist humidifiers should be kept out of reach of children because of small parts, water, and electrical hazards, just like any other household appliance.
Cool mist humidifiers can work in two ways. The more traditional models are evaporative – these use a large wick to absorb water, and a small fan distributes the moisture from the wick into the room. Ultrasonic models are a newer technology that uses high frequency vibrations to excite water particles and propel them into the air.
Evaporative humidifiers tend to make a little more noise because of the fan, but some parents prefer the gentle white noise because it helps to lull the baby to sleep. On the other hand, even ultrasonic models can potentially make noise, like occasional bubbling as the water settles or beeps from built-in sensors.
Humidifier filters don't play a direct role in terms of function, but they can definitely effect the convenience and cost of the unit over time. Most ultrasonic humidifiers do not require filters at all, saving on replacement costs over time. However, there is a drawback to filterless models – they tend to leave a "white dust" around the unit since any minerals from the water gets dispersed rather than filtered out.
Evaporative humidifiers (and some ultrasonic ones) have filters to catch any minerals before they can get distributed through the mist. Check the manufacturer's recommendations to find out how often these filters should be replaced. It's always a good idea to check the cost of replacement filters before investing in any humidifier that requires a filter.
Size and Form Factor
– These small humidifiers are the smallest and most compact options. They range from models that are small enough to hold in the palm of your hand (nice for desktop use and immediate relief) to larger tabletop sized models that can control the humidity of an entire room. When it comes to nursery needs, the higher-capacity tabletop models are the most popular solution.
– If you need something to humidify a large family room or other wide open space, a console humidifier might be right for you. These models are often too large to sit on a tabletop and instead sit on the floor. Because they can be heavy, they often come equipped with wheels.
– Humidifying an entire home requires a heavy duty solution. Induct humidifiers distribute humidity through the actual ductwork of your home. Unfortunately, induct humidifiers often require professional installation since they need to be wired directly into your home's electrical system and tapped directly into your water lines.
Exploring The Top 5 Humidifiers For babies 2017 - Comparison Table
Now that we've talked a little bit about the different humidifier styles that are available, let's look at some real world examples. These are the most popular and highest-rated picks, both among people shopping for nursery needs and for general household purposes as well.
Max run time per fill
# of settings
Want to get to know these models a little better? Check out these detailed baby humidifier reviews, covering each item on the top 5 humidifier list above.
Most consumers are already familiar with the Vicks brand for their rub-on products that relieve chest and nasal congestion, so it only makes sense that the company has branched into the humidifier market as well. This warm mist humidifier heats water to release steam, operating at up to 12 hours on a single 1-gallon fill. Vicks even makes a Vaposteam product that you can put in the included medicine cup to receive soothing medicated steam.
The tank itself is large enough to remain easy to clean for the most sterile experience possible, but the overall unit is a reasonable size so it shouldn't be too hard to find a safe place to set it up out of reach of infants. There are two steam settings – high and low – and the unit automatically shuts off when the tank runs dry.
- Heating element kills waterborne germs and viruses before they can enter the air
- Doesn't require constant oversight because it automatically shuts off when empty
- Handy during cold season thanks to medicine cup that can hold Vicks Vaposteam
- Optional nightlight makes it easy to navigate the baby's nursery at night
- Relatively noisy on the high setting
- Heating element is difficult to clean
This is quite a unique machine. While it may look like an ordinary evaporative humidifier at first glance, the defining feature is hidden away inside – between the reservoir and filter is a hidden UV light that helps to sanitize the water to keep the mist safe and clean. That's definitely a bonus for health-conscious parents!
Three speed settings allow parents greater flexibility when it comes to humidity levels and running time. On the lowest setting, this model will run up to 24 hours between refills thanks to the gallon capacity reservoir. But because it's an evaporative model, it won't add more humidity to the air than the air can ordinarily hold (about 60% humidity).
- Keeps mist safer and cleaner with UV feature that kills mold, bacteria, viruses, and fungus
- Cleans up easily thanks to dishwasher-safe parts
- Can run longer than similar models when set to the lowest setting
- It won't make the room uncomfortably humid because it's evaporative rather than ultrasonic
- Requires more oversight because it doesn't have an auto-shutoff feature
- Filter requires a lot of attention to make sure it doesn't dry out or get musty
Are you looking for something that can increase the humidity of a larger space, like a family room or a big master bedroom? This console-style evaporative humidifier has the power to output tremendous amounts of humidity to keep your baby comfortable in any size space up to 2300 square feet.
Replaceable filters and wide tanks ensure that the unit is relatively easy to keep clean at all times. The water capacity is split into two tanks, each one proving much easier to carry compared to other similar-capacity models that use only one tank. The unit itself includes rolling casters for maneuverability.
- Humidifies much larger areas than tabletop models, up to 2300 square feet
- Requires very few refills compared to overall output
- Energy efficient to save on energy bills, using less power than an 80 watt light bulb
- Easy to refill because the capacity is split into two tanks instead of just one
- Filters require frequent attention to ensure they stay wet and clean
- Some units make extra noise due to variations in manufacturing quality
Not every nursery requires a heavy-duty solution. This compact humidifier is equally suited to everyday use or occasional seasonal purposes, but it only excels in smaller spaces. It operates on ultrasonic technology to distribute mist that you can see as well as feel, all without the fan sound that evaporative alternatives are known to make.
It's also a nice and compact design so you can move it around as needed, useful if your infant sleeps in more than one room. It's available in four different colors – black, blue, red, and white – to match your decor.
- Visible mist ensures you can see and feel the unit is working for instant relief
- No filters to change or clean
- Super quiet operation
- Navigate your child's room at night with included soft blue nightlight
- Fragile construction, requires a little more delicacy while cleaning and handling
- Requires more frequent refills due to small tank capacity
- Difficult to clean due to shape of the reservoir
This is one of the most high-tech humidifiers on the market. Not only does it let you change between three different mist settings, you can actually use the built-in LED screen to measure the level of humidity in the room – you can actually see this value change as the machine runs. The timer function makes it easy to program the machine to run only when you want it to.
When used in the nursery, the optional night light can illuminate your way through the room if you need to check on the baby at night. This night light, and the LED power light, are both easy to disable if your child happens to sleep better in total darkness.
- You can see the room's humidity level right on the LED screen
- Allows you to conserve water and electricity by using the built-in timer function
- Saves money on maintenance because the washable filter never needs replaced
- Extremely quiet, and includes a sleep mode option if you don't want it to run at night
- Refills from bottom of the tank rather than the top
- Some buyers report low durability of interior parts
Avoid These Pitfalls When Buying An Infant Humidifier
With a little research, it's easy to avoid the most common mistakes people make while buying humidifiers for a baby's nursery. Finding the right humidifier often comes down to figuring out how much time and effort you can dedicate to maintaining the machine and keeping it running, as well as how much you want to spend to do so.
1. Recurring costs
Does your favored humidifier require filter replacements? It pays to see how much those replacement filters will cost before investing heavily in a certain model. Plus, you'll need to consider how often those filters need to be replaced – sometimes it makes sense to buy the model with the more expensive filters if those filters need to be replaced less frequently.
Some models are definitely easier to clean than others are. All it takes is one long weekend of neglect before noticing that mildew, mold, or other problems have developed. Warm and wet environments like the inside of a humidifier are breeding grounds for all kinds of fungus. Sometimes harmless mildew is easy to wipe away, such as if it's just on the inside of reservoir, but other things like filters are harder to cleanse.
Although everybody hopes their new humidifier will run perfectly out of the box, there's always a small chance that something could go wrong. Read reviews to make sure the manufacturer actually responds to requests for returns. And don't forget – even top brands can discontinue their products at any time, making it difficult to find replacement parts like new filters or seals.
Bigger capacities are always better, right? The answer really depends on how you plan to use your humidifier! Larger capacity reservoirs need to be refilled less often, but they can be heavy to carry when they're full. Humidifiers with big capacities also tend to take up more space, making it harder to find somewhere out-of-reach to plug it in. Consider making up for a smaller capacity by looking for a model that uses water efficiently and has a longer run time.
5. Hidden Features
It's always annoying to find out that a helpful "feature" is actually a detractor that keeps the baby awake at night or makes the humidifier harder to care for. A few common examples are power lights that shine too brightly, sensors that beep when the water level runs low, and decorative reservoir shapes that seem impossible to clean.
Tips and Tricks For Using a Humidifier In The Nursery
How To Measure The Humidity
The best way to measure humidity is with a hygrometer. These inexpensive devices will give an accurate reading instantly. You can keep one somewhere near the baby's crib (out of reach, of course) to know the exact humidity level at any given moment. Ask your doctor or take a quick peek at the FAQ section to find out the best humidity level for your infant's nursery room.
Keeping Your Baby Humidifier Clean and Safe
All humidifiers need to be regularly cleaned and inspected according to the manufacturer's suggestions. Some models require the filter to remain wet for the unit to operate, but most of the time, it's good to avoid prolonged moisture or standing water when you're not going to use the machine for a while.
The good news is that there are products that can reduce the amount of cleaning you'll need to do. For example, there are antimicrobial water treatment cartridges made specifically for home humidifiers. Of course, it's always good to ask the manufacturer which products they recommend before putting anything other than water in your machine.
Controlling Humidifier Noise At Night
It's hard to find a humidifier model that truly makes zero noise at all. Even the most whisper-quiet models might bubble or beep under certain circumstances. Not all of this noise is avoidable. Some of the noise can actually be beneficial – white noise, like the sound of an evaporative humidifier's fan, can actually help drown out other noises and help lull babies to sleep at night.
Otherwise, consider investing in a best humidifier for babies with a timer or find out whether your current humidifier will work with the type of timer that hooks directly to a wall outlet. As long as your baby's nursery is relatively well-insulted, the room should continue to hold at least some humidity throughout the night, although the results will definitely pale in comparison to leaving the unit running.
Baby Humidifier Frequently Asked Questions
What is the ideal humidity level for a baby's nursery during sleep?
Many professionals suggest keeping nurseries at humidity level between 40-60%, easily achievable with any of the models listed previously in this guide. If humidity is too low, the dry air can irritate the infant's delicate nasal passages. If humidity is too high, it can promote the growth of mold in the nursery.
How often should I change the filter on my evaporative humidifier?
Every humidifier is different. The manual that comes with your machine should have specific answers, although you may need to clean more or less frequently depending on exactly how you tend to use it. Always change the filter immediately if you notice the growth of mold or mildew to prevent particles from entering the air.
Is it okay to use essential oils in my humidifier?
Unless the product was marketed specifically as an essential oil diffuser, the answer is usually "no" – consult your manual before putting anything in the water reservoir or filter. The same goes for water treatment kits intended to cut down on mildew and bacteria growth. Consulting the manual, and then following up with your child's doctor, is always the safest way to go.
Do I need to use purified water in my humidifier or is tap water okay?
Purified water is almost always easier on the inner components of a humidifier. Unless your tap water is exceptionally "soft", minerals will eventually build up around moving parts or within the reservoir. It's still possible to use clean tap water without harm – just consult the manual to find the manufacturer's recommendations for removing any accumulated scale.