Fully adjustable misting settings. Filter-free for convenience. Half-gallon tank produces enough cool mist for up to 20 hours. Works with Vicks VapoPads for medicated comfort. Compact and ideal for smaller rooms.
No battery, needs to stay plugged in. Too small for some rooms.
Optional night light adds a soothing quality. Offers high and low speed settings. Exceptionally quiet operation. Straightforward to use. Run time of 16 hours. Price falls on the lower end of the spectrum.
Diligent maintenance is needed to prevent mold. Mist generation can be inconsistent.
Choose the character you like the best. Humidifier runs quietly for up to 24 hours. Base is antimicrobial to deter bacteria and mildew growth. Variable speed can be adjusted to preference. One gallon tank can handle rooms up to 500 square feet. Filter-free.
Not compatible with essential oils. Some durability concerns.
Includes color-changing night light for gentle illumination. Diffuser function adds scent from essential oils. Adjustable, powerful humidifying action. Appealing, nursery-friendly shape. Can use any of three modes independently.
Small refill opening. Can be difficult to clean. Our expert recommends checking with baby’s healthcare provider before distilling essential oils because of possible allergic reactions.
Can cover a larger room. Runs up to 100 hours. Choose between cool or warm mist settings. Mist is multi-directional. Shuts off when tank is empty. Surfaces resist mildew growth.
Due to the warm mist, our expert recommends not using this in baby rooms if they're able to crawl and walk.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
You want the healthiest, safest, and just plain best for your little ones, from the food they eat to the detergent used to launder their clothes to the shampoo that cleans their hair. But when it comes to keeping babies happy and healthy, some new parents forget about one of the most important factors of all: the air their baby breathes. Newborn skin is far more sensitive than yours, and your baby’s eyes, lungs, and nose are more prone to uncomfortable symptoms from dry air, including irritation, congestion, flaky patches, and chapped lips and skin. The solution is a humidifier.
For maximum comfort, indoor air should have a relative humidity of around 40%. Far too often, however, particularly in the winter, the humidity inside your home (and, most importantly, inside your baby’s room) is quite a bit lower than that. And that spells discomfort for everyone in your family, but most of all for your baby or toddler.
There are three basic types of humidifiers to choose from: cool mist, warm mist, and ultrasonic. Each has its pros and cons.
Cool mist humidifiers: These are the simplest type. Basically, a filter that serves as a wick absorbs water out of a reservoir. A small fan in the upper portion of the humidifier blows dry air across the soaked wick and then blows that air out into the room in the form of a fine, cool mist that effectively raises the humidity throughout the room. The filtered wick absorbs minerals and impurities from the water, resulting in pure water vapor.
This is the least expensive type of humidifier. And there is no potential for scalds or burns from hot water, an important consideration when choosing a humidifier for a baby’s room
On the downside, this type tends to be noisier than others. The filtered wick must be replaced regularly, generally every few months. This unit can make the room feel chilly, and the mist can dampen nearby furniture, flooring, or fabric.
Warm mist humidifiers: Often called vaporizers, these have a small heating element in the water reservoir that boils the water, releasing steam into the room air. These silent devices don’t require a wicking filter because boiling eliminates any potential germ issues, and the steam is free of minerals or other impurities. However, due to the potential for burns, you should never use a warm mist humidifier in the bedroom of any baby old enough to crawl.
These units are very effective at increasing room humidity, which is helpful for nasal congestion and other conditions. And, unlike the cool mist humidifier, it won’t lower the air temperature in the room
On the downside, there is the potential for burns or scalds, especially if the unit is tipped over. This humidifier uses more energy than a cool mist unit. Also, mineral buildup in the reservoir can be a problem if you don't use distilled water in your humidifier.
Ultrasonic humidifiers: This is the most high-tech version of these devices. High-frequency sound waves, which are inaudible to the human ear, create turbulence in the water reservoir, producing a fine mist. An internal fan blows the mist into the room. Many ultrasonic humidifiers have settings for both cool and warm mist, making them quite versatile. These humidifiers are energy efficient, very quiet, and don’t require a wicking filter.
On the downside, ultrasonic humidifiers do tend to create a white, powdery buildup of minerals on nearby flooring, furniture, or fabric, so it’s important to only use distilled water in these units. They’re best used in small rooms, and they are the most expensive type of humidifier.
Once you’ve determined the type of humidifier that is best suited to your baby’s needs, it’s time to consider various features.
There are several forms of ultraviolet light, which is a component of sunlight that’s invisible to the human eye. UVA and UVB are the rays responsible for sunburn when you lie out in the sun too long without sunscreen, but it’s UVC you’ll find as a feature on many humidifiers, especially ultrasonic models. UVC has a powerful effect on bacteria, viruses, and mold spores, destroying them within a few seconds. That makes a UV-equipped humidifier an excellent choice for a nursery.
Adjustable output: The simplest humidifiers produce mist at a preset level, but better models let you tailor the output to your needs and preferences.
Auto shutoff: Look for a baby humidifier that automatically shuts off when the reservoir runs dry or if the unit tips over.
Water level indicator: This handy feature warns you with light or sound when the reservoir is running low.
Humidistat: Generally only found on the priciest humidifiers, the humidistat shuts the humidifier off when the desired level of humidity is reached and then turns it back on again when air moisture decreases.
Filter indicator: Not all humidifiers have filters, but those that do require the filter to be changed regularly to keep the device operating efficiently. A filter indicator warns you with light or sound when it’s time to change the filter.
Rotating nozzle: Most humidifiers have a fixed nozzle, but some allow you to rotate the nozzle to aim the mist right where you want it to go.
Cleaning: Baby’s humidifier needs to be thoroughly cleaned every few days. Easy-to-clean designs make it a cinch to thoroughly scrub all portions of the reservoir.
Filling: The reservoir should be easy to fill, with a large opening, a handle or a design that’s easy to grip, and a cap that screws on without much effort.
Many humidifiers marketed specifically for use in the nursery have adorable designs. You’ll find humidifiers shaped like elephants, pandas, frogs, and other cute creatures. While not a crucial feature, this is a nice touch for your baby’s room.
For $20 to $30, you can get a simple cool mist humidifier or a very basic ultrasonic humidifier. Don’t expect any fancy features in this price range.
For $30 to $50, you’ll find a wide range of all three types of humidifier. At this price point, you’ll get some nice extra features, including UV to kill germs, adjustable output, and cute designs.
Above $50, you’ll find humidifiers with a full range of desirable features, cute designs, high outputs, and the latest technology.
Match the humidifier to the size of your baby’s room. It’s important to consider the size of your baby’s room when choosing a humidifier. A device that’s too small won’t provide enough moisture to keep your baby comfortable, while a unit that’s too big might increase the indoor humidity above 60%, which can promote the growth of harmful mold and mildew.
Typically, the humidifier packaging will state the device’s output, which is a measure of the number of gallons of water the humidifier can convert to mist within a 24-hour period. The following guidelines are helpful:
Small rooms need at least 1 to 2 gallons of output per day.
Medium rooms need 3 to 4 gallons of output per day.
Large rooms need up to 6 gallons of output per day.
Very large rooms (or more than one room) need 8 or more gallons of output per day.
Check other factors before deciding on a humidifier. Beyond room size, there are other factors that increase the optimal humidifier output in your baby’s nursery: high ceilings, multiple windows or doors, arid climate, and frequent use of central air or heat.
A. Every day, dump out any leftover water from the reservoir, let it dry, and then refill it with clean water. Every few days, clean the entire humidifier by washing the reservoir thoroughly (some models are dishwasher safe) and carefully wiping away any grunge or mineral deposits from the humidifier’s mechanisms. If your humidifier has one or more filters, replace them on the manufacturer’s schedule or whenever they start to look discolored, slimy, or worn.
A. While some humidifiers do have diffusers for essential oils, never add oil directly into the water of any humidifier. Doing so can gum up the device’s filters or mechanisms and might promote the growth of bacteria or mold in the reservoir.
A. As a general rule, it’s best to use distilled water in all humidifiers. It reduces the buildup of mineral deposits inside the humidifier’s reservoir and spout and reduces the chances of white mineral powder settling on nearby surfaces.
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