A humidifier can help with baby’s congestion, nasal passages, and dry skin. Here’s what to know about choosing the best humidifier for baby’s room.
Of course, you want to choose a baby humidifier that works well, lasts a long time, and won’t end up harboring mold. There are also a few safety precautions to keep in mind when choosing a humidifier.
Table of contents
- Are Humidifiers Good for Babies?
- What Does a Humidifier Do for Babies?
- Which Type Of Humidifier Is Best For Babies?
- What Should I Look For in a Humidifier?
- The Best Baby Humidifiers of 2023
- What Can I Put in a Humidifier for Congestion?
- What to Do When You’re Finished With Your Humidifier
Are Humidifiers Good for Babies?
There are few kinds of humidifiers that work in different ways, but essentially they add to the moisture content of the air in a room. Homes in colder climates experience more dry air than those in places where it stays warm or humid year round.
“You can run a cool mist humidifier in the room during sleep to keep the skin on the inside of the nose moist,” says Tanya Altmann, M.D., a California-based pediatrician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
What Does a Humidifier Do for Babies?
The increased moisture in humidified air helps to keep the nasal passages moist. This can naturally reduce irritation from dry membranes and sticky mucus.
The best baby humidifiers can help with:
- nasal congestion
- stuffy nose
- runny nose
- sore throat
- a cold causing dryness in the nose or throat
- “barking” croup cough
Another perk of a humidifier is that it can also help with dry skin. Actually, there are humidifiers marketed as a beauty product for keeping skin moist and supple. This can be very soothing to a baby with eczema or cradle cap, or to newborn skin transitioning from the womb to dry air.
Another great benefit of humidifiers is the white noise that can help baby to fall asleep and to sleep more deeply. Additionally, if you’re into aromatherapy with baby-safe essential oils, there are many humidifiers with diffuser options. Many even include nightlights so you can move around the nursery during the twilight hours.
You may want to check with your healthcare provider for their best humidifier practices for baby.
Which Type Of Humidifier Is Best For Babies?
Cool-mist humidifiers are specifically recommended by The American Academy of Pediatrics for use with children and babies. The other humidifier option would be the original warm mist humidifiers which work by heating water to create steam which then goes into the air.
Steam is scalding hot, so that type of humidifier has the potential to hurt curious little crawlers and adventurous climbers. Thus, the cool-mist humidifier has been deemed the safer humidifier for a baby’s nursery.
At present, there are two types of cool-mist humidifiers; evaporative and ultrasonic. Evaporative humidifiers work by pulling water through either a wick or a filter. A fan blows on the wick or filter, blowing water vapor into the room. Ultrasonic humidifiers work by vibration. A vibrating disc causes the release of water droplets that turn into vapor.
So, which is best?
It can depend on a few factors that will vary home to home. Evaporative humidifiers generally make more noise than ultrasonic humidifiers. The noise comes from the fan. However, ultrasonic models can require special accommodations like distilled water to prevent white dust from vaporized minerals.
The average evaporative humidifier has a filter to address the dust. Vaporized minerals are also cause for questions about safety as it isn’t known how inhaling them could impact our health. Until research can verify safety, an ultrasonic humidifier is best paired with either water that’s either distilled, demineralized, or filtered.
Always keep the humidifier at least three feet from baby so that neither baby nor the crib get wet. You’ll also want to keep the humidifier and the cord out of baby’s reach. Depending on the outlet setup in the room, you may want to look at cord length for your humidifier to ensure the cord will reach.
What Should I Look For in a Humidifier?
There are several affordable baby humidifiers, but cost isn’t the only factor. Here’s what else to keep in mind:
In order for your humidifier to perform its best, you’ll want one that has the appropriate moisture output for the room. Measure the room where you’ll use it most often and buy a good baby humidifier with ideal coverage for that square footage.
If you get a unit for a large space that doesn’t have humidity control, then you could end up with a room that’s too moist. Alternatively, a unit for a smaller space could leave you with air that’s still dry.
Keeping air moisture in an ideal range is very important for baby as well as your home. Excess moisture can lead to problems with mold and bacteria, which isn’t good for baby or the house.
Many humidifier units have humidistats that you can use to measure and control air moisture. Some can even be programmed to run within a set humidity range. Units without a humidistat can be paired with a hygrometer to keep tabs on air moisture and run it accordingly.
The brands below have met or exceeded safety regulations. But once a humidifier is in your home, be sure to take extra precaution around it.
“Make sure a child can’t reach the cord or machine and accidentally pull it down on top of them,” Dr. Altmann says.
When my kids were small, I always placed the humidifier on the floor so it couldn’t fall from any surface that might hurt them. I also placed a waterproof pad underneath it just in case it got bumped and spilled water. That keeps water from damaging a wood floor or seeping into a carpet pad where it can breed mold.
Ease of Cleaning
Humidifiers can become breeding grounds for bacteria and mold growth if they aren’t properly maintained. American Association of Pediatrics’s spokesperson Heather Felton advises, “Bacteria and mold will grow in the humidifier, so it is recommended to clean and dry it every day because it could make your child sick.”
The humidifiers listed below are easy to clean. Follow the manufacturer’s directions. But in most cases you simply separate the parts and soak in white vinegar to sanitize. You’ll also want to brush off mineral deposits so they don’t become islands for microscopic nasties.
A smart humidifier with a humidistat will help control water output. But dryer air will take more water no matter how smart your unit is. Some humidifiers will notify you when water is out by light which, as you see in reviews, can disrupt sleep for some families.
If a humidifier runs all night, the ideal unit should hold enough water to last until morning. At the very least, it won’t disturb baby’s sleep cycle.
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The Best Baby Humidifiers of 2023
Here’s our list of the most useful humidifiers for families with babies and little ones. We personally tested several brands, and these are the top five we liked the most and our reasons why.
The Huey humidifier by Vornado has a 32 oz bottle that refills on the side, making it easy to fill in all sinks. The built-in humidistat lets you set the desired humidity levels for the room. At 6.1 lbs it is designed to be on the floor to make it topple-resistant or curious little ones.
- Humidifies up to 180 square feet
- Runs up to 16 hours
- 1 gallon output per day
- 32 oz tank capacity
- Dimensions: 9.8 x 13.2 x 11.75 in.
- Electronic humidistat
- Locking controls
- Empty tank indicator
- Spill-resistant water basin
- 5 Year “Happy Parent” Guarantee
The Huey is an evaporative humidifier with a wick, so that means no white dust. Of course, the wick does need to be replaced, so that would need to be factored into your buying decision.
Another important consideration is the refill indicator. It’s one of the baby humidifiers that indicate water levels via light and Vornado Baby doesn’t have an option to turn off the light.
Our Experience With the Vornado Baby Humidifier
The Vornado Huey was easy to set up and easy to fill. Winter can come with long nights of dry heated air and up the moisture needed from the humidifier, which could have the indicator light coming on during the night and disrupting baby’s circadian rhythm. However, homes with heavy sleepers or night lights may find that the peace of mind the Huey offers with its mineral filtration, topple-resistance, and humidity control makes it a wonderful addition to the nursery.
The Levoit Dual 200S scores big points for parents and caregivers with sleep-friendly settings. It shuts off automatically when it’s out of water without sounding any alarms. The 200S also gives the option to shut off display lights. It is further designed to accommodate restful nights by working at a quiet 28 decibels.
- Humidifies up to 290 square feet
- 3-liter tank capacity
- Runs up to 25 hours
- Weighs 3 lbs
- Dimensions: 7.1 x 7.1 x 11.8 in
- Automatic humidity control
- Auto shutoff
- Smart control
- Rotating nozzle
- Essential oil compatible
This smart humidifier has a built-in humidistat, but you can also set your desired humidity. You can create schedules via the Levoit app, so you don’t have to risk a trip through a sleeping baby’s room. And if you have a smart home, the app is compatible.
The Dual 200S is a top-fill humidifier, which helps you avoid those spills on the walk back from the sink. It also has a large tank and is easy to clean. Take off the top, soap up a sponge and give the tank a few swipes, then rinse and dry.
This simplicity is a huge selling point because humidifiers require regular cleaning so they don’t become a breeding ground for mold and allergens. Many humidifiers have small parts or designs that can make them challenging to clean, but Levoit made a humidifier that works hard without you having to.
Our Experience With the Levoit Ultrasonic Humidifier
The Levoit baby humidifier has multiple options for large and small spaces. The con to these high performers is that they are ultrasonic humidifiers which means they don’t have a filtration system. You’ll either need to use distilled water or be prepared to do regular scrubbing to descale it. It has enough perks that a little extra work could be worth it.
The Pure MistAire Ultrasonic Humidifier comes with many great features that make it a good humidifier for baby. When the water is out, the MistAire simply shuts off.
- Humidifies up to 250 square feet
- 1.5 liter tank capacity
- 2 mist settings (low or high)
- Runs up to 25 hours
- Optional nightlight
- Rotating nozzle
- Weighs 1.35 lbs
- Dimensions: 8 x 6 x 9 in.
- 5-year warranty
The MistAire is an ultrasonic humidifier that doesn’t require wick or filter replacements. The flip side is that the humidity and the minerals in the air could result in white dust. Homes with hard water may require distilled water in place of tap water. A decalcification cartridge or humidifier cleaner cartridge may also be needed to help keep down mineral build-up in the tank.
Our Experience With the MistAire Ultrasonic Humidifier
The bottom-fill reservoir leads to regular walks to the sink, which can be a little messy taking off the lid and walking a full water tank back to the nursery.
And while the MistAire has an optional nightlight, the “on” button has a light that doesn’t turn off when the humidifier is running. That is easily remedied by covering it with a piece of tape. Depending on the needs of your home and your family, it makes our list of the best baby humidifiers.
The Raydrop is a hot buy on Amazon because it checks a few boxes; price and convenience being the top two. The price is in the $20-range. It’s also a top-fill humidifier which makes it easier to clean as well as to fill. Thanks to the top-fill design, you can avoid having to bring the humidifier back and forth from the room to the sink and just fill it up with a pitcher.
- 2.5 liter tank capacity
- Multiple mist settings
- Runs up to 30 hours
- Dimensions: 7.2 x 7.2 x 11.89 in.
- Weight: 2.38lbs
- Auto shut-off
- Rotating nozzle
- Essential oil compatible
The Raydrop automatically shuts off when water runs out. It doesn’t have a light or noise alert, so you don’t have to worry about it waking up baby in the middle of the night. Another perk is that it has a semi-transparent lid so you can see the water levels.
Our Experience With the Raydrop Humidifier
We like the stream of mist from the Raydrop. It never feels like you’re adding too much moisture to the air.
The Raydrop can run up to thirty hours on the low setting. If your home doesn’t have very dry air and the humidifier is only run at night, then it may only need filling every few days. Unfortunately, Raydrop doesn’t provide information on the square feet it covers. Depending on the size of baby’s room, that may or may not be a concern.
The Frida team designs some of the most useful baby products around. They are problem solvers who keep things simple. The Frida Baby 3-in-1 cool mist humidifier is a good humidifier for baby and a good diffuser for the whole house.
- Covers 320 square feet
- Runs 12 hours
- Dimensions: 9.25 x 9 x 9.25 in.
- 64 oz. tank capacity
- Auto shut-off
- Optional color changing nightlight
- Rotating nozzle
- BPA free water tank
- Essential oil compatible
This cool mist humidifier uses the power of ultrasonic vibration to turn water into a cool hydrating mist that runs for up to 12 hours. Frida’s mist adjuster goes from gentle mist to tropical rainforest with a twist of the knob.
Our Experience With the Frida Baby Humidifier
We love this one for daily use (even in the summer) as a diffuser. Like other diffusers, it can drip a little when you change the water. You can use the color changing light or turn it off to keep from disturbing baby’s sleep. We also appreciate the BPA free water tank.
Ultimately, the needs of your household will determine what humidifier is best for baby. Whatever humidifier you choose, you can feel good knowing that baby will sleep better with easier breathing and hydrated skin.
What Can I Put in a Humidifier for Congestion?
Most research shows essential oils to be safe when used aromatically around little ones as long as they aren’t allergic. Never allow a baby or child to ingest essential oils as they are extremely potent plant medicine. And while there are some instances where topical application can be helpful, consult with a healthcare professional first and be sure to dilute oils before applying to your child’s skin.
All that said, an aromatherapy grade lavender essential oil and organic eucalyptus can help break up congestion in babies and kids. Be sure to keep the mist a few feet away from baby, and don’t let it come into direct contact with baby’s skin or mouth.
You can also make your own vapor rub to apply to your little one’s chest. The humidified air works well in concert with the vapor rub.
What to Do When You’re Finished With Your Humidifier
Since a humidifier is useful for the whole family, this is one baby gear item you can keep for as long as it lasts. Make sure you keep it clean to avoid any mold buildup.
If you opt for a diffuser style, you can use it year round.
And if you decide you no longer need it, make sure it’s clean and mold-free, and pass it along to a friend, donate, or sell it.