There is a way to get around the problem though – humidifiers. These are often recommended for use when an infant suffers from a severe cold and congestion. But different humidifiers work in different ways. So, how do you know which one to pick? MomJunction gives you a guide on humidifiers, their usage, and lists 12 best humidifiers for your babies.
What Is A Humidifier?
A humidifier is an electronic device that emits water vapor to increase the humidity levels in the air. The device comes with a reservoir to hold water, which gets converted to vapor through an evaporation fan. Humidifiers are available in several forms.
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Types Of Humidifiers
There are five types of humidifiers (1):
- Central humidifiers are built into a building’s central heating system and use ventilation ducts to pump water vapor. They are expensive and non-portable since they are integrated into a building’s structure.
- Evaporators use a “wick” system where a porous pad soaks water, which is evaporated by a high-speed fan to humidify the air.
- Vaporizers, also called warm-mist or steam humidifiers, boil water and convert it into steam, which is released into the air.
- Impeller humidifiers have a rotating disk that throws water outward with high speeds. The high speeds convert liquid into mist. It works like a spray from a spray bottle.
- Ultrasonic humidifiers work similar to impeller humidifier, but instead of a rotating disk, they have a stationary, ceramic disk with water on top of it. The ceramic disk vibrates at high speeds matching ultrasonic frequency, which changes water to gas, and releases from the humidifier as mist.
Except for central humidifiers, all others are portable and can be purchased exclusively for your baby’s room.
Evaporators, impeller humidifiers, and ultrasonic humidifiers expel mist at normal room temperature and thus are called cool-mist humidifiers. Central humidifiers and vaporizers release steam to humidify the air and are warm-mist humidifiers.
Humidifier Vs Dehumidifier Vs Air Filter
People often confuse between dehumidifiers, air filters and humidifiers. However, they have different functions (2) as explained below:
- Dehumidifiers do not rid a room of excess air moisture. They condense gaseous water into liquid to reduce the humidity in a room. It is used in conditions of excess humidity.
- Air filters cleanse the air by removing particulate matter such as smoke and pollen by using physical and ionic filters. They do not humidify or dehumidify the air.
Both dehumidifiers and air filters are portable like humidifiers but serve an entirely different purpose. So make sure you are buying the correct thing.
How Does A Humidifier Help A Baby?
Besides keeping the air moist, they benefit babies in many other ways.
- Moisturises nasal passages: Dried nasal mucus makes it difficult for an infant to breathe. A humidifier restores the ideal humidity levels, making it easy for a baby to breathe.
- Helps alleviate symptoms of cold: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the use of a humidifier for infants suffering from cold, cough, and congestion (3). It helps in easier respiration and prevents dry throat thanks to the additional moisture in the air.
- Moistens skin: If the baby is prone to dry skin during winters, then a humidifier can help replenish the lost skin moisture.
- Eases symptoms of severe conditions: Experts suggest the use of humidifiers to alleviate hay fever, nose bleeding, sinus congestion, and even respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections (4) (5). Symptoms of these conditions resemble common cold, thus making humidifiers useful during these situations.
When buying a humidifier, you may find numerous models with varying features. Make an informed choice.
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How To Select A Humidifier?
The below points would help you cross check all the important features.
- Select cool-mist humidifiers, such as impeller, ultrasonic, and evaporators as they release mist at room temperature. Warm mist-humidifiers are associated with burns in babies so steer clear of them (1). The American Academy of Pediatrics is against the use of steam humidifiers for infants (3).
- Choose timer and auto-shutdown features. A humidifier with a timer and an auto-shutdown feature helps you set time intervals, preventing you from checking on your baby through the night. Auto-shutdown is also good when water reservoir goes empty. Also, running the humidifier too long may cause excess humidity that could be uncomfortable for the baby.
- Check for humidistat feature. Humidistat is a device that measures and monitors humidity levels in a room. It displays the relative humidity as a percentage on a digital display. A humidistat can be programmed to shut down or go into a low power mode after the room has attained the required humidity. Surplus moisture can condense on the windows and other objects in the room, making the baby’s room damp.
- Dismountable water reservoirs are helpful. The water reservoir holder should be washed regularly to prevent mold and bacteria. A detachable water tank can be easily cleaned and dried before refilling.
Considering the checklist, we have compiled a list of 12 best humidifiers for your baby.
Best Humidifiers For Baby
You may select from these humidifiers when buying one for your little one’s room:
1. Vicks Vicks Vul520w Filter-free Cool Mist Humidifier
- Simple and easy-to-clean design with a detachable water reservoir.
- Mist-control knob helps in varying humidity levels.
- Water tank has a capacity of 0.5 gallon (1.9 litres). Full tank lasts for 20 hours of mist at “low” setting.
- Auto-shutdown feature switches off the device when the water tank gets empty.
- Does not require filter replacement.
- It has a noiseless function with a cool mist.
- Plugs into a standard wall socket. Small size makes it ideal for small baby rooms.
2. SimpleTaste Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
- Uses ultrasonic technology that is quiet and gives a cool mist.
- Large water tank capacity of 0.79 gallon (3 litres) that lets humidifier run for 10 hours at maximum setting.
- Mist nozzle can be adjusted and rotated a full 360°.
- Shuts off automatically when the water level is low.
- Has built-in night light with seven color options – purple, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red.
- Replaceable water filter removes microbial and chemical impurities from water before converting it into mist. Filter lasts for 500 hours of use and is replaceable.
3. Honeywell HUL520W Mistmate Cool Mist Humidifier
- Small compact size with 0.5 gallon (1.9 litres) water reservoir capacity. Runs for up to 20 hours.
- Quiet operation with cool mist from the output nozzle.
- LED lit control knob makes it easy to spot even in the dark.
- Automatic shutdown when the water tank gets empty.
- Hassle-free operation without filter and a detachable water tank make cleaning easier.
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4. Crane Adorable Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
- Features a lightweight 1 gallon (3.78 litres) water tank that is easy to remove and fill.
- Full tank can humidify an area of about 500 square feet.
- Built with anti-bacterial plastic that prevents molds and bacteria.
- Comes with an optional demineralization filter that removes mineral salts from hard water before converting it into cool mist.
- Friendly and attractive design make it a cute addition to the little one’s room.
5. Philips Evaporative Humidifier for Nurseries Series 2000
- Fan dissipates the mist in a complete 360° direction thus making it the best humidifier for nurseries and large baby rooms.
- Proprietary evaporation technology reduces the spread of bacteria from the water by 99%.
- Features a humidistat that automatically senses humidity and modulates the humidifier settings.
- Contains 0.5 gallon (1.9 litres) water tank with a water level indicator.
- Automatically shuts down on reaching preset humidity levels and when the water tank is empty.
6. PureGuardian Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier Tower
- Has a space-saving tower design that makes it easy to place in any room.
- Has a large 1.5 gallons (5.67 litres) water tank capacity that provides up to 100 hours of runtime on a full tank.
- Automatic shutdown and a timer that can be adjusted for up to 12 hours of continuous usage.
- Releases mist at three adjustable speeds. Multi-directional nozzle ensures that the water vapor reaches every part of a room.
- Has an indicator light for power and water tank refill.
7. Yoleo Premium Cool Mist Air Humidifiers
- Compact design with a water tank capacity of 0.48 gallon (1.8 litres) that can humidify an area of up to 322 square feet.
- Gives a maximum runtime of 12 hours on one full tank with the maximum mist setting.
- Uses ultrasonic technology that provides a silent function.
- Automatic shutdown and an integrated soothing, night light.
8. Crane Adorable Train-shaped Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
- Gives a cool ultrasonic mist for up to 24 hours on a full tank.
- Removable 1 gallon (3.78 litres) water tank makes it easy to clean and maintain.
- Made from anti-bacterial plastic that prevents bacteria from accumulating in the water tank.
- Optional water filter cleans the water before converting it into vapor.
- Comes in a train-shaped design that will attract the baby’s attention.
9. Purasense Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
- Compact design with a water tank capacity of 0.3 gallon (1.3 litres).
- Full tank gives a cool mist for up to seven hours in an area up to 538 square feet.
- Filtration cartridge removes microscopic impurities including bacteria from the water.
- Rotational nozzle ensures that the mist spreads in a 360° direction.
- Has an automatic shutdown with built-in timer facility.
10. Vicks Starry Night Cool Moisture Humidifier
- Small size makes it portable and ideal for a medium-sized room.
- Water reservoir capacity is 1 gallon (3.78 litres) and provides up to 24 hours of mist on a full tank.
- Replaceable filter removes microbial impurities from water before turning it into cool mist.
- Features a “starry night” projector that projects attractive images on the roof, doubling as a night lamp for the baby’s room.
- Quiet fan operation does not disturb the infant’s sleep.
11. MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
- Water reservoir can hold 0.4 gallon (1.5 liters) of water that gives up to 16 hours of mist on maximum settings.
- Automatic shutdown when the water level is low or when the water tank is removed.
- Mist nozzle can be rotated to a 360° to adjust the direction of the vapor.
- Has variable mist speed settings to control the flow of water vapor.
- Contains an automatic shutdown and built-in night lamp.
12. PureGuardian Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
- Portable and compact design with a 0.5 gallon (1.9 litres) of water storage volume.
- The antibacterial material in the storage tank stops bacteria from accumulating.
- Provides up to 30 hours of runtime and features a water refill indicator.
- Multiple mist control settings help modulate water vapor release.
- Has automatic shutdown and built-in night lamp.
- While these humidifiers do almost the entire job of taking care of the humidity levels of your baby’s room, there are certain things that you would have to be careful of.
Tips And Precautions For Humidifier Use
Follow some best practices and precautions even when you are using the best humidifier for the baby.
1. Avoid additives in water:
Many humidifier manufacturers give an air freshener additive that releases scented mist. While adults may like it, you must avoid using it for infants as it could irritate their delicate respiratory lining. Experts also recommend against the use of bacterial disinfectants to the water reservoir as it may contain harmful chemicals that could adversely affect the infant’s lungs (6). Use only water for the mist and stay away from any form of air freshener.
2. Clean the humidifier often:
Even the best humidifiers cannot guarantee the complete absence of bacteria and fungus in the water reservoir. This means you must clean all the components of the humidifier once every two days (7). Start by discarding the reservoir water. Remove the detachable parts of the humidifier, such as the water reservoir and water pad, then soak them in 10% bleach solution. You can use 10% vinegar solution that is nine parts water and one part household vinegar. Soak for 15 minutes and then rinse them well with clean water to remove the bleach or vinegar completely. Dry the parts completely before fitting them together.
Evaporative humidifiers use a wicking pad that could accumulate mold. Use a bottle brush or a scrubber to clean the pad gently. If the pad seems overly dirty or pale, then get a new one. Most manufacturers sell replacement parts that are easily available.
3. Use distilled water:
Several humidifiers feature microbial and mineral filters that clear the water of its impurities. If a humidifier does not have any of these features, then use distilled water, which is free of biological and chemical matter. It serves a dual purpose of preventing contamination by bacteria and inhibits the deposition of mineral scales in the water tank. Scales of mineral deposits can make the reservoir messy and tough to clean. Even if you own a humidifier with built-in filters, you can use distilled water as it will help increase the longevity of the humidifier’s components.
4. Maintain humidity levels between 30% and 50%:
The optimum humidity of a room lies between 30 and 50% (8). Humidity above 50% causes dampness, which is an ideal breeding condition for bacteria and fungus. When humidity drops below 30%, it causes irritation and discomfort in respiration. Several humidifiers allow selection of humidity percentage and some may feature a humidistat that modulates the mist flow automatically. Experts recommend purchasing a hygrometer – a device that measures the relative humidity in the vicinity (9). It gives you the exact water vapor reading and regulates the mist flow accordingly.
5. Place the humidifier beyond baby’s reach:
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests placing a humidifier close to a baby, but beyond physical reach (3). The best way to do this is to position the device on top of cupboard or table close to baby’s crib, but where the baby cannot touch it. While cool-mist humidifiers pose no burn hazard, they still have moving parts and electrical components that could harm a baby.
Humidifiers are unlike other home appliances and require regular maintenance through cleaning. However, when used correctly, they can make a significant contribution to the healthy upbringing of the baby. Always select the cool-mist versions as they are safest for an infant (10). The right cool-mist humidifier can help a baby breathe easy and keep his skin glowing even during the driest seasons.
Tell us about your experience with a humidifier in the comments section below.