When your baby is feeling under the weather it can leave many parents feeling helpless, from the sniffles to a dry cough – all of it is difficult to witness.
In reality, there is little you can do to but ride it out and of course provide ample amounts of hugs and comfort. But that’s when the humidifier steps in to help. Symptoms associated with common colds, sore throats and coughs can be eased with additional moisture in the air. They also come in useful for helping to ease babies with irritated and dehydrated skin.
Do You Need a Humidifier?
Many parents find a humidifier to be extremely helpful, especially at times when their infants are not feeling their best, while some parents find them to be high maintenance. Humidifiers do need to be kept clean and free from mold to avoid the risk of pathogens being circulated into the surrounding air.
If you want to buy a humidifier, it’s worth remembering that there are two major kinds, those that disperse a cool mist, and those that disperse a warm mist. Ultimately, they both achieve the same effect and add a good amount of moisture to the air. However, the cool mist vaporizers are advised for use with children and infants. The main reason for this is simply the risk hot steam may pose to an infant if they come in close proximity to it.
Benefits of a Humidifier
Making the air surrounding you more humid as a number of benefits, here are some of them:
Alleviate Cold & Flu Symptoms –Added moisture in the air can help alleviate upper respiratory symptoms associated with common illness.
Alleviate Congestion – Increased moisture in the sinuses can help keep relax the mucous membranes and loosen mucus.
Helps Dry & Irritated Skin – Additional moisture in the air can help soothe dehydrated and itchy skin.
Prevent Nosebleeds – Dry mucous membranes are more prone to nose bleeds and increased humidity helps to keep them moist.
Aid Sleep – Many humidifiers emit some level of background or “white noise” that can help comfort your infant and aid their sleep.
The Types of Humidifiers
Although all humidifies function to increase the level of humidity or moisture in the surrounding air, they do differ in the way that they achieve that.
Ultrasonic humidifiers (Cool Mist)
These humidifiers rely on high-frequency sound waves to disperse the moisture by creating a nearly invisible mist. Ultrasonic models are advantageous as they are typically much quieter than evaporative humidifiers and they don’t usually require a filter, they are typically much more energy efficient too, meaning they will cost you less to run. And since they rely on cool mist, there is never any danger of your child being scalded due to some unforeseen circumstance.
The limitation of ultrasonic models is that they require a little more effort to maintain. Since they don’t have a filter, they do tend to build up mineral scale deposits; this is especially true if you reside in an area with hard water. Due to this, a common observation is that they do end up depositing a fine dust along with the moisture. And as the water isn’t boiled, there is a possibility for bacteria to be dispersed into the room along with the mist.
It is possible to alleviate dust deposits by deionizing any water before use; however, some people may find this a further inconvenience. Disinfecting the humidifier on a regular basis is also important.
Evaporative Humidifier (Cool Mist)
These are humidifiers that rely on the heat that works to boil the water and lead to evaporation, adding moisture to the surrounding air. Evaporative models are typically more efficient at increasing humidity and the majority of models have a filter system that helps to purify the water reservoir and limit the amount of grey scale dust deposits.
Typically, they also include a “wet wick filter” that absorbs water from the tank; this water is then dispersed into the living space as a fan forces evaporation to occur. This does mean there is an on-going cost, so is certainly worth bearing in mind.
Many models also help to limit the number of microorganisms present in the water as their filters can have added microbial substances, and some models even have ultraviolet lights that act to kill most bacteria present. Of course, they still need disinfecting, but it certainly provides more comfort.
Overall evaporative humidifiers are more efficient and they do require less maintenance. But in return, you are going to have to spend a little more in the long term as they cost more to run and you will periodically require new filters.
Vaporizers (Warm Vapor)
Similar to evaporative models, “steam vaporizers” create a mist of moisture, but instead it a warm vapor and relies on heating the water to produce steam. The main advantage is that there is less risk of bacteria being present due to the act of boiling water killing most bacteria.
The major limitation of baby steam vaporizers is that they pose a potential fire and burns risk. Boiling water around infants is never a good idea, so you should certainly ensure it’s kept as far away from your children if you plan on using one. Some parents just don’t like the idea of leaving a heating element on for long periods of time either, especially during the night time.
Which Type of Humidifier Should You Choose?
If you have a busy schedule and less time to maintain a humidifier, then we recommend opting for an Evaporative model equipped with a filter and preferably UV light. However, bear in mind this will cost you more in the long run.
On the other hand – if you are well organized and have enough time to commit to regular cleaning we would advise opting for an ultrasonic model. They are cheaper to run long term and often much quieter, making them ideal for nurseries.
Our Top Picks
Crane Gray Elephant Humidifier
This is probably one of the cutest humidifiers available in Crane’s large range of animal collection. And while the aesthetic appeal may not be a priority, it’s certainly nice to have something that will look good and win the attention of your little one.
This is an ultrasonic humidifier that relies on sound vibrations to disperse moisture into the surrounding air. Since it doesn’t emit warm mist, it’s far safer than warm mist devices, meaning you can run it all night without having to worry about it running dry or your infant potentially burning themselves.
Ultrasonic devices like this one are quieter than humidifiers that utilize fans making them much more suitable for nurseries. They also don’t require a filter, which can be a nuisance and an additional expense to worry about. It’s also extremely energy efficient and will cost less than the standard light bulb to run.
This humidifier will help increase humidity in nurseries or other rooms of the house for up to 24 hours, helping to soothe symptoms associated with colds and flu. As well as the Elephant design, Crane has a vast range of other animals, so there’s sure to be one that your kid will love!
Honeywell Germ-Free Humidifier
If you have concerns about pathogens like bacteria being spread into the surrounding air when using a humidifier, then this germ-free humidifier by Honeywell that actively helps to kill bacteria may be preferred. It’s also dishwasher friendly, making maintaining good hygiene and keeping on top of mold build-up convenient and easy.
It works by drawing in dry air that is then exposed to a water absorbed filter, resulting in an almost invisible mist of water being emitted with the help of a fan. These filters are also treated with antimicrobial substances that work to prohibit up to 99% of mold growth.
There are three fan settings – low, medium and high, which are all relatively silent in comparison to other popular models. However, it does become slightly louder, the higher the setting goes, still, it does a great job on low, which is certainly not loud enough to disturb sleep.
The water tank is hefty and can be filled with everyday tap water that is then exposed to a built-in ultra-violet which kills mold, bacteria, fungus, and virus. Combine this with the UV light and dishwasher safe design – this makes for a very clean and easy to maintain humidifier.
The only possible downside is that you need to replace the filters, which is recommended every 3 months. However, for a germ-free baby vaporizer, it’s well worth it.
Crane Drop Cool Mist Humidifier
This teardrop humidifier utilizes ultrasonic technology and can hold up to 1 gallon of water – enough for it to run for 24 hours, meaning you don’t have to worry about constantly topping it up, which can be a nuisance, especially during the night. It’s also the perfect size and style look for a baby nursery and trumps many of the larger, boxier designs. And since it’s available in 15 colors, there’s sure to be a shade to match your decor.
As recommended for use around children, this is a cool mist humidifier, which helps to keep bacterial growth to a minimum and is much safer around infants. Many people are concerned about noisy humidifiers, which is why this was selected – it emits almost zero sound on the low setting and on medium the faintest hum can be heard, which is actually quite soothing for infants.
It operates using ultrasonic technology to release moisture into the air using sound vibrations. What does this mean exactly? It means no noisy fans will cause disturbances and no filters need to be replaced. It can provide moisture for areas up to 500 square feet, which is more than adequate for most babies’ nurseries – and when all of the water is used up, it automatically shuts off.
Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier
If you have your mind set on a warm mist humidifier and you’re sure that it won’t be in reach of your child, the Vick’s is a superb option. The benefit of this is that the additional heat will help to kill bacteria and you can add Vicks VapoPads to further alleviate upper respiratory symptoms.
This steam vaporizer can hold up to 1 gallon of water meaning it can run for as long as 12 hours before it needs refilling. You don’t need to be concerned about it burning when it empties either as it has an automatic shutoff function. Even better? When it needs refilling the green light turns orange to let you know.
There are many types of humidifiers, some of which allow bacteria to be more easily dispersed than others. This is a steam vaporizer, so doesn’t allow microorganisms to disperse as much as others, for example ultrasonic, which relies on sound vibrations to disperse the moisture. However, this does mean that the standing water in the tank does need to be kept clean – this is easily done with the use of a Protec Humidifier Cleaning Ball.
Vicks also have a range of humidifiers that act much like Baby Light Show Projectors. For instance, they have a model named the “Starry Night Humidifier” that projects a beautiful constellation onto the ceiling a perfect way to comfort and distract a baby who may be struggling to get off to sleep.
What to Look For in a Baby Humidifier
If you want to know exactly what to look out for when in the market for a baby humidifier, here are some key pointers to help you out:
How easy is it to clean? – Maintaining a good level of hygiene is essential when you own a humidifier; you don’t want bacteria and mold spores being spread around your home or infant. Therefore, it’s a good idea to get one that is easy and convenient to clean, ones with a modular design are particularly easy to clean as all the parts can be dissembled, allowing easy access of all areas.
Does it need to be quiet? – If you plan on using it in your baby’s nursery then you probably don’t want it to be too loud.
Auto-shutoff – Do you really want to have to keep checking the water reservoir, to see how much is remaining? Obviously, it’s important to turn it off when the water runs dry, especially if are using a vaporizer, therefore always opt for a humidifier with an auto-shutoff feature for peace of mind and optimum safety.
Do you want to control the level of humidity? – If you want to be able to control the level of moisture in the air, then you’ll probably want a humidifier equipped with a thermostat. This allows you to achieve the ideal humidity level which is between 50-60%.
Other antimicrobial features – If you really want to keep microorganisms at bay, you may want a humidifier fitted with a range of antibacterial features. This includes UV lights that effectively kill bacteria, as well as filters laced with antimicrobial substances.
How to Clean Your Humidifier
The area of most concern in humidifiers is the water tank that can be a hotspot for bacteria and mold growth. Even though evaporative humidifiers and steam vaporizers reduce the growth of microorganisms they still need to be disinfected on a regular basis to help prevent their spread around your home.
Don’t worry though! Maintaining a good level of hygiene is straightforward, it’s simply about adopting a simple and easy regime you know you will stick to. Here’s a great video that takes you through the process step-by-step: