Babies have sensitive lungs and skin, especially as newborns, and this can sometimes lead to congestion. Dry air tends to inflame little nasal passages and other airways, but properly humidified air can actually break up the congestion that causes stuffy noses and coughs. Introducing clean and fresh moisture to dry air is an important strategy for keeping your baby comfortable. But how do you choose the best humidifier for baby congestion? Several considerations are important to factor in, such as sound and light levels emitted by the machine. Stick with us as we review five great humidifiers that can make all the difference for your sweet bundle of joy.
What to Look for in a Baby Humidifier
Because infants are so much more delicate than adults and even older children, you need to be especially mindful of any product you use with them. Following are some important factors to consider before choosing the right product for your family.
The first choice you will have to make is between two types of humidifier, warm and cool mist. Warm mist machines heat the water to boiling to produce steam, while cool mist units use ultrasonic technology to create mist without heat. There are pros and cons of each version.
It’s important to consider the safety of a cool mist vs warm mist humidifier for babies. A warm mist humidifier for infants can be risky because they are hot and pose a risk of burns if the humidifier tips over or if baby touches it. While warm steam can be better at reducing congestion, when it comes from a humidifier, the moisture tends to match room temperature by the time it is inhaled anyway. To expose your baby to warm steam in a safer way, take him or her into a steamy bathroom with the shower running.
One benefit that warm mist humidifiers have over cool mist versions is that the boiling action can kill bacteria or allergens in the water before it is emitted as steam. However, this is only important if you know that your water is contaminated. You can also choose to use distilled or purified water in any humidifier to ensure clean steam. In most cases, environmental congestion triggers are going to be airborne, not present in your tap water, and any kind of vapor has the potential to bind with them and pull them out of the air.
Cool mist does lag behind a bit in terms of reducing congestion, but is ideal for regular maintenance of the humidity in baby’s room. Since a warm mist model also doesn’t deliver truly warm mist to the baby, this may be moot when choosing a humidifier. Choose warm over cool only if you need your humidifier to warm up the room in general and if you have a safe place to place it that’s out of reach of baby.
Ease of cleaning
When humidifiers turn water into water vapor, a side effect of that process is the separation of minerals from the water. You’ll notice that a white powder builds up in your machine over time. The minerals themselves are not harmful – after all, you drink them all the time – but they can cause damage to the inside of your humidifier if they aren’t cleaned away regularly.
Left to accumulate that powder can sometimes be expelled along with water vapor when the machine is on. This leaves a white film on furniture and any item nearby, and can also irritate a baby’s sensitive lungs.
Therefore, regular cleaning is vital. Choosing an easy to clean humidifier can make your life a lot easier. Some models come with their own specialized cleaning brush to help you out, and all should contain instructions for proper maintenance.
Noise & lights
Some humidifiers have power lights and use beeps to identify and empty tank or error. Other humidifiers have incorporated soft colored lights that can be used as a nightlight. Since you know your baby best, you can determine whether your child would sleep comfortably with light and/or beeping present in the room or not. These features are very much options that can be chosen or avoided as needed.
More Benefits of a Humidifier in the Nursery
Relieving congestion may be your primary motivator for purchasing a humidifier, but there are several other reasons that one can help.
Consistency throughout the seasons
No matter where you live, environmental humidity levels likely fluctuate throughout the year. In areas with cold winters, the air is much drier during this period. Summer heat in desert areas is also very dry! Closer to major water bodies, you may experience too much environmental humidity during summer. But in any region, the effects of central heating and air conditioning can also pull moisture from the air and make your environment dry.
Running a humidifier will replace critical moisture lost to any cause. A rough guideline for human comfort is somewhere between 30-60% humidity. When you can keep your space consistently within this level, everyone including the baby is less susceptible to seasonal infections and illnesses. Babies will also breathe more easily all year and potentially suffer less with dry skin, sore throat, and congestion. This is likely to improve baby’s sleep as well!
Some babies like white noise while they sleep. Scientists speculate that it reminds them of their mother’s heartbeat, a sound they heard constantly in utero. White noise is also a helpful tool for drowning out other noise in the house, be it pets, other kids, or the television.
If you like white noise, warm mist humidifiers tend to make a bit more of it. A cool mist humidifier operates with ultrasonic action and is virtually silent. You may still hear water gurgling a bit with either type.
TOP 5 Best Humidifier for Baby Congestion On The Market 2020
Here are at-a-glance specs for each of the humidifiers on our list.
TOP 5 Best Humidifier for Baby Congestion Product Reviews 2020
Following are in-depth reviews of five great humidifiers for babies.
1 Crane Filter-Free Cool Mist Humidifiers for Kids
A humidifier for baby room use is not always the most attractive accessory, but this one from Crane comes in 16 adorable shapes that will appeal to kids and parents alike. Including frog, bumble bee, monkey, cow, chick, hippo, and owl, among others, your child will be entranced by the friendly face and bold color of their new humidifier.
Even better, these humidifiers are made with material that reduces the potential for mold and bacterial growth and is BPA-free. It doesn’t require a filter but you can purchase one separately if you have hard water to improve the function. The unit is powerful enough to properly humidify rooms up to 500 square feet.
No matter the particular shape of humidifier you choose, the water tank holds an ample one gallon of liquid. It will run nearly silently for up to 24 hour straight without needing a refill. An auto shutoff feature stops the machine when the water runs out. Conveniently, the tank is thoughtfully designed to fit under the tap in most bathroom sinks. Many other humidifiers require a trip to the kitchen or utility sink to refill.
These humidifiers are a good choice for energy efficiency, too, consuming less power than the average light bulb. Your purchase comes with a one year warranty.
- 9 x 12.8 x 9 inches
- 5.25 pounds
- One year warranty
- Large capacity and long run time
- Adorable styling and lots of choices
- Near silent operation
- Challenging to clean thoroughly
- Distilled water is highly recommended
- Cannot be placed on wood furniture
2 TTLIFE Ultrasonic Humidifiers Large Room, 5.5L Ionic Warm and Cool Mist Humidifiers for Bedroom Baby, Steam Vaporizer air humidifier with Essential Oils and Remote, Whisper Quiet Customized Humidity
This may be one of the most versatile humidifiers on the market, with plenty of helpful features that allow for many different applications. For starters, it is made with high quality materials that are BPA-free and also contains a built-in ionic generator to purify the air in the room. It also contains an ionic resin filter that actually softens hard water and reduces up to 90% of the white powder that occurs naturally in all humidifiers. This will also extend the lifespan of your machine.
The TTLife Ultrasonic Humidifier can produce both cool and warm mist, according to your preference. It has a digital screen that displays the current humidity at all times. You can set the unit to achieve your preferred humidity level or else put it on “auto” mode, which automatically adjusts the volume and speed of moisture to maintain the ideal humidity with no effort on your part. Sleep mode toggles off the LED lights so as not to disturb rest.
The water tank is large – it holds up to 1.45 gallons of water and can run for up to 40 hours without a refill. This product also has dual 360° rotatable nozzles that allow you to direct moisture away from furniture and curtains, which also helps provide uniform humidification.
Unlike many other humidifiers, this one is also a vaporizer for baby congestion. It comes equipped with a special compartment for essential oils. Buy this product risk free with a one-year warranty.
- Convenient remote included
- Feature rich model
- Filter keeps vapor free of white mineral residue
- Warm water mode can initially cause a plastic smell
- Unit beeps repeatedly when running out of water
- Learning curve for operation
3 Homech Cool Mist Humidifier, Quiet Ultrasonic Humidifier for Bedroom Home Baby 12-60 Hours, Easy to Clean, 360° Nozzle, Waterless Auto Shut-Off (4L/1.06 Gallon US 110V)
Another carefully designed ultrasonic cool mist humidifier comes from Homech. It has a 360°degree rotating nozzle that extends up to 24 inches to propel the fine mist particles further into the air. This can prevent moisture from settling back onto surfaces that surround the humidifier. It also has a roomy 4L water tank that provides up to 60 continuous hours of moisture.
You will appreciate the cleaner air provided by this humidifier due to its dust-proof sponge that prevents debris from being pulled into the machine through the air intake. That keeps both the internal works of your unit and the moisture it releases much cleaner.
Another feature that helps keep your Homech clean and safe pertains to internal drying. The fan runs for an additional three minutes after the unit is shut down. This allows for the mist guide tube to dry fully, which in turn prevents mold growth. Routine cleaning of the entire unit is also easy due to the wide 92mm opening and included cleaning brush.
The auto shutoff feature extends the life of your humidifier, so you probably won’t even need the 18-month warranty!
- Smart features to keep moisture healthy; easy to clean internal components
- Nozzle rotates to allow humidity to be directed
- High volume water tank
- Stickers placed during manufacturing are hard to remove
- Air intake on bottom of unit can be challenging to clean
- Water runs out relatively quickly on highest setting
4 FridaBaby 3-in-1 Humidifier, White
This FridaBaby product, as the name implies, is designed especially for babies. It features a series of adjustable lights that allow parents to design the perfect lighting scheme for those late night diaper changes. The nightlights can even be used independent of the mist if you prefer.
The FridaBaby is a smaller unit, designed to save space in the nursery. The tank holds about 1.9L of water, enough to run the humidifier for 12 hours. You can use essential oils with this unit, too, which can offer extra relief when baby is congested. Choose BreatheFrida Vapor Drops or any aromatherapy-grade essential oil for this purpose.
The vapor level is highly adjustable, ranging from the gentlest mist to a setting dubbed “tropical rainforest.” Made from BPA-free materials and equipped with an auto shutoff when the water runs out, you can trust the safety of this product.
- Wide range of humidity settings
- Three colors of nightlights: blue, purple, and green
- Can be used with essential oils
- Some users report a low buzzing sound from the nightlight
- Opening to water tank is narrow
- Can be messy to refill
5 Cadrim Cool Mist Humidifier, Cute Essential Oil Diffuser Ultrasonic Water Vaporizer Aromatherapy Diffuser with 7 Colors Waterless Auto-Off No Noise for Baby Kids Bedroom Living Room (200ml)
From Cadrim comes this super cute cool mist humidifier shaped like a whale. It is an ultrasonic unit that has 7 differently colored lights to add to the ambiance in your nursery. Each color has a bright and dim setting to go easily from day to night. A nice feature is that the lights can be toggled or turned on/off with a couple of taps to the unit or even the surface it is sitting on. The lights may be set to rotate through all the colors or stay on one shade.
This product doubles as an essential oil diffuser, which is great for congestion especially. It is a smaller machine, however, and can only run for up to 7 hours between refills. Still, beyond the appealing shape, this unit runs nearly silently and is a great choice for sleeping babies.
The Cadrim is BPA-free and has an auto shutoff to keep the unit from burning out when the water is depleted. You can buy with confidence in the 18-month warranty.
- Cute whale shape
- 15 total lighting modes
- Works with essential oils
- Small tank may not run the whole night
- Can tip over relatively easily
- Lights are sensitive and may toggle with environmental vibrations
Healthy Humidity Levels
We have talked a lot about the health benefits of adding humidity to the air in your home, but it is important to note that too much humidity can also be problematic. Environments that are too damp can breed mold and mildew, which only further exacerbates congestion and breathing issues.
Because you need to achieve a careful balance of not too dry and not too moist, it can be helpful to have a hygrometer or humidistat in your home. This tool reads the relative humidity in your space and can alert you if the air goes too far to one side or the other.
You may want to choose a baby humidifier with humidistat built right in, but the readings may not be the most accurate because the air directly around the humidifier is always going to be damper than air further away from the source of humidity.
An ideal level of humidity for human health and comfort is somewhere between 30-60%. It may take some trial and error to find the best possible level for your baby, but most people report feeling their best at humidity levels between 45-55%.
Maintaining Your Humidifier
Regular maintenance is important to keep your humidifier from becoming a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Following are some tips for getting this done with a minimum of hassle.
When your humidifier is being used regularly, it is best to clean it about once a week. Most brands will come with cleaning instructions in the user manual. Some models also include a special cleaning brush with your purchase, but if not, you may want to look for a brush in the dish aisle at the store that can get into tight spaces.
One of the most critical phases of cleaning a humidifier is letting it dry thoroughly afterwards. It is also important to drain your humidifier and let it dry before storing. To be really safe, change the water every day even if the tank isn’t empty – this prevents the possibility of running stagnant water through the system.
Following is one strategy for cleaning a humidifier thoroughly.
- Unplug the humidifier and empty it; separate all removable parts.
- Depending on the size of the unit, pour 1-2 cups of undiluted white vinegar into the water tank; close or cover the tank and shake it so that vinegar coats the entire inside. (Be sure to read the instruction manual to determine if your humidifier recommends diluting vinegar with water.)
- Replace the tank with vinegar inside on the humidifier base so that the vinegar drains into the reservoir. Leave it alone for 15-20 minutes while the vinegar loosens mineral deposits and other stains.
- Use a small brush to scrub the interior of the humidifier and the tank itself. Dump any remaining vinegar.
- With a clean cloth or sponge dipped in vinegar, hand clean any small parts, such as the tank cap or essential oil container.
- Thoroughly rinse all of the removable parts and let them completely air dry. Rinse the reservoir as well, being careful to avoid getting water on any electrical parts.
- Reassemble and refill the humidifier – it’s ready to go.
Use Distilled Water
We’ve talked about the fact that a natural side effect of using a humidifier is that the minerals present in tap water separate out. These are retained in the humidifier in the form of white powder, but when this residue builds up enough, it can also come out of the unit with the water vapor. You will know this is happening if you start to see the powder settling on furniture, curtains, and floors.
Performing regular cleaning of the entire inside of your humidifier can help this problem, but it is time consuming. Another way to minimize that white powder in the first place is to use distilled, rather than tap, water when you fill the tank for use. The distillation process removes many of the minerals from water before it is used, so there isn’t much left to stay behind in the humidifier.
Babies can benefit from having a humidifier in their room all year round, but especially when they are experiencing congestion. With much smaller airways than an adult’s, it is quite easy for a baby’s breathing to be compromised by a cold, infection, or allergy. Even just dry air can cause inflammation in those tiny passages. A humidifier is therefore an excellent tool for any parent in the care of their precious little ones. And don’t forget, you can also use your humidifier for colds suffered by anyone in the family. We hope that one of the attractive and effective models on our list turns out to be the best humidifier for baby congestion to soothe your infant (and your entire family) as necessary.