When the fall and winter come along, a whole new set of problems roll in: coughing, dry and sore throats, colds, croup (we have croup sound files here), stridor, and stuffy noses. The cold strips the humidity from the air, and heating your house makes it even worse, especially if you have forced air heat blowing heat into your baby's room. All that dry air makes symptoms worse for your baby, and makes it take much longer to recover.
The nighttime is when your baby's immune system will get a chance to fight viruses and clear up symptoms. This is the perfect time to fill up and turn on a powerful and safe humidifier to add some moisture back into the air, soothe dry throats and coughs, and help your baby fight viruses. So what should you look for in a humidifier?
Doctors recommend cool mist humidifiers. There are two types of humidifiers - cool and warm mist. Both add moisture to the air, but they do so differently. Cool mist humidifiers force water to dissipate into your room without using heat. Warm mist will heat the water and then send it into the room in the form of steam. Though you might think that warm mist would be better because it will keep your baby warm and cozy at night, cool and warm mist are exactly as effective at each other for helping coughing and congestion (if you don't believe us, read about it at the Mayo Clinic). But warm mist humidifiers are dangerous for use in a baby's room: they can spill hot water, and burn your baby if they get too close to the steam. They are also more expensive than cool mist because they have the added heating element. But don't be fooled, in this case more expensive does not always mean better!
Noise levels vary across models. Some humidifiers run low quality fans and fan motors that introduce a loud drone into your baby's room. The better quality humidifiers use quieter fans. Cool mist are also quieter than warm mist because there is no background bubbling and hissing noise from boiling the water inside the unit. The humidifiers we recommend below are some of the quietest we could find.
Germs and bacteria cause problems. If your baby is sick, the last think you want to do is pump more germs into their room. All humidifiers, even the ultrasonic ones, and both the warm and cool ones, can build up mold and bacteria in their tanks and other components. So if you're considering using a humidifier in your baby's room you must be sure to clean it regularly (like every day)! A solution of 90% water and 10% bleach is perfect, just make sure you rinse well after cleaning.
Here are the Best Baby Humidifiers of 2016!
1. TaoTronics Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier. About $80. More expensive than the other options on our list, but if you can afford it, the features are definitely worth the cost. This unit has 3 speed settings (low, med, high). The low setting is just as quiet as the Pure option above, and the medium and high settings are still very quiet overall. This humidifier has a much larger tank than the Pure or Anypro, coming in at 4 liters (just over a gallon of water). It is rated for 15 hours of humidifying (at its low setting), which tells us that this unit does an excellent job getting the moisture into the air. How do we know? Well, if it has a bigger tank than most others and is running out after 15 hours, then all that water is going into your air! This humidifier also has several advanced features and a nice LED screen. It has a built-in humidity meter to tell you what the current conditions are in the room. It has a sleep timer you can set at night, a rotating nozzle, and a sleek profile. Refilling is a bit more cumbersome than the Pure because it's a bigger tank to fit under the faucet (we used our kitchen sink); but that big 4-liter tank also means it lasts longer without refilling. Cleaning is the same as the other units: clean out the tank and brush off the metal ring. The reliability on this unit is fantastic, and the company is very responsive to any questions or concerns. Other than being a bit harder to fill, there are no other drawbacks to this humidifier other than the higher price tag. Not for use with aromas or essential oils (see #2 or 4 for that).
2. AnyPro Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier with Aromatherapy. About $50-60. A good price for one of the best overall humidifiers on the market. This humidifier has a 3.5-liter tank, with a continuous mist control knob allowing you to customize the amount of mist being produced. At its lowest setting, we found that it lasted over 30 hours (!), and at its highest setting it lasted about 14 hours. That's on par with the Taotronics, but for almost half the price. It's an overall simple humidifier: no filters to change or clean, a single knob controls the intensity of the mist, and there is a single button to turn on a night light. The cool thing about the night light is that it's a subtle colored glow. If you press the button once, it will cycle through a few different colors (red, green, blue, white, yellow, purple), and if you press the button again it will stay on whichever color is currently showing, allowing you to customize the night light glow to your preference. Nice touch! The nozzle on the top spins to adjust where the mist is pointed, and there is also a small aromatherapy essential oil diffuser on the top next to the nozzle. Add a couple drops of your favorite aroma to that diffuser and your room will be smelling great! It also has a sleek, low-profile form factor, and is very quiet. Only a tiny bit of gurgling water every once in a while, otherwise you won't even know it's on. Note that the gurgling sound happens with all cool mist humidifiers. Cons? Well, the nozzle and aromatherapy diffuser on the top tend to fall off when you flip the humidifier over to fill with water. So you need to pop off at least the aromatherapy diffuser's tiny cover before you bring it to your bathroom or kitchen to fill with water; otherwise you might end up losing the little cover down the drain like we did! But that really takes a second to pop off when bringing to refill. Other than that, this is a truly excellent humidifier for an awesome price. Highly recommended!
3. Pure Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier. An awesome overall humidifier; in our testing, this humidifier lasted for over 14 hours; this was great because you can turn it on 2-3 hours before bedtime (maybe like 4pm) and it would go all the way to morning (about 8am)! Another great feature is that it's very simple to operate: there literally is only one button that controls the power and whether the subtle glowing night light is on or off. Here are some additional features: you can swivel the nozzle around 360-degrees to position it exactly how you'd like. It shuts off automatically when the water level gets low, or if the tank is removed. We also think it is the quietest one on the list - like, really super quiet (you'll be surprised). No annoying filters to clean, no complicated features, and all at a really great price. If you want a humidifier with fancy features, check out the TaoTronics option below, it's also a great humidifier. The only con with this humidifier is that its tank is quite small, at only 1.5-liters capacity. That means that even though it may last an impressive 14 hours, you're actually not getting as much moisture into the air during that time relative to other humidifiers on this list with larger tanks.
4. Seneo Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier and Aromatherapy. About $40-50. This is an awesome humidifier for several reasons. First, this cool mist humidifier is whisper quiet: in our testing, we honestly thought it was malfunctioning because it was so quiet we didn't think it was even on! There is a continuous speed adjustment with about 25 settings, and from low to medium is extremely quiet. It's also very simple to refill: pull the blue part off, unscrew the cap on the bottom, and fill it up with 2.6 liters (over half a gallon) of water from your sink. In our testing, we turned it on low at 8pm and it was still running at 7am with about three inches of water remaining in the reservoir. If the water gets too low, it has an auto shut-off for safety. It has a subtle night light with 7 different colors, and you can choose whether to have the light on or off independently of the humidification. It also has a little tray hiding on the back that you can put a drop or two of essential oils into (like lavender!), which will give the room a nice subtle aroma. The reliability ratings are excellent, which is surprisingly hard to find with a humidifier. Finally, there are no filters to clean or replace. You will only need to clean two things: first, clean the reservoir as you would with any other humidifier (usually once a week). Second, use the included little brush to clean the silver ring in the bottom of the humidifier (maybe once every few weeks). Overall, this is an excellent humidifier with some simple options. Cons? Well, you cannot swivel the spout to point the mist in certain directions. And it has a smaller capacity than many other units. Other than that, we think it's excellent!
4. Remedies Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier with Oil Diffuser. About $50-60. Like the Seneo option, this humidifier can disperse aromas and essential oils from a small tray located on the bottom of the unit. Add in some soothing lavender or chamomile essence and make your baby's room smell amazing! But it's not just that feature that makes this an excellent humidifier. This has a 2.8 liter (about .75 gallon) water tank, a huge range of speed adjustment, several night light color glow options (or you can turn it off), and it goes for about 8-9 hours according to our tests. We turned it on high speed at 8pm, and it was empty by 5am - maybe that's why our baby woke up so early! Unlike the above humidifiers, this one uses a stone filter that claims to get rid of water smells (like chlorine odor). We're not sure how well it works, especially over time, but it's a nice touch. Unfortunately even with that filter you still need to clean the tank like any other humidifier. This is a very reliable unit and the company is very responsive to any issues. The only drawback for this humidifier is that we found it a bit louder than the Pure or TaoTronics. We didn't use any sophisticated sound meter or anything, but it just seemed to have a louder hum than the above options.
5. Vornadobaby Huey Evaporative Humidifier. About $100, but definitely one of the better ones on the market for a few reasons. Though the tank is exceedingly small at about .25 gallons of water, it is super easy to refill and clean. It has a convenient little handle that you use to pull the tank out (about the size of a water bottle) and refill. Instead of having just low and high settings for fan speed, it also has humidity adjustment so you can set a desired humidity (we used 55%) and it will cycle on and off as needed. Or you can tell it to be on continuously. This humidifier uses a "wick" filter that you'll need to replace every few months, at the cost of about $7 each. Just like any other humidifier you'll need to clean the tank frequently. Drawbacks? Well, the water tank is really small so you're not getting a ton of moisture into the air overnight. It's also not super quiet like the ultrasonic options on the list. In fact, it was the noisiest one we tested.