We tested humidifiers in the most extreme environment—Colorado in the winter. In a place where outdoor humidity can drop into single digits, humidifiers are challenged to bring indoor humidity up to a comfortable 40%. Which ones make the cut? Here are the winners.
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1. Best Cool Mist Baby Humidifier for Baby with Stuffy Nose: Honeywell HCM-350
An excellent cool mist humidifier with a two gallon tank that is dishwasher safe. Easy to clean and fill; we also found this model to be one of the quieter evaporative humidifiers on the market, based on our testing.
After comparing and testing more than 20 different humidifiers (and getting plenty wet in the process), we picked the best cool mist humidifier for babies with stuffy nose: the Honeywell HCM-350.
The Honeywell HCM-350 has a two-gallon tank that is dishwasher safe. It is easy to clean and fill; we also found this model to be one of the quieter evaporative humidifiers on the market. It comes with a UV light bulb that treats the water as it circulates. Honeywell claims this UV light kills mold, bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
What’s not to like? It is rather large (18” long) and bulky. The HCM-350 also lacks a humidistat—you adjust the amount of output with a fan control knob. The filter will need to be changed on a regular basis and the UV light bulb will need changing after 3000 hours of use. Cleaning, as with all humidifiers, is time-consuming, but overall, this is an excellent humidifier.
2. Best Warm Mist Baby Humidifier for Baby with Stuffy Nose: Honeywell HWM705B
Excellent warm mist humidifier that is easy to use and clean. But a word of warning: all warm mist humidifiers must be regularly cleaned. And warm mist humidifiers must be out of reach of baby, as they can get hot.
After testing a half dozen warm mist humidifiers, we think Honeywell’s HWM705B is the best bet for warm mist humidifiers for babies with stuffy nose. It is easy to use and has a special tray that lets you add essential oils—surprisingly, that feature is missing from many warm mist humidifiers.
A word of caution when it comes to warm mist humidifiers and babies/toddlers: the mist that comes out can get quite hot—and that can cause a scalding or burn injury if the humidifier is in a place that a baby or toddler can reach.
That’s why we think cool mist humidifiers are a safer best for baby’s nursery.
That said, we know some folks like using a warm mist humidifier to heat up a drafty nursery. And this humidifier will raise both the temperature AND humidity.
But therein lies another safety issue: a too warm nursery is a risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome. If you decide to use a warm mist humidifier, make sure the temperature in the baby’s nursery does not rise above 70 degrees in the winter.
Another concern: all warm mist humidifiers require require diligent cleaning or mold and other nasties will grow inside the unit. While we found this warm mist humidifier to be easy to clean, you must REGULARLY do this . . . and that amount of maintenance is usually more than a cool mist humidifier.
If your baby’s nursery is drafty, the best, safest long-term solution is to hire a heating/ventilation (HVAC) company to see if you can direct more heat into your baby’s room from your home’s furnace.
3. Best Decor Humidifier for Baby with Stuffy Nose: Crane Adorable Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
These animal shaped humidifiers are easy to use and clean—but as with all ultrasonic humidifiers, they don't disperse humidity well, compared to fan-based options.
Yes, there is truth in advertising: Crane’s Adorable Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier is, well, adorable with a caveat. As with most ultrasonic humidifiers, the mist sinks to the floor and doesn’t disperse well in a room. (Some readers who had ceiling fans said that helped).
Crane has 23 different animal shaped humidifiers including a frog, owl, dragon, cow, elephant and more. Prices vary depending on the animal and how popular it is. Parents praise the Crane humidifiers for the most part (quiet, easy to fill, easy to clean).
A few dissenters said this unit stopped working after a couple of weeks, the output was too little, and they had problems with leaks. So . . . note the return period in case you got a bad unit or it is too unpowered for your nursery.
7 Things To Consider Before Buying A Humidifier!
If you’re still not sure what humidifier would be best for a baby with stuffy nose, learn how to find one:
1. There are two basic types of humidifiers: evaporative and ultrasonic.
Evaporative humidifiers have a wick that soaks up water, then a fan blows the moisture out. Evaporative humidifiers are often the less expensive, but can be noisy . . . plus the filter must be replaced regularly (Honeywell says every two months or when the performance of the unit deteriorates—this depends on your local water quality).
Here’s an example of the wicks used in evaporative humidifiers. These need to be changed periodically. For our top pick, filters run under ten bucks for a two pack, so that isn’t too crazy—but that extra expense can add up over time. Photo credit: Amazon.
Ultrasonic humidifiers use sound waves to disperse the moisture so there is no fan required. This makes ultrasonics much quieter than evaporative humidifiers. The downside, though, is sometimes they leave a coating of white dust in the room. And they can be quite expensive (that’s why our top pick in this category is an evaporative humidifier). On the plus side, you don’t have to replacement filters. Here’s what the white dust looks like:
After testing both evaporative and ultrasonic humidifiers, we think evaporative work best in a baby’s nursery. That’s because evaporative humidifiers are more effective at dispersing humidified air (thanks to that internal fan). And the fan can double as white noise to soothe a fussy baby.
2. Humidifiers also come in warm or cold mist.
Warm mist humidifiers use a heating element to warm the water (cold mist do not). While that might sound appealing if you live in a cold climate, we do NOT recommend these humidifiers for baby’s room. That’s because warm mist humidifiers can overheat the room—and that’s a risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Also, the hot mist coming out of the humidifier can cause a scalding injury if touched by a wayward toddler.
Warm mist humidifiers require more cleaning and maintenance than cool mist ones. If you are tempted to buy a warm mist humidifier because your nursery is drafty, it would make more sense to buy a separate oil-filled space heater and a cool mist humidifier. That’s because a space heater more efficiently heats the room than a warm mist humidifier. (Of course, there is still a safety problem with all space heaters—toddlers can burn themselves on any hot surface. The best long term solution is to have a HVAC specialist see if they can correct the heating/cooling issue in your baby’s nursery).
3. Don’t oversize the humidifier.
Humidifiers are rated by gallon output and most will tell you the size room they cover—match this to the size room your baby is in. You don’t need a giant humidifier for most bedrooms.
4. They should be cleaned regularly.
Yes, all humidifiers must be cleaned regularly. If not, you risk mold or mildew build-up in the unit or the shortening of the humidifier’s lifespan.
5. Consider an adjustable humidistat.
A humidistat works like a thermostat, setting the humidity at a certain level and turning on or off the humidifier until it reaches that level. This is a nice feature, although it’s not completely necessary.
6. Skip the vaporizer.
A vaporizer is a humidifier that disperses medication in your child’s room. Generally, this is NOT recommended—that’s because pediatricians rarely prescribe medication that needs to be vaporized these days.
7. If you’re remodeling, consider whole house solutions.
If you are planning to do any HVAC work on your home, consider installing a whole-house humidifier. These automatically kick in when your furnace runs (or can be controlled by a thermostat). Since they are permanently installed and plumbed to a water line, you never have to refill the humidifier. You do have to change the filter and do some maintenance, but that’s typically just once a year. FYI: Honeywell makes a whole house steam humidifier, which is excellent. It must be professionally installed, however.