Best Cool Mist Baby Humidifier: Honeywell HCM-350
After comparing and testing more than 20 different humidifiers (and getting plenty wet in the process), we picked a best cool mist humidifier: 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.
Best Decor Humidifier: Crane Adorable Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
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 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.
Why Trust Us
We’ve been rating and reviewing humidifiers since 2005. In addition to hands on testing of humidifiers, we have combed the research about reliability, cleanability and efficiency.
Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Baby Bargains is your independent and unbiased source for expert baby gear reviews. We’ve been writing and reviewing baby gear since 1994. Yes, that long!
How we picked a winner
We evaluate humidifiers with in-depth inspections, checking models for overall quality and ease of use—for example, testing in rooms of different size. We also gather significant reader feedback (our book, Baby Bargains has over 1 million copies in print), tracking humidifiers on quality and durability. Besides interviewing parents, we also regularly talk with retailers and consumer appliance experts to see which brands are most trustworthy and other key quality metrics.
7 Things No One Tells You About Buying A Humidifier!
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.