Mom’s Guide 2019: The 5 Best Baby Nursery Humidifiers

Find out why warm-mist humidifiers are NOT recommended.

You know what thrives in itchy, dry air? Viruses and bacteria.

Sounds pretty gross, right?

Now here’s what’s really gross: these are the causes of infections and sickness, especially in infants and young children.

So, what do we do about this? A nursery humidifier is the answer, and luckily they’re both very affordable and effective.

Not everyone uses a humidifier, but I think everyone with young children should be aware of the humidity level of their home, particularly the nursery. Having the air too dry isn’t good for anyone, and it’s very common in the winter or in particularly dry climates.

Have I convinced you yet? I would highly recommend getting a humidifier!

My favorite humidifier and the one we use in the house is the Honeywell Germ Free Humidifier (click here to check price on Amazon).

The Best Nursery Humidifier
The Honeywell HCM-360 on our dresser.

There are many reasons to love it:

  • It’s relatively inexpensive (around $50), especially considering the quality.
  • It’s easy to clean.
  • It’s easy to refill, and each tank lasts a good 8+ hours, so it goes all night.
  • The fan is nearly silent on the lowest setting, and emits a soothing white noise at higher settings.
  • It doesn’t drain a lot of electricity because it’s a cool-mist humidifier.

I would recommend this humidifier for anyone looking for a great nursery humidifier. Here’s my full review:

The reservoir and refilling it.

One of my favorite things about this humidifier is how easy it is to refill. Unlike other humidifiers at this price point, the reservoir is removable.

It’s small enough that you can most likely fill it up in the kitchen sink, but if not, the tub works too. The filling hole is pretty big, so it’s easy to fill without making a mess, too.

It's pretty easy to fill the reservoir in any sink.
It’s pretty easy to fill the reservoir in any sink.

Or, you can even just have extra water on hand in bottles or similar containers to dump in on the spot, saving you a trip to the bathroom with the reservoir.

Regardless, it’s MUCH easier to refill than similar humidifiers, because typically the reservoir isn’t even removable, so you have to carry the entire machine to fill it. Either that, or you end up spilling water everywhere, because of the tiny filling hole.

When the reservoir is completely filled, it’s not very heavy to carry, either. I couldn’t weight it exactly, but I’m guessing it’s about 10 pounds when totally filled.

The bottom screws on very tightly, and I see no reason why it should ever leak, and it’s never happened to ours.

Cleaning it is a breeze.

The Honeywell (click here to check price on Amazon) really scores points here for me compared to the competition.

I remember having a similar style of humidifier as a kid, and my parents absolutely hated cleaning it. Many similar humidifiers have electronics baked into the whole machine, making it a major pain to clean.

The great thing about this one is that every part that comes into contact with the water (meaning, the parts that can accumulate bacteria or mold) is fully submergeable in water.

Base of Honeywell
The base is completely plastic, making it simple to clean.

The reservoir and water tray are even top-rack dishwasher safe! Although I don’t personally put it in the dishwasher, it’s an option.

The water tray is very basic with no areas that water/bacteria/mold can be trapped, and it’s very easy to just dunk and wash in the tub once in a while.

The reservoir has a huge filling hole, meaning you can fit your entire arm inside to clean it. Compare that to similar humidifiers where many times you can barely fit a few fingers inside.

The filtration system.

The Honeywell uses replaceable filters that are cheap and easy to replace. Honeywell recommends replacing them every 1 to 3 months, but you should really be able to get the 3 months out of them, meaning you’ll go through about 2 filters per winter.

They’re very easy to replace; they simply drop-in and away you go.

It will become brown over time, but that’s perfectly normal and no reason for concern. It’s just mineral build up and nothing dangerous. You will probably notice it turning brown from one end, and if so, flip it over the next time you put it back in.

It’s simple to tell when you should replace the filter: if you notice that the humidifier isn’t as efficient as it used to be, it’s probably time to replace it. If you notice more water in the tank when you go to refill it, or that it doesn’t seem to be as humid in the room as it used to be, that’s a good sign you should replace it. Another sign that it should be replaced is if the filter is starting to get stiff.

The question of mold.

You may have experienced moldy filters in your humidifier before. And yes, it CAN happen with this one – however, there is a simple way to avoid it from happening.

You see, the reason why mold grows is because the filter is always wet. To avoid mold from happening, you need to let it dry out once in a while.

The easiest way to do that is by switching out the filter every time you refill the reservoir. This gives the filter a chance to completely dry out, and in doing so it should eliminate the chance of mold growing.

The Germ-Killing UV light.

This humidifier (click here to check price on Amazon) has a UV light that is claimed to kill over 99.9% of bacteria.

While that sounds good and does give some peace of mind, I’m not entirely convinced that it does anything. It doesn’t seem like the light comes into much contact with the water,

The light is also said to burn out after about 3,000 hours of use, after which it has to be replaced with an expensive replacement. Truth be told, I wouldn’t even bother replacing it after that happens. I don’t think the UV-killing light is really much of a selling point, although Honeywell seems proud of it.

The fan: how loud it is, and how well it humidifies.

Some people want a completely silent humidifier. That’s fine, but you just aren’t going to find that in an evaporative humidifier, and I would never recommend an ultrasonic (for reasons I’ll get into later.)

The fan has a total of three settings: low, medium and high. In my experience, the low setting is almost silent. There is a slight, pleasant white noise that it emits, and if you ask me, it’s actually a positive feature. The sound is actually quite soothing, and white noise is proven to be a sleep aid for people (including your little one!)

The medium setting is slightly louder, but still not unbearable.

Regardless, I find that it works well at the lowest setting. Even when I used it in a very dry room (30 relative humidity) it easily put it up to comfortable levels (45 R.H.) in about an hour.

The lack of a humidistat. Some people have brought up the issue of how this humidifier doesn’t have a built-in humidistat to turn itself off automatically when the room is humid enough.

Let me tell you this: it doesn’t even matter.

Since this is an evaporative humidifier, it’s physically impossible for it to put too much moisture into the air. Once the room is humid enough, it simply won’t be able to add any more, and you’ll notice that the water level in the reservoir stops dropping.

Summing it up.

The Honeywell HCM-350 is by far my favorite choice for a nursery humidifier, and I think you’ll love it too.

If you’re interested, I find that Amazon is a great place to buy it: click here to check price on Amazon.

They have free returns up to 30 days, no questions asked. If it doesn’t work for you, you can just send it back!

Runner Up: Crane Cool Mist

Update: I no longer recommend this humidifier. The reason being that ultrasonic humidifiers emit a fine white dust. Get the Honeywell I recommended above instead!

crane cool mist humidifier

My second favorite baby humidifier is the Crane Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier (click here to check price on Amazon), for many reasons.

First of all, this is a cool-mist humidifier, which we always recommend for the reasons listed below (warm-mist humidifiers can be a breeding ground for bacteria).

It’s also almost completely silent when running on low-medium, and emits only a very faint white noise, which is actually soothing to most babies and ideal for a nursery. In fact, I now use one in my own bedroom because it helps me fall asleep at night. Bonus!

It should run for a minimum of 10 hours straight on a full tank of water, meaning it will run all night without having to worry about it, and you just fill it up again in the morning. If it does happen to run out of water, it has an auto-shutoff feature, so it’s not even a big deal.

It doesn’t have filters and doesn’t require them, but you can buy a separate demineralization filter if you’re going to use hard water. You should also know that you’ll have to clean the unit about once a week, which is simple enough to do by hand in 5-10 minutes of time, tops.

My favorite thing about the Crane Drop humidifier? It looks so nice; it’s by far the nicest looking of all the humidifiers out there! It comes in a variety of colors, but I personally like the pink and blue designs for boy’s and girl’s rooms. It looks nice enough to even use it in any room, too.

Like I mentioned, I now use ours in my bedroom, but it wouldn’t look out of place in any room of the house, so thumbs up to Crane for that. It’s small enough to fit on most surfaces; I’d recommend putting it on a drawer or changing table, and stick the cord away out of sight.

This machine is really easy to set up and use, but I’d recommend reading the manual first. Some people report problems with it, but it’s usually because they didn’t read the manual.

This is also a really great deal for the price. There are a lot of expensive humidifiers out there, but this one is a lost more affordable and works great for the money.

It comes in a bunch of different colors and they’re all really nice. Highly recommended for any baby nursery!

If you want to see more reviews of this humidifier or check the price, click here to see it on Amazon which is also the cheapest place to find it.

The Crane Drop vs. Honeywell HCM-350

Trying to decide between my top choices? Here are the things to consider:

  • Price: The Crane wins here at about half the price of the Honeywell.
  • Ease of filling: The Honeywell wins here; it’s much easier to fill than the Crane. With the Crane, you have to fill it from the bottom, and the shape of the unit makes it a little bit tricky. It’s really easy to fill up the Honeywell due to the design, though.
  • Cleaning and filters: The two units are a lot different here. On one hand, the Honeywell takes replaceable filters while the Crane doesn’t. With the Crane, you have to soak it in vinegar water about once a week to keep it clean, and with the Honeywell, you replace the filter about every 6 months. The filters do cost money, so if that’s a concern for you, the Crane might be the better choice. Some people hate messing around cleaning the Crane, though.
  • Quietness: The Honeywell is generally more quiet than the Crane, but don’t think that it’s an annoying noise. It’s a white noise that shouldn’t really annoy most people, and it won’t interfere with baby’s sleep. If it sounds like it could bother you, however, go with the Honeywell.

All things considered, I still love the Crane as a nursery humidifier, especially because of how it looks and because it also doubles as a night light!

Comparison Table: The 5 Best Humidifiers

Our Ranking#1#2#3#4#5

Crane Teardrop Humidifier

Crane Drop Shape
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Honeywell HCM-350

Honeywell HCM-350
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Air-O-Swiss AOS 7147

Air-O-Swiss AOS 7147
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Safety 1st Sonic Humidifier

Safety 1st Ultrasonic 360
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Honeywell HCM-890B

Honeywell HCM-890B
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My Rating3.5 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars3.5 Stars
Gallons Per Day2.32322
Water Tank Size (Gallons)
Humidification Area (sq feet)250360600215700
Auto Shut-offyesNoNoyesNo
Weight (lbs)
Dimensions (inches)9.8 x 9.8 x 14.214.4 x 9.5 x 11.614 x 11.6 x 11.614.5 x 8.75 x 8.7518.6 x 10.4 x 13
Warranty1 year3 year3 year1 year3 year
Uses FiltersNoyesyesNoyes

The Differences Between the Four Types of Nursery Humidifiers

There are four types of humidifiers, and each work in different ways. Here is an overview of each.

Guide: The Best Nursery Humidifiers

  • Evaporative humidifiers (Most recommended for babies): These humidifiers work by absorbing water into a wick and then expelling it into the room with a fan. If you purchase a console humidifier, it is most likely an evaporative humidifier. This is a more natural form of evaporation. Some people find that the persistent noise of these humidifiers is annoying, but others like it. All things considered, to me these are the BEST choice for babies.
  • Impeller humidifiers: These humidifiers use a spinning disc that disperses droplets of water into the air in the room. Unfortunately, these humidifiers are known to expel micro-organisms and minerals into the air if used with regular tap water. Demineralized or distilled water should prove to be no issue, though.
  • Warm-mist humidifiers: Generally the least-expensive of all humidifiers, these use a heating element to evaporate the water into a steam. These tend to be quieter than everything but ultrasonic humidifiers, but they also use by far the most electricity. These are also not recommended for any room where babies or children will be around, because the heating element exposes a burning hazard.
  • Ultrasonic humidifiers: These are the most modern type of humidifier. They use a high-frequency sound wave to vibrate the water, in turn creating a mist. These humidifiers are very quiet as they use no fan at all. Also of note is the fact that ultrasonic humidifiers generally don’t use a filter, but instead use demineralization cartridges that need to be replaced every few weeks. The downside? They’re known to leave a white dust on all surfaces, which is from the minerals in the water. There are ways around it, but it’s really more of a pain than it’s worth.

Crane Humidifier Beside a Flower PotI would never recommend you get a warm-mist or ultrasonic humidifier to use in your nursery. Here’s why I’d recommend an evaporative model:

  • Generally safer for babies: Since warm mist humidifiers use a heating element to warm the water, it is possible for a baby to burn himself by touching it.
  • Less expensive to run: This is because they don’t have to run the heating element that warm mist-mist humidifiers use.
  • No difference in humidifying ability — There is really no difference in how well a cool-mist humidifier works compared to a warm-mist humidifier; they are both equally-effective at humidifying the air.
  • Ultimately no temperature difference: While warm-mist humidifiers warm the air, by the time it makes it to your baby’s lower lungs, it’s going to be the same temperature anyway.
  • Ultrasonic models leave a white dust: The biggest and most common problem people run into with ultrasonics is the white/grey dust they leave everywhere. Yes, some of them have mineral cartridges to filter out the debris, but generally it’s a huge hassle, if it even works right at all.

Features To Look For in a Humidifier For Your Nursery

In general, there are a few features that most parents would love to have in a humidifier for their baby. There are also some very important issues that you need to think about. Here are some of the things you’ll probably want to look for in your search.

  • Quiet operation: While most new humidifiers are quiet, you’ll definitely want one that is near-silent on any setting. You wouldn’t want it to interfere with your baby’s sleep!
  • Auto-shutoff: A good humidifier for a baby’s nursery should have an auto-shutoff feature so that humidifying stops when the desired level is reached. This will help maintain the perfect level of humidity, and also save electricity and avoid any possible damage to the humidifier.
  • Adjustable humidistat: Any good humidifier will have an adjustable humidistat to keep the level of humidity in the room at an optimal level.
  • Easy to clean and refill: A humidifier with an easily-removable water reservoir will make cleaning it, and refilling it with water, much easier. Other similar features to look for include a wide mouth for filling, and a carrying handle.
  • Antibacterial features: These include either filters, cartridges, or ultraviolet lights.

Other Benefits of Humidifiers

Humidifiers are also wonderful because they help babies sleep better through the night. Most babies tend to sleep better when the room isn’t completely silent, and some humidifiers emit a soft humming sound known as “white noise” which can be very soothing.

You might also be happy to know that you don’t just have to use your humidifier in the winter. You can use it all year-round in some parts of the world; maintaining a humidity level of about 50% can prevent your baby from getting a dry, stuffy nose at night, which also helps them sleep better.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What’s the ideal humidity level to aim for?

In general, you should aim to have the humidity level around 50% in your nursery. The Mayo Clinic recommends a humidity level between 30-50%.

Anything below 30% can promote the spread of flu viruses, and anything above 50% is a risk for mold growth in the home. Aiming for 50% is ideal.

2. How can I measure the humidity level?

You can purchase an inexpensive hygrometer to measure the humidity levels in your home.

AcuRite makes a popular humidity monitor that costs around $10; you can click here to see it.

3. Should I get a vaporizer instead of a humidifier?

No, vaporizers aren’t recommended for baby nurseries for a few reasons. Read our guide on vaporizers vs. humidifiers to see exactly why.

4. What size of humidifier do I need?

It depends on the size of the room. You’ll be looking for a single-room humidifier, and if you look at the manufacturer specifications, you’ll see what size of area each covers.

5. How much electricity do humidifiers use?

You can’t really judge this, but in general, any cool-mist humidifier will cost less to use than a warm-mist humidifier.

Since warm-mist isn’t recommended for nurseries, this really isn’t an issue. You shouldn’t really have to worry about the amount of electricity it uses, as it should be pretty minimal.

6. How loud are humidifiers?

They aren’t very loud, and all of the ones we recommend you should have no problem with. In fact, the white noise emitted by most humidifiers is actually soothing to most babies. It shouldn’t be irritating to either you or your little one.

7. Can I use hard water?

Generally, yes you can. However, if you plan on using it, you should aim to get a humidifier that has a demineralization cartridge. Ideally, you should use distilled water in your nursery humidifier, but this can be pretty expensive.

8. Where should I place the humidifier?

You should try to have it off of the floor, such as on a dresser or even a chair.

You should avoid having it near a wall registry or vent, because this will throw off the humidity reading, telling you the moisture is a lot lower than it actually is.

9. How often do I need to refill the humidifier?

It depends on the size of the tank and how much output it has, but you can expect it to last about 12 hours, more or less.

Have Any Other Questions?

If you have any more questions about nursery humidifiers, please let us know in the comments below and we’ll be happy to help!

Which Humidifier Is The Best?

As we mentioned above, the Honeywell HCM-350 is what we consider to be the best for most nurseries. You can click here to read more reviews of it, or click here to see more humidifiers if this one didn’t make you happy!

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