Best Nursery Humidifiers For Baby Colds, Cough or Nasal Congestion

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Do humidifiers help with colds?

Humidifiers are a gentle, non-invasive and natural way to help babies with the common cold and flu sleep better by increasing moisture in the air. A humidity level of 40% to 50% is the most ideal condition for the nasal passage to function at an optimum level.

Nasal congestion and coughs are common symptoms of a cold and can cause sleep regression in babies. These symptoms are often especially bad at night due to the cold, dry air, particularly in autumn and winter.

The naturally occurring moisture in the sinus and nasal passage is our first line of defence against airborne germs and bacteria. It produces mucus to trap these nasties in its sticky membrane. The nasal cilia (tiny microscopic hairs) move the mucus to the back of the throat where it is swallowed and destroyed by the stomach acid.

Dry air not only dries up the sinus but also damages the cilia, such that the mucus cannot be moved down the nasal passage efficiently and results in congestion instead.

Essentially, all humidifiers are effective in increasing moisture in the air, which helps with breathing, but there are many different types of humidifiers and important pros and cons that set them apart.


Humidifiers vs vaporisers vs diffusers

Many people use “vaporiser”, “humidifier” and “diffuser” synonymously. They are in fact all quite different in nature and should be chosen carefully based on your needs.

A humidifier is any product that increases the humidity of a space by adding moisture into the air. Under this class of products, there are generally two types – “warm mist humidifiers” and “cool mist humidifiers”.

Vaporisers – a.k.a warm mist humidifiers

Vaporisers release hot steam by boiling the water inside it and are considered a safety hazard for children due to the heat. They also create a lot of moisture in the room due to the steam.

If you are using a vaporiser in winter, when the temperature outside drops drastically overnight, you will find a lot of condensation on the walls and other surfaces of the room in the morning.

This can potentially lead to mould and mildew problems if you do not ventilate and dry out the room enough during the day.

Vaporisers are also generally noisier and less energy efficient than cool mist humidifiers. They consume a lot of energy because they are essentially continuously boiling water for as long as you leave it on.

The most commonly available vaporisers in major Australian chemists and pharmacies are the Vicks Vaporizer and Euky Bear Vaporiser. I have personally used both and do not recommend either of them for several reasons:

  • Safety hazard – Both these products produce too much steam and heat.
  • Overly expensive – For the same price you can get much better products that are higher quality with more functions.
  • Unimpressive design – From the loud bubbling noise to excessive moisture generated in the room, I found both products underwhelming in functionality.
  • Limited usage – Both vaporisers are only compatible with their own products, so you can’t use them with any other essential oils or steam inhalants.

Vaporisers are also not designed for essential oils, which can wear down and damage certain materials over time. Using essential oils with the wrong equipment can cause it to malfunction at some point.

The heat from vaporisers can also destroy or affect the natural properties of the essential oil, so you’re not getting its full benefits and effects.

If you plan on using your humidifier for aromatherapy with essential oils, it is best to use ultrasonic cool mist humidifiers to get the most out of the oils and your machine.

Diffusers – a.k.a cool mist humidifiers

Diffusers generally use ultrasonic technology to disperse the water into a cool mist, requiring no heat at all. The sound waves emitted by the disc within the humidifier create high-speed vibrations that break down water particles until they become the fine mist that you see.

The ultrasonic waves are also able to separate essential oil into microparticles without destroying its natural therapeutic properties. This allows the essential oil to be inhaled and absorbed by the body more efficiently.

Because diffusers are specifically designed to handle essential oils, they will usually have timer settings that allow it to spray intermittently or turned off automatically after a period of time.

This allows time for the body to absorb and digest the essential oil and prevent overdosing, which is particularly dangerous for babies under two years of age.

What to consider when choosing a humidifier for baby

Warm vs cool mist

Perhaps the most important thing to consider is whether the product is a warm or cool mist humidifier. There is a lot of ambiguity with the terms humidifier, vaporiser, and diffuser, and a lot of retailers use them interchangeably.

As such, it is best to ignore the labelling of the product and check the description to see if it produces warm or cool mist. Although warm steam can be effective in clearing congestion, it is not recommended for overnight use and is a safety hazard due to the heat.

For babies particularly with colds, cough and congestion, a cool-mist humidifier is the preferred option.

Diffuser function

If you’re planning on using essential oils for your baby, having a diffuser is very important. Essential oils are very concentrated and potentially fatal if there is overdosing.

A diffuser can properly break down the essential oils into microparticles with the water so it is more diluted and safer to be inhaled and more easily absorbed by the body.

Not all humidifiers are designed to diffuse essential oils. Look at the product description and whether it specifically says the product is suitable for essential oils or aromatherapy.

Most, if not all, cool mist humidifiers are diffusers designed to be used with either just water or added essential oils.

Timer settings

Having the option to set a timer is useful when you want to conserve energy through the night, or if you have a smaller humidifier and you’d like the water inside to last longer.

An intermittent misting function sets the humidifier to spray at fixed intervals, for instance, 10 seconds on, followed by 30 seconds off. This is an important feature if you’re using essential oils and you want it to last through the night without overdosing on it.

Water capacity

The water tank volume of a humidifier directly affects 1) how long it can run continuously 2) the area it can cover.

Generally, a smaller water capacity of 100ml to 300ml will run continuously for 6 to 8 hours, with a coverage of around 10 to 20 sqm, perfect for small rooms.

If you plan on using the humidifier overnight for 10 to 12 hours, you can either choose a larger humidifier or use the intermittent misting function if there is one.

Night light

The night light function is great if you have toddlers or older children who do not like complete darkness. Most humidifiers these days come with colour changing lights, which can be soothing or distracting at bedtime for different children.

If you’re using the humidifier for a baby and do not want a night light, check the product description to make sure it can be turned off.

Best overnight humidifiers for baby’s room

ECO Bliss Mist Diffuser

ECO Bliss Mist Diffuser

Best All-In-One Family Humidifier

✔︎ Cool mist
✔︎ Auto turn-off at low water level
✔︎ Suitable for essential oils
✔︎ Adjustable brightness
✔︎ Light off function
✔︎ Timer settings – 1, 3, or 8 hrs
✔︎ Run time 8 hrs continuous / 18 hrs intermittent
✔︎ Continuous and intermittent mist function
✔︎ BPA free & eco-friendly bamboo base
✔︎ One year warranty

Exclusive to ECO Modern Essentials – a 100% Australian owned and operated business that specialises in organic essential oils – the Bliss Mist Diffuser is a new product designed for families and built to last.

From its compact and child-friendly size to the choice of eco-materials, it joins the rank of other bestselling aromatherapy diffusers at ECO Modern Essentials, in addition to their beautiful range of ethically-produced and certified organic essential oils.

Related: Essential Oils For Baby Colds – ECO Little Sniffles

Considering that the company has its own range of child-friendly essential oils, you can rest assured knowing that the Bliss Mist Diffuser is made with little ones in mind.

The Bliss Mist Diffuser has every feature you’ll ever need in a humidifier without being overwhelming. You can use any type of essential oil with it, not just the ones from ECO Modern Essentials.

Home & Office H2O Humidifier

Most Affordable & Versatile

✔︎ Cool mist
✔︎ Auto turn-off at low water level
✔︎ Light off function
✔︎ Continuous and intermittent mist function
✔︎ Run time 12 hrs continuous / 18 hrs intermittent
✔︎ One button control
✔︎ Large 500ml water capacity
✘ Not suitable for essential oils
✘ No timer setting

For a low cost and effective solution, this desktop cool mist humidifier packs a lot of features in its compact size. Its most unique and best feature is its screw-on top, which makes it less likely to spill water if accidentally knocked over.

With a decent-sized 500ml water tank, it can easily run overnight even on the continuous spray mode. Its soft, warm light also comes in two modes 1) standard low-light 2) “breathing mode” – the light gently cycles between going brighter and then dimming, like its breathing.

Wireless Cool Mist Humidifier

Most Portable & User-Friendly

✔︎ Cool mist
✔︎ Auto turn-off at low water level
✔︎ Light off function
✔︎ Built-in rechargeable battery
✔︎ Run time 14 hours plugged in / 8 hours wireless
✔︎ One button control
✔︎ Large 1L water capacity
✘ Not suitable for essential oils
✘ No intermittent mist function
✘ No timer setting

This non-branded Wireless Portable Humidifier on Amazon AU offers the best value for money if you’re looking for something straightforward and simple to use, without all the bells and whistles. It is not recommended to be used with essential oils.

The most interesting and practical part of its design is the top dish that allows you to refill the water tank without opening up the humidifier. The little circle in the middle allows water to flow down into the tank below, so you can pour water straight into the dish to refill.

With only one button that controls everything, it really only has two functions – power on/off and lights on/off. There is no timer setting or other adjustable features.

The LED display on the top indicates how much power is left. You can choose to have it plugged in with the USB cable included, or as a standalone wireless humidifier that you can take around.

Aroma Bloom diffuser blue

Aroma Bloom

Most Recognisable Diffuser In Australia

✔︎ Cool mist
✔︎ Auto turn-off at low water level
✔︎ Suitable for essential oils
✔︎ Adjustable brightness
✔︎ Light off function
✔︎ Continuous and intermittent mist function
✔︎ Run time 8 hrs continuous / 18 hrs intermittent
✔︎ One year warranty
✘ No timer settings

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the highly popular Aroma Bloom, designed and produced by Lively Living, also a 100% Australian company specialising in essential oils.

I first came across the Aroma Bloom in 2015 when I was still pregnant with my firstborn and I attended a baby expo, and I think it is practically synonymous with the term “aromatherapy” here in Australia.

However, I can’t say I highly recommend it because although it has a striking and recognisable design, this very design makes it fairly difficult to clean and maintain.

A few unhappy customer reviews mention that it doesn’t last very long and that the operating sound is quite loud. Ultrasonic humidifiers are usually fairly quiet, so it’s surprising that the Aroma Bloom is considered noisy.

It is probably the first diffusers released by Lively Living, so it could be using an older technology. But the company has over the years developed and launched a wide range of modern ultrasonic humidifiers that make great home decor and statement pieces as well.

How to clean your humidifier

A well-maintained humidifier extends the longevity of its use, and also ensures its releasing clean, fresh mist instead of spraying mould, bacteria or dust.

If you’re using essential oils with your humidifier, it is even more crucial to clean it regularly to avoid build-up of oil and grime, which can affect the performance of the product.

Different types of humidifiers require different levels of cleaning, but generally, all humidifiers will benefit greatly from the following maintenance steps.

Before each use:

Check for any grease, grime, or hard build-up in the water tank, lid, and filter (if any). If you find any present, soak the parts in 1:1 ratio of water and white vinegar, then scrub and rinse well before refilling for use.

During each use:

As far as possible, use fresh distilled or filtered water instead of tap water. Although safe for drinking, tap water may contain minerals and other composites that can form deposits in the humidifier over time, or release unwanted particles into the air.

After each use:

Make sure to empty any remaining water, give the water tank a good rinse and dry it completely. Do not let leftover water sit in the chamber, even if you are planning to continue using it the next day.

Only fresh water can produce fresh mist, so if you want to reap the full benefits of a humidifier and any essential oils you use, it is important you don’t use stagnant water.

Avoid these common humidifiers

As a conclusion, I want to point out a few brands that are very common in major Australian chemists and retailers, but I do not recommend.

If you dig deep into customer reviews you’ll see that they do not live up to the hype and are certainly not worth the price tag.

Medescan Rainbow Mist Ultrasonic

Many reviews on ProductReview indicate that this product is prone to malfunctioning within a short time, or has faulty parts.

The lowest available price for this is $69, but you can get better humidifiers with the same features for a much lower price.

Vicks Vaporizer

Unsurprisingly, the Vicks Vaporizer has a dismal rating of 2.7 stars on ProductReview.

I have personally bought and used this, and absolutely advise you to steer clear of it. It works by boiling water and letting out steam, so child safety is one big problem.

Secondly, the bubbling sound of boiling water is very loud at night, and the steam creates an absurd amount of condensation and moisture on every surface of the room, so it’s a potential mould and mildew problem.

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