Throughout the year (but during the cooler months, especially), the dry air in our homes can make things tough for little bodies. Colds and congestion amplify and as any parent knows, listening to a tiny person struggle to breathe is too painful to bear. And living through a pandemic where every sniffle puts you into a tailspin, it’s good to know a bit about all the tools you have at your disposal: like a baby humidifier for your nursery.

Do babies need humidifiers?

From mitigating eczema and battling respiratory illness to simply helping baby sleep better, a humidifier is registry must-have. Moist air can help improve upper respiratory discomforts as well as soothe sore throats while they get some much-needed rest. Not to mention, the added moisture also benefits their sensitive skin and provides a dreamy ambiance for sleep.

What to look for in a baby humidifier

While there are a variety of types on the market, humidifiers generally fall into two categories: warm mist and cool mist. Warm mist is often pointed to as quieter and cleaner than cool mist, but from a safety perspective, cool mist is preferred when it’s going to be used around curious toddlers who could be burned by steam or hot water.

Humidifiers can also be defined by the way the humidity is created. There are ultrasonic models which use high-frequency sound vibrations to transform water particles into a cool, hydrating mist and evaporative models which leverage fans to do the job. Again, both styles have their place, but know that ultrasonic humidifiers are generally filter-less, quiet and efficient but do come with a higher price tag. Also, without a filter, families with hard water often bemoan fine white dust on furniture and surfaces which is caused by the minerals being dispersed along with the mist. It’s harmless but annoying. Evaporative machines pull water through a water-saturated filter that removes those impurities as it runs. Their drawback, however, is the energy they require to work along with being markedly noisier.

Related: Motherly’s Registry Guide

But no matter what kind of humidifier for baby you decide on, the care of the unit is most important. Keeping your humidifier clean is paramount as they can quickly become the stuff of nightmares. (If you’ve ever cut open a squirty bath toy, you know the moldy horror show that can live inside.) Most models require emptying daily along with regular cleanings and disinfection.

We’ve rounded up the best baby humidifiers on the market today which are easy to clean and best suited for use in nurseries. (But if you want to use them in every room, no one’s going to stop you!)

Best baby humidifiers

canopy humidifier

Canopy

$150

Little Dreams by Canopy

There’s really nothing better than something that’s stylish and multi-functional–especially when it comes to baby gear. And that’s only part of the reason we recommend Canopy. It’s also one of the most innovative designs out there. The no-mist design puts out filtered, hydrated air to moisturize skin and soothe baby’s breathing while the built-in diffuser fills the nursery with calming scents thanks to pure essential oil blends. Their proprietary technology which uses a paper-based filter and embedded UV lights make it the only anti-mold humidifier on the market—talk about breathing easier, right? Additionally, the unit is quite easy to clean and even dishwasher safe. (#Blessed)

Reviewers say: “I’ve gone through many humidifiers and many diffusers. This is the best of both worlds. As a humidifier, it’s SO easy to clean! That’s the biggest pain in the butt to me. And it’s QUIET! Oh so quiet. Then there’s the added benefit of being a diffuser except you don’t put the essential oil IN the water. You drip it on a stone that sits right on top of the air holes so there’s no oil to clean up. This product is amazing. Truly.” –John H.

vicks ultrasonic cool mist humidifier

Vicks

$39.27

Filter-Free Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier

With no filter to replace and a powerful 1.2-gallon tank that can run for 30 hours, this hassle-free humidifier can soothe the entire family—not just baby! It’s great for year-round moisturizing but really shines during cold and flu seasons with the addition of Vicks’ VapoPads which fill the air with congestion-relieving magic. The wide tank opening and lack of nooks and crannies make it a cinch to clean which is also a huge plus in our book. ​

Reviewers say: “We got this for our baby who was sick with a stuffy nose. Previous Starlight one was very hard to keep clean and filled the room with a white fog. This one doesn’t do that. You can see the mist coming out and helped with the stuffy nose and the dryness from running the heater during cold months. It’s not as loud as I expected based on other reviews. Almost soothing. My 3-year-old kept turning it on without us knowing and it would run all day. The tank does last a few days when ran continuously. Of the 4 different ones we’ve owned this is my favorite. Filter-free makes cleaning a breeze.”–Brittany

miro nr07g humidifier

Miro

$125

NR07G

Yes, it’s one of the priciest on the list, but fans of the Miro say it’s worth every penny. Created by a dad who felt that traditional humidifiers get too dirty, putting tiny lungs at risk, it’s the only humidifier on the market that allows you to easily wash every square inch—a modern design that’s as practical as it is stylish. The one-gallon tank can be filled via the open-top without having to stop the machine and can run for up to 24 hours at the lowest setting. It’s also super quiet, equipped with an auto-shutoff and filter-free.

Reviewers say: “I am in love with these humidifiers! Yes, mama, you need them for peace of mind for your family. Every other humidifier I have tried has been impossible to fully clean, but this one is completely cleanable. No more icky humidifiers here! It’s super quiet and it actually uses less water than my previous ones, so a gallon of distilled water can humidify a small to medium-sized bedroom during sleeping hours for 2-4 days before needing to be refilled. 🙌🏻 I recommend using distilled water as it reduces cleaning frequency. I clean ours weekly, but it never looks like it needs it.
I know it can be pricey for most families, but consider it an investment in your family’s health. Anytime me or my kids have been congested or coughing, it’s cleared up after just 1-2 nights of running the humidifier. It will pay for itself; because it’s completely cleanable, it lasts longer, you won’t be replacing it any time soon.”–Southside Mommy

Whether you’re expecting in months or mere days, let Motherly guide you with our registry featuring curated collections of essentials for you and baby. Click here to check out Motherly’s essential registry guide. 

A version of this story was published February 11, 2022. It has been updated.