Air Purifier vs. Humidifier for Baby: Which is Best?

  • By: Sue Dorrens
  • Date: February 22, 2022
  • Time to read: 9 min.
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With a baby in the house, air quality is of utmost importance. This is especially true for newborns, whose immune systems are still developing. Most new parents decide to put some type of device in their baby’s nursery to make the air cleaner, and this can include either an air purifier or a humidifier.

Air purifiers and humidifiers perform entirely different functions and help with different problem areas – the answer to this question is personal and depends on your own specific needs, but it always starts with learning the differences between these two devices.

If you think you need BOTH an air purifier and humidifier these machines listed below might be just what you need.

Air Purifier + Humidifier COMBO Machines

Top Pick!
SHARP KC850U Air Purifier and Humidifier with Plasmacluster Ion Technology Recommended for Medium-Sized Rooms. True HEPA Filter for Dust, Smoke, Pollen, and Pet Dander may last up-to 5 Years.
Turonic PH950 - Hepa Air Purifiers for Home w/Humidifier, Large Room Air Cleaner up to 2500 Sq Ft, 8-Stage Purification w/True Hepa 13 Filter, UV-A Light & Ionizer, Smart Auto Mode, Wi-Fi Control
Air Purifier And Humidifier Combo For Home, 22Db| 7 Colors Night Hepa Air Purifiers 2 In 1 With Remote Control, Hepa Filter Air Cleaner Removing 99.99% Smokers Odor And Pollen For Bedroom
Brondell Air Purifier O2+ Revive Air Purification System with Humidifier | Allergy Relief and Odor Eliminator | for Dust, Mold, Smoke, Off-Gassing, and Pets | Dual Intake | Dual True HEPA Filters | Evaporative Humidification | PR50-B Black
Afloia 2 in 1 HEPA Air Purifier with Humidifier, 3 Stage H13 Filters for Home Allergies Pets Hair Smoker Odors, Evaporative Humidifier, Auto Shut Off, Quiet Air Cleaner with Seven Color Light, MIRO PRO
Humidifier + Air Purifier COMBO
Sharp Triple Action Plasmacluster Air Purifier with Humidifying Function
Turonic PH950 - Hepa Air Purifiers for Home w/Humidifier
Air Purifier And Humidifier Combo For Home, 22Db|
Brondell Air Purifier O2+ Revive Air Purification System with Humidifier
Afloia HEPA Air Purifier with Humidifier
Humidifier
Coverage
254 Sq Ft
2500 Sq Ft
538 Sq Ft
627 Sq Ft
438 Sq Ft
Price
$368.99
$479.97
$139.99
$499.99
$139.99
Top Pick!
SHARP KC850U Air Purifier and Humidifier with Plasmacluster Ion Technology Recommended for Medium-Sized Rooms. True HEPA Filter for Dust, Smoke, Pollen, and Pet Dander may last up-to 5 Years.
Humidifier + Air Purifier COMBO
Sharp Triple Action Plasmacluster Air Purifier with Humidifying Function
Humidifier
Coverage
254 Sq Ft
Price
$368.99
Turonic PH950 - Hepa Air Purifiers for Home w/Humidifier, Large Room Air Cleaner up to 2500 Sq Ft, 8-Stage Purification w/True Hepa 13 Filter, UV-A Light & Ionizer, Smart Auto Mode, Wi-Fi Control
Humidifier + Air Purifier COMBO
Turonic PH950 - Hepa Air Purifiers for Home w/Humidifier
Humidifier
Coverage
2500 Sq Ft
Price
$479.97
Air Purifier And Humidifier Combo For Home, 22Db| 7 Colors Night Hepa Air Purifiers 2 In 1 With Remote Control, Hepa Filter Air Cleaner Removing 99.99% Smokers Odor And Pollen For Bedroom
Humidifier + Air Purifier COMBO
Air Purifier And Humidifier Combo For Home, 22Db|
Humidifier
Coverage
538 Sq Ft
Price
$139.99
Brondell Air Purifier O2+ Revive Air Purification System with Humidifier | Allergy Relief and Odor Eliminator | for Dust, Mold, Smoke, Off-Gassing, and Pets | Dual Intake | Dual True HEPA Filters | Evaporative Humidification | PR50-B Black
Humidifier + Air Purifier COMBO
Brondell Air Purifier O2+ Revive Air Purification System with Humidifier
Humidifier
Coverage
627 Sq Ft
Price
$499.99
Afloia 2 in 1 HEPA Air Purifier with Humidifier, 3 Stage H13 Filters for Home Allergies Pets Hair Smoker Odors, Evaporative Humidifier, Auto Shut Off, Quiet Air Cleaner with Seven Color Light, MIRO PRO
Humidifier + Air Purifier COMBO
Afloia HEPA Air Purifier with Humidifier
Humidifier
Coverage
438 Sq Ft
Price
$139.99

What is an Air Purifier?

An air purifier’s main purpose is to grab hold of and eliminate contaminants in the air. Air purifiers usually have two or three filters that eliminate both small and large particles, including a filter that eliminates odors.

The best air purifiers have HEPA filters, which eliminate 99.97% or more of harmful pollutants that are as small as 0.3 microns, which means practically nothing will pass through them. This means that the purifiers can eliminate dust, mold, pollen, bacteria, viruses, pet dander, and numerous other pollutants, giving you clean fresh air that is both easier and healthier to breathe.

Many air purifiers can also get rid of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which include things such as formaldehyde. Formaldehyde can be found in any type of home but is more commonly found in newer homes or homes that have recently been renovated.

Since both adults and small children feel better when the air is cleaner inside of the home, a good air purifier is considered a must with most homeowners. And if your child has asthma or allergies, they can be improved drastically simply by adding a good quality air purifier to the nursery.

If you decide to get an air filter, the true HEPA filters work best. Never buy one that says that the filter is “HEPA-like” because this is not the same as a true HEPA filter. By law, true HEPA filters must eliminate all contaminants down to 0.3 microns in size at least 99.97% of the time.

You should also make sure that there is an activated charcoal (carbon) filter that eliminates the odors. HEPA filters get rid of the pollutants while activated carbon filters get rid of various odors. Together, they work wonders to make sure your home smells better, is healthier, and provides you with the cleanest air possible.

What is a Humidifier?

Simply put, a humidifier adds moisture to the air and uses either cool water or warm water to release this moisture. If you live in a dry climate or anyone in your home has dry skin or throat and nasal irritation, a good humidifier can help.

And never think that either a cold-mist humidifier or a warm-mist humidifier works better than the other one. Both of these humidifiers do a great job of adding moisture to the air. Many parents prefer the cool-mist humidifiers simply because if the child accidentally touches the mist, it won’t burn them or make them uncomfortable. Other than that, the humidifiers are the same.

Humidifiers are also perfect when the baby has a cold because they make sure there’s enough moisture in the air to ease up on symptoms such as dry mouth or dry skin.

That being said, there is nothing wrong with running the humidifier in the baby’s nursery every day because even if the baby isn’t sick, a good humidifier means that it’s easier to breathe and sleep.

Keep in mind that humidifiers do nothing to get rid of pollutants and airborne contaminants. A good humidifier’s only purpose is to add moisture to the air so that the room isn’t nearly as dry and uncomfortable.

What Should You Look for in an Air Purifier for a Baby?

If you’ve decided that an air purifier is what you want in your child’s nursery, here are a few things to look for that will make you glad you chose that particular one:

  • An air purifier that covers up to 250 square feet of space. Even if it only covers this much space at its highest setting, that’s all right. If your nursery isn’t that large, it won’t hurt the air quality because you can always use the lowest setting and get the results you need. The last thing you want is an air purifier that only accommodates very small rooms.
  • An air purifier with many different modes and settings. Most quality air purifiers offer several different settings that allow you to adjust the settings according to your needs. The setting you choose will depend on the level of air filtration you need, but most people choose the maximum setting because this works the best when it comes to eliminating pollutants in the air.
  • Quiet. There is no point in having a noisey device near your baby. Most air purifiers will list their noise levels in decibels. Aim for below 50dB for a quiet device for your nursery.
  • Type of air filtration. Consider the level of filtration a device offers in addition to how often and how much they cost to replace. This can make the difference between a great device and a terrible one.

Types of filters include the following:

  • Ultraviolet (UV) filter. This is an expensive but very effective option. It uses UV rays instead of chemicals to damage the DNA of any organisms floating in the air. It does great at removing pollutants such as viruses and bacteria, but it won’t work on other contaminants, such as VOCs or chlorine.
  • Activated charcoal filter. This filter binds impurities in order to remove gasses from the air. It works on chemicals such as VOCs as well as many different odors. This is the type of filter normally used to remove radon gas.
  • HEPA filter. High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are considered the best filters by most experts. They remove dust mites, tobacco smoke, pollen, pet dander, and so much more. One of the reasons it is such a good filter is its ability to remove pollutants as small as 0.3 microns in size.
  • Ionizers. Ionizers send out negative ions into the air, which then bond with positive ions, which is what most pollutants are. After they bond with the particulates, they drop down into a plate and stay there until the plate is cleaned at some point. Ionizers tend to be expensive, and there is some concern about ozone emissions, which is why many people choose not to use them.

In addition, you can also find numerous air purifiers that are installed right into your central air conditioning system or your HVAC system. This tends to be a costly option but allows for whole-house cleaning of pollutants. Depending on the purifier you choose, you might have to get an HVAC technician to install it for you. While expensive, many people love this option because it purifies the air in the entire home, which naturally includes the nursery.

Check out our article Air Purifiers Without Water – Our Top Five Picks.

What Should You Look for in a Humidifier for a Baby?

Just as with air purifiers, there are things to look for when you decide to get a humidifier for your baby’s nursery. These include the following:

  • The size of the nursery. Always make sure that the humidifier can cover the total square footage in your nursery so that it’s effective.
  • The ventilation of the humidifier. It’s always best to vent the humidifier out of the room so that no dampness from the outside air gets in the way.
  • The cost of the humidifier. Most humidifiers cost between $20 and $50 and are therefore affordable. While cost shouldn’t be the only consideration when buying a humidifier, it is still an important factor.
  • The modes and settings of the humidifier. Adjustable settings are important because they are the best way to personalize your experience and get exactly what you need from the humidifier.
  • An automatic timer. This isn’t a feature on every humidifier but it’s a very handy one to have. It allows the humidifier to turn on and off automatically even when you’re not at home.

Yet another consideration when you intend to buy a humidifier is to learn about the safety of operating one of these devices. Water and electricity can be a terrible combination. The smartest thing you can do if you want to avoid any problems is to read your user manual thoroughly and make sure you take all of the necessary precautions.

This includes not getting water into the electrical system and keeping the unit far away from the baby once it’s set up in the nursery. Many manufacturers also recommend using only distilled or purified water in the unit to prevent a buildup of gunk inside of the humidifier.

Which One Should You Choose: Air Purifier or Humidifier?

humidifier vs air filter for babies

If you’re still confused about whether you should choose an air purifier or humidifier, consider the signs that your baby could be giving out to tell you which one he needs. If the baby has a blocked nose frequently or finds it difficult to breathe, this could be a sign that there are dangerous allergens in the air.

A good air purifier can take care of that problem because this device is great for both short-term seasonal allergies and long-term allergies such as environmental allergies. Remember that all types of allergens are removed entirely with a good air purifier.

On the other hand, if stuffiness, dry skin, nosebleeds, and skin irritations are the problem, you likely need a good humidifier. Sinus problems and certain allergies always benefit from a humidifier. If you already know that the area you live in is dry, there’s no reason not to get a good humidifier even if the baby isn’t showing any symptoms or isn’t sick frequently.

And as mentioned earlier, the cool-mist humidifiers are just as effective as the warm-mist humidifiers, but they aren’t as dangerous if your baby or toddler should reach out and touch the mist or steam in the air.

Furthermore, if you’re wondering if you can use both an air purifier and a humidifier, the answer is yes, you can. There is certainly nothing wrong with this, especially because the two devices have two completely different purposes.

Both improve the quality of the air in your home, but while one simply adds moisture to the air to make baby’s breathing a lot easier, the other will get rid of pollutants in the air so that these pollutants don’t get in the way of breathing in fresh clean air. For the most part, you can even operate both of these devices at the same time, but while air purifiers are usually kept on 24/7, most people run their humidifiers only at certain times, usually at night.

You should also keep in mind that occasionally, a baby or even an adult will have an allergic reaction to either an air purifier or humidifier.

Unfortunately, the symptoms are very similar to the symptoms you’re usually trying to get rid of by running the purifier or humidifier, so it can be difficult at first to tell where the symptoms are coming from.

That being said, if you run your humidifier or air purifier for a while and the symptoms continue, it might just be that you’re allergic. There’s no need to worry about this too much because, in fact, it rarely happens. It’s just good for you to be aware of it before you purchase your device.

Final Thoughts

Both air purifiers and humidifiers are excellent devices that instantly improve the air quality in a baby’s nursery. While they serve two different purposes, just remember that they can be used together without any problems.

If your goal is to clean the air of pollutants and harmful contaminants, you’ll need an air purifier. If you instead need something to make breathing easier for babies with dry skin and stuffy noses, you likely need a humidifier. Fortunately, both devices are easy to find and generally affordable.

You might also like Best Air Purifiers for a Bedroom.

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