For someone who suffered from asthma and allergies throughout their life, I grew up with every single appliance used to improve air quality in the room.
That’s why I can imagine how critical it is for any baby’s room to have machines such as air purifiers and humidifiers.
Although they’re two different appliances, they’re often brought up around the same topics. So today, I’ll answer one of the most common questions around them “air purifier vs humidifier for baby: which one is better?”
Table of Contents
Why Do Babies Need Humidifiers?
To understand why babies need humidifiers, we need to understand the effect of dry air on babies as well as what these humidifiers are and what they do. So let’s break these down one by one.
Dry air is associated with low humidity, which is measured in percentages of water molecules in the air. It mostly happens in winter due to indoor heating systems, which dries out the air of its natural moisture.
The problem with dry air is that it’ll consequently dry out the mucous membrane in human bodies. Although the effect of low humidity affects us all, babies are more sensitive to them than us.
Since these membranes are found in your baby’s nose, throat, and eyes, these parts will experience a lot of irritation, resulting in difficulties in breathing and sleeping. Moreover, dry air causes a variety of other symptoms, including:
- Dry skin
- Rash and irritation
- Sinusitis and cough
- Chapped lips
- Increased nasal congestion and allergies
- Bacteria and viruses favor the dry air (which is why they’re more common during winter)
A humidifier is a machine that has the ability to break down water molecules and disperses them into the atmosphere of the room in the form of mist.
These moist particles are suspended in the air, which maintains the humidity level within a comfortable range to prevent all these symptoms.
What Is Better for a Baby: a Humidifier or Purifier?
Technically, both humidifiers and purifiers are great at what they do. In the end of the day, both of these appliances target somewhat similar issues from a different perspective.
One works by completely removing out the particulates of the air while the other makes the conditions in the room unfavorable for these microbes to thrive.
However, to choose the ideal option for your baby, you’ll need to figure out the conditions of the room and the purpose of using the device.
For instance, air purifiers will do a decent job at keeping the air in the baby’s room clean in summer. However, it may not be able to filter out some microbes in the winter. Also, purifiers might even make the room drier in the winter, which causes irritations.
This makes humidifiers a more suitable option for all different seasons if your budget allows you to get only one of them.
In fact, the optimum choice here is using them both at the same time, but more on that in the following sections!
What Humidity Level Is Best for Babies?
Infant’s sleep quality is massively affected by the level of room humidity, which is why there are tons of studies conducted to find out the ideal humidity for babies.
For example, the shallow humidity levels will cause skin issues, itchy noses, and dry nasal passages, which makes sleeping quite hard and aggravate symptoms like bloody noses, difficulties in breathing, coughing, nasal congestion, and more.
On the other hand, when humidity is too high, the baby’s body will lose its natural ability to perspire properly. As a result, the cooling mechanisms in their bodies fail, which may end up causing them several heat-related illnesses.
The Ideal Humidity for Babies vs Adults
Ideally, the healthy range of humidity lies in a range of (30% to 60%), anything lower or higher than that, and your baby will manifest obvious signs of discomfort.
However, this range is more suitable for adults and is a bit wide for some babies to handle. In other words, a baby might find the extremes within this humidity range a bit discomforting.
Alternatively, it’s better to narrow down the range of health humidity for babies to 35% minimum and 50% maximum because it guarantees comfort for almost all babies.
How Critical is That Range?
One thing you should know here is that this range isn’t exact and is quite wide still. This means that you don’t have to worry about keeping it within that exact range.
After all, human bodies are created to withstand relatively higher or levels of humidity. In addition to that, your body will be able to tell you when the humidity falls out of that range.
However, if you want to make sure that the humidity stays within that range all the time, you can easily monitor room humidity using an indoor hygrometer.
I recommend this Hygrometer because it can also measure temperature and tell time all the while being very affordable and minimalistic.
Can a Humidifier Be Bad for a Baby?
Despite all its merits, humidifiers can sometimes be bad for babies. As previously mentioned, humidity shouldn’t be too low but it also shouldn’t be too high.
If the humidity in your house is already within a decent range, using a humidifier might end up pushing it out of the comfortable range and causing overheating and heat rashes. In that case, a purifier would be a more suitable device for your baby’s room.
Are Air Purifiers Safe for Infants?
The answer to this question varies depending on the type of air purifier in question, as not all air purifiers work in the same way or have the same level of risk.
As a rule of thumb, most air purifiers would be typically safe around your baby if you always keep the precautions in mind.
However, some of these purifiers use ozone gas to work, whether internally to break down pollutants or accidentally by ionizing the oxygen molecules.
In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has declared that these ozone air purifiers can be quite dangerous for both infants and grown-ups because they can damage the lungs and cause breathing problems even in small quantities.
Which Air Purifiers Are Safe for Infants?
As a rule of thumb, you should steer away from any air purifier that utilizes ozone technology. Also, some brands use different terms to cover the true mechanism of the machine, such as ionization or UV light.
All these air purifiers will end up generating harmful ozone gas as a side product while purifying the air.
Instead, always look for Air purifiers that use physical filters, such as High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters.
These purifiers are perfectly safe for infants because they work by filtering and removing the harmful particulates of the air without producing any side products in the process
Why Use an Air Purifier for Babies?
Air Purifiers are an excellent investment for your baby’s room. As the name suggests, these machines use premium HEPA filters. These filters work by entrapping the smallest of particles that are suspended in the air.
They can also use other filtration methods, such as activated charcoal to adsorb vapors, dust, and even odor. Here are some of the main reasons why you need an Air Purifier for your baby’s room:
1. They Remove All Allergens from Air
Unlike other methods of improving the air quality of the room, nothing works as efficiently as a purifier. This is because alternative solutions, such as fans and windows will replace the air in the room with a new patch without addressing the components of the air.
On the other hand, purifiers continuously clean the air by filtering out all small particulates. In fact, HEPA filters are standardized to remove particulates up to 0.3 microns with efficiency reaching 99.97%, according to the U.S. EPA.
This means that a good purifier is capable of removing dust, pollen, pet dander, ash, and much more! These particulates can exacerbate allergies, making these purifiers great for babies with sensitive lungs.
2. They Get Rid of Some Chemical Vapors in the Room
In addition to the particulates, some purifiers have activated carbon that is capable of getting rid of harmful chemical vapors, such as asbestos, nitrogen dioxide, chlorine, and other harmful and irritating vapors.
3. They Can Neutralize Bad Odor to an Extent
Using an air purifier can also be highly beneficial in removing or neutralizing some of the lingering bad odor in the room.
This is because the odor is caused due to tiny particles that are suspended in the air. By using a purifier, you can easily filter out these particles to keep the air fresh and clean.
4. They Facilitate Sleeping
One of the things that hinders a comfortable sleep is the lack of oxygen as well as compromised air quality.
Since a purifier is capable of getting rid of all these particles, your baby will simply enjoy a more comfortable sleep because of how easy it is to breathe, especially with all the awkward positions that babies like to sleep in.
Some babies also find the white noise produced by the purifier soothing, which indirectly promotes better sleep quality.
5. They Reduce the Chances of Getting Sick
Lastly, a good air purifier is also capable of getting rid of some biohazards in the air, such as airborne bacteria, and microbes.
This reduces their chances of catching a cold because the density of germs and other harmful microscopic creatures is severely reduced.
Can I Use a Humidifier and an Air Purifier at the Same Time?
From a technical sense, any two appliances or machines that perform two different functions that don’t interfere with each other can usually work together, let alone working in synergy!
In the humidifier and air purifier case, it’s perfectly fine to use both machines at the same time because they can do a much better job together than each one on its own.
Air purifiers work by removing pollutants from the air and filtering it to keep it fresh and healthy, which relieves allergies and some odors. However, the air purification process is notorious for lowering the moisture level of the air in the room, which is where air humidifiers come in handy!
These humidifiers will cancel out the negative effects of a purifier by increasing the humidity level in the room when it becomes too low after purification, which can have a lot of benefits on your babies in terms of respiratory and bodily comfort.
In fact, there are many people who will recommend using the combo from the get-go because of how beneficial they are. However, you can still greatly enhance the quality of air in the room by using either one of them depending on the weather.
For example, during winter, humidity is naturally low, so humidifiers are always the ideal choice to go. However, in other seasons where humidity levels are naturally within a comfortable range, an air purifier will do you much better.
Key Considerations While Using Them Simultaneously
Even though using both machines will further improve the quality of air inside your baby’s room, you need to make sure that you don’t place them close to each other.
This is because air purifier filters are very sensitive to moisture. So, by placing them near a steady source of mist, you’ll risk clogging these filters and limiting their effectiveness.
Not only that but when HEPA filters are damp, they can also promote the growth of mold and bacteria inside the purifier.
But don’t worry, all that can be easily avoided if you just place the purifier on one side of the room and the humidifier on the opposite one.
Another thing to keep in mind here is that you should keep both machines maintained properly by frequent cleaning.
Lastly, make sure that you use distilled water with humidifiers to prevent the lightweight minerals particles from staying suspended in the air, which is shown in a study to cause respiratory issues.
There you have it! A complete guide that puts the air purifier vs humidifier in regards to which is better for your baby.
As you can see, both the air purifier and humidifier can be excellent additions to your baby’s room if they’re used properly and when they’re needed.
Moreover, they can work hand in hand to provide the optimum air quality as long as they’re well maintained and separated across the room.
In the end, remember to use a hygrometer to find out about the room’s humidity level and decide whether you need one or two of the appliances.