The Best Humidifiers and Vaporizers for Kids

These devices help ease congestion symptoms in children

Portrait of a boy sleeping
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If you are looking to purchase a humidifier or vaporizer for your child, what should you know? What products are available and what are their features?

When Should You Use a Humidifier or Vaporizer?

Young children commonly get about six to eight colds and upper respiratory tract infections each year, and a good humidifier or vaporizer can reduce congestion and cold symptoms. These products can also be helpful if your child suffers from nosebleeds, sinus infections, or eczema and dry skin.

Humidifiers can be especially helpful if your child suffers from croup. While these devices won't cure your child's illness, they can help a little one with a cold or the croup feel better.​

In general, humidifiers and vaporizers are not recommended for children with asthma. Talk to your physician beforehand as to her recommendations. If they are used for children with asthma, it's important to keep the humidity level between 30 and 50 percent.

Cautions With Humidifiers and Vaporizers

Humidity levels over 50 percent can encourage the growth of bacteria and mold. There is some controversy over whether to use distilled water or tap water, but if in doubt, distilled water may be a better choice. It's also very important to make sure the device is clean, as build up of metals such as calcium and magnesium can then be aerosolized into the air. It's best to clean your device with plain soap and water and avoid disinfectants (which have been linked with lung injury.) The Environmental Protection Agency recommends cleaning the unit every three days when in use and offers further advice on the care and management of humidifiers if you are interested.

Best Humidifiers and Vaporizers for Kids: Cool or Warm

Once you've decided that a vaporizer or humidifier would be helpful, how can you choose the best product for your child?

In general, a cool mist vaporizer or humidifier is preferred over a warm mist one because of the risk of your child getting accidentally burned or scalded.

A cool mist humidifier can be especially helpful for kids that have croup.

Let's look at some of the best humidifiers and vaporizers on the market for kids.

Vicks V3100 Mist Humidifier

The Vicks V3100 Mist Humidifier is a cool mist evaporative humidifier that works for 18 hours before needing a refill. Other features include a wick that removes impurities and prevents white dust, and a low-noise level so your child will be able to sleep. Evaporative humidifiers are believed to be less likely to release minerals into the air.

Vicks Ultrasonic Humidifier

With a 20-hour tank and a whisper quiet variable control function to fine-tune the mist output, the Vicks Ultrasonic Humidifier allows you to direct the mist to where your child is sleeping. This nearly silent device may be a good choice if you are worried about your child sleeping through the night.

Honeywell QuietCare Cool Mist Humidifier

Vicks isn't the only manufacturer to debut noteworthy humidifiers. There's also the Honeywell QuietCare Cool Mist Humidifier. This is a high output humidifier that can run for 24 hours without a refill and is capable of humidifying up to 2300 square feet or an entire average home. This product might be a good choice if you have more than one child suffering from a cold.

Vicks Nursery Cool Mist Humidifier

The Vicks Nursery Cool Mist Humidifier is an inexpensive cool mist humidifier that can run for up to 18 hours and is designed for use in a baby's nursery. It generates an ultra-fine mist and includes an air cleaning filter that works to rid dust, pollen, odors and cigarette smoke from the air that passes through the device.

WindChaser Ultrasonic Humidifier

The WindChaser Ultrasonic Humidifier is an inexpensive cool mist humidifier that can run for eight to 10 hours. 

Wrapping Up

Humidifiers and vaporizers aren't the only ways to ease the cold and croup symptoms of children.

Using an air filter, sweeping the floors, vacuuming carpets and keeping pets (and their dander) outside of bedrooms may also help to alleviate symptoms such as congestion.

Washing pets and sealing doors and windows to prevent dust and debris from getting indoors may also help. Finally, there's always tried-and-true home remedies, such as chicken noodle soup, the hot broth of which can break up congestion.

If these tips, along with humidifiers and vaporizers, don't help your child's symptoms or the symptoms worsen, you may need to seek medical advice.


Public Health Ontario. Evidence Brief: Humidifier Use in Health Care. 04/17.