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Air Purifier vs Humidifier For Baby [And How To Decide]

Updated February 11, 2023

What is better for your baby an air purifier vs a humidifier?

Let’s talk about it: Air purifier vs humidifier for baby.

Air purifiers and humidifiers are both used to keep the air in a room at a healthy level by removing pollutants in the air and adding moisture to the air.

They both have different benefits and drawbacks, which I’ll break down in detail throughout this article.

It’s important to maintain healthy air quality for your baby so your baby’s immune system can effectively fight off colds and flu.

There are air purifiers specifically designed for babies.

This article is intended to focus on the difference between air purifiers vs humidifiers for your baby.


Air purifier vs humidifier for baby

What Are Air Purifiers?

Air Purifiers are designed to filter out dangerous particles and gases from the air in your home, removing things like dust, pollen, mold infestations, and odors.

Air purifiers can be made of different types of materials including metal, HEPA filters, charcoal filters, and special atomizer cartridges.

Air purifiers improve indoor air quality for the entire household. Babies are likely to benefit the most as their immune system is still developing.

There is little doubt children feel much better when an air purifier is placed in their room.

There are countless stories where parents comment on how their child’s asthma dramatically improved after an air purifier was placed in their room.



What are humidifiers? 

Humidifiers are used to add moisture into the air using a few different methods.

Either warm or cool water vapor is released into the air to increase humidity levels in a room.

The increased moisture in the air reduces skin dryness, nasal and throat irritation, and they may ease symptoms if you have a cold or the flu.


What Are The Most Important Criteria When Buying An Air Purifier For A Baby?

1. Size:

A good-sized air purifier should be able to filter up to 250 square feet of air at its highest setting.

This means if you have a room large enough to fit the air purifier, it will be able to cover its maximum capacity.

The higher your settings go, the more efficient your air purifier will be.

It is always better to have a home appliance that can easily handle the

demand, whether it be an air filter, air conditioner, or humidifier.

It’s not a good idea to purchase an undersized appliance that

has to run on the highest setting all the time.


2. Types of Air Filtration:

It’s better if the filter is made out of a material that does not build up and will last for years.

If you buy a new filter, you should be able to replace or clean them without spending a lot of money.

But still, there are some that are more expensive to maintain than others.

This is one factor you will want to consider when buying a humidifier.


Ultraviolet Filter 

Ultraviolet air filtration is going to be one of the more expensive options. Instead of using chemicals or physical barriers, the UV rays damage the DNA of organisms floating in the air.

When it comes to air purification, though it is highly effective at removing bacteria and viruses, UV air filtration does not remove other contaminants such as chlorine, VOC’s or particulate matter.


Here are the pros and cons of UV air filtration:


  • Do not use harmful chemicals or release harmful products into the air.
  • UV sanitization of water does not affect the taste of water and is odorless.
  • One of the most effective ways to kill bacteria and viruses (99.9%).
  • Very energy efficient, energy is equal to running a 60-watt lightbulb.
  • Easy maintenance. Just change the UV bulb once a year.


  • UV filtration systems are expensive.
  • Deals with only one component(granted the most important) of air purification which is the removal of air-born pathogens. The system does not clean chemicals or remove particles in the air. The air purifier should be able to produce negative ions and UV light in order for it to work properly. An air purifier with UV light not only has more benefits but could also have fewer negative effects on humans.


HEPA stands for a “high-efficiency particulate air filter”, essential if you want to remove particles in the air as small as .3 microns.

This includes the filtration of pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and tobacco smoke.


Activated Charcoal Filters

Activated charcoal is used to remove gases from the air.

This includes chemicals such as VOCs (volatile organic compounds) found in household products as well as odors and other gaseous air pollutants.

It works by binding impurities to take the gases out of the air. This form of purification is what removes radon gas.



In the same way as electronic filters,  electrostatic filters also charge particles in the air to allow for their removal, much the way a magnet’s magnetic field results in attracting charged particles.


Central Air Cleaners

Central air purifiers can be a great approach to total home air purification the effectiveness of such (costly) systems will depend on the airflow in the home and how efficient it is at processing the air in each individual room.


Air-To-Air Exchangers

Air to Air exchangers pulls out humidity and odors from the air by exhausting heated inside air out and pulling cooler outside air in.


HVAC System

HVAC stands for heating ventilation and air conditioning. It is a central system designed to clean and humidify air throughout the home, exchanging fresh outside air with indoor air. HVAC is costly as is the case for any central air conditioning or heating system.



Though Ionizers were popular and still are available, based on the concerns about ozone emissions, it is best to avoid these forms of air purifiers, particularly since there are so many others to chose from.

Having had a number of ionizing purifiers through the years, the other reason is simply that they tend to break easily, even if you maintain them well and handle them with care, not to mention they are costly as well.


Modes / Settings

The settings on an air purifier should be adjustable, meaning the air purifier can be changed to various settings depending on the level of filtration needed.

Most choose to run their air purifier on the maximum setting unless the noise is too much at night.


What Are The Most Important Criteria to Consider When Buying a Humidifier For A Baby?

1. Size:

You will want to choose a humidifier based on the area of the room. A room that is 10 feet by 10 feet would be 100 square feet.


2. Ventilation:

It’s better if the humidifier can be vented out of the room to filter out any additional dampness from the air outside.


3. Automatic Timer:

A timer is optional but could come in handy for those who want the humidifier to turn on and off at certain times.


4. Cost:

Humidifiers are often not considered as necessary as air purifiers, which means that sometimes people will buy whatever size they can afford.

However, it is important to know that many humidifiers are made with low-quality parts that may stop functioning after a  year or less. Quality is important to consider when purchasing a humidifier.

Most humidifiers are priced between $20 and $50. You could pay more or you could pay less depending on your budget.

The most important fact to keep in mind is that an air filter and humidifier are very different in terms of how they improve air quality.

Comparing the necessity of one over the other for the treatment of your home depends on where you live and what you and your pediatrician think is the most concerning problem, air pollutants or humidity.

Assuming you are not considering these products to manage a health issue you might consider the benefits of a humidifier if you live in a very dry climate with low relative humidity.

If you live in the city and smog is a significant problem, an air purifier might be your first choice.


5. Modes / Settings

A humidifier should have various modes or settings that can be adjusted as needed.

Unless you plan to run a humidifier around the clock, a timer can be helpful to be sure it is on when it is most needed which is usually during the night.


 ***A Special Note About Humidifiers:

Humidifiers can be very dangerous if they are not used correctly. Electricity and water is always a serious combination.

Make sure to use a safe method when filling the humidifier, either using water directly from the faucet or a water container.

You never want water to get into the electrical system.

Having personally had a humidifier short out because of water getting into the wiring, I can attest to how easy this can happen.

You will be filling the humidifier frequently, and this is all the more reason to make sure to use a safe method. (Filling using a water pitcher can be much safer than using a faucet.)

Especially if you have to unplug the unit each time you fill it.

If you only plan to use a humidifier in your baby’s room the placement should be safely out of reach from where your baby is sleeping, playing, or taking a nap.


How Are Humidifiers And Air Purifiers Different?

The main difference between an air purifier and a humidifier is how they affect the air in your home.

Air purifiers clean the air while humidifiers add moisture to the air. which helps keep your baby’s skin from getting dry and keeps sinuses moist.

An air purifier removes dust, pollen, mildew, and other dry particles that could irritate your baby’s skin.

Humidifiers on the other hand are used to relieve stuffy noses in babies as well as keep sinuses moist which helps prevent sinusitis.

They add moisture to the air, which can help alleviate some of the symptoms.


How Are Humidifiers And Air Purifiers Similar?

Humidifiers and air purifiers both help remove germs and allergens from the air. However, they take different methods to do so.

While an air purifier will use a filter to trap these particles, a humidifier will produce a mist of water with added vitamins and minerals to help add moisture back into the air.


Who Should Get An Air Purifier For Their Baby (And Why?)

Air purifiers can remove particles, dust, dirt, and allergens from the air that could harm a baby’s respiratory system.

A good air purifier will cover up to 250 square feet of an entire room.

If you notice that your baby’s nose is blocked frequently or their breathing gets short and shallow, then it could be because of allergens in the air.

The air purifier should be the best size for the size of your room.

If your baby has a cough that lasts more than a week, it could indicate that they are having an allergic reaction.

A good air purifier can help with this for both short-term allergies such as seasonal allergies, as well as chronic allergies such as environmental allergies.


Who Should Get A Humidifier For Their Baby (And Why?)

Humidifiers are used to add moisture back into the air to help alleviate dry skin and irritation.

If you have an infant or a baby that is not yet walking, then you could place a humidifier in their room to help relieve stuffiness when they sleep.

You can also use a humidifier in an adult’s room if they have allergies or sinus problems, which are both common conditions during the winter months.


What Are The Side Effects Of Air Purifiers And Humidifiers?

Air purifiers could cause fever, cough, and headache.

If someone uses an air purifier that does not have a HEPA filter, then the side effects could be worse.

These side effects may include chest pain, breathing problems, and swelling in the throat or face.

For humidifiers, on the other hand, the side effects of dry air, include dry skin, nosebleeds, and an itchy throat.

If you notice that your baby shows any of the above symptoms, then you should consult your doctor immediately.

Though both an air purifier and humidifier address different aspects of air quality, they both serve a significant health benefit for your baby.

Based on the information we have shared about air purifiers and humidifiers, it is optimal to use both if possible.

What you need is based on where you live (humid or dry climate) and what the air quality is like at your location.




  • Doug Penta MD OB/GYN

    Dr. Doug Penta, MD - Co-Founder of Maternity Comfort Solutions Dr. Doug Penta, is a seasoned Obstetrician and Gynecologist with over 38 years of practice, co-founded Maternity Comfort Solutions to provide evidence-based pregnancy and parenting information. A Boston University alum and former Clinical Professor at Harvard, his articles on Maternity Comfort Solutions offer expectant mothers invaluable nutritional insights.

  • Sue Winters RN

    Sue Winters, RN - Co-Founder of Maternity Comfort Solutions Sue combines 20 years of nursing with a rich background in early childhood education. Co-founder of Maternity Comfort Solutions, her articles provide creative toddler activities and practical tips on pregnancy nutrition and baby shower planning, embodying her commitment to supporting families through early parenthood.

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