A new baby is the most precious gift you can have. When you realize you have a bundle of joy on the way, you begin preparing the nursery. One of the biggest decisions parents grapple with is the dilemma between a vaporizer and a humidifier. Obviously, you want what is best for your baby. So, how do you know which choice to make?
What the Difference between Humidifier and Vaporizer? Humidifiers and vaporizers primarily accomplish the same task. They both help to instill moisture in the otherwise dry air. Dry air is mainly experienced in heated homes during the winter or in extremely hot summers.
During the winter, it is unavoidable to use home heating systems. These heating systems suck the moisture from the natural air resulting in dry air. Additionally, during very hot summers, the level of humidity in the air may drop drastically causing dry, scratchy air.
Air is officially considered dry if it has 10%-20% or less moisture content.
Dry air is notorious for causing sore throats, dry eyes, nose-bleeds due to dry sinuses, dry skin, sore noses, itchy skin, red patches, stuffy noses, chapped lips, and eczema.
Adding moisture to dry air will ensure your baby breaths easy and has clear nasal passages. It also clears the eyes, chest, and throat, maintains healthy plump skin, and helps your baby to heal much quicker in case of colds.
That being said, let us look at humidifiers and vaporizers individually.
Humidifiers: What are they?
Humidifiers are appliances used to infuse moisture in the air. They can be used to effect changes in a single room or in a whole house. Depending on your preference, you can have warm-mist humidifiers or cold-mist humidifiers in your nursery.
Types of Humidifiers
1. Warm-mist Humidifier
The warm-mist humidifier diffuses warm moist air into the room. Warm-mist humidifiers use a heating system to heat the water and then steam is dispersed into the air by the inbuilt fan.
You can select the level of moisture and temperature from the controls. The heating system kills all the germs and bacteria present in the water before dispersing it into the room.
2. Cold-Mist Humidifier
The cold-mist humidifier works just like the warm-mist humidifier except the mist produced is cold or room temperature. Instead of using heat to kill bacteria, cool-mist humidifiers use anti-bacterial wicks and filters to kill all of the bacteria and germs in the water. These humidifiers are considered safer since they don’t employ the element of heat in their operation.
3. Evaporative Humidifier
An evaporative humidifier is basically a cool-mist humidifier. It operates by purifying air through an often treated, moisturized strainer or filter to nab and destroy all bacteria and fungi from the water.
The water is then broken down into tiny droplets and disseminated into the air. This humidifier actively recirculates the air and purifies it every time to ensure the air being released is moisturized, crisp, and clean.
4. Ultrasonic Humidifier
Ultrasonic humidifiers are very popular. They can be warm-mist or cool-mist humidifiers depending on your preference. Ultrasonic humidifiers use a special ceramic or metallic plate that employs high-frequency sound waves to produce ultra-small water droplets.
The droplets are then dispersed into the air using an inbuilt ventilator. This humidifier produces the tiniest droplets of all the other humidifiers.
5. Impeller or Central Humidifier
A central humidifier or Impeller is a humidifier that is fitted directly into the home air-conditioning system. It works by the use of a rotating disk that propels water onto a propagator.
The propagator breaks the water down into minute blobs which are then released into the air. The Impeller is a cool-mist humidifier and the most commonly used type of humidifier.
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What we love about Humidifiers
- They promote healthy sinuses, vibrant skin, and help prevent colds and flu.
- A humidifier creates a conducive environment for your baby to heal faster from common colds and respiratory disorders.
- The baby sleeps better and longer and wakes up without the morning dry, scratchy voice. The baby’s vocal cords are very fragile. It is important to ensure they are not damaged by dry air.
- Furniture and upholstery will benefit from hydration. No more cracking or peeling.
- The moisture from a humidifier ensures there is no more static electricity in your home.
- Prevents and soothes dry skin condition
- Reduces your heating power bills.
Issues with Humidifiers
- Most of the humidifiers especially cool-mist humidifiers can spread bacterial elements into your home. The evaporative and Ultrasonic humidifiers, in particular, break down water and any microbes into very small particles that once inhaled go straight to the lungs.
- Humidifiers must be cleaned at least once every 2 days. This may prove challenging especially for big units like central humidifiers.
- The anti-bacterial wicks fitted in various humidifiers are treated with Microban, Triclosan, and Nano Silver which are heavy toxoids. These added poisons may end up in the air the baby breaths.
- Warm-mist humidifiers can scald your baby and other family members.
- Some humidifiers, like central humidifiers, are noisy.
- Most humidifiers require the use of distilled water which presents an added expense.
Vaporizers: What are they?
Vaporizers are appliances that are used to add vapor to the atmosphere of the home. The main difference between vaporizers and warm-mist humidifiers is that vaporizers heat their water to the point of boiling. The steam produced by the boiling water is what disperses into the digs. This means that all vaporizers are warm-mist.
Types of Vaporizers
- Warm-mist Vaporizers
Warm-mist vaporizers need water. You add tap water to the water reservoir. The water boils and the steam circulates the quarters. These vaporizers are more hygienic than warm-mist humidifiers because the water is boiled and sterilized before being disseminated into the chamber.
- Waterless Vaporizers
These vaporizers are more costly to run and less risky than warm-mist vaporizers. They operate by use of pre-soaked pads permeated with anti-bacterial elements, menthols, and essential oils. You don’t have to add any water or worry about the burn fluke. The soaked pads are replaceable. The only downside to this vaporizer is that the replaceable pads are expensive.
Everything you should know about Vaporizers
Vaporizers are more aseptic than humidifiers because in purveying the mist from boiling water, they guarantee that it has no active bacteria or germs. Additionally, you can utilize typical tap water. The water will be sterilized during boiling.
The main disadvantage of vaporizers is the imminent threat of burns. You have to be extra careful when handling vaporizers because the liquid in the reservoir tank, as well as the mist, are very hot. Set your vaporizer in a place where children cannot reach.
Another quirk to look out for is the amount of mist produced. Vaporizers need to work at a delicate level that produces just enough mistiness but not too much. You must use a humidity checker in your home before starting the vaporizer to ensure the levels are well below normal (10% or less). Use the vaporizer only when necessary. Once humidity levels reach 40% turn it off.
Too much dampness can trigger respiratory clogging and asthma. It can also cause molds and bacteria to grow in the water tank as well as the vent, furniture, and upholstery. A room that uses a vaporizer should be aired every day to dispense with the excess mistiness.
If you realize that water is condensing on the windowsill or glass surfaces, then you have too much moisture. Carpets, curtains, and beddings may end up absorbing the excess moisture causing dampness and the growth of mold.
You need to adjust the steam level on your vaporizer, reduce the amount of time your vaporizer runs, and move the vaporizer to a more central position.
Vaporizers should be cleaned daily. An unclean reservoir encourages the growth of fungi. If not cleaned thoroughly, bacteria and mold begin growing in the tank within hours. Submerse all the parts that handle the water in a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. Cleanse and rinse thoroughly. The water in the tank should be changed daily.
A polluted water repository propagates contaminated water. If you don’t clean your vaporizer well you run the risk of contracting hypersensitivity pneumonia also known as humidifier lung. Do not use a vaporizer if your child has asthma. The excess moisture and possible mold exacerbate the illness.
Keep the vaporizer away from the reach of children and the cable away from the common areas. Be careful to avoid vaporizers that are shaped like toys. Your kids may not be able to resist the temptation to play with the “toy”.
The old models of vaporizers generated white dust along with the steam but newer models don’t. Invest in a newer model of vaporizer that doesn’t emit white dust.
Ensure you unplug the unit when not in use. Vaporizers are not as power efficient as humidifiers.
What we love about Vaporizers
- Keeps the home pristine with no germs and bacteria.
- Hydrates sinuses, chests, and throat making sleeping easy.
- Aids in the healing of flu and colds.
- You can add an essential oil like eucalyptus in your vaporizer to benefit from its healing properties as well as the beautiful scent.
Issues with Vaporizers
- Should not be used around children because it is a burn hazard.
- They cost more to run.
- Need frequent, thorough cleaning.
Humidifier VS Vaporizer
When faced with a choice between a humidifier and vaporizer for the baby’s nursery, a humidifier is the better choice. A humidifier is better than a vaporizer for the following reasons.
- A cool-mist humidifier is not a burn hazard.
- There are more models to choose from compared to the vaporizer.
- Running costs are lower for the humidifier than the vaporizer
- Some humidifiers have an inbuilt humidity checker to determine the level of humidity in the room before running the humidifier.
- A humidifier can be connected to the home’s central heating system to serve the whole house.
Things to consider before purchasing a humidifier
Consider the room size or house that you intend to humidify. Small-scale humidifiers cover 300 square feet spaces. Median humidifiers cover 300-499 square feet and large-scale humidifiers serve 500-999 square feet. There are enormous humidifiers for 1000 square feet or more.
The noise level is a big issue to consider when buying a humidifier. Babies are very sensitive to noise and you want a humidifier that does not disturb the baby especially when they are asleep. Ultrasonic humidifiers are the quietest of all the models.
When shopping for a humidifier, look out for a humidifier with a moisture checker, also known as a humidistat feature. This humidistat attribute checks the mist level in the room before starting the humidifier. Do not start the humidifier unless the levels drop below 30%
Auto-shutoff is also an important feature in humidifiers. You need a humidifier that automatically shuts off. This way, you don’t have to worry about remembering to turn it off and it does not turn into a fire hazard when the water in the reservoir dries up.
Think about purchasing a humidifier with both warm-mist and cool-mist features. Warm-mist is best during winter. It keeps the room warm and helps decongest the baby’s sinuses.
When you use the warm-mist attribute during winter, you can turn off the thermal heating system which saves energy. The cool-mist quality is useful when you need to humidify the air without increasing the temperature in the room. It is best for summer when the temperatures are high. Having a humidifier that can serve both seasons is a great investment.
Choose a humidifier with mist control characteristics. This quality is important for dictating the amount of vapor dispersed into the room. Especially if you have a baby with respiratory issues like asthma, it is imperative that you control the level of mist disseminated in the room. Too much mist content in the environment worsens asthma and may cause hypersensitivity pneumonia.
Needless to say, a humidifier that is easy to clean and maintain is a big plus. Humidifiers can become propagating grounds for bacteria and mold if not properly cleaned. Choose a humidifier that requires minimal maintenance so as to keep the baby as healthy as possible.
A timer is also an important feature. According to the level of moisture already present in the room, you can estimate and set the timer on your humidifier to automatically shut off once the optimal levels of humidity are reached. This is an important safety quality which also aids in saving energy.
Some people like to add essential oils and menthols to their humidifiers. If you are one of these people, make sure you purchase a humidifier with an add-on tray as well as a wick. You can enjoy easy to breathe air as well as tantalizing scents throughout your home.
Lastly, look for a humidifier that fits your budget.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Is it safe to leave the humidifier on throughout the night when the baby is sleeping?
Answer: Like with any other appliances, it is not advisable to leave it on throughout the night. Any electrical appliance can short-circuit and cause unfathomable damage to your home. Invest in a humidifier which is fitted with a humidistat.
Check the level of humidity to determine how long the humidifier should run before reaching the ideal levels of humidity. Turn the humidifier on and set the timer so it can automatically shut-off once the ideal levels are reached. This way, both the baby and you can sleep better and safer.
Question: How do I use the humidifier in an air-conditioned home?
Answer: This depends on whether you can control the air-conditioner on a room-to-room basis or if it is set on the same settings for the whole house.
If you can change the settings for a single room, turn off the air-conditioner for the nursery and let the humidifier run on its own. If the air-conditioner runs the same across the whole house, consider getting a central humidifier that can be connected to the main air-conditioner.
This way, you can humidify the whole house the same way you air-condition the whole house. If you are unable to get a central humidifier, put the air-conditioner settings on the lowest level as you humidify the nursery.
Question: How long should I let the humidifier run at a time?
Answer: As earlier stated, determining the amount of time to run your humidifier depends on the level of humidity you have to begin with.
Levels lower than 10% will require more running time than levels just below 30%. Wherefore, invest in a humidistat to determine the levels of humidity before starting your humidifier.
Question: What do I do when my humidifier starts forming a mold on the roof?
Answer: Mold is very unhealthy in any room, more so the nursery. When mold begins to grow on the roof above your humidifier, the first thing you need to do to clean out all the mold.
Move the humidifier from that position to a place where all the mist is not directed to one area. The more central and low it is better.
Ensure you air out the room more to ensure all the excess moisture is expelled. Lastly, it is likely that the mold is due to too much mist so lower the mist levels so that no more moisture is attaching to surfaces.
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