Air Purifier vs Humidifier for Baby Nursery Explained (Pros, Cons & Differences)

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As a new parent, you’re bound to suffer from information overload.

There are so many variables and risk factors you need to take into consideration and carefully plan for when it comes to newborns.

One major variable you need to plan for is how you’re going to cleanse and moisturize the air in the baby’s nursery.

Too little humidity can lead to eczema, and too much can lead to mold.

Also, unclean, polluted air can increase the risk of SIDS by nearly 18%, according to the June 2004 issue in Pediatrics.

So should you get an air purifier vs a humidifier for the nursery? Do you need both? What’s the difference?

Contrary to popular belief, air purifiers and humidifiers are not the same thing. Purifiers remove potentially harmful pollutants and allergens from the air in the nursery, reducing the symptoms of asthma and promoting healthy development. Purifiers add moisture to the air, which helps clear breathing passages and alleviates dry skin.

Air purifiers and humidifiers can be used together in the nursery without issue, creating the best possible air quality.

Let’s take a look at air purifiers vs. humidifiers in more detail and figure out which one you need for your nursery.

Air Purifiers for The Nursery Explained

Air purifiers run air through a filter, which allows the air to pass through while capturing the impurities in the filter for disposal.

Air purifiers are designed to filter allergens, pollen, odors, smoke, and floating particles, such as dirt, dust, and even mold, from the air inside homes.

Their primary function is the cleanse the air, though they can add moisture back into the room.

Air purifiers are significantly beneficial for infants because their lungs, brains (and the rest of their bodies) are still developing.

Of course, air purifiers are healthy for the entire family regardless of age, but of course, newborns will benefit from these machines the most.

Air purifiers have even proven to reduce the effects of asthma in babies, children, and adults.

One mistake that parents sometimes make with air purifiers is allowing them to run while a window is open in the nursery.

Air purifiers are rated for a specific sized room, and opening a window renders them essentially useless.

They cannot keep up with the outside air, and will needlessly fill and then clog their filters in an attempt to do so. This is also a waste of energy too.

Lastly, it is crucial that you make a note of when the filter should be changed and stay on track with maintenance.

If your home is exposed to an excessive amount of pollutants, allergens, particles, etc., it is wise to change the filter well before the recommended date.

If your home has a wood stove, is in an area with frequent wildfires, has a smoker, pets, excessive pollen, or excessive dust, you should change the filter more often.

(For more air movement: Should you put a ceiling fan in the nursery?)

Pros and Cons of Air Purifiers in the Nursery

Let’s let at some of the advantages and, yes, even a few drawbacks, of using air purifiers for baby’s room.


  • They are highly effective at removing unwanted particles and organisms from the air.
  • Many options, including sizes, efficiency, function, filter type, and more, are available.
  • Air filters are affordable for almost all families.
  • They make the air healthier while also keeping homes fresh and clean from scents.
  • Air purifiers can filter smoke out of homes too, whether that comes from a cigarette or a nearby wildfire.
  • Air purifiers are mostly silent but do produce some white noise that many babies find reassuring.


  • The higher quality of the filter, the more often it will need to be replaced.
  • No air purifier is 100% efficient.
  • Some air purifiers can be noisy.

Humidifiers for The Nursery Explained

Humidifiers convert water into steam and then release that steam into the room, increasing moisture content in your baby’s nursery.

Moist air alleviates dry noses and airways, making it easier for people, especially infants, to breathe.

They prevent and heal dry sinuses and dry, cracked lips. Humidifiers can also avoid or heal dry skin and eczema, which are partially caused by a dry environment.

Some humidifiers are equipped with hygrometers that tell the machine when, for how long, and at what intensity to run.

Other humidifiers don’t have this feature, so you need to monitor a hygrometer manually and turn the humidifier on and off as needed.

While many households use humidifiers with tap, spring, or well water, it is recommended that only distilled water be used in the machine.

This prevents the breakdown of the components within the humidifier.

It also prevents mineral (hard water) buildup inside the machine and keeps organisms from growing and living inside the well or tank of the humidifier.

Like the air purifier, make sure you aren’t running your humidifier with a door or window open.

Even if you have a smart humidifier, it won’t shut off because there will be a constant influx of new, dehydrated air filtering into your home.

Running a humidifier with a door or window ajar will waste water, energy, and the filter that your humidifier may or may not have.

Many households choose to only run a humidifier during the winter months because heating systems tend to remove most, if not all, moisture from the home.

In several regions, the spring and summers are naturally humid, meaning that a humidifier can be foregone.

But there’s no harm or any hard rules about when you should or shouldn’t run it.

Pros and Cons of Humidifiers in the Nursery

There are a lot of benefits to using a humidifier in baby’s room, but a few drawbacks as well.


  • They alleviate congestion, dry or cracked lips, dry airways, discomfort, dry skin, and eczema.
  • Humidifiers can also reduce the symptoms of asthma, allergies, and colds.
  • Humidifiers can also protect the room and fixtures in the nursery. The furniture, hardwood, flooring, walls, and ceiling will benefit from a healthy, balanced humidity level.
  • They also produce some white noise, which babies will usually enjoy and use to sleep better for more extended periods.
  • Humidifiers have filters in them, which can slightly cleanse the air in the nursery.
  • Many modern humidifiers have innovative technology that allows them to read how much moisture is in the atmosphere and adjust, turn on, or shut off as needed.


  • Humidifiers need maintenance. The water reserves need to be filled, usually somewhere between one or twice a day to once or twice a week.
  • Many humidifiers also have water filters, which will also need to be replaced.
  • If the humidifier isn’t properly maintained, used, or calibrated, it can create an excess of moisture, leading to condensation.
  • If the water tank isn’t kept clean, microorganisms can live there and grow. Fungi and bacteria can grow in these spaces, making the nursery a health hazard. To avoid this, always use distilled water.
  • Humidifiers make a minimal amount of noise, which you may or may not want.
  • Not all humidifiers have smart technology that reads the moisture levels in the room. It is easy for those who don’t have this feature to over or under-saturate the nursery with humidity.

Comparing Air Humidifiers and Air Purifiers

Comparing an air purifier to a humidifier is like comparing apples and oranges — they simply serve different purposes!

The air purifier’s function is to remove unwanted pollutants, particles, pollen, allergens, and organisms from the air of the baby nursery. This prevents illness and makes it easier and safer for the baby to breathe.

The humidifier’s job is to add moisture back into the nursery so that your baby is comfortable and can breathe easily and without skin or airway irritation.

Which Is Better for Baby: A Humidifier or an Air Purifier?

If you live in a dry environment, especially if you have a wood-burning stove in your home, a humidifier is the better choice for your little one’s nursery.

If you live in an area more prone to pollen, pollution, smoke, or allergens (such as pet hair or dander), then an air purifier will serve your family better.

Of course, these two appliances can work together, even side by side, to create the best possible air quality for your baby.

While the purifier is removing unwanted items, the humidifier can add back much-needed moisture.

Wrapping Up

While often confused for one another, air purifiers and humidifiers are not the same device and have entirely separate functions.

A purifier cleanses the air, while a humidifier adds moisture to the environment. They really cannot be compared as they each serve different purposes.

Some homes may need one device or the other. Some households alternate them seasonally. And lastly, some households really benefit from both products simultaneously in the nursery or elsewhere.

Remember that it is better not to run a humidifier or air purifier than run an unsafe or dirty one. Stay on top of maintenance and cleaning, and your baby will enjoy the benefits of a clean, safe nursery.

Before you go, read more handy comparisons like:

Hope this helps!