Humidifiers are great for combating winter sniffles and coughs. But when it comes to choosing which one to buy, it's not as simple as just picking up the first one you see on the shelf.
As with all things baby-related, there are a million different opinions on the type of humidifier you should use, and there doesn't appear to be one clear-cut answer as to whether hot or cool mist is the way to go – which makes it all the more confusing for first-time moms when staring at the different boxes in the aisles of Dischem.
First things first, why use a humidifier?
We're all too familiar with dry air in winter, and the use of heaters to fight the cold only exacerbates the problem. The result: itchy sandpaper skin, chapped lips, a sore throat, blocked sinuses, respiratory ailments and runny noses.
Enter the humidifier. This nifty invention adds moisture back to the air by using either warm or cool mist technologies. This can help babies breathe by reducing mucus build-up and opening the respiratory passages.
Cool mist versus warm mist
It seems that warm-mist and cool-mist humidifiers are equally effective in humidifying the air. The mist is usually room temperature by the time it reaches your child's lungs, no matter what temperature at which it was originally produced.
There are, however, other considerations when deciding between warm- and cool-mist humidifiers:
If your humidifier has a humidity setting, you don't want the humidity to go above 50% (this will encourage the growth of mould spores, bacteria, and dust mites). A humidity of 35 to 45% is optimal.
You may want to lay a towel down underneath the humidifier, because they can leak or cause a great deal of condensation, which will result in a puddle of water.
The most important factor is the daily cleaning
Remember, a clean humidifier remains a health benefit, but a dirty humidifier can pose a serious health risk.
If you're going to be lazy when it comes to the daily maintenance, then a humidifier is not for you! I've had to throw out a humidifier because I left it standing with water in the tank for a few weeks.
Always follow the manufacturer's cleaning directions.
Don't leave the tank sitting with water for days at a time.
Do not re-use water that has been standing.
Empty the tank and wipe and dry all surfaces daily.
Once a week, use a 10% vinegar cleaning solution to loosen mineral deposits.
Change filters as instructed by the manufacturer (if relevant).
Once you've decided on a warm, cool or dual model, then it's actually a really easy purchase decision.
Two main brands are Elektra and Vicks. The nice thing about both the Vicks and Elektra options is that there is a scent pad slot. This helps with congestion.
Vicks Warm Steam Basic, from R569, Dischem
Vicks Warm Steam Premium, from R969, Dischem
Vicks Ultrasonic Large,from R999, Dischem
Elektra Cool Steam, from R599, Dischem
Vicks Ultrasonic Sweet Dreams, from R999, Dischem (This model has a feature that projects bedtime images on to the ceiling, acting as a pretty nightlight.)
Elektra Humidifier Dual Warm /Cool, from R999 Dischem
*Price ranges correct at time of publishing
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