With drier winter air settling in, a humidifier can help your family sleep more comfortably.
But if you're using a humidifier near an infant or small child, you'll want one that's safe for them.
In a nursery or child's room, you want to make sure things are safe. So Consumer Reports recommends that you get a cool-mist humidifier. A warm-mist unit, which heats water, has the potential to scald if there's an accident.
CR tests humidifiers in a climate-controlled chamber, running them overnight and keeping track of how many gallons of water each device emits per square foot.
But while moist air can help alleviate congestion and dry skin, overly humid air can lead to the growth of mold and bacteria. Ideally, you want a relative humidity between 30 and 50 percent inside your home.
The recommended Levoit Dual 200S Smart for smaller rooms has a built-in humidistat and shuts off when the humidity reaches a desired level.
If your humidifier doesn't have a humidistat, you can measure the humidity yourself with a tool called a hygrometer. It's available for less than $10.
The $30 Aqua Oasis AO-101 is sold without a humidistat. For bigger rooms, 300 to 500 square feet, the Lasko UH200 is a smart buy.
And finally, a humidifier that isn't cleaned well can spur the growth of potentially harmful mold and bacteria, which could make you or your baby sick.
Consumer Reports recommends rinsing and drying the tank thoroughly every day, and sanitizing the unit with vinegar once a week.
CR says to position your humidifier on a flat level surface, raised at least two feet above the floor. This allows more moisture to dissipate into the air.
For a step-by-step guide on how to clean your humidifier, visit this page at ConsumerReports.org.