Babies are quite vulnerable to illnesses during their first twelve months, so mothers need to be extra careful. Unsterilized bottles attract bacteria, viruses and parasites that can easily harm your baby. This will make him prone to diseases like thrush, vomiting or diarrhea. Creating an environment for your baby that is entirely free of germs and bacteria is impossible. However, you can still ensure his safety and health by sterilizing the feeding equipment before use. Read on to learn about different ways to sterilize baby bottles.
How to Sterilize Baby Bottles
Step 1: Wash the Bottles Properly
Before sterilization, thorough cleaning of the bottles is essential. Use soapy water that has not been utilized previously, and is completely clean, to wash the bottles and its various attachments like nipples, caps and retaining rings as well as the scoop included in the tin of milk formula. Your objective is to remove dried milk and curds from these items.
It is advisable to wash the bottle right after feeding so the milk does not dry inside the bottle. You should use fresh and warm soapy water for cleaning along with a bottle brush. Cleaning the nipples thoroughly is very important to ensure no milk curds remain because these cannot be removed as easily in the sterilization process. Turn the nipples inside out for thorough cleaning and once you have washed all the items, properly rinse out the cleaning agent you used.
Check the bottle and nipples for any scratches, splits or cracks because bacteria tends to gather in these places and can survive after cleaning and sterilization. It is best to replace the damaged feeding equipment.
Step 2: Sterilize the Bottles
There are a number of ways to sterilize baby’s bottles. Among the popular methods are electric steam sterilization and microwave sterilization. When you are out or can’t use electricity, you can use boiling or cold-water sterilizing methods. Here is some more information on the various methods.
- Electric Steam Sterilizing
This is among the quickest and most efficient ways to sterilize feeding equipment. Electric steam sterilizers take about eight to twelve minutes and an additional cooling down time. If left in the sterilizer with a closed lid they can keep the bottles sterilized for around 6 hours.
Remember to place the bottles and feeding equipment with their open side facing downwards in the electric steam sterilizer. This will guarantee full sterilization. Also, make sure only to put equipment that is allowed to be steamed, inside the machine. Steam sterilizers can hold around six bottles at a time and have separate racks for smaller items like nipples.
- Microwave Sterilization
Another quick and effective way to sterilize baby bottles is to put them in the microwave individually for about 90 seconds. Just remember to put in an unsealed bottle, otherwise, pressure can rise in the bottle.
Another great option you can try is microwave steaming. You will need to get special steamers designed for the purpose. They take around 3-8 minutes and an extra cooling time. The time taken may vary depending on your microwave model and wattage.
These sterilizers are a wonderful method because they leave no lingering taste or odor afterwards. Keeping the sterilizer lid closed can give you up to three hours of sterilized time. Words of caution though; when taking off the lid of the microwave steam sterilizer, take extra care because the interior may get extremely hot.
Depending on whether your baby’s bottle is safe to boil you can use this method for sterilization. Get a covered pan big enough for the bottle and feeding equipment to fit in comfortably and use that only for the purpose of sterilization of your baby’s feeding equipment.
After filling water in the utensil, submerge the equipment inside completely, ensuring there are no air bubbles inside the bottle or nipples. Put on the lid and keep boiling for around 10 minutes or more. Do not remove the lid before you require the bottle again for feeding. Remember to examine the teat regularly for damage if you use this method.
- Cold-Water Sterilizing
For cold-water sterilizing you can purchase specially designed sterilizing units or simply use a lidded plastic container. However, keep in mind that the sterilizing solution can render the plastic container unusable for next time so never use the same plastic container twice.
When sterilizing using cold-water make sure that the equipment is completely submerged in the water and no trapped air bubbles emerge inside the bottle or teats. Keep the equipment submerged in water for at least half an hour. Also, for proper sterilization, remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the amount of water and sterilization solution that you can apply.
Remove bottles or nipples from the water only when it’s time for feeding again. Shake each item as you pull it out and rinse it off using boiled, cool water to wash away the solution.
Watch for more about how to sterilize baby bottles safely:
Step 3: What to Do Afterwards
Always keep the bottles in the sterilizer until it’s time to feed again. Keeping the lid on the sterilizer until the bottle is needed again will keep the feeding equipment free of germs.
Once it is feeding time, first thoroughly clean the surface you intend to utilize. Disinfect your hands and take out the sterilized bottle from inside the sterilizer and place it on the clean work surface. Now using sterilized tongs to pull out the teat and other accessories and place them ready for use.
Leaving empty sterilized bottles outside for long will make them unsterile again. Usually, sterilizers have storage space or racks that can be used till the equipment is needed again; but if you don’t have that, it’s best to re-sterilize the equipment that has been left outside for too long.
How Long Should You Sterilize Baby Bottles?
Since babies are particularly vulnerable to infections during their first year, you should try to use sterilized bottles for that duration. During a baby’s first year his immunity to infections and diseases is not developed enough to fight bacteria and germs. The parasites and bacteria that are attracted to traces of milk left inside bottles and feeding equipment that is not fully cleaned can be especially harmful for your baby during this time.
Once your baby reaches the age of one, he will have developed better resistance against infections. However, it is still advisable to keep sterilizing the feeding equipment till your baby does not require them any longer.