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Sterilizing Baby Bottles – A Guide to Cleaning and Sterilizing

Sterilizing baby bottles are of real importance.

The sound of the “bacteria” and “germs” alone makes most mothers cringe, how much more when it comes to their mind that these filthy or bad bacteria may possibly contaminate the feeding bottles and other feeding tools they are using for their babies.

Babies, with their developing immune system, are very vulnerable to illness and quite susceptible to infection during their first months or even on their first years. Unsterilized baby bottles may harbor harmful bacteria and viruses that can easily harm your baby and this will make your baby prone to infection and diseases such as thrush, vomiting, stomachaches, and diarrhea. Whether you are a mom who has decided to breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby with expressed breast milk or baby formula, you should ensure that you will be using safe and sterilized baby feeding equipment to avoid possible infection due to contamination.

To free every mothers’ mind of these worries, sterilization is the way to go! Sterilization is a process of removing, eliminating, killing or deactivating microorganisms and other pathogens. This can be achieved by treating the object with sterilizing chemicals, subjecting it to high heat, or doing mechanical sterilization.

If you want to know more about sterilization then feel free to scroll down!

Why Sterilize

Sterilizing your baby bottles is never a bad idea and it is of utmost importance to be as hygienic as possible when it comes to your little ones. Sterilization is a very important process since it is one way to free your babies from possible bacteria and viruses. Creating an environment that is fully and entirely free from microorganisms is truly impossible, but you can still protect your babies and ensure their health and safety by effectively sterilizing the feeding bottles and materials that you use for them.

We know that your baby’s health is a priority that is why we are here to guide you on the different ways to sterilize plus the tips and tricks that will totally help! It is important to remember, as mentioned earlier, that the babies’ immune system during this developmental or early growth stage is very immature and not fully developed. At six months, your baby’s immunity is at its lowest that is it very important to offer and let them use only thoroughly cleaned and sterilized things that they could possibly put in their mouths, baby bottles for instance.

Another good reason to sterilize is when your baby starts teething, they tend to bite onto the things they hold – nipples, bottles, and other feeding materials. Deep bite scratches in plastic bowls will potentially harbor bacteria and should be cleaned and sterilized very well. One mistake made by most parents is to stop sterilizing during the times when they think that their children are old enough for their immune system to be able to fight back sickness when in truth, even though your babies are above six months of age, they are still at a high risk of infection. Experts constantly recommend that parents sterilize their babies’ bottles for the first year of life. This will kill any germs, bacteria, or viruses that may be harboring in your baby bottle’s nooks and crannies, and keep your baby from possible infection and illness.

How often and when to sterilize

Poor hygiene when it comes to breast and bottle feeding equipment may lead to upset stomachs, illness, and diarrhea. This is why it is important to first wash your equipment with warm, soapy water, and then sterilize it before each feed to ensure that bacteria have been removed. In some countries where water supply is pre-filtered and not taken from deep wells, it may be common to just wash bottles with warm soapy water or just throw them in a dishwasher. However sterilization, if done before each use, has the added advantage when it comes to your child’s health and safety, and killing all known dangerous and harmful microorganisms. But if you are living a busy schedule with a good trusted water supply to make cleaning enough, we are here to give you options on when and how often should you sterilize your baby bottles.

Before first use
Always sterilize brand new bottles. It is a misconception that because it is brand new and not used by anyone else then it is clean and sterile. During manufacturing, these bottles may be handled by different people, also at the stores, the bottles on display may have accumulated dust and probable pathogens that is why it very important to clean and sterilize baby bottles before you start using them for your baby.

When necessary
During the first months, it is ideal to clean and sterilize your baby bottles after you use them and ensure that they are safe to use. You need to sterilize all the feeding equipment after cleaning until your baby is at least 6 months old. After this age, cleaning and washing them well should be enough. You may want to keep sterilizing until your baby is 12 months old when they stop drinking formula.

Until when should you be sterilizing
It is also a good thing to know that when your baby reaches 12 months of age, their immune system is usually strong and developed enough to fight off most everyday germs and bacteria, so you can stop sterilizing baby equipment at around the one-year mark. It’s still a good idea to continue to wash bottles and other equipment thoroughly and do so immediately after use, when the milk or formula is still fresh, as it’s much harder to get items properly clean once any liquids have dried.

Sterilizing vs Cleaning

Cleaning is also a very important step when it comes to maintaining hygiene and safety for your baby. Cleaning is defined as a mechanical removal or foreign materials on an object through washing and scrubbing and achieving and maintaining an area to be visibly free of any dirt and debris. This process reduces the amount of organic matter that will contribute to the proliferation of harmful bacteria and viruses. Thorough cleaning is required before sterilizing since the process of sterilization can be possibly less effective if leftover dirt and soiled materials are left to dry and harden on the baby bottles.

Sterilization, on the other hand, is a more powerful way and extremely effective chemical or physical process to eliminate bacteria and viruses and can be achieved through applying chemicals, high pressure, heat, radiation or a combination. Once a baby bottle has been sterilized properly, all microorganisms have been removed therefore making your baby bottles safe for your baby’s use.

Different Ways to Sterilize Baby Bottles (and other feeding equipment)

1. Electric Steam Sterilization

Electric steamers are items that are readily available and can be purchased from any store. They are one of the most popular methods of sterilizing baby bottles. This method often sterilize and hold six to eight bottles at a time, and can take as little as five minutes to fully sterilize equipment.
1. Fill the steamer with an appropriate amount of water, you do not want to underfill or overfill. Read your product’s instructions for the exact amount, most steamers hold around 200mL.
2. Place the clean bottler or bottle holder into the baby bottle sterilizer. Remember that the water and heating element are at the bottom of the device, and steam rises. This means that items should be placed with their openings facing the bottom to achieve effective sterilization: bottle nipples should be the right way up, and bottles should be placed upside down.
3. Place the lid of the sterilizer, ensuring you have a tight seal all the way around – if there is even the smallest gap, the steam will simply escape.
4. Turn the steamer on and leave it on for the instructed time – most electric steam sterilizers work anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. Do not attempt to remove bottles immediately, as they will be very hot and will scald your skin.
5. If the lid has not been removed, bottles can be left inside the steamer and stay for up to 6 hours. Once the lid has been opened, however, bottles need to be assembled immediately, with the lids on, to prevent the insides from becoming contaminated.

Recommended:
WABI BABY ELECTRIC STEAM STERILIZER AND DRYER PLUS

The Wabi Baby Electric Steam Sterilizer and Dryer Plus Version is a great sterilizing option, it sterilizes, dries and still has a large capacity of eight bottles. It is also designed to be a storage unit as well. You can use it like a traditional sterilizer – when you need it – or keep your bottles in the chamber where you can launch continuous cleaning and drying over 12 hours. The idea being you take a bottle out when you need it, all ready for action. And when you’re done just rinse it and put it back in.
Sterilization is done with hot steam, with the design ensuring the steam goes directly into the bottles as well as filling the chamber. The whole sterilize and dry cycle takes less than an hour, of which drying is about 10 minutes. Drying takes place with hot air.
Operation of this sterilizer is very simple. Just turn it on, fill with the required amount of water and press the button for the operation you want. One button press is all you need.
Cleaning of this equipment is similarly simple. While you need to add a cleaning agent like citric acid or vinegar, once you’ve poured that in (with water if needed) you press the cleaning button and empty when done.

2. Radiation Sterilization/Microwave

The principle of the microwave steamer is very similar to the electric steamer, except it uses a microwave to heat water and create a steamy environment for the bottles.

1. Fill the microwave sterilizer base with water according to instructions in the product manual. Similar to the electric steam sterilizer, you do not want to underfill or overfill as you need the proper amount of water to sterilize your baby bottles properly.
2. Position the bottles upside down and the nipples right up. Close the lid and make sure that it is securely locked into place. Remember to properly close the lid to prevent the sterilizer from leaking hot water on you once you remove it from the microwave.
3. Depending on your manual’s instructions, time will be for a few minutes to make the water boil and create steam to sterilize the bottles. The time may vary according to what type of microwave, the number of bottles, and the sterilizing equipment.

Recommended:
PHILIPS AVENT STERILIZER


This sterilizer has been designed for the AVENT bottles, either four 9-ounce or two 11-ounce bottles, but most brands will fit just fine. At around only 2 pounds, the AVENT steam sterilizer is lightweight and could be an option for travel provided you know that there is a microwave where you’re going
The AVENT microwave sterilizer is a very easy to use, you just need to follow simple steps provided in the manual. This is a very safe option and is made of a BPA free plastic. The sterilizer itself does a great job of sterilizing bottles are they are generally sterilized within 2 to 6 minutes, depending on the wattage of your microwave. This AVENT sterilizer also includes an interior plate suitable for placing breast pumps and pacifiers. This sterilizer is also relatively cheap than other options out in the market.

 

3. Dishwasher

If you have a dishwasher, this can be used as both a cleaner and a baby bottle sterilizer. It’s important, however, that you ensure that the feeding equipment you have is suitable for dishwashing (use the top shelf if necessary), and you will also need to use a very hot program of over 80 degrees. Many new parents find the dishwashing method to be too much hassle, as it tends to damage bottles and equipment quicker than some other methods, and there is a chance of teats flipping over with the pressure of the water, which means they accumulate dirty water and need to be washed and sterilized again.

4. Boiling/High heat

It’s also possible to sterilize baby bottles using a regular pan on the stove. You don’t need any special equipment, but it is of great possibility that nipples, bottles and other feeding equipment can become damaged quicker using this technique, so it is recommended that you regularly check them.
1. Fill a large pan with enough water and place the feeding equipment in, ensuring that all items are completely covered by the water and they are no air traps.
2. Use a heavy plate or bowl or any clean cover to place on top of the pan, almost in contact with the water. This will keep all items below the surface of the water.
3. Bring the pan of water to a rolling boil, and continue to do so for 10 to 15 minutes.
4. If you leave the lid on, bottles can stay in the pan for up to 6 hours, though it’s better to assemble them once they’ve cooled enough. Assembled bottles can typically be left for 24 hours before needing to be re-sterilized.

5. Cold-water or Chemical Sterilization

Cold sterilization is perfect for parents who frequently need to sterilize on the move, while travelling, or stay in a place without access to good electricity or boiling water.
1. Always follow the instructions on the packet very carefully.
2. Using a clean plastic tub or bucket, a sterilizing solution or tablet that are easily available in stores, can be added to water, and the baby items placed in.
3. Ensure all items stay under the water for at least 30 minutes – preferably longer.
4. The water and solution can be reused as needed, but should be changed after 24 hours.
5. Always follow the instructions on the packet carefully.
6. Make up the solution in a large glass or plastic container or bowl.
7. Never put metal into chemicals to sterilize. Metal knives and other utensils can be sterilized by boiling
8. Fully cover everything with the solution, avoid air gaps.
9. Make up a fresh solution every 24 hours. Wash the bowl out with soapy water and rinse it before you put the new solution in there.
10. Be careful when handling the solution. Wash your hands afterwards.

Recommended:
MILTON COLD WATER STERILIZER

The Milton Cold Water Sterilizer is highly recommended by most experts and is also commonly used in hospitals. The unit itself comes with a lockable lid which helps to keep the water and the solution in together with the items sterile for up to 24 hours. The weighted grid contained within ensures that the sterilized items are kept in place and submerged to retain sterilization. A convenient carry handle ensures transportation is hassle-free and without incident of burns and scalding.
The container is strong and sturdy and will hold a good number of bottles, depending on the brand and capacity of a bottle. There are clear indicators on the unit to show you where to fill the water up to make the process very easy. The process of sterilization for the Milton Cold Water Sterilizer is very straightforward, you simply fill the container with water and add a Milton Sterilizing Tablet or the Milton Sterilizing Solution. Also, you don’t have to wait for your baby bottles to cool down and you will be able to leave bottles in the sterilizer until you need them rather than assembling and making them all at once. A downside of this method is that the sterilizing tablet or solution may tend to leave traces of peculiar odor that might turn your baby off. But all in all, this is a good method and is very inexpensive.

Before and after sterilizing baby bottles – Helpful tips

Before sterilizing

Before sterilizing the baby bottles and other feeding equipment, you need to:
• Clean bottles, nipples, and other feeding equipment in warm, soapy water as soon as possible after feeds.
• Use a clean bottle brush to clean bottles (only use this brush for cleaning bottles), and a small teat brush to clean the inside of teats. You can also turn teats inside out and wash in hot soapy water.
• Don’t be tempted to use salt to clean teats, this can be dangerous for your baby.
• You can put your baby’s feeding equipment in the dishwasher to clean it if you prefer.
• Make sure bottles, lids and teats are facing downwards. You may prefer to wash teats separately by hand to make sure they are completely clean.
• Rinse all your equipment in clean, cold running water before sterilizing.
• The tips shared applies to all your baby’s feeding equipment, and whether you are using expressed breast milk or formula milk.

After sterilizing

• It is highly recommended to leave bottles and teats in the sterilizer or pan until you need them.
• If you do take them out, put the nipples and lids on the bottles straightaway and store them in a clean area.
• Wash and dry your hands before handling sterilized equipment. It will be much better if you use some sterile tongs.
• With a clean and sanitized hand, assemble the bottles on a clean, disinfected surface or the upturned lid of the sterilizer.

Choose what is right for you

Proper hygiene is the very important thing that matters when it comes to preparing your babies foods and cleaning their feeding equipment and each mother has a unique style and varied preferences on this. For some mothers, sterilizing bottles and feeding items after hand washing or dishwashing them isn’t necessary, especially of their little ones are already past a year old. But if it makes you feel better about what goes into your baby’s mouth, you have multiple options to choose from. The good news is that no matter what sterilizer and what method of sterilizing you choose, all provide quick and thorough disinfecting that will work great to ease your worries and will be awesome for your baby’s health.

 

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