Sterilising Baby Bottle – Methods & Important Safety Tips

Bottles in a steamer machine

Pregnancy and childbirth is an experience that weaves agony and ecstasy together. Suddenly, you find yourself in charge of a tiny, vulnerable little human being whom you protected until now in your womb. Now, exposed to the outer world, they are vulnerable to many things! Your baby’s immune system develops slowly and needs to be protected from any bacterium and other harmful substances that enter his body.

Reasons to Sterilise Baby Bottles

Babies are vulnerable to the outer environment from the moment they make their entry into this world. Below are some of the reasons that will tell you why you need to sterilise the baby bottles:

  • Harmful microorganisms are deposited on the bottle. Entry of these bacteria and viruses in your baby’s body can result in vomiting and diarrhoea in your baby. Hence, it is necessary to sterilise bottles before feeding them.
  • When a child is born, his store of antibodies is limited to those that have been passed on from his mother during the last three months of pregnancy. This protection wanes in the first few months of his life.
  • The water that you get at home may be contaminated and contain disease-causing microbes. So, you should sterilise bottles without forgetting.

It is crucial that utmost care is taken of what goes into their mouth, as the mouth is the primary entry point to the body. Sterilisation helps kill these microbes and cleans your bottle thoroughly.

How Often to Sterilise Baby Bottles?

While everyone agrees that sterilisation is important, experts have the different opinion on how often this needs to be done. Child care experts are divided into two schools of thought on this matter.

  • Only Once: According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, you simply need to wash the baby bottle with hot water and soap once after every feed, and it doesn’t need to be sterilised constantly. The rationale behind this suggestion is, the water and silverware that are clean enough for you to drink and eat from, is just as suitable for the baby.
  • Weekly Wash: Some doctors feel the bottles just once is not a safe practice. Matters regarding the health of your precious little treasure cannot be taken lightly. Sterilisation does not inhibit the growth of your baby’s immune system and can help prevent your child from contracting life-threatening diseases.Mother feeding the baby with a bottle

How to Sterilise Baby Bottles?

Sterilisation is the process of killing microbes that may be clinging to the surface of the bottles, lids, teats, pacifiers, etc. Sterilisation can be done through methods like boiling, steaming, or even putting the bottle in a microwave. All the methods above are equally effective, and you can choose your mode of sterilisation based on personal preference and availability.

[Also Read: Effective Ways to Sterlize Baby Bottle]

Methods of Sterilising Baby Bottles

Some of the methods used to sterilise baby bottles include:

  1. Boiling: Boiling baby bottles is the most common method of sterilisation used all across the world. It is also the easiest method and by doing so you can store breast milk and even formula in a bottle. But, you should clean the bottle first. To sterilise a bottle by boiling follow these steps:
  • First, wash the bottles, lids, and nipples you are going to sterilise with normal dishwashing soap.
  • Place them in a large saucepan filled with ample water so that all equipment get fully immersed. Also, it should not have air bubbles.
  • Once the water is brought to a boil, keep it rapidly boiling for five minutes. Then, turn off the gas and allow the water to cool down naturally.
  • If you are feeding right away, clean your hands and the kitchen surface where you will prepare the bottle, and then take out the bottle. Do not use a cloth to wipe the sterilised items dry as contaminants will pass from the cloth to the bottle. Just shake the bottle to get rid of dripping water.
  • If you are not feeding right away, put all the sterilised equipment in a clean, dry container, and place the container in a refrigerator.

    Sterilising baby bottles

2. Chemical Sterilisation: There are sterilisation chemicals that you can buy especially for sterilising baby feeding equipment. These chemicals are mixed with water in specific ratios to make a sterilising solution. Chemical sterilisation uses room temperature water and hence is safer for the nipple/teats, which may disintegrate if exposed to high temperature for long periods of time. However, you should check manufacturer’s instructions for the confirmation of heat withstanding ability. Following is the process of chemical sterilisation:

  • When making the solution, follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, especially, with regard to the ratio of chemicals to the water.
  • Just as with the boiling procedure, your equipment needs to be fully immersed in the solution with no air bubbles caught in them.
  • The minimum amount of time the equipment needs to stay in the solution will be specified in the manufacturer’s instructions (usually half an hour). If you are not feeding straight away, then let it remain in the solution until you use it.
  • Before using the equipment, shake off the dripping water, and allow it to dry naturally. Again, do not use a dishcloth or napkin to wipe it dry, as that may contaminate your sterilised equipment.
  • Before using this method of sterilisation, clean the large container, your bottle, teats, etc with hot water and soap.

3. Steam Steriliser: Several manufacturers sell steam sterilisers for baby feeding equipment. Similar to boiling, the process uses heat to kill harmful microbes. This option is suitable for parents living in urban apartments, and for those who do not use gas stoves. Steam sterilisers can be plugged in and operated with electricity! This is how you should use steam sterilisers:

  • Clean the bottles, caps, teats, etc with hot water and soap before the sterilisation process.
  • When placing them in the steriliser, make sure to face the openings of the containers downward, to allow maximum exposure of steam onto the inner surface.
  • Instruction regarding the amount of water that needs to be put into the machine will be provided by the manufacturer. The machine will turn off on its own after the steaming process.
  • You can leave the equipment inside the steriliser until you need to use it. But, check the instructions about the time they can be left in the steriliser without having to re-sterilise it.

4. Microwave: Using the microwave to sterilise your baby feeding equipment works on the same principle as the steam steriliser. However, the inside of the microwave should be extremely clean, which is almost impossible for microwaves that are in regular use to heat household food. To sterilise in a microwave, follow these instructions:

  • Fill half of the baby bottle with water and in a separate glass bowl of water, submerge the nipples, rings, and other accessories. Place them in the microwave.
  • Now, microwave on high setting for one and a half minutes.
  • Keep them inside until they are sufficiently cool enough to be picked up for use.

    Sterilising baby bottle in a microwave

Do’s to Sterilise Bottle for Your Child

Sterilising baby bottles is not a daunting task. Almost, anyone can do it. But, there are certain points you should remember before you go for it:

  • Make sure your baby bottle and accessories are thoroughly washed in clean water, with soap, before the sterilisation process.
  • Wash and disinfect your hands and the counter on which the bottle will be prepared.
  • Avoid wiping them down with towels or napkins unless the towel is disinfected itself.
  • It is best to leave the sterilised equipment in the sterilising machine or water until required for use. If sterilised in boiling water, then keep the saucepan shut.
  • If you are not going to use the sterilised equipment for a longer amount of time (over 15 to 24 hours), then it is best to keep them on a disinfected surface till dry, put on the nipple and cap and then store it inside another container, in the fridge.

Safety Tips

Take a note of these safety tips while sterilising bottles:

  • Avoid accidents by keeping your baby or other children in the house away from the boiling saucepan and the steamer being used for the sterilisation. Steam has heat trapped in the form of latent energy making is more destructive than boiling water.
  • Be sure to read specifications on the nipple. As these are made of pliable material, their ability to withstand the heat of sterilisation may be lower than that of your bottle. Too much of heat can disintegrate the nipple.
  • Always buy toxin-free plastic bottles, free of BPA and other chemicals that are known to seep into the food causing hormonal imbalance.
  • Glass bottle lasts longer and is much safer to sterilise with heat than plastic bottles. However, they need to be replaced at the slightest indication of cracking.
  • If your baby does not agree with a certain bottle and nipple, it may be best to replace them. Constant wear may also lead to the faster discharge of milk from the worn nipple.

When to Stop Sterilising Baby Bottles?

Feeding equipment needs to be sterilised on a weekly basis. If your water supply is contaminated, this can be switched to once in two or three days. Sterilising needs to be done regularly until your child is 12 months old. After that, the practice could be relaxed or even stopped completely depending on your child’s health and the environment.

Sterilising your baby’s feeding bottles and accessories is necessary. However, this counter-measure against harmful bacteria needn’t keep you up at night. But then again new parents will find sound uninterrupted sleep hard to come by, as most of you will have heard or even experienced already! With proper scheduling, proper equipment, and a systematic approach, you will do it without missing a beat!

Also Read: Tips For Bottle Feeding Your Newborn