There seems to be a lot of conflicting advice when it comes to sterilization so here we will go through information which may help you make your own decision on if to, and how to sterilize your babies feeding equipment.
If you asked this question 10 years ago the resounding answer would be yes, yes, yes but recently there has been a shift of agreement between health care experts that suggests sterilization may not be necessary. To understand why this change of opinion is occurring we have to understand why sterilization of feeding equipment started. During the 17th to 19th centuries there was a need for sterilization of bottles and feeding parts as the water quality to safely wash bottles in was not available. Since the 1950′s the availability of clean safe water, to wash bottles correctly was introduced, and the necessity to sterilize feeding equipment was no longer required. But by then it was such common practice that doctors found it difficult to discontinue the recommendation and the practice continued to be passed from generation to generation. Today’s new trend in doctor’s recommendations is that if you have available to you clean, safe water which can be heated easily, and bottles and feeding parts can be washed in this water using appropriate cleaning agents (dish washing liquid) then sterilization is unnecessary. Most of these recommendations though do suggesting sterilizing a brand new bottle before first use.
Dr. Glade B. Curtis, board-certified OB/GYN and co-director of Health Clinics of Utah, says in his book Your Baby’s First Year — “There is no need to sterilize bottles on a regular basis unless you use well water”
Dr. Ari Brown, Harvard-trained pediatrician in her book Baby 411 says “You don’t need to sterilize the bottles after the first time you take them out of the package … Sterilizing bottles and boiling water are all based on the kitchen chemistry our mothers and grandmothers performed to prepare formula in the olden days.”
Check with your own doctor too.
WHAT IF I STILL WANT TO STERLIZE?
Good on you! While some parents like to know it is not a necessary step some parents just don’t want to take any chances and each individual family needs to make their own choices – whatever works best for you!
Here is some information on the different methods which can be used to sterilize your babies feeding equipment but remember that all bottles and bottle parts need to be washed in hot soapy water before any method of sterilization.
Boiling bottles and bottle parts is a cheap way to sterilize. Of course, you are using boiling water so ALWAYS be careful and never leave children unattended in the kitchen while using this process.
Put a large pot of water (filled ½ to ¾ of the way full) on your stove and bring to the boil.
Once the water is at a rolling boil, CAREFULLY place washed bottles and bottle parts in the boiling water with tongs, being sure to submerge them to eliminate air pockets. Cover with a lid and leave them in the water for five to ten minutes to boil. TIP: It is very easy forget about them when you are a busy mum or dad, so I also suggest putting on a timer as a reminder so you don’t end up with melted bottles.
After 5 to 10 minutes remove pot from boil and CAREFULLY remove bottles and parts with your tongs, and place them in your dish strainer or some paper toweling to dry. Now you have clean sterilized bottles that are ready for your baby to use. Of course, always wash your hands before handling sterilized bottles.
A baby bottle sterilizer may be an easier and more efficient way for you to sterilize your baby’s bottles. Baby bottle sterilizers need to be used correctly, though, to ensure that proper sterilization occurs. Remember: All bottles and bottle parts need to be washed in hot soapy water before any method of sterilization.
Place the unit near an electrical outlet. Add the manufacturer’s recommended amount of water. Plug-in the unit.
Place the cleaned bottles upside down (use the prongs to support them individually). Most units allow up to six bottles to be sterilized simultaneously. Place the nipples, nipple rings and caps so that they do not touch each other. Either prop them between the lower prongs, or place them on the supplied surface.
Put the cover on items that are to be sterilized and turn on the unit. Sterilization typically takes about 10 minutes with an automatic cycle that raises water temperature to a sufficient level to kill off any bacteria. Once this cycle ends, the unit automatically begins to cool. Many units do not allow you to open the cover until the cooling cycle is completed. The steam from most of these units can be very hot so please use caution! Now you have clean sterilized bottles that are ready for your baby to use. Of course, always wash your hands before handling sterilized bottles.
Make sure your bottles and bottle parts are safe to use in the microwave before using this method of sterilization. The items need to be specifically labeled “microwave safe” or they may melt in the microwave.
Put bottles and bottle parts on the microwave sterilizer’s tray provided. Use the prongs to place the bottles upside-down. Separate nipples, nipple rings and caps so they are not touching one another. Most units can sterilize up to four bottles and accessories at one time.
Add the manufacturer’s recommended amount of water and put the unit in the microwave.
Close the microwave door and set the timer to the amount recommended by the manufacturer. Most microwave baby bottle sterilizers require about eight minutes to complete the process, although the time depends on the model of the microwave.
Let the bottles cool off before removing them from the microwave to avoid burning your fingers. Depending on the model of bottle and the power of your microwave, it could take up to two minutes for the bottles to cool off sufficiently. Now you have clean sterilized bottles that are ready for your baby to use. Of course, always wash your hands before handling sterilized bottles.
There are other ways of sterilizing bottles including tablets and water or self sterilizing bottles as well as using a dishwasher – whenever sterilizing it is important to always follow manufacture’s requirements to make sure bottles are properly sterilized and always use common sense hygiene!
You can either leave them in the sterilizing equipment until they are ready to be used or fully assembly bottles and place them in a clean covered area if you remove them from your sterilizing equipment before you need to use them. This prevents the inside of the bottle and the inside and outside of the teat becoming unsterile again. Many parents find that fully assembling bottles, filling with just the water that will be used to make up milk and then placing the bottles of water in the fridge is the best way to store sterilized equipment.