Last Updated on January 1, 2023
Do you see yourself trying hard to search for the best baby bottles for your “little love”? And now you find yourself wondering how to sterilise the bottles after? Or, you are filled with questions like how often or how long it should be done with? You’re not alone. Baby bottle sterilisation is a common question among parents. The good news is that this article will cover all your questions and doubts about how to do it!
Before Sterilising Baby Bottles
Clean bottles and teats
- If your baby’s bottles aren’t dishwasher safe, you are suggested to wash them by hand in a container, not in the kitchen sink, with a bottle brush which isn’t supposed to be used for other cleaning purposes.
- Prepare a large pot filled with soap water and submerge all separated parts of the bottle. Make sure there are no air bubbles at the bottom.
- Leave it for 3-5 minutes and start to clean them with the brush.
- Clean thoroughly bottle parts like nipple holes and collars. The teats tend to have some residue that is hard to see sometimes. It’s better to do this by hand rather than by the dishwasher and with hot water rather than cold water.
- Rinse the bottles and teats with tap water
Clean baby’s feeding equipment
- Feeding accessories like breast pumps should be cleaned at least once daily to kill bacteria.
- Soak all parts in hot or cold water with a bit of soap for at least five minutes.
- Remove any milk as it starts growing bacteria quickly, which may cause problems like a breast infection.
- Wash baby-feeding tools.
- Rinse well or run through the dishwasher on a normal cycle with no detergent.
How To Sterilise Baby Bottles
There are different ways to sterilise baby bottles. There are plenty of methods like boiling water, steaming with special equipment, sterilising solutions and microwaving. They all work differently and have different advantages.
Boiling is the easiest method because all you need is a pan or big pot with boiling water on your stove. It does not require much effort, even when you are sterilising more than two bottles at a time. You should boil the baby’s bottles and all of the feeding tools for about 2-5 minutes (not more than that). The heat of boiling water will kill all the germs and bacteria.
You can sterilise two or more bottles at a time with steam sterilisers, but it is important to buy specific equipment for that. The steaming process takes about five minutes. This way of sterilising all bottle parts has less contact with boiling water, so they are better protected against damage.
This electric steriliser is a device specialising in sterilising baby bottles and other small objects. It’s available at shops and online.
To begin, add water into the steam chamber of an electric steam steriliser. Next, just open the lid and place all your washed baby feeding equipment and baby bottles inside. Then press a button or turn a knob on top of the unit to begin the process, which takes about 10-30 minutes depending on how much you steam. The steam goes through the holes in the base of each bottle and kills bacteria without harming any plastic parts. When you’re done, release the remaining steam from the steam chamber and remove the bottles.
For best results: use distilled water and steam for at least five minutes.
For a microwave steam steriliser, you will need water and a microwavable bowl (heatproof glass or plastic). You can use any size of bowl that fits into your microwave. It is important that the bottle does not touch the sides, bottom or lid of the bowl. The bottles and teats should be sterilised in that hot steaming water for five minutes. Though it’s very economical to use the microwave as you don’t have to shop for a new sterilising device, you can’t sterilise many bottles at a time and have to clean up the microwave before the sterilisation.
This is a safe, green way to sterilise your baby’s bottles. UV light passes through the bottle and kills 99% of harmful germs and bacteria in minutes. UV steriliser can be used for breast pump parts too! The light penetrates deep into seams, cracks and seals to eliminate all micro-organisms, including mould spores or even hidden germs that regular washing can not reach.
After washing your baby’s bottles and feeding equipment, just put them all in the steriliser and press the Start button. The recommended sterilising time varies from 10-30 minutes, depending on the number of feeding equipment and bottle parts.
The sterilised bottles exposed to UV radiation need to be poured with tap water inside so they can be reused immediately without any harm.
This solution comes in different forms: liquid, wipes or tablets. It is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully as each product will have specific guidelines on how it should be used.
Before sterilising, all surfaces of the bottles and teats should be cleaned with hot soapy water. Then place them in a sterilizing container. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on the size and shape of this container
If using a liquid sterilising solution:
- Place all the items in a sealed container. Pour enough sterilising solution to cover all the bottles and teats, ensuring they are completely submerged
- Shake well for about a minute
- Leave the bottles and teats for a further 30 minutes or follow the manufacturer’s guidelines
If using wipes:
- The bottle must be dry before wiping it with a sterilising wipe. If possible, try to use one of each brand so you can compare their effectiveness against each other
- Hold the wipe against the bottle and teat for a minimum of six seconds
- Turn it over and do the same on the other side
If using tablet form:
- Place all the items that need to be sterilised in a single container
- Heat water to cover the items
- Add the tablet(s) and leave for a minimum of 30 minutes or follow the manufacturer’s guidelines
- To avoid contaminating the solution, do not place any other objects into it during this time. When you are ready to remove them from the sterilizing container, use tongs if possible to avoid contact with the items
Bleach is the safest way to sterilise baby bottles. How do you mix unscented bleach with water? The ratio is not important, but generally use one ounce of unscented bleach (chlorine) per one gallon of water, or you can follow the manufacturer’s directions. Be sure that there are no other chemicals in your tap or well-water before mixing it together; if this is the case, use distilled water.
Next, dissolve the solution to be sure that it is mixed thoroughly and that there are no clumps of dried bleach on the bottom of your bottle or container. Then, soak all pieces in this mixture for at least five minutes; longer if you notice any dirt or debris still clinging onto your plastic or glass pieces. When you are done, rinse all of your items off with clean water and allow them to air dry on a paper towel before putting the baby bottles back together again.
After Sterilising Baby Bottles
Baby’s bottles should be left to air-dry properly with their lids off. Place bottles on the top rack or a clean tea/dish towel until they completely dry inside and out. If you use the sterilisation methods like steam steriliser or chemical solutions, this step is crucial as it will prevent bacteria from multiplying and be safe for healthy babies to use.
Why Do You Need To Sterilise Baby Bottles?
When baby is feeding with formula milk or expressed breast milk, baby bottles need to be sterilised. For your baby’s life-long health, you should always clean and sanitise baby’s bottle before use. Here’s why:
- does not allow harmful bacteria that make your baby sick such as salmonella, E Coli, listeria or particularly diarrhoea
- reduces the risk of developing asthma later in life
- your baby’s immune system needs protection from outside germs while it starts growing up, especially for babies born prematurely
- sterilising your baby bottles can also reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
How Often Should You Sterilise Baby Bottles?
How often should you sterilise bottles? The answer is: it depends. Certain factors affect how your bottles and nipples need to be sterilised, such as how old your child is or what is your living condition. You may also want to check with your paediatrician, who can give you trustworthy health information.
NHS recommends sterilising bottles and other feeding equipment every day if your baby is less than a week old. If you have more than one child or another baby born into the family, you’ll need to sterilise bottles even more often as babies’ immune systems are weakened when they’re exposed to germs from different people. Nipples will also need sterilising on a daily basis.
Once your baby is a little older, typically after they’ve started on solids, you can start to sterilise less often. NHS recommends only sterilising once a week if your child is over six months old and eating solid foods. You can also stop sterilizing once your child has a strong immune system.
If you’re using disposable bottles, there’s no need to sterilise them. Just wash and rinse them with hot soapy water.
Doing bottle feeding with extra caution is good, but sterilising baby bottles too often could lead to a weakened immune system because it will kill good bacteria too. If you’re breastfeeding your child, it’s not necessary to sterilise your nipple and bottle after each feed (unless the area around where they were inserted into the mouth has become dirty or there is visible milk residue on them). Sterilizing nipples can damage their protective coating, making feeding more difficult down the road.
When it comes to sterilising bottles, it depends on your child’s age, your budget, and your lifestyle. All of the above are effective methods, but the one you choose depends on multiple factors. If in doubt, be sure to check with your paediatrician for advice tailored specifically for your family.
Sources and References
- Sterilising Baby Bottles – nhs.uk
Sophie is a former primary school teacher and passionate about parenting. She enjoys writing, reading, cooking, and making memories with her family.