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A young baby’s immune system hasn’t yet fully developed so they are more susceptible to catching an illness than an older child. Cleanliness around small babies is extremely important, especially when it comes to feeding. You will need to have the right baby feeding bottles and the right cleaning equipment.
If you are bottle feeding your baby then you will need the following:
- baby feeding bottles – you will need 4 – 6 baby feeding bottles. There is no right or wrong bottle type; you can choose from glass baby bottles, to plastic or silicone.
- teats – can be made from the more traditional latex (brown) or the more modern silicone (clear), and either kind is fine. A teats’ flow is based on the age of your baby, but this isn’t based on anything scientific. Try different teats, with different flows until you find one that works for your and your baby.
- rings, lids and caps – will come with your bottles, but make sure the seals are in good condition.
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Cleaning baby feeding bottles
It’s very important to clean your bottle feeding equipment after every feed. You also need to clean the equipment before you sterilise it. Try and clean your baby feeding bottles as soon as you have finished feeding:
- Wash the bottles, teats and lids in warm soapy water,
- Use a bottle brush to make sure you clean out any dried milk or formula that may be stuck inside the bottle or teat,
- Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry.
This kind of cleaning is important for getting rid of all traces of milk or formula left inside the bottles, but it does not ensure that the feeding equipment is completely germ-free. For that you will need to sterilise your baby feeding equipment.
How to sterilise baby feeding equipment
Sterilisation kills bacteria in bottles through the use of high temperatures or chemicals. There are three main ways to sterilise your baby feeding bottles and equipment. One way is not necessarily better than the other, so choose a method that works for you and your budget:
Boiling is the simplest and most reliable way of sterilising your bottle-feeding equipment, plus you don’t need to buy and specialised equipment. Simply place your bottles, teats and lids in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Boil rapidly for 5 minutes, before turning off the power and allowing the equipment to cool while still in the water. Wash your hands thoroughly before removing the items from the water. If you are not using them straight away, put the lid and teat onto the bottle, and store in a clean container in the fridge. Re-boil the bottle and other equipment if it is not used within 24 hours.
You can sterilise your bottles with an antibacterial solution that comes in liquid or tablet form. This is a type of bleach that is diluted with water so it’s safe for your baby but strong enough to kill any bacteria. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to make the sterilising solution. Place your feeding equipment in a bowl and then cover with the solution. Make sure it is completely covered and there are no air bubbles. Leave the equipment for the recommended time, or until you need to use it again. There’s no need to rinse off the solution as this will expose your equipment to germs again. Throw any solution away after 24 hours and clean the container with warm soapy water before using again.
Steaming works by raising the temperatures to kill bacteria, much like boiling. There are several steamer/steriliser’s on the market or you can use your microwave. Steam bags are an easy and innovative way to sterilise your baby feeding bottles in your microwave. Whichever method you use, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but usually you just add water and switch on. If you are using a microwave, check the power levels as not all microwaves are the same. If you are not using the bottles straight away, check the instructions for how long you can leave them in the steriliser before you have to re-sterilise them.
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When to sterilize baby feeding bottles
Nowadays, with most of us having access to treated municipal water, it’s not always necessary to sterilise your baby’s feeding equipment. There are however some instances when it should be done:
- if your baby is sick,
- if you’re using second hand or borrowed bottles,
- your baby was born premature or has other health issues,
- you have well point water or you don’t have access to clean drinking water,
- you are on holiday and you don’t trust the water source.
It’s also important to sterilise your baby’s feeding equipment when you first buy it. After all you don’t know where or how the equipment has been stored prior to your purchase!
When to stop sterilizing baby bottles
How often to sterilise your baby bottles is really up to you, so do what feels right for your family. If you use a dishwasher with hot water and a heated drying cycle to clean your child’s feeding items, sanitising baby bottles by hand really isn’t a must.
If you do decide to sterilise your baby’s bottles regularly, it’s OK to stop once your baby is older than 3 months. According to paediatrician’s guidelines, at 3 months your baby’s immune system has had time to develop and isn’t quite so fragile anymore.
Whichever method you use, here’s some simple safety tips to keep you and your little ones safe:
- Never leave hot or boiling liquids unattended or within reach of children.
- Be aware that steam can burn or scald you just as badly as boiling water.
- Keep chemicals and chemical solutions out of reach of children.
- Always wash your hands thoroughly before handling equipment that has been sterilised.
Find out more about all the features of our Glass Baby Bottles!
The Raising Children 2017, Bottle-feeding: cleaning and sterilising equipment, ,The Raising Children, viewed at 28 Sep 2019, URL
Health Direct, 2018Cleaning and sterilising baby bottles, PRegnancy Birth & Baby, viewed at 28 Sep 2019, URL