If you’re bottle feeding your baby (either formula or expressed breast milk) you will need to sterilise their bottles and teats every time you make up a feed. Up until around 12 months sterilising is required because your baby’s immune system isn’t strong enough to fight off some infections. Sterilising reduces their chance of getting sick.
Prior to sterilising your feeding equipment, bottles and teats need to be thoroughly cleaned. Wash all bottles and teats in hot soapy water. Use a bottle brush to scrub inside the bottles and the teats. Squirt water through the holes in the teats to clear them of any milk blockages. Rinse everything thoroughly.
Check teats and bottles for any cracks, as bacteria can grow in the cracks. If you find any cracks you will need to throw those bottles or teats away and replace with new ones.
There are a few ways you can sterilise your bottle-feeding equipment.
Once you have finished sterilising your feeding equipment you need to store the equipment in a sterilised container in the fridge to ensure that it stays sterilised.
Boiling is the most reliable way of sterilising your bottle-feeding equipment, and it is very straight forward. Put your clean feeding equipment in a large pot, cover with water and bring to the boil. Allow the water to boil for five minutes. Allow the pot to cool before removing the sterilised items (or use sterilised tongs to remove). Store in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
A steam steriliser is an electric steriliser designed to heat your bottles to a temperature high enough to kill bacteria. After washing your feeding equipment, place it inside the unit, add water and switch on. The unit will turn itself off when done. Be sure to follow the manufacturers instructions for the amount of water required.
A microwave steriliser looks very similar to an electric one, but has no electrical attachments. They work in the same way as an electric steriliser, except it uses the heat from the microwave to heat the feeding equipment up. Be sure to check the required amount of water and the power required on the microwave, as not all microwaves are the same.
It’s important to note that just placing an empty bottle in the microwave on its own won’t sterilise it, it will likely just damage the equipment. It is the combination the vacuum affect, and the heat and water that sterilises your equiment.
There are antibacterial solutions that come in a liquid or tablet form that will sterilise your bottles. These solutions are made up of a type of bleach, which is diluted with water so it is safe for your baby. It is important to follow the manufacturers instructions to ensure the solution is made to the right strength.
Place your washed items in a bucket filled with the sterling solution. Ensure that it is completely submerged. Leave the equipment in the solution for the time recommended by the manufacturer. You can leave your feeding equipment in the solution until you are ready to use it. Prior to using your feeding equiment, shake off the excess solution, but do not rinse it. You can use the solution for 24 hours once it is made up. After 24 hours you will need to replace the solution with a fresh mixture. Be sure to wash your sterilising container prior to making up a new solution.