If you’ve chosen bottle feeding over breast feeding, it is important to clean and wash the bottle thoroughly. How matter how thoroughly you wash the bottle, there are always remnants which are not visible to the naked eye. This residual milk, over time, leads to bacterial accumulation and contamination of milk resulting in food poisoning. Since infants and children are vulnerable to infections, it is important that you learn the basics of bottle cleaning to keep your baby safe and protected.
Fortunately, sterilizing your baby’s bottle is fairly easy. Initially it may seem like a bother, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll realize it’s a breeze. There are several methods of sterilization and whatever method you choose, remember, you always have to clean the bottle thoroughly before you sterilize it.
Some other things you need to know
Is it BPA? – Some plastic bottles may contain BPA and other harmful chemicals which when heated, seep into the baby’s milk. Studies show that that BPA can lead to developmental problems in young children. So it’s a safer option to invest in baby bottles that are BPA-free. You could probably consider buying glass bottles – the safest for young babies.
New bottles should be sterilized also: Even though the bottle is brand new, there is no guarantee that its germ-free. So make sure you sterilize the all the parts of the bottle before feeding the baby with it.
How to the clean the bottle
The best way is to wash the bottle in warm soapy water along with the teats, the retaining rings, caps using a bottle brush. Make sure that every trace of milk is removed. The best way to ensure this is to wash it soon after a feed before the milk dries up. Also make sure to clean the teat inside out. After washing the equipment, rinse thoroughly to remove remaining detergent.
Sterlizing the bottle
This is the next step after cleaning. There are many ways to sterilize the feeding bottle and each one has its pros and cons. You could opt for the most convenient one.
This is the conventional method of sterilization and involves boiling the equipment in a large pan of water for 10 minutes. Do be sure to submerge all the equipment completely underwater as the level of water reduces during boiling. Also remember to check the teats regularly, as this method of sterilization damages them faster compared to other sterilizing methods.
This is one of the most popular methods of sterilizing the bottle as it is quick, convenient and hassle-free. 90 seconds is all it takes to sterilize the bottle in a microwave. But one thing you should keep in mind when using this method is to leave the bottle open to avoid pressure buildup inside the bottle.
Electric Steam Sterilizing
This again, is a very quick and efficient way to sterilize bottles. There are several types of steamers available in the market, electric and microwave steamers. Whatever you use, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Both electric as well as microwave steamers can keep the bottle sterilized for long hours. However, you must remember that a microwave steamer does not allow you to put metal items inside them.
Cold water Sterilizing
This method involves sterilizing the equipment in cold water to which a sterilizing solution has been added. You can use a large tub or a vessel to sterilize the equipment. The solution is non-toxic and highly effective in killing the bacteria. The equipment normally gets sterilized after half an hour and can be safely left in the solution for 24 hours. However, the solution has to be changed every 24 hours.
It is also important to follow instructions on how much water you require to add to make the solution. A very strong or dilute solution can affect the sterilization process.
Should you sterilize the bottle after every use?
Most pediatricians feel that it is not necessary to sterilize the bottle after every feed. A thorough scrubbing with warm, soapy water or a running it in a dishwater cycle are good enough to keep the bottle squeaky clean and germ-free. Just make sure to place the bottle in the top rack of the dishwater, so they don’t melt. However, to be on the safe side, you can sterilize the bottle once a week. If you’re baby has just recovered from an illness, frequent sterilization may be a good idea, until your baby’s health has stabilized.
When should you stop sterilizing baby bottles?
It pays to make sterilization a practice until your baby turns one year. Normally after the age of one, the baby has a stronger immune system with a higher tolerance to fight germs.
A few tips to remember
- Always use clean drinking water
- Check equipment for any damages before sterilizing: even small cracks can harbor bacteria
- It makes sense to have 2-3 sets of bottles so that when one set goes for sterilizing, your can use the other.
- Wash bottles and other equipment immediately after use, when milk is still fresh. It is difficult to clean when the milk has dried up.