Q&A: When can I stop sterilising baby bottles?

We all know it’s important to sterilise baby bottles, but knowing when it’s safe to stop is something lots of mums are confused about. According to the experts, just when it’s ok to stop sterilising baby bottles is probably longer than most parents think.

At what age did everyone stop sterilising their baby bottles and just wash them instead?

Claire, Mum's Grapevine Baby Group Member

Why do we need to sterilise baby bottles?

When a baby is born, they are vulnerable to their new world. Their immune systems aren’t strong enough to fight off certain infections, so making sure baby bottles and all the bottle-feeding equipment is properly sterilised is one way to help reduce the chance of bub getting sick.

How to sterilise baby bottles and feeding equipment

How to sterilise baby bottles properly

There are a few different ways to make sure baby bottles and feeding gear are all sterilised properly. Just remember it has to be done after every feed, and it’s best done straight after the feed is finished.

Raising Children recommends first cleaning bottle-feeding equipment by following these steps:

Step 1: Wash your hands with soapy water and dry with a clean towel.
Step 2: Check teats for any cracks. Throw away any damaged teats – bacteria can grow in the cracks.
Step 3: Wash all bottle-feeding equipment in hot, soapy water.
Step 4: Use a bottle brush to scrub inside bottles and teats.
Step 5: Squirt water through teats to clear the little hole.
Step 6: Rinse everything thoroughly.

Then follow it up by sterilising the bottle-feeding equipment using one of these techniques:

Boiling

The easiest way to sterilise and you don’t need any special equipment. Just put all of the bottle-feeding gear (bottles, teats, rings, cap) in a large pot of water, making sure everything is well covered and there’s no trapped air. Bring the pot to the boil and let it boil for five minutes.

Allow it all to cool in the pot until you can take everything out safely. If you’re not using the gear straight away, keep it in a clean, sealed container in the fridge. You should use the sterilised equipment within 24 hours of boiling.

Chemical

Milton Anti-Bacterial Tablets

This technique uses either liquid or tablet form antibacterial solution ($8.99) that are diluted in water. First, wash all of the equipment in warm soapy water, and submerge everything in the prepared solution and follow the instructions on the pack.

Microwave steam steriliser

Phillips Avent Microwave steam steriliser

A steriliser ($54.95) that’s filled with water and the feeding equipment and uses the heat from the microwave to sterilise everything.

Electric steam steriliser

Philips Avent 3-in-1 Electric Steam Steriliser

An electric steam steriliser ($107.95) that uses steam to kill bacteria.

How long do I have to keep sterilising baby bottles?

Pregnancy, birth and baby, and most of the experts recommend sterilising baby bottles and feeding equipment for at least the first 12 months of baby’s life. This applies whether you’re bottle-feeding with formula or expressed breast milk.

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