A guide to sterilising baby’s bottles and feeding equipmentposted by: mothercare
Babies are vulnerable to falling ill if their feeding equipment has not been sterilised properly. Germs and bacteria can grow quickly in milk and also in bottles, teats, pacifiers and soothers. Even in the cleanest of homes, these germs are around. Although it is impossible to create a completely germ-free environment, you can greatly reduce the risks of baby catching an infection by making sure that you clean and sterilise all feeding equipment properly. Over the years, sterilising has prevented thousands of infant deaths.
I’m breastfeeding - do I still need to sterilise?
If you are exclusively breastfeeding and not using any equipment at all such as a breast pump, nipple shields or feeding aid, then you don’t need to use a steriliser, but if you are using any of the above, then they all need to be sterilised each and every time they are used. This goes for soothers as well. It is not enough to wash them in hot soapy water as this will not kill all the germs.
Do I need to wash all equipment first before using the steriliser?
Yes. It is really important to wash all equipment first in hot soapy water. A bottle/teat brush is handy for getting into all the awkward corners where milk and bacteria may be lurking. Once clean, rinse under the cold tap water then sterilise using one of the following methods. Dishwashers will clean feeding equipment but will not sterilise it.
Are all sterilisers the same?
There are three main types of sterilisers – cold water, electric steam and microwave sterilisers. There are advantages and disadvantages to them all and so it is really personal choice which one suits you best as they all basically do the same job. Some may save you time, others may give you a greater capacity, some are more expensive, while others are good for mums on the move.
Cold Water Sterilisers
This type of steriliser uses sterilising tablets or solution, diluted in water, to kill off the bacteria. They don’t need a power supply and are usually the cheapest option. The downside is that they can be heavy when filled. Also, they can be the most time-consuming as each sterilising cycle takes about half an hour to complete and the sterilising solution needs to be changed every 24 hours. It’s also important to ensure that no air is trapped in the bottles or teats and that they are well submerged under the solution using a floating cover.
Electric or Microwave Steam Sterilisers
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions as there are several different types of sterilisers on the market. Sterilising times vary, but generally they are quick and convenient to use. These sterilisers do need a power supply and are a bit more expensive that the cold water option. Make sure that your choice of feeding bottles fit the steriliser and that the openings of bottles and teats are facing down. Check the instructions as manufacturer’s will give you information on how long you can leave equipment that you are not using immediately (after sterilising) before it needs to be re-sterilised.
Sterilising by Boiling
Feeding equipment can be sterilised by boiling but there are risks of scalds or burns and so great care must be taken to ensure safety, particularly if children are present. Hot pans and liquids should not be left unattended. Do ensure that whatever you sterilise in this way is safe to boil, remembering that teats tend to get damaged with this method and bottles can get cracked and damaged.
- Boil the feeding equipment in water for about 10 minutes, making sure that all items stay under the surface of the water.
- Always wash hands thoroughly.
- Clean and disinfect the surface where you will be putting together the bottle and teat.
- It’s best to remove the bottles just before they are used.
- If you are not using the bottles immediately after sterilising by this method, put them together fully with the teat and lid in place to prevent the inside of the sterilised bottle and the outside of the teat from being contaminated.
If you have any concerns about sterilising feeding equipment contact your Midwife or Health Visitor for further advice.
For further information: www.dh.gov.uk
Watch our video about the Innosense Sterilisation range