If you are thinking of bottle feeding your baby then you will need to sterilise your babies bottles and if you are expressing milk you will also need to sterilise any expressing equipment. It is also important that if you start using a dummy that these are sterilised too.
Why do you need to sterilise?
Babies are much more vulnerable to viruses and gut infections so we need to make sure any feeding equipment is as clean as possible so we are not introducing harmful bacteria and viruses to our babies. Over your baby’s first year their immune system will get much stronger and she will be better equipped to deal with harmful germs. It is important to carry on sterilising bottles and pumping equipment for as long as you use them, however when your child starts weaning (6 months+) you do not need to sterilise their plates, beakers or spoons etc.
The market for baby equipment as we know is huge, so it can be quite daunting knowing what you need when it comes to sterilising equipment. Below we have explained the three main methods you can use to sterilise, they are microwave and electric steam, cold water and boiling.
But firstly we will explain what you need to do before using your chosen method of sterilising.
Preparing equipment for sterilising
Wash your bottles, pumping equipment or dummies first. Rinse out any left over milk with cold water and then add a drop of washing liquid onto each part and using a bottle brush (used only for the equipment you sterilise) wash in warm soapy water. Once clean rinse under clean running water to remove any soap before popping in the steriliser.
Microwave and electric steam sterilisers
These are very popular and for good reason, they are easy to use and are quick. Most electric steam sterilisers take less than 12 minutes and microwave sterilisers usually less than eight minutes. Do remember though that you need to also allow cooling time so you don’t get burnt by the steam when taking the lid off. Always remember to wash your hands before taking anything out of the steriliser. When choosing a microwave or electric steam steriliser just make sure it will fit the bottles you choose.
Cold water sterilising
You can buy liquid or tablets for cold water sterilising. You will need a container with a lid, large enough to hold all your equipment needing sterilised. You can buy specific cold water sterilising containers however a large Tupperware box is also great. You will need something to stop your equipment bobbing up to the surface as its important no air is trapped inside your equipment, a plate or even a small chopping board is good for this. This method usually takes around half an hour but you can keep equipment in the solution for up to 24 hours, just remember to wash your hands when taking equipment out of the solution. You do not need to rinse after removing from the solution as it is safe and non-toxic and if you did rinse you would actually make the equipment non sterile again.
This isn’t the most convenient method but works just as well. You will need a sauce pan with a lid that you use only for sterilising. Fill the pan with water and bring to the boil. Add your equipment, making sure no air is trapped inside the equipment. Then boil for at least ten minutes. Remove using clean tongs. Be very careful when removing the equipment that you don’t burn yourself. Use equipment straightaway.
Sterilising when traveling
You can buy microwave steam travel bags that can be used around 20-30 times (depending on the brand). They are usually sold in packs of 5 and take up no space or weight in your luggage. You would need to have a microwave where you were staying for this option. If not some hotels may provide electric steam sterilisers, call before you travel to check if you can reserve one. I always take a box of cold water sterilising tablets with me just incase other options fall through.