5 Ways to Safely Sterilize Your Baby’s Bottles
I don’t have to tell you that it’s extremely important to sterilize your baby’s bottles!
After all, bottles come into direct contact with your baby and their system, so it’s always necessary to keep bottles clean and free of germs and other harms.
As a new parent, the process can be a bit daunting, but will feel like a part of your daily routine in no time.
Not sure where to start?
Read on to learn all about bottle sterilizing basics and the importance of taking this extra precaution.
Why Is Sterilizing Bottles a Must?
I’ve always been guilty of wearing clothes that I’ve bought right from the store.
Yes, washing them first would be a good idea, but I just never put effort into the process (and seriously, I know I’m not alone).
But, the thought of taking a bottle out of it’s plastic and immediately filling it with milk to put into my baby’s system definitely bothered me.
Babies are ultra-susceptible to germs and they have a very fragile immune system.
The last thing I wanted to do was put my little angels in harm’s way.
This is why it’s recommended that bottles, nipples, pacifiers, silverware (etc.) get sterilized for at least the first year of your baby’s life.
Sterilizing gets rid of anything harmful that could make your baby super sick, and it ensures whatever your baby puts in their mouth is 100% clean.
Sterilization is sure to combat all the ugly things that can really make your baby (and you) miserable.
The stomach flu, vomiting, and diarrhea are big culprits of a dirty bottle.
But, they can also contract Hepatitis A in some situations, so why risk it?
Sterilization doesn’t take very long and neither does washing clothes straight from the store (I’m proud to say I’ve now made this a priority).
The Different Ways to Sterilize
Before choosing a method of sterilization, it’s important to consider your values when it comes to this process.
Do you want to go chemical-free?
Do you want to do something that takes the least amount of time?
Are you on a budget and need to use the most cost-effective sterilization method?
While there are many ways to sterilize your baby’s bottles, we recommend using a bottle sterilizer. It’s quick, easy, and relatively cheap!
Whatever the case, check out some options below to help you pick your poison.
1. Boiling a Pot of Water
Boiling a pot of water was my initial go to method.
It was easy as pie, since I had all the time in the world being homebound to an infant and all.
It was cheap, the clean up was a cinch, and I knew my baby’s items were boiled to perfection.
It did take a bit of time for the water to warm up since I used a large pot, but overall, it’s definitely the way to go for parents who have nothing but time and a limited budget.
I actually made it a point to purchase a large stock pot for this reason only, since I couldn’t fathom using the pot that I cooked my chili in to sterilize my bottles.
But, as long as the pots are cleaned to perfection prior, I guess any old pot or pan will do. Totally personal preference!
2. Using the Microwave
Eventually, when life somewhat turned back to “normal” again and we were constantly on the go, I turned to a microwave method.
I purchased a steam system that zapped my bottles, nipples, pacifiers, and teethers all at once.
The steam system required a small amount of water and just five minutes of time.
I loved the fact that I could pull the steamer out of the microwave and set it on the countertop until I was ready to use one of the items!
It generally comes with tongs for non-contamination purposes, and plenty of open space to accommodate all kinds and sizes of bottles, nipples, and other baby items that end up in their mouth.
It was much quicker than boiling a pot and it always helped me ensure my baby stuff was squeaky clean.
If you are on a tight budget and don’t wish to purchase a steamer system, all you need to do is fill your baby’s bottles half way with water and stand them up on the turntable.
This will ensure they don’t fall over, or overflow.
You can place your nipples, bottle rings, and other baby stuff in a small bowl and be sure to cover them with water.
Two minutes on high should do the trick!
3. Use the Dishwasher!
Toward the end of my son’s first year, I often used the dishwasher to get his bottles and sippy cups clean.
I never ran his items with plates or utensils that contained food, and I always made sure I cleaned out the filter before running a cycle.
The process was effortless, it was cheap (because I didn’t have to run out and buy anything new), and effective.
I never had an issue with my son coming down with an illness or infection from the process.
I often ran the washer overnight, so when my son woke up, his stuff was ready to go.
Some parents do this daily, I chose to do it weekly.
Just be sure that all your baby stuff is placed in a dishwasher basket or put on the top rack, and that your dishwasher is put on the sanitize setting.
4. UV Light
I’ve never used this method, but had a friend or two who have.
This form of sterilizer is pretty simple and it’s highly effective with zapping yucky stuff, all through the use of ultraviolet light.
You simply place the bottle in the sterilizer and push start. It does take up some counter space and it can be pricey, so many parents use alternative methods.
However, parents who travel a lot prefer this option and purchase a smaller system that is easy to pack and use on the go.
5. Cleaning Agents
Some parents are not a huge fan of this, while others swear by it.
Again, it comes down to personal preference.
If you want to use a cleaning agent to sanitize, you’ll need to fill a container with at least a gallon of water.
Add a small amount of bleach (approximately two teaspoons), and mix.
You can place all your baby stuff in this solution for up to two minutes.
Make sure you squeeze the mixture through your baby’s nipples and set everything out to drip dry.
I would probably use warm, soapy water as well prior to use.
How Do You Know When To Sterilize Baby’s Stuff?
Generally, you want to sterilize your bottles as soon as you get them out of the package, and then again every few days or so.
But, there are a few key signs to look out for that could indicate it may be time to clean them sooner than later! They include:
- Gunk under the nipples, around the cap, or that collects in the basin of the bottle.
- When your baby has a cold or virus (sterilize daily until they are well).
- If you notice an odd smell, even after rinsing them with soapy water.
Because everything heats up to a boiling temperature to kill off germs and bacteria, you should take a few safety precautions.
- Use tongs to remove items from a pot of water if you don’t want to let them sit in the water to cool off.
- Don’t fill a pot of water too high: it can overflow and pose a burn hazard (and make a big mess!)
- Don’t open your steam set right away when removing from the microwave: wait at least 10 minutes and be sure to stand back so you don’t get blasted with steamy air.
- Use BPA free bottles. The chemicals in a non-BPA free bottle can leak into the milk and pose a serious health threat to your baby.
- Always handle hot items with pot holders and keep hot items far away from your baby or other children in your home.
Other Helpful Reminders (+ Recommendations for Travel)
Before you sterilize your baby stuff, be sure to wash over the items using warm, soapy water.
This helps remove any food or residue left behind and prevents it from getting “washed around” with other stuff.
If you’re using your microwave, be sure it’s wiped down—as you know sauce and other food items can splatter!
Also, if you’re traveling, devise a plan that ensures your bottles are still able to be sterilized on the go. You can request that your hotel provide you with a pot to boil water if your amenities have a built in kitchen.
And, you can all ahead to make sure you’ll have a microwave to help sterilize bottles if you bring your steamer system with you. You could even consider purchasing a small set to make traveling and packing a bit easier.
In addition, some parents who travel often with their baby turn to a cold water method.
You need a sterilization tablet in order to do this (just check with the airline to ensure you can carry this on since some come in a liquid form).
The tablet gets dropped into bottles that are filled halfway with cold water and works to remove bacteria and germs.
Just make sure to rinse it out well with warm, soapy water.
Editor’s Picks: Bottle Feeding
Once you learn how to do it, and do so a few times, sterilizing your baby items will become an afterthought.
It’s just something you need to do often to ensure your baby’s health and safety.
While there are many methods to consider, you need to choose the one that works best for you and your lifestyle.
Be sure to watch out for the signs when your items are ready to be sterilized and consider some of the helpful travel and safety tips as well!