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Sterilising baby feeding equipment

Advice on sterilising baby feeding equipment with information on the different types of bottle and travel sterilisers available.
As babies do not have fully developed immune systems it is important to thoroughly sterilise all of their feeding equipment (including bottles, teats, beakers and pumps) to protect them against infection. This is especially important for babies who are predominantly bottle fed with formula milk as they do not receive the enhanced immunity provided by breast milk and so are more susceptible to infection.

Before sterilising your baby's feeding equipment you need to wash it thoroughly in hot soapy water. You should use a bottle brush to clean off any remnants of milk and ensure that the teats are clean by washing both sides and then running water through the hole.

It is possible to clean feeding equipment in the dishwasher however this should always be on the hottest setting (teats are more likely to wear if frequently washed in this manner). Whether you clean your baby's feeding equipment in the dishwasher or by hand you should check to ensure all traces of milk and detergent have been removed before sterilising.

Methods of sterilising

  • Boiling - This is the traditional method of sterilising bottles. You should use a saucepan that has not been used for any other purpose (i.e. cooking), fill it with water and fully submerge the bottles inside. You will need to boil the equipment for at least 10 minutes.
  • Steaming - Steam sterilisers are readily available and are an efficient way to ensure that bottle feeding equipment is safe to use. They only take approximately 8 minutes to work and if sealed can keep equipment clean for up to 3 hours.
  • Sterilising solutions - These often come in the form of a tablet which you dissolve in cold water. They take approximately half an hour to work (although you should check individual instructions) and often allow you to leave bottles soaking for up to 24 hours if sealed, although you shouldn't leave them longer than this without changing the solution. It is possible to use any container with a sealed, fitted lid however special sterilising containers with plungers that keep bottles fully submerged are also readily available.
  • Microwavable sterilisers - Steamers for use in the microwave are available although you cannot use them to clean equipment with metal components. Additionally self-sterilising microwavable bottles are also available.
  • When sterilising bottles and other feeding equipment you should ensure they are fully submerged for the whole time and check that there are no air bubbles present. Additionally, you should dispose of bottles and teats once they are showing signs of wear and tear as they become more difficult to fully sterilise once cracks are starting to form in the plastic.

    After you remove your baby's feeding equipment from your chosen sterilisation container you should fill it with milk as soon as possible to avoid contamination.

    Current guidelines suggest that you continue sterilising your baby's bottle feeding equipment until they reach 1 year of age.

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    Hi all!!!

    Please advise if Microwave sterlisers are safe. I have been informed by some of my friends that the waves of microwave are harmful for sterlising and heating babies milk and food.

    Please let me know if you know any more on this......
    by Babloo 1st Jun 2009, 9:09am
    i also have steam steraliser and am confused, bottles stay sterlile for 3 hours, if i do a feed 4 hours , 5 hours etc later do i have to re sterelise the bottle to be used for that feed, please help.
    by kevin22 19th Dec 2008, 10:05am
    Hi ya
    I steriliser my bottle, but I do it in cold water with a sterilisering tablet. I really didn't get one with a steam or mirco wave one. My gran told me about it and if it worked for them, then why shouldn't it work now! And it only takes half hour!

    I have always made my bottles up in the morning and when cooled I put them in the fridge! Do what you thinks best, and if your not sure just ask anyone you know. Everyone I know has done it different to each other!

    Hope this helps! :)
    by 0812ALS 11th Feb 2008, 11:19am
    I use a steam steriliser and the guidelines say that the bottles are sterile for up to 3 hours if the lid remains on, however, as bottles should only be made up as and when required, do I then have to sterlisie all the remaing bottles again ????
    Or should I fill all the bottles with cool boiled water and re-heat to 70 degrees and add formula as required???
    Thanks, looking forward to your reply
    Very confused
    by marcy 5th Oct 2007, 5:16pm