Best Practices Of Sterilising Infant Bottles: Before And After Cleaning Bottles

bottle steriliser

Cleaning and sterilising baby bottles are crucial practices to ensure the health and safety of infants. The immune systems of babies are not fully developed, making them more susceptible to infections and illnesses. Therefore, maintaining a high standard of cleanliness with baby feeding equipment is imperative. This article delves into the best practices for cleaning and sterilising baby bottles, offering comprehensive guidance for new parents and caregivers.

Understanding the Importance

Before delving into the practices, it’s important to understand why cleaning and sterilising baby bottles is so vital. Babies, especially newborns and those under 12 months are at a higher risk of infection due to their developing immune systems. Milk, whether breastmilk or formula, is a rich breeding ground for bacteria. Without proper cleaning, bottles can harbour harmful bacteria, fungi, or viruses, leading to illnesses like diarrhoea and vomiting.

What To Do Before, During And After Sterilisation

Sterilising baby bottles is a crucial process in ensuring the health and safety of your infant. Proper sterilisation eliminates harmful bacteria and germs that can be particularly dangerous for babies, whose immune systems are still developing.

Before Sterilisation

  1. Understanding the Need for Sterilisation
  2. Newborns and young infants are highly susceptible to infections. Since their immune systems are not fully developed, they can’t fight off bacteria as effectively as older children or adults. Milk, whether formula or breast milk, is a rich medium for bacterial growth, and bottles that are not properly cleaned and sterilised can become contaminated, posing a risk to your baby’s health.

  3. Choosing the Right Equipment
  4. There are several types of baby bottles available in the market, including those made of plastic, glass, and silicone. Each type has its sterilisation guidelines. Similarly, different sterilisation methods are available: boiling, using a microwave or electric steam steriliser, or using cold water sterilising solutions. The choice depends on convenience, cost, and the type of bottles you are using.

  5. Preparation
  6. Before sterilising, it’s important to clean the bottles thoroughly. This involves disassembling the bottles and washing all parts – including nipples, caps, and any valves – with warm, soapy water. Use a clean bottle brush to scrub the inside of the bottles and teats to remove any milk residue. Rinse them thoroughly under running water.

During Sterilisation

  1. Boiling
  2. Boiling is a simple and effective method of sterilisation. It involves placing the cleaned bottles and their components in a large pot, covering them with water, and bringing it to a boil. Let them boil for at least 5 minutes. However, constant boiling might damage bottles and nipples over time, especially those made of thinner plastic.

  3. Steam Sterilisation
  4. Electric steam sterilisers and microwave sterilisers are convenient and quick. They use high-temperature steam to kill germs and bacteria. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the amount of water to use and the duration of sterilisation. Typically, it takes about 5 to 10 minutes.

  5. Cold Water Sterilising
  6. Cold water sterilising involves using a sterilising solution (usually in tablet or liquid form) in cold water. The bottles, after being cleaned, are submerged in this solution for a specified duration, usually around 30 minutes. It’s important to change the sterilising solution every 24 hours and to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the correct solution-to-water ratio.

After Sterilisation

  1. Handling Sterilised Bottles
  2. After sterilisation, it’s important to keep the bottles as germ-free as possible until they are used. Use sterilised tongs to remove bottles and accessories from the steriliser or boiling water, and try to assemble them immediately, touching only the outside of the teats and the bottles. If you’re not using the bottles immediately, store them in a clean, sealed container.

  3. Storage
  4. Store sterilised bottles in a clean, dry place. Avoid areas where they might be exposed to dust, pet hair, or other contaminants. Some parents prefer to leave the bottles in the steriliser until they are needed, as most sterilisers are designed to keep the contents sterile for 24 hours if the lid is unopened.

  5. Duration of Sterilisation
  6. As your baby grows and their immune system matures, you might not need to sterilise bottles as frequently. Generally, it’s recommended to continue sterilising bottles for babies under 12 months old. After this age, thorough washing with hot soapy water is typically sufficient, unless your baby has a weakened immune system or specific health concerns.

Also Read: Choosing Sippy Cup For Your Child: Important Things To Know

Best Practices for Sterilising

Here are some best practices that parents can adopt while sterilising baby bottles

  • Consistency: Sterilise all feeding equipment, including bottles, teats, and breast pump parts, after every use until the baby is at least 12 months old.
  • Follow Instructions: Each sterilisation method comes with specific instructions, especially concerning the duration and handling. Follow these carefully.
  • Storage: Store sterilised bottles in a clean, sealed container or in the steriliser until needed. This practice helps in keeping them sterile.
  • Checking for Damage: Regularly check bottles and teats for any damage. Cracks or splits can harbour bacteria and should be replaced immediately.

Handling Sterilised Bottles

  • Hygiene: Ensure your hands are clean before handling sterilised bottles. It’s advisable to wash your hands thoroughly or use a hand sanitiser.
  • Assembling in a Clean Area: Assemble the bottles in an area that’s been cleaned and is free from contaminants.
  • Avoiding Contamination: Once a bottle is sterilised and assembled, avoid touching the inside of the bottle or the teat.

Additional Tips

  • Buying Quality Bottles: Invest in high-quality baby bottles that are BPA-free and designed for repeated sterilisation.
  • Preparation of Formula: If using the formula, follow the preparation guidelines strictly. This includes using water at a certain temperature.
  • Discarding Unused Milk: Never reuse milk that’s been in a bottle for more than two hours, as it’s a potential breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Educating Caregivers: Ensure that anyone else who’s taking care of the baby is aware of these practices.

Also Read: Infant Bottle Feeding: Types, Tips, Benefits And Bottle Feeding Positions

The health and safety of a baby are paramount, and one of the most effective ways to protect them is through diligent cleaning and sterilising of their feeding equipment. By following these best practices, parents and caregivers can significantly reduce the risk of infections and provide a safe, healthy environment for feeding. For more such informative articles, read EuroSchool.

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