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Safe Ways To Sterilize Baby Bottles: A Complete Guide

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how to sterilize baby bottles

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Parenting is quite a journey for the parents, be it new or experienced since every kid comes with their own set of deals to crack. Nevertheless, what remains constant is the need to provide them with clean baby bottles and sterilized equipment. This is where the coin turns and the buried question of – how to sterilize baby bottles comes into play!

Should one use soap and hot water? Follow the manufacturer’s list? Or, simply a clean towel? To help you out with these questions, we have curated this article that includes the best cleaning and sterilizing ways for a baby bottle, be it glass, plastic, or even silicone. So let’s get started!

First Things First, When and How To Sterilize The Baby Bottles?

In addition to the traditional cleaning methods, sterilizing baby bottles is a step beyond that provides extra protection against germs. This step is initiated as soon as you purchase a bottle that needs to be sterilized before it enters the mouth of the little one to ensure the baby’s health and safety.

In most cases the first sterilizing is the all-in-all, however, there are a few incidents that might call for another sterilizing process, such as:

1) If the baby's bottle is borrowed or is second-handed:

Keeping in mind the requirements of the baby, there are a few parents who might hit the consignment shops or borrow baby bottles from a friend. This is one critical situation where you must make sure to sterilize the bottle before giving it to your child, even if it’s not used. Additionally, it is important to sterilize bottles, even if they belong to an older sibling.

2) If the baby was sick:

This is no news, rather a priority and a must-do. It was no fun to have your little munchkin get sick, therefore, it’s best to avoid the risk of re-infecting them again.

3) If the baby was born prematurely or has any health concerns:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made it a mandated step to sterilize bottles, especially when the baby was prematurely born or has a weakened immune system.

4) If there is no access to clean drinking water:

This is rather self-explanatory! Clean drinking water equals good health and vice-versa. This is also true in case you keep traveling since there is a chance of unclean water. Here, it’s best to sterilize the baby’s bottles often, or once daily to avoid the buildup of harmful microbes.

How Often And When Do You Need to Sterilize Baby Bottles?

In a fortunate situation where there is a good supply of clean and fresh water that doesn’t come from the well, you are good to go. However, if not, it’s important to sanitize bottles often to prevent harmful germs from entering your baby’s mouth.

On the flip side, some damages can be made due to regular sterilizing of the baby bottles that can also allow the chemicals to leach into the baby’s milk, especially if it has BPA. This is why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles in 2012, which could potentially damage and impact the infant’s development.

Having said that, the number of times you sterilize a baby bottle is up to you, but make sure to not over or under it. You can also choose to sterilize the bottle in a dishwasher with hot water and a heated drying cycle or sanitize the feeding items once daily, as per the claim by CDC.

When to stop?

  • As per the guidelines by CDC, If you sterilize the baby’s bottle regularly, it’s ok to stop as soon as the baby is 3 months old, keeping in mind the developed immune system of the baby
  • Stop in case there is any damage, cracks, chips, or the bottles leave a strong odor

Note – Make sure to replace the bottle nipples if there is any noticeable wear and tear to prevent choking.

How To Clean Baby Bottles?

Cleaning the bottle and the bottle parts is a mandatory process, regardless of whether you choose to sterilize bottles or not. The cleaning needs to be done after every feeding, if not the infant could be vulnerable to infections by viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi, leading to unwanted illness.

Germs can easily and quickly develop if the bottles aren’t clean in the right manner. This is why it is very important to make sure that the bottle and the equipment are washed with hot soapy water to remove the harmful germs. Here’s how:

1) Cleaning Baby's bottles in the Dishwasher

Using the dishwasher with the hottest water setting and a heated drying cycle is quite effective and can help over the sterilizing process too!

  • Take the baby’s bottle and separate all the parts
  • Rinse all with clean water to remove any milk particles in the bottles
  • Place all the little parts in a dishwasher-safe basket to prevent them from falling into the dishwasher
  • Run the bottles on a hot-water cycle and heated drying cycle. Or select the sanitizing setting
  • Remove the parts from the dishwasher and allow them to air dry on a clean dishcloth

2) Cleaning Baby Bottles Manually

According to the CDC, it’s best to wash the baby bottles in a special container to prevent them from coming in contact with the sink and getting cross-contaminated. Here’s how:

  • First, wash your hands
  • Separate the bottle parts and rinse each piece under hot or cold water to remove the milk particles
  • Fill the sink with hot water and soap and then scrub the bottles using the bottle brush
  • Make sure to clean inside the nipples and flush water through the tiny holes
  • Once done, rinse thoroughly under running water and leave them on the dishcloth to air dry

How To Sterilize Baby Bottles? A Step-By-Step Guide!

The process of sterilizing helps to kill the bacteria present in the bottles with the help of the high temperature. Here is a step-by-step guide for how to sterilize baby bottles across various techniques.

1) Sterilizing With Boiling Water

  • Fill a clean large pot with water to cover the bottles
  • Now, submerge the clean bottles in the water, upside down. Make sure there are no air bubbles at the bottom
  • Bring the water to a boil for five minutes
  • Once done, turn the heat down and remove the pot using tongs
  • Place the bottle in a clean space and dry using a dishcloth
  • Allow them to air dry

2) Sterilizing in the Microwave

  • Make sure to clean the microwave first
  • Now, fill the baby bottle halfway with water
  • Microwave for one to two minutes
  • Once down, use mitts to remove the bottle and dump the remaining water out
  • Allow the bottle to air dry

Note – The other best option is to purchase the best baby bottle sterilizer that also harnesses the power of steam.

3) Baby Bottle Steam Sterilizer

Using a countertop bottle sterilizer can help you sterilize in higher temperatures than boiling water, allowing the killing of the bacterias. Although a little expensive, they are the quickest, easiest, and most durable option on the list.

All you need to do is follow the instructions from the manufacturer’s manual and sterilize all, the bottle, nipple, and also for small plastic toys and teething rings making it durable once the baby outgrows the bottle stage. Isn’t this such a stretch for a dollar!

4) Sterilizing With Bleach

According to the CDC, sterilizing with bleach is the best option if you do not have access to boiling water, a steamer, or a dishwasher. To sterilize baby bottles you need to:

  • Combine 16 cups of hot water with one teaspoon of unscented bleach
  • Submerge the baby bottles in the solution and prevent any air bubbles in the bottom
  • Now, soak them for about two to five minutes
  • Once done, remove with clean tongs and place on a clean dish towel to air dry

5) Sterilizing Using Tablets

Away from home and do not know how to sterilize baby bottles? Don’t have access to the equipment? Not anymore, enter sterilizing tablets! These food-grade-chlorine-based sterilizing tablets are just as effective as the other sterilizing techniques to help remove the microbes, so be rest assured. However, make sure to follow the instructions on the package diligently to ensure proper sterilization.

How To Sterilize Baby Bottles Final Conclusion

Sterilizing baby bottles is a much-needed process to prevent the entry of harmful germs and keep the baby’s immune systems healthy. There are multiple ways to sterilize, you could either use a dishwasher, microwave, electric steam, running water from the tap, etc. No matter what you choose, it’s particularly important to get the job done in the best possible manner. Also, when purchasing a baby bottle, it’s best to go through the manufacturer’s guide for the possible options to clean the bottle in question.

How To Sterilize Baby Bottles FAQs

1) Is it really important to sterilize baby bottles?

Sterilizing a baby bottle is only necessary before the first use. However, if the water is suspected to harbor contaminated bacteria, or the baby has been sick, it's best to sterilize regularly.

2) What is the proper way to sterilize bottles?

  • Fill a clean large pot with water to cover the bottles
  • Now, submerge the clean bottles in the water, upside down. Make sure there are no air bubbles at the bottom
  • Bring the water to a boil for five minutes
  • Once done, turn the heat down and remove the pot using tongs
  • Place the bottle in a clean space and dry using a dishcloth
  • Allow them to air dry
  • For other available options, refer to the article above.

    3) What are the things to keep in mind while sterilizing baby bottles?

  • Change the sterilizing solution every 24 hours
  • Make sure there are no air bubbles when submerging them in the water
  • Make sure the sterilizer has a floating cover or a plunger to keep the equipment inside the solution
  • 4) How long does a sterilized bottle last?

    The sterilizing process can take up to 6 minutes and can remain sterile for 24 hours.

    On behalf of the editorial team at Parenthoodbliss, we follow strict reporting guidelines and only use credible sources, along with peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and highly respected health organizations. To learn about how we maintain content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.

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