If you are using bottles to feed your baby, it is important that you keep them clean as bacteria which can harm your baby can grow very quickly in milk. It is recommended that items for feeding, including bottles, teats, dummies and breast pumps are sterilised until your child is one year old. Before placing the items in a steriliser, it is important to wash them thoroughly using hot soapy water and ensure that they have been fully rinsed. Items can be washed in a dishwasher although it is important to understand that this will cause discolouration to the items.
Although you can sterilise items by placing them in a pan of boiling water and then boil for at least ten minutes, most parents find it easier and safer to purchase a steriliser designed for baby products.
There are three main types of steriliser
- Cold water
Cold Water Sterilisers
A cold water steriliser is a sturdy, leak-proof container with a lid. Cold water is measured into the container and a sterilising tablet or sterilising liquid is added. Bottles and other items are then fully immersed into the liquid, ensuring that no air bubbles exist. Then, following the instructions on the packaging, you leave the items for around 30 minutes and then rinse in boiled water before use. You can usually leave the items in the cold water steriliser for up to 24 hours if needed. The solution should be replaced daily. A cold water steriliser does not require electricity to use and is easy to set up anywhere as long as there is a flat surface, although it can be heavy to move when full and it does take longer to sterilise compared to other types of steriliser.
Microwave sterilisers use steam to kill bacteria. It is important to read the instructions on your model, but they usually work by placing a small amount of water in the bottom of the unit before placing a tray on top and position your feeding items on top. Seal the lid in place, and then put into your microwave. Sterilising can take as little as 2 minutes which means it is very quick in comparison to cold water sterilising. The items may be very hot if you use immediately from the microwave but can normally remain in the sealed steriliser for up to 24 hours meaning that the bottles are ready for when you need them. Microwave sterilisers can vary in size and therefore you should check the dimensions of your microwave before purchasing, they are usually lightweight but can be bulky to store.
These work in a very similar to microwave sterilisers, using steam to kill the bacteria, although they are plugged directly into an electricity source. Sterilising can take between 5 and 20 minutes and most models will turn off automatically when sterilising is complete. Electric sterilisers are usually the most expensive kind of steriliser and can be heavy and bulky to move about. The items can also be hot when first removed and the interior of the steriliser can also get hot to touch.