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Do you always sterilize your bottles?  You could be wasting your time

As a new parent, there is many things beyond your controland in most cases you work with more exhaustion and less sleep than usual. One way for parents to reduce worry is to keep their newborn’s environment as hygienic as possible, excellent baths to clean laundry. Sterilizing bottles is just one way to protect a baby’s immune system.

However, it’s also important to recognize when sterilization is a valuable addition and when it can actually take your focus away from the many other tasks you need to do. We’ll look at different sterilization methods, what experts say about how sterilizing baby bottles can keep harmful bacteria away, and when do not to bother with sterilizing baby bottles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Plus, here’s what to do if you’re run out of formulaa list of our favorite breast pumpsand some baby registry essentials (including some bottles we like). You can also check out our picks for the best diapers, best baby monitors, best car seats and best baby clothes.

Why is it important to sterilize your baby’s bottle?

Babies under 3 months old are still developing their immune systems, and many infections that would be milder or more moderate at older ages can be serious during these months. Although cleaning bottles thoroughly and using them immediately is usually sufficient to remove harmful bacteria, viruses and other contaminants, during the first three months of a baby’s life, sterilizing bottles daily or more often is a other recommended level of protection.


When should you sterilize and clean your baby’s bottle?

Be aware that cleaning involves soap and hot water and removing any residue inside or outside the bottle and its associated parts. Sterilization, on the other hand, specifically involves using heat or chemicals on the bottle and all associated parts to further kill any remaining microscopic bacteria that may have escaped the cleaning process.

You should clean the bottles when you buy them, as well as after each use and before reuse if the clean bottle has not been used for some time. Ideally, bottles should also be sanitized when purchased and between uses.

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How often should baby bottles be sterilized?

Bottles are used several times a day, and depending on how many you have, you may only need to sanitize a batch of bottles once a day before each use. However, many pediatrician resources are less focused on disinfection than ever, leaving the frequency of sterilization to parents in many cases. Many dishwashers have a sanitize setting, which quickly does the work for you if your bottles are kept in the top rack of the dishwasher.

When to stop sterilizing baby bottles, according to the CDC

The CDC recommends disinfecting at least daily until the baby is 3 months old or older and longer if he is immunocompromised. Otherwise, it’s not as high a priority, but you may still want to sanitize your older baby’s bottles if:

  • You know the bottle held milk for several hours or even a day
  • Your baby has been sick or is taking medicine that weakens their immune system
  • Your water supply has been criticized for some kind of contamination
  • You are using well water (which may be fine, but you may also have less information on overall water quality)
  • You have a way to do this quickly and safely and without getting in the way of yourself or the baby’s other caregivers.
Do you always sterilize your bottles?  You could be wasting your time

Morten Falch Sortland/Moment/Getty Images

How to clean and sterilize baby bottles

There are dedicated sterilizers designed for particular types of bottles and sterilization settings on dishwashers. When used correctly, they do not require additional sterilization. If you don’t have these options, there are three other ways to sterilize your bottles.

Sterilize baby bottles with boiling water

1. Thoroughly wash all bottles and their parts. Leave them disassembled.
2. Put all the items in a clean pan and fill the pan with water until all parts of the bottle are submerged.
3. Bring to a boil and keep boiling for 5 minutes.
4. Use clean tongs to remove the parts from the bottle and place them on a clean towel or paper towel to dry them completely.

Sterilize baby bottles with steam

1. Thoroughly wash all bottles and their parts. Leave them disassembled.
2. Read the instructions for your steam sterilization system in a bag, such as the Medela bag system.
3. Place the required amount of water and only as many coins as the bag fits, allowing it to close.
4. Follow the instructions on how long to disinfect in the microwave.
5. Remove using a clean pair of pliers once the bag is not too hot to open. Place on a clean towel or paper towel to dry completely.

Sterilize baby bottles with an antibacterial chemical

1. If boiling and steaming are not possible, using a dilute bleach solution (2 teaspoons of unscented bleach per gallon of water) in a clean basin is an alternative method mentioned by the CDC.
2. Thoroughly clean all bottles and parts and leave them disassembled.
3. Carefully place all parts into the solution, adjusting them to ensure that no air bubbles prevent any part of a surface from being touched by the solution.
4. Leave all items completely submerged for 2 minutes.
5. Use clean hands or clean tongs to remove the items and place them on an unused towel or paper towel.
6. No need to rinse as long as items are completely dry before reusing. Rinsing reintroduces trace microorganisms that were destroyed by the bleach.

How to store bottles after disinfection

Once your bottle parts are completely dry, you can put the bottles together for easy use the next time you need them. Closed kitchen cabinets are good places to store bottles, where they won’t interact with as much air as they would on a kitchen counter, and they should only be stored with other clean items .

If a step in your drying or storage process traps moisture on the bottles, it can make germ growth more likely. Drying racks that sometimes lead to some trapped moisture, so sanitize the rack itself every few days if that’s your preferred method.

Disinfecting bottles is no longer a universal recommendation for all the time babies drink from a bottle. However, if you can fit it into your schedule or have a circumstance that makes it a good choice for your family, it can provide an extra layer of protection for the new addition to your family.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.


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