when should you stop sterilizing bottles?(7 Posts)
I have a six and a half month-old who has been largely formula fed and who I am now starting to wean. She will obviously still be taking formula for several months yet. I've sterilized pretty religiously from the word go but increasingly it seems silly: she picks up all kinds of rubbish from the floor, routinely puts her hand in places it shouldn't be and sucks it and generally is taking in a lot of fairly unsavoury stuff that is far from sterile (and as far as I can see it isn't doing her any harm so I assume she's developed some basic immunities.) I keep doing the bottles because they are going directly in her mouth and its one of the few things I can control but I'm coming round to the idea that a good rinse in hot water with Fairy Liquid might be just as good. When did people stop using the sterilizer? Did anyone notice a change?
I think the advice in the UK is formally to sterilise to a year. Bacteria can breed quickly in warm milk, and bottles and teats have lots of nooks and crannies which may not be thoroughly cleaned. There is a risk of gastro-enteritis that you don't get from all the toys and other rubbish that babies put into their mouths - because those items are not warm and damp and therefore less likely to be a breeding ground for bacteria.
That said, in the USA it is common practice to wash baby bottles & teats in dishwasher at a high temp (e.g. 70c cycle) and not sterilise at all. If you were to wash bottles and teats (taking care to squeeze water through the teats) at in hot, soapy water, it would probably be OK, but the best thing you could - especially for your baby's teeth - would be to encourage her to drink from a beaker (e.g. a tommee tippee first beaker).
If you are out and about, you can always sterilise a bottle by putting a few ml of water in the bottom, loosely fitting the teat and ring, and then microwaving it for about a minutes, so that the water evaporates and the steam sterilises the bottle.
I didn't bother with sterlising DDs little spoons and bowls etc after about 6.5 months. We were doing BLW and she was eating food directly off the high chair tray most of the time, so there didn't seem much point! I also don't sterlise her water beaker, but do put it through the dishwasher regularly.
However, bottles and teats etc are a totally different kettle of fish IMO and I will still be sterlising these for as long as she uses them.
So what I have done is, little bowls and spoons & sippy cup etc no, but bottles teats or anything else that has milk in it yes.
a really good wash in fresh HOT soapy water, (ie not the dregs at the end of washing up), a rinse under hot running water, and drying on a clean tea towel or kitchen paper will be fine.
You must wash thoroughly though to get rid of all traces of milk. Use a baby bottles brush which often has an end to use to clean the teat.
Also a good plan to throw away the old feed asap once finished and give the bottle a rinse before actually cleaning it, rather than just leaving it lieing around waiting for a few to wash
There are some SCBU's that use the above method for all their babies, and dont sterilise at all.
After spending sometime living in the US and being used to sterilising being a one off initial or once in a whle procedure we stop sterilising at about 4/5 months. As others have said, sterilising bottles/equipment for babies who aren't premature or have medical issues isn't prescribed at all. I do sterilise for a little while (mostly to appease my own issues with people thinking I'm not a good mum and so I am seen as 'following the rules' *sigh) but a good scrub in hot soapy water is all that's needed. To be honest once they start crawling around I don't really see the common sense.
Just to add - yes intuitively once a baby is putting everything in their mouth sterilising seems a bit odd. I spoke to a HCP about this recently and it was confirmed that bottles should be treated differently to other feeding implements. Bowls, spoons etc can just be washed in hot, soapy water. Bottles need more care as milky bottles are an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive in. Sterilising will reduce risks in much the same way that making up formula with hot water (rather than cooled water) will reduce risks.
As long as you understand the risks you can make sensible decisions. Some people won't sterilise the bottle and won't make up formula with hot enough water and will leave it sitting around for ages and their baby will be okay, but that doesn't mean there's no risk, they were just lucky... Just like having unprotected sex
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