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To sterilise or not to sterilise.....

(47 Posts)
emmx Sat 05-Sep-09 00:09:12

Hi - I'm a first time mum to a gorgeous 3 1/2 month old boy and I have a question - is it actually absolutely necessary to sterilise bottles before every use? I've been researching on the net and most info that comes up comes from the US - nearly all of it says that apart from before the very first use (out of the packet) you do not need to do more than either put them in the dishwasher or wash with hot soapy water. We use a cold water (Milton) steriliser but as I am at home looking after our son 24/7 as my OH is at work all day I am finding it a real struggle sometimes to keep on top of making sure I always have at least one sterile bottle ready - when they want feeding they want feeding NOW! We use Dr Browns anti colic bottles which are very expensive (around £12 for a pack of 2) but are very effective so, being very short of money, we only have 3 240ml bottles (we also had 3 120ml bottles but he's outgrown them) and hence its hard work keeping on top of it particularly if we go out for the day. Is there anyone out there who DOESN'T sterilise before every use? Also when do most people stop sterilising? Is 4 months too young? Or do you think it would make me a bad mother? We use boiled water in compliance with what it says on the tin (we use Aptamil). Another obstacle would be my husband and my mum who are both convinced that if everything is not sterilised all the time our LO will die. However he is obsessed with his hands and feet right now as well as anything else he can put in his mouth and apart from trying my best to keep them clean as poss he's going to be putting germs in his mouth that way too. I don't want to put his health at risk by exposing him unnecessarily to germs but I also don't want him to have an unchallenged immune system - I believe it is not good to never have exposure to any germs (over and above the usual washing of hands after going to the loo, preparing food, etc). Anyway, it was just something I was wondering about and am currently still sterilising everything. Thanks

kentmumtj Sat 05-Sep-09 00:27:46

i work with parents and many of them have small babies i know my work place would recommend sterlising to continue until the child was one years old and not stop earlier

i do work in a child protection enviroment and if one of our parents stopped sterlising at that age we would consider question their motives behind it and consider it not to be in the childs best interests.

fiver Sat 05-Sep-09 00:45:42

see this thread


HelenHighwater Sat 05-Sep-09 00:46:18


I stopped sterilising at 6 months. Ds was crawling about with the dog, shoving things into his mouth/licking the floor (and dp broke the steriliser). Don't have a dishwasher but soaked and rinsed bottles in washing-up liquid and v hot water.

The US does recommend not sterilising everything to build up their immunity. I remember reading that when looking up info about scbu.

I think it's an individual choice but I wouldn't have done it any earlier than 6 months. Before that ds wasn't crawling so was not getting the same amount of contact with germs.

BitOfFun Sat 05-Sep-09 00:46:55

Hot soapy water, and even better a dishwasher, from what I understand.

HelenHighwater Sat 05-Sep-09 00:51:20

Never seen that thread before.

Thanks fiver. Made me feel I've done something right (for a change)

kentmumtj Sat 05-Sep-09 00:59:42

that thread was old it was 2005 things change as you are not even meant to make the feeds up and leave them anymore

BlueKangerooWonders Sat 05-Sep-09 04:18:17

I think there's a difference between babies putting everything in their mouth, and sterilising, which is only related to milk and the bacteria which multiplies so fast. Anything related to milk feeds should be sterilised.

Meglet Sat 05-Sep-09 07:29:44

I've sterlised to 1yr with both dc's. Once the bottles were sterlised I kept them in the fridge until needed. That way I could boil the kettle and make up the milk fresh each time but the bottle would still be sterile, I think.

Tee2072 Sat 05-Sep-09 09:07:56

Sterilising at home is a joke anyway (and yes, I do use a steriliser). Your kitchen is not sterile. Once that bottle is out of the steriliser? It is no longer sterile.

Your child's hand that he is sucking on is not sterile.

I am incredulous at kentmumtj's statement, actually. Especially as the NHS' recent pamphlets say 6 months.

I am stopping at 6 months. Only 3 to go.

littleducks Sat 05-Sep-09 12:04:02

yes i do hope that kentmumj is a troll but the more i meet people 'in child protection' the more i worry that they are all totally blinkered and want everyone to parent as they did

bumpsoon Sat 05-Sep-09 18:35:43

slighty scared should kentmumtj ever turn up at my lacksadasical house shock. What about breasts ? i never sterilised mine and human skin is a veritable breeding ground for bacteria wink

AddictedtoHeatmagazine Sat 05-Sep-09 18:44:59

I stopped with both of my ds's at 6 months but if we have a 3rd I'd happily stop sooner (assuming they were healthy and not underweight etc).

I think the dishwasher does a pretty effective job and I would sometimes just swish round a tiny bit of just boiled water if the bottle had been out of the dishwasher quite a while.

kentmumtj's post is almost hilarious and that kind of blanket advice (accompanied with that ridiculously scare-mongering bit about child protection) is why so many people get exasperated with health visitors etc and their robotic responses.

I think your child, your choice. If it feels right and assuming your home is pretty hygienic I think its fine to stop.

Maria2007 Sat 05-Sep-09 19:25:16

Oh for god's sake kentmumj, sterilise to 1 year??!! and you would 'question the motives' behind stopping sterilising??? The motives behind stopping sterilising....brrrr, sounds scary. What could those motives be, I wonder!

Your post would be quite funny actually, except you say you work for a 'child protection agency' & you know, that could actually make some new mums who take you seriously (not that they should!!) even more paranoid than new mums tend to be. If this is a joke, it's in bad taste.

Bleatblurt Sat 05-Sep-09 19:28:28

I stopped sterilising about 2 days after I got home.

ShowOfHands Sat 05-Sep-09 19:34:09

Dishwasher or hot soapy water tis all that's needed.

Never sterilised a thing. Particularly not my boobs but did give the odd expressed feed here and there.

kentmumj, you sound very stringent and a little frightening. 'Motives' behind not sterilising? Apart from it not being necessary for a healthy child, what on earth do you mean?

Maria2007 Sat 05-Sep-09 19:35:55

Yes, what can these motives be? hmm

JHKE Sat 05-Sep-09 19:43:37

I stopped at 6 mths.

I did ask about dishwashers at antenatal classes (4 years ago now) and was advised not to use them as the salt scratches the bottles. How true I don't know.

RTKangaMummy Sat 05-Sep-09 19:44:47

It was my thread that FIVER linked to and if others feel it is vital to ask the microbiologists again I will email them again to check that they details are still correct

MY DS is now 14 years old and is 5'9" from being born at 27 weeks weighing 2lb 12½ oz ~ I think that is a success and shows that NOT sterilizing hasn't harmed him

BUT I want ALL mums & Dads to feel happy in their choices



winnybella Sat 05-Sep-09 19:46:29

I live in Paris and when I gave birth to my DD seven months ago in a hospital the midwives told us that sterilizing DOES NOT make sense, since the formula is not sterile, your hands are not sterile when you make the bottle etc.. This is an official policy here in France. Obviously you should not leave made-up bottle for longer than 30 minutes in a room temperature as, indeed, bacteria can multiply etc.
I never sterilized for my children, except when using the bottle for the first time.
I have a separate bottle brush for DD's things and use hot soapy water or dishwasher.They never had any tummy issues.
Also, consider that at 3 months your DS is already, or will start very soon, putting his toys etc. in his mouth, and while they are clean, they are definitely not sterile!
Kentmumtj you are being ridiculous.

Tee2072 Sat 05-Sep-09 21:05:19

They don't sterilize in the States either. I am from there. I wouldn't sterilize except that DS was in SCBU for 9 days after birth and it was strongly recommended that I do so when he came home.

But as I said, once he hits 6 months? DONE!

jocie Sat 05-Sep-09 21:05:33

i have mainly breastfed but gave a bottle once a day. With my second i stopped sterilizing after a few months for all the points that have already been made and also its the washing that is the most important surely as if there are still bits of milk on the bottlr/teat/ring than sterilizing ( particularly steam or microwave) is just caking the milk residue on creating more bacteria i would have thought.
Personally i think that as long as its completely clean the most important thing is following the guide for making up formula properly.

kentmumtj Sat 05-Sep-09 23:42:47

Wow Wow Wow what a reaction i have got.

Firstly i would like to say i am guided by health visitors as this is their speciality area not mine, i simply reinforce their guidance not somthing i have made up to be harsh on people.

yes i do work in child protection and the work i do is assessing parents many who have had children removed previously removed for one reason or another

I have come face to face with babies who have been very unwell and hospitalised due to the parents not considering sterlising an important part of their babies well being
you would be surprised at the poor levles of hygiene i have witnessed in my experience, and the poor babies who have suffered as a consequence of this.

that is not to say we all 'go by the book' as such i myself have had 4 children and was not as strict with myself as i am with some parents but that is because i have good hygiene in most other areas of my life and may have throughly washed a bottle leaving no milk residue to build up and go mouldy, nor would my babies fingers have never been cleaned for month.

some families i work with ie parents with learning difficulties welcome the strict guidelines that are given to them as it saves confusion.

many parents i work with do not sterlise because they cant be bothered or want to go have a fag etc etc and when i say i would question why someone would not do this yes i admit that i do think why?? if there is a valid reason for it and the health visitors agree then i wouldnt question it any further

I must stress that the guidance i have been given is to sterlise until a year, however that is not to say that the average does this less and less the older a child gets which is fine if the child has a good immune system. i see the health visitors weekly and will ask them again as guidance may have changed.

i have just randomly googled some web pages which i have put below and there guidance seems to be a year as well ipment.htm ormula/sterilising/ atistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_074924

i am not a troll, nor blinkered, nor am i making any attempt to scare monger, and im certainly not ridiculous, i am also not a microbiologist either, i can only speak about here in the London area and can not comment about the states or France or any other counrty for that matter.

Although it is interesting that some of you have become very defensive with your replies surely this is a place for discussions rather than attacks?

emmx Sun 06-Sep-09 01:26:20

Hi there again - thanks for all the replies, which I have read with interest.

Kentmumtj - I must say you got my back up too with your words "if one of our parents stopped sterlising at that age we would consider question (sic) their motives behind it and consider it not to be in the childs best interests". Mentioning you are in "child protection" in one breath then saying the above just makes one think you are questioning my ability to be a good parent and that you think this might make my child at risk of damage in my care. He is in no danger from me or his dad at all in any way - not once in the 3 months since he was born have I even lost my temper with him once, despite having had no help whatsoever from any family or friends other than my OH, despite the sleep deprivation, getting over an emergency c-section, etc etc. I am well educated and have researched this subject too, I also think I know what my son can handle and what is safe and what is not, health wise (he is my most precious treasure). I am also worried about his health in terms of any damage being too sterile could do - after his first jabs at 8 weeks he came out in excema head to toe. I have now changed his milk from SMA to Aptamil and within two days it has started to clear, but the point someone else made about being too sterile maybe having something to do with excema and other allergies also worries me (his dad suffers badly from hayfever and I get stress-induced excema). I am scrupulously clean in terms of washing of hands and crockery and cutlery being clean so in line with others' advice/experience think that not sterilising should not be a problem. I do not want him to be one of those sickly children who catch every bug going - I grew up in the country playing in the mud, climbing trees, etc etc and I was fine and I want him to be the same. In a nutshell the fact that I was asking what others' opinions on the matter and that I might want to stop does not make me a risk to him or make me a bad parent or that he should be put on some register - what you said was quite inflammatory IMO.

emmx Sun 06-Sep-09 01:32:43

p.s. apols for this - I am very new on here.... but what do you mean when you call someone a troll? I have seen this word on several different threads and didn't know what it means. Thanks ; )

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