If you’re like most parents, you worry excessively about the well-being of your newborn baby or infant. You want to give them the best possible care until they are old enough to really fend for themselves. From washing bed sheets to sterilizing their toys, the work required to care for a child truly never ends. One of the most prominent questions parents ask is, how often should you sterilize baby bottles?
Washing and sterilizing baby bottles can seem like a never-ending chore. Each time your child eats, you are left with yet another empty bottle that needs to be cleaned. You might be wondering if you need to sterilize it or if you can simply rinse it out and use it again. Which method is better for your baby?
When the time comes to clean your child’s baby bottles, it is important to know just how often you should sterilize baby bottles. Keep reading to learn a few tips and tricks on how to sterilize baby bottles and how often to keep up with this chore.
How to Sterilize Plastic Baby Bottles
The first thing you need to understand is how to actually sterilize your child’s baby bottles. There are several different methods you can use, depending on what you have available. Read through some of these different approaches to see which version works best for you.
Check to see if your baby bottles are dishwasher safe before you start loading up your kitchen appliances. If they are, the dishwasher is one of the simplest ways to sterilize bottles quickly with very little effort on your part. All you really need to do is neatly stack the bottles into the top rack of the dishwasher so that the water and soap have a chance to do their magic.
The key to sterilizing baby bottles in the dishwasher is to apply heat. Check the settings on your dishwasher and look for the following items:
- A hot wash cycle
- A heated drying cycle
- A sanitizing setting
Be sure to select all three of these settings if you find them on your specific model. The high heat is what kills the germs on the inside and outside of the baby bottles. If your dishwasher doesn’t come standard with these options, you may want to try the next method.
Almost everyone has all the equipment necessary to sterilize their baby bottles at home already. All you need to do is follow these five simple steps to take care of this necessary chore rather quickly.
- Get your equipment ready. Pull out your largest stock pot and fill it up with warm water from the kitchen sink.
- Take the first step. Place it on the stovetop and set the burner to medium-high heat.
- Gather up all of your bottles and nipples in one convenient location. Add all of the items into the pot of water, making sure the water completely covers them.
- Watch for the first sign of bubbles forming. Wait for the water to come to a boil.
- Finish the sterilization process. Let all of the bottles and nipples soak in the boiling water for five minutes before draining and stacking them on the counter to dry.
Some new parents opt to purchase an appliance specifically for sterilizing their baby bottles. This type of appliance makes it convenient to sterilize your baby bottles more often. They typically require very little hands-on time once they are loaded up and ready to go. Instead of using boiling water, these bottle sterilizers use steam to fully sanitize your bottles.
Moms and dads in the market for a bottle sterilizer will love this version from Papablic from Amazon (on Amazon). Not only does it disinfect your bottles with steam, but it also has two additional settings. You can opt to dry the bottles inside the machine with hot air, as well as deodorize the bottles. These are major perks, particularly if you hate the smell of old milk in your clean bottles.
Clean a maximum of eleven bottles or accessories at one given time, making this a rather large capacity machine. The best part is that the Papablic bottle sanitizer is still affordable, despite having so many extra features.
If you don’t need a high capacity bottle sterilizer, you may want to consider this option from GROWNSY. It only holds a few bottles at a time, but it has so many more functions than the Papablic bottle sanitizer.
Take advantage of some of these convenient settings:
- Baby bottle warmer
- Steam sterilizer
- Baby food heater
- Smart thermostat warmer
You get a machine that can do almost anything you need – short of actually feeding your baby!
Also check these other highly rated models from Amazon here >>
How Often Should You Wash Baby Bottles?
Sterilizing and cleaning your baby bottles are two very different processes. Many parents use the two terms interchangeably, but the differences should be noted. Sterilizing rids the bottles of all germs and bacteria. On the other hand, cleaning simply means that all of the milk has been removed from the inside of the bottle.
How often should you wash baby bottles? The easy answer is that you need to wash them after every use.
You probably won’t find it necessary to sterilize your bottles after every single use. However, you definitely need to clean them every time you finish with one. Cleaning can be a rather quick process, once you know how to do it properly.
Rinse out the leftover milk or formula first, setting aside each bottle as you do so. Fill your sink with warm soapy water and submerge the bottles. Give them a few minutes to soak and fill up with the dish detergent and water mixture.
Clean each bottle one at a time using a special baby bottle brush like this one from Dr. Brown. It has a unique shape designed to easily fit inside the neck of the baby bottle. The sponge on the end is great for cleaning the nooks and crannies at the bottom of the bottle while the bristles scrub the sides clean.
You should own one of the most convenient tools for washing your baby bottles. Without this kind of tool, you may find it nearly impossible to clean your bottles.
How Often Should You Sterilize Baby Bottles?
Now that you know how to clean your bottles thoroughly, it’s time to answer the real question: how often should you sterilize baby bottles? Experts have debated this question for years. As a result, the answers you find may vary. However, there are a few general guidelines that everyone can agree on when it comes to sanitary habits with your baby bottles.
First and foremost, you should always sterilize baby bottles before the very first use. You never know what the bottles or nipples may have been exposed to during packing or shipping. Imagine how many hands must have touched those bottles before they made their way to your home. Germs and bacteria abound on these unwashed baby bottles. You should always sanitize them immediately when you purchase them.
This same rule of thumb applies to everything you give your baby for the first time: pacifiers, bottle nipples, teething toys, and much more.
After this initial sanitization, most professionals believe that you no longer need to sanitize bottles if your baby is relatively healthy.
How Often Should You Sterilize Baby Bottles for Premature Babies?
If your child was born premature, they may have a compromised immune system that makes them more susceptible to illness. Their medical condition requires a lot more work on your part to shield them from the harmful germs they might come in contact with. It is always a good idea to sanitize your bottles more regularly if your baby was born prematurely.
Keep in mind that sterilizing your baby bottles more regularly might mean they need to be replaced sooner. The heat could cause damage to the bottle, allowing the chemicals from the plastic to seep into the contents of the bottle. While many harmful chemicals used in the production of baby bottles have been banned, this chemical leaching could still be harmful to your baby.
You should be particularly aware of this process if you are using older baby bottles that could contain BPA. Newer bottles are banned from using this material in their production. If you suspect that your bottles may contain BPA, it is best to replace them with newer versions. Amazon offers many BPA free baby bottles which we recommend to use.
Know the warning signs that your bottles need to be replaced soon. Inspect them regularly for signs of wear and tear like cracking or chipping. It is relatively easy to see when the bottle itself needs to be replaced.
Be aware you will likely need to replace the nipples before the bottle itself. They may turn colors or allow the milk to rush out to your baby. No matter how many times you clean them, they still maintain a sticky texture. Sometimes, they swell up or they might become too thin. The list of warning signs for your nipples is relatively long compared to the baby bottles.
Why Don’t You Need to Sterilize More Often?
Only sterilizing your baby bottles once doesn’t make much sense to concerned parents. Many people believe that sanitizing their baby bottles more often is better for the health of their baby. Why isn’t it necessary to sterilize baby bottles after each use?
Back in the day, many people did not have access to clean drinking water. This forced them to sanitize their baby bottles after each use in order to get rid of the germs and bacteria. Simply washing them in the sink with contaminated water wasn’t enough to thoroughly clean the bottles.
Now, most people have access to clean drinking water through their local municipality. This water is clean enough to leave your bottles sparkling clean after each and every wash.
If you don’t have access to local municipal water, you might want to sanitize your baby bottles more frequently. This includes families who use well water. To prevent the buildup of bacteria, germs, and other additives in the water, you should sterilize your bottles after every few uses. This means that you may need to replace your bottles more often, but it is better for the baby’s health.
Until What Age Do You Need to Sterilize Baby Bottles?
For many parents, bottle-feeding their child goes on for what feels like an eternity. The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to sterilize the bottles for the duration of their use. In fact, the need to sterilize baby bottles is actually quite short-lived.
The Center for Disease Control believes that you can stop sterilizing your baby bottles once your child reaches three months. At this stage of development, they have a more fully-formed immune system that isn’t as susceptible to disease and illness.
Unless your child continues to have a compromised immune system, most families are able to stop sterilizing their bottles as frequently. It won’t hurt to sterilize them once in a while just to make sure they stay clean, but it isn’t as necessary as it is in the very beginning of your child’s life.
The Final Verdict: How Often Should You Sterilize Baby Bottles?
Knowing how often to sterilize your baby bottles can feel overwhelming. There are many caveats about cleaning and sanitizing your bottles that can be difficult to keep straight. The easiest way to remember is simply to sterilize them before the first use. After this, it is unnecessary to sterilize them regularly unless your baby was premature or has a compromised immune system. On the other hand, you do need to clean or wash the bottles after each use.
Taking care of your baby is your top priority. Making sure that their bottles are clean and sterile is a huge factor in their overall health. Now that you know how often you should sterilize baby bottles, you can rest easier knowing your child is well taken care of.
Last update on 2023-01-26 at 16:22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API