Do you really need a steriliser for your newborn?

Posted in Parenting Essentials.

If your pre-baby checklist includes buying a steriliser, you’ve probably had your friends and family offer advice about whether you actually need one. We’re going to present you with three methods of sterilising, so if you’re not sure you really need a dedicated steriliser for your newborn, come and have a read.

It’s important to remember that newborns have an immature immune system, and therefore they need to be protected from possible infection. It’s recommended that bottles and anything you use to prepare them are sterilised until your baby is 12 months old. This part of the argument isn’t really up for debate – it’s something experts and professionals agree on, whether your baby is fed with formula or expressed breast milk. Remember too that if you breastfeed but occasionally express with a pump, the pump components also need to be sterilised. So the real question is which sterilising process suits your lifestyle the best.

The boiling water method

This is the method that most of our mums and grandmothers used to sterilise bottles – I can remember my mum telling me she nearly burnt down the whole house after she forgot she was boiling bottles on the stove when I was a baby! It’s relatively easy, but you do still need some special equipment.

bottle of milk are washing in plastic green basin

You’ll need to make sure you have a bottle brush, and a large pot. Before you sterilise the bottles, you will still have to wash them after a feed in soapy water – using the brush to scrub the inside of both the bottles and teats, then rinse everything well.

Once everything is rinsed, put the bottles and teats in a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to the boil, letting it boil for five minutes. Turn it off and let everything cool in the pot so that you can handle everything safely. If you’re not using the sterilised equipment straight away, store it in a container in the fridge.

You also have to ensure that the equipment you’re using, like the bottle brush, is also regularly boiled so it doesn’t breed bacteria (every 24 hours is a good guide).

This method is best done when small children are not around, or make sure you stand close to the boiling pot while it’s on the stove.

The chemical method

There are special chemical solutions that you can use to sterilise baby bottles – they’re antibacterial and safe for babies.

This process involves completely submerging all feeding equipment into a mixture of the solution or tablets and water, after everything has already been rinsed with soapy water.

You’ll need to follow the individual instructions on each different type of solution, and each will detail a time to leave the equipment in the solution before it’s fully sterilised. Many also say you can leave the bottles in the solution until you need to use them (in which case you’ll need a safe place to put it all, out of the reach of little hands). The equipment doesn’t need rinsing before being used, and the solution can be used for 24 hours before it needs to be replaced and the container cleaned with soapy water.

The electric steriliser method

This is probably the easiest of all the methods, and is very effective. It’s pretty straightforward – load the pre-washed bottles and feeding equipment, add water, and press the button. As long as you keep the unit shut, everything inside remains sterilised for 24 hours. It’s this sort of modern convenience that makes our mums jealous – lamenting that we have it so much easier! Obviously an electric steriliser requires more financial outlay than the other methods, but it may be worth it to you if you’ll be needing to sterilise bottles (and breast pump parts) frequently.

So there you have it, the three most widely-used methods of sterilising baby equipment. Here’s my two cents – I used an electric steam steriliser for my children’s feeding equipment (they were on expressed breast milk – so I also sterilised parts of my electric breast pump), and it was a godsend. I originally started out using the stovetop boil method, and while it worked well, I found it pretty inconvenient to constantly have bottles boiling on the stove. Several minor burns later, I went for the electric steriliser option and didn’t look back. It took up precious little room on the countertop, and it was no problem to sterilise one bottle, or six and a bunch of teats. And I was really happy that I was using nothing more than steam to keep the germs at bay.

The decision is completely up to you, but I’m one of those mums that tends to think, if there’s an easier way to do something, why make life any more complicated than it already is when you’re juggling a newborn?


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