What to sterilise and when
Babies’ immune systems aren’t fully developed, meaning they don’t yet have enough antibodies to fight off infections. This makes them susceptible to illnesses, such as the dangerous gastroenteritis that causes vomiting, diarrhoea and dehydration. Making your kitchen a germ-free zone will help. But by sterilising her feeding and weaning equipment, you know you are doing all you can to keep your baby safe.
Bottles and teats
These need sterilising throughout your baby’s first year, until her immune system is more resistant to germs. You may wonder why you should bother if your baby routinely puts toys, shoes and bits of fluff into her mouth, but even the tiniest residue of milk can be a breeding ground for bacteria. As soon as possible after a feed, wash items with a small bottle brush. Pay special attention to the teats, turning them inside out to check they’re clean and running water through the hole. Then rinse everything before sterilising. Don’t reassemble bottles, but sterilise all the separate parts together.
Don’t be tempted to use the dishwasher instead of a steriliser – your bottles may look clean, but you can’t be sure they’re bacteria-free.
These are forever being dropped on the floor so it’s essential to sterilise them, at least for the first six months. After that, the official recommendation is to give them a hot, soapy wash, squeezing out any water that gets inside.
According to official guidelines these only need to be sterilised for the first six months, after which they just need careful cleaning by hand washing or in the dishwasher. However, if you’re giving your child milk in a training cup, it’s sensible to sterilise the sippy lids.
Breast pumps and nipple shields
If you’re breast feeding and expressing milk you’ll need to sterilise all the equipment until your baby is one year old.
Bowls and other weaning equipment
If you introduce solids to your baby before six months, then you should sterilise her bowls, spoons and other feeding equipment. From six months onwards, a good wash will be sufficient.
Sterilise anything that you’re using to store expressed milk in. For containers used for storing food, a thorough wash will be sufficient once your baby is six months old.
- Keep all sterilised items covered – for example, reassemble sterilised bottles and put the cap on.
- Any sterilised equipment left uncovered should be re-sterilised.
- Always wash your hands before touching sterilised items.
- If you leave a sterilised bottle with the sealed lid on a for a couple of days you’ll find it starts to go musty, so wash and sterilise it again before use.
- Don’t be tempted to dry sterilised items with a tea towel – leave them to drip dry.
Even when you no longer need to sterilise feeding equipment, hygiene is a top priority. Some people prefer to use a dishwasher as it cleans at much higher temperatures, but hand washing is perfectly adequate – wear rubber gloves so you can get the water as hot as possible. Damp cloths can harbour germs, so dry items safely with fresh kitchen paper or a clean, dry tea towel.