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Sterilisers – Which one is best for you?
Until your baby is around a year old and crawling, you’ll need to sterilise all bottle and breastfeeding equipment, such as bottles, teats, discs, lids and express pumps before each use, to kill milk bacteria and prevent stomach upsets.
We’ve tested out a wide range of different types of sterilisers. Broadly speaking there are two types of sterilisers – steam sterilisers (electric or microwave) and cold water sterilisers
Steam sterilisers – use steam to clean and rid your bottles of bacteria. Some plug into the mains and use an electric plate to heat the water in the steriliser and form steam. Others can be used in the microwave by adding cold water to a sealed unit and then heating.
Cold water sterilisation – has been used for many years and uses an anti-bacterial fluid along with cold water to clean your bottles, dummies and expressing equipment. This system is particularly handy if you’re travelling or as a back-up, although some people don’t like the smell of the fluid.
Read on to see which sterilisers got the thumbs up from our MFM testers…
1. MAM Electric Steriliser & Express Warmer, £89.99
Type: Electric and microwave
This compact and versatile steriliser is one of the best of its kind– although it is at the upper end of the price scale.
What sets it apart is the fact it’s both a steriliser and a warmer – meaning it’s perfect for those who don’t want to invest the money or the space in 2 separate appliances.
As a steriliser it can be used for either electric or microwave sterilising, and it keeps your items sterile for up to 48 hours (that’s twice as long as most sterilisers).
The kit also comes with 2 Easy Start Anti Colic 160ml bottles, 2 Start Soothers and teat tongs to get you on your way.
There are 4 different warming functions available – including gentle, fast (which heats milk in just 2 minutes, 30 seconds) and a keep-warm setting, and you can also defrost milk from ice in just 10 minutes, 10 seconds. As your baby’s appetite grows, you can use it to defrost and warm up food too.
MFM judge Helen says: “I have used other sterilisers before but this was a revelation. Not only can this product be used as an electric steamer but it can also be dismantled to go into the microwave and can defrost and heat bottles and food. The different warming abilities make it perfect for both formula, breast milk and food.”
Available from: Amazon, John Lewis and Mothercare
2. Philips Avent 3 in 1 Electric Steam Steriliser, £59.99
This electric steam steriliser has a compact footprint, making it perfect for small kitchen worktops, and a speedy 6-minute sterilising cycle.
The main selling point of this item is its modular design which adjusts to 3 different sizes – the smallest setting can be used for sterilising little items such as soothers, the medium size suits breast pumps, toddler plates, knives and forks, while the largest configuration can be used to sterilise up to six bottles at once.
It can hold both standard-neck and wide-neck bottles and all the items will remain sterile inside for up to 24 hours if the lid is unopened.
It’s super easy to use and has an auto-shut-off feature which means you can switch it on and leave it until you need it. It’s simple to clean too.
Available from: Amazon, Smyths and Argos
3. Babymoov Turbo Pure Steriliser & Dryer, £79.99
This is at the upper end of the price scale for sterilisers, but it has got a nifty design and includes the option to dry your bottles.
It can fit up to six bottles inside and the unique steam stalks help clean every part. These can also be easily removed to allow you to place teats, soothers, lids and pumps in the steamer.
The sterilising cycle takes eight minutes (which is a few minutes longer than many of the other sterilisers on the market) and there are also 3 different drying cycles (the shortest of which is 30 minutes).
Once dry, bottes will remain sterile in there for 24 hours.
Just be aware – the HEPA filter (which is used in the drying cycle) needs to be replaced ever six months, and while you receive 2 in the pack, any more have to be purchased (they’re available for £8.99 from uberkids.com).
The steriliser uses an LED screen and also alerts you when limescale has built up, which is something that others don’t tend to offer.
Available from: Amazon, UberKids and Precious Little One
4. Tommee Tippee Electric Steam Steriliser, £58.99
This compact steriliser is a top choice among parents and, as you’d expect from a brand that knows its bottles, has plenty of useful features.
It’s really simple to use (just fill with 80ml of water, load and switch on), and can kill 99.9% of germs in just 5 minutes.Contents remain sterilised for up to 24 hours and it can hold up to 5 bottles (one less than some of the other options on the market).
It comes complete with 2 tiers, which is useful for sterilising smaller items, and the top one can also be removed to allow taller bottles to slot in. It may not be an all-singing and all-dancing steriliser, like the MAM Electric Steriliser & Express Warmer, but it’s a simple product that does the job.
Available from: Amazon, Mothercare and Precious Little One
5. MAM Microwave Steriliser, £29.99
Type: Microwave, cold water sterilisation
This funky-looking steriliser is an ideal option if you’re short on space and don’t want a traditional electric steamer in your kitchen. Even though it’s so compact, it can still fit up to six bottles inside, plus teats and lids, and items are sterilised in the microwave in as little as 5 minutes.
It can also be used for cold water sterilisation – a plus point if you need to sterilise while on the move or if you’re going on holiday. With its handy latches, the lid is easy to open and close and it doubles up as a drainer for sterilised items too. And if you leave lid on, the contents remain sterilised for up to 24 hours.
MFM reviewer Sarah is a big fan. She says: “The MAM Microwave Steam Steriliser is a very practical, space-saving, easy-to-use, no-leak steriliser. It’s a big plus that it can cope with different brands of bottles, breast pumps and other baby feeding accessories.”
It’s substantially cheaper than some of the electric sterilisers on the market (at about £60 less than the MAM Electric Steriliser & Express Warmer) and especially good as a second steriliser or one for other family members to have at their house.
Read our full review of the MAM Microwave Steriliser.
Available from: Amazon, John Lewis and Uber Kids
6. Nuby Natural Touch Electric Steam Steriliser, £34.99
This rocket-shaped steriliser is compact and convenient, and looks pretty stylish too. With a cycle time of just 5 minutes it’s easy to use and load, and can hold up to 5 bottles from any brand (one less than some of the other options on the market but still a substantial amount).
Like many of the other sterilisers, the contents remain sterile if the lid is closed for up to 24 hours. The steriliser comes with a free 270ml Natural Touch bottle too.
Available from: Amazon and Mothercare
7. Philips Avent Microwave Steam Steriliser Bags, £11
These microwave steam bags from Philips Avent are an ideal travel companion and sterilise items in just 90 seconds (that’s about 4 minutes quicker than many of the other more traditional sterilising options).
Each pack contains 5 reusable bags, which can each be used up to 20 times, giving you 100 sterilising cycles in total. They’re super easy to use – simply pour in 60ml of water, load your items and pop them in the microwave.
You’ll be able to fit 3 bottles in one bag and they can also be used to sterilise breast pumps and other baby products.
Available from: Amazon, Mothercare and Uber Kids
8. Tommee Tippee Single Bottle Steriliser, £9.99
Type: Microwave, cold water sterilization
At under £10, this is one of the cheapest sterilisers on the market (even coming in at less than the steam bags available from Medela and Philips Avent). It’s a simple, single bottle travel steriliser that’s useful as a backup and for when you’re on the move with your baby.
A cold water and microwave steriliser, it’s compact enough to throw into a change bag, or a (large) handbag and is also a cinch to use – simply load the basket and lid with a bottle and place it in the base unit with 80 ml of water, secure the lid and place in the microwave.
It’s ready in just 3 minutes – which is quicker than a lot of traditional steam sterilisers. However, it does only work with Tommee Tippee Closer To Nature bottles, although accessories such as teething rings can fit in too.
MFM reviewer Sarah Barker says: “This is a handy steriliser, small enough to fit in your changing bag. It helps you make feeds up one bottle at a time, and is very useful when you’re out or away from home. Just make sure you use the steam valve before opening.”
Read our full review of the Tommee Tippee Single Bottle Steriliser.
Available from: Amazon and Asda
9. Medela Quick Clean Micro-steam bags, £12.99
You probably know Medela for its breast pumps, but the brand also makes a whole host of feeding products, not least, these Quick Clean Micro-steam bags.
Portable, reusable and easy to use, these bags will sterilise bottles, pumps, nipples and all other feeding utensils in just 3 minutes (which is a little longer than the steam bags from Philips Avent).
You’ll get 5 bags in a pack, each of which can be reused 20 times. With an RRP of £12.99, they’re £2 more expensive than the bags from Philips Avent but are still a budget-friendly option.
Available from: Amazon, Boots and John Lewis
10. Milton Professional Cold Water Steriliser, £15.99
Type: Cold water sterilisation
This 5litre sterilising unit has an extra-large capacity, as well as locakable lid and carry handle. It fits up to six standard bottles and can also be used with breast pumps, soothers, teethers, toys and more.
To use, you simply fill with water, add Milton fluid or Milton tablets then place all the items you want to sterilise in the unit with the weighted grid on top. It takes 15 minutes for the items to clean (which is longer than all the other sterilisers mentioned here) and utensils can be used straight away.
The same solution can be used for up to 24 hours, so there’s no need to throw it away after one use.
Available from: Amazon, Mothercare and Precious Little One
Sterilisers – what you need to know
Things to consider before buying a steriliser:
Where you’ll use it – Will you be at home with mains electricity all the time?
Convenience – How quickly do you want the cycle to complete? Are you looking for a system that can be started the night before so that you have clean bottles in the morning?
Size – Do you need a steriliser that can take both standard and wide-necked bottles? Do you plan to use it past the bottle-feeding stage for feeding bowls and training cups when weaning? Is your kitchen spacious enough for a large sterilising unit, or do you need all the work surface space that you can get?
Just in case you forget (not likely, we know) before sterilising always:
- Clean the feeding bottle and teat in hot, soapy water as soon as possible after a feed, using a clean bottle brush (only use this brush for cleaning bottles).
- Rinse all your equipment in clean, cold running water before sterilising.
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