By Ma. Theresa Galan
During the first year of your baby’s life, he’s at his most vulnerable to illnesses. If you don’t sterilize your baby’s bottles, viruses, bacteria and parasites can gather on his bottle and in his milk and make him ill.
Your baby could develop anything from mild thrush to a more serious bout of vomiting and diarrhea. It’s not possible or practical to create a totally germ-free environment for your baby. But by sterilizing your baby’s feeding equipment, you can reduce the risks while he’s at his most vulnerable.
Before you sterilize, you’ll need to clean the used bottles thoroughly. Wash the bottles, along with the teats, retaining rings and caps, so that every trace of milk is removed.
It’s best to do this as soon as possible after a feed, before the milk has had a chance to dry on. Use clean hot, soapy water and a clean bottle brush (DH 2009). Take extra care when washing the teats to make sure any stubborn milk curds come off, as these can survive the sterilizing process. When you’ve washed everything, carefully rinse off all the detergent.
You can also use a dishwasher to wash your baby’s bottles, as long as the bottles are suitable for this. You may want to wash the teats separately, though, to be sure they’re totally clean.
Check teats and bottles carefully and throw out any which are badly scratched, split or cracked. Bacteria can stay in damaged surfaces and survive the cleaning and sterilizing process (DH 2009).
When you need to make a feed, clean and disinfect the work surface you’re going to use. Then wash and dry your hands. Take a sterilized bottle from the sterilizer and put it on the clean surface. Use sterilized tongs to place the teat, lid, retaining ring and cap out ready, preferably on the upturned lid of the sterilizer (DH 2009).
Make sure you don’t leave the sterilized empty bottles out for long, as they will quickly lose their sterility. This is not usually a problem when sterilizers have built-in storage facilities and bottles can be removed when required. If you can’t do this, re-sterilize any equipment that you’ve taken out and haven’t used straight away (DH 2009).
By the time your baby is one year old he’ll have started to produce his own antibodies and be more resistant to harmful germs. However, it’s a good idea to carry on sterilizing bottles, dummies and teats until your baby stops using them.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Graeme Stephens has been running the largest owned carpet cleaning company in new Zealand for 24 years. IICRC qualified “master restoration technician”.