Infants are very delicate and prone to illnesses during the first year of their life. It is imperative that everything that is in reach of the baby is clean and hygienic – clean sheets, timely change of diapers, clean clothes, and clean feeding equipments. Bottles, if not sterilized, can be home to bacteria and viruses causing infections which may take a serious turn sometimes. A feeding bottle goes straight into the baby’s mouth, thus there is no room for a slip up/ Following these steps after each feed will ensure that you little bundle of joy stays hale and healthy-
(a) Cleaning the bottle: Once your baby finishes her feed, throw away if there is any milk left. Clean bottle, teat, rings and lids with hot soapy water. Use brush to clean the bottle from inside. Make sure there are no milk traces on the bottle and there is no dried milk stuck on teat. Once you clean it nicely with hot soapy water, rinse it well with fresh water. This is done to make the bottle look clean and to ensure there are no traces left inside the bottle but it does not make it germ free.
(b) Sterilizing: Yes! This is what needs to be done to make it germ and bacteria free. There may be many harmful germs clinging to the teat and other parts of the bottle. These days you have various options to sterilize the bottle equipments.
- Boiling: The most common and traditional method of sterilizing the baby’s bottle is to boil all the feeding equipments in water. Take a clean container filled with water (enough water to cover all the bottle parts).Place bottle, teat, lid (all feeding equipment) in container and bring it to boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Allow it to cool .Before touching these sterilized items wash your hands .If you are not using it immediately, keep all these in clean container in a refrigerator. However, this is preferable if you are using glass bottles, since heating plastic bottles could cause release of some chemicals used to make them.
- Microwave sterilization: Bottles can be sterilized in microwave without buying microwave sterilizers. Some purchase microwave sterilizers due to its advantage of no smell from bottle after sterilizing it. For using these you need to follow the instructions given by the manufacturer (the amount of water and time needed to sterilize the equipment). Preferable for plastic bottles.
- Electrical sterilizers are also available in the market.
- Chemicals: Some use chemical sterilizers; it comes in a liquid or tablet form that can be diluted with water. These are very effective in killing bacteria. After cleaning the bottle equipments with hot soapy water, you need to soak them for recommended amount of time. For making the solution in right quantity, follow the instruction given with these chemical sterilizers.
(c) Make sure to keep the entire sterilized items in an airtight container in the refrigerator if you are not using them immediately.
You should continue sterilizing all the bottle equipments until your baby becomes one year old. It is good to start getting rid of bottle feeding habit once she/he becomes an year old as there are many new and solid items that can be included in their menu by now. You may start using cups or small glasses for milk.