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How to Sterilize Bottles

Instructor: Ian Lord

Ian has an MBA and is a real estate investor, former health professions educator, and Air Force veteran.

In this lesson, we will review techniques to safely sterilize baby feeding bottles in order to prevent the reproduction of germs that could cause an infant to become ill.

Bottle Sterilization Methods

Dianne's pediatrician has suggested that she sterilize the bottles used to feed her newborn infant, Jake. This is important because in the first year of a baby's life, the immune system isn't as strong and the baby is more susceptible to disease. Sterilization will kill any microorganisms that remain in the bottles, reducing the chances of Jake getting sick from bacteria that might grow inside. Let's take a look at some of the methods Dianne can use to safely and effectively sterilize bottles.

Heat

Before sterilizing bottles, Dianne needs to be sure that the bottles are clean. Clean means free of any dirt, debris, milk, or formula. This can be accomplished by rinsing the bottles in the sink with soap and water or using a dishwasher. If anything remains in the bottle, it's possible that some of the surface area cannot be properly sterilized. Once the bottles are disassembled and clean, they are ready to be sterilized.

Boiling is a cheap and effective way to kill microorganisms. Bottles can be put in a boiling pot of water on the stovetop and are effectively sterilized after 10 minutes in the boil. To ensure complete sterilization, the bottles must be fully submerged and filled with water. However, Dianne should be aware that boiling has a tendency to damage bottle nipples more than other methods, so she will need to carefully inspect them and will have to buy replacements more often.

Another option is to steam the bottles. Electric steam sterilizers or special microwave racks heat water so that steam can reach the surfaces of the bottles and nipples. These methods require additional equipment that must be purchased and cleaned, but they can also be used to provide a convenient place to store unused bottles.

Chemicals

A simpler option is for Dianne to use chemicals to sterilize her baby bottles. All Dianne has to do is submerge the bottles and nipples in a food-safe container filled with cold water and a tablet intended for sterilizing baby bottles. The items soak in the solution for the specified amount of time on the package and are safe to fill with milk or formula once drained. Any chemicals that remain on the surfaces are safe to an infant. If Dianne is concerned about the chemicals, she can rinse the bottles first with water that has been boiled.

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