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How to clean baby bottles and keep germs at bay

Your baby’s feeding bottles can quickly become a breeding ground for germs. Here’s how you can sterilize and clean your baby’s bottles to protect their health.

Whether you are a first-time parent or an experienced one, keeping your infant away from germs will always be at the top of your mind. If you bottle feed, either due to necessity or choice, you will often worry about how to clean baby bottles and if you are doing it right. Babies haven’t built up their immune system yet so you want to make sure they always have a safe environment. If your baby bottle smells bad, it could mean that there’s a buildup of germs in the bottle, something that could affect your baby’s health. Here is everything you need to know about how to keep bacteria and germs away when you bottle feed your little one.

How to buy a safe baby bottle

Giving your baby a clean milk bottle starts right when you are buying one.  When you are making the transition to bottle-feeding babies, choosing the right bottle. While it has become mandatory in Western countries for all baby bottles to be BPA-free, in India, you still get some that are not. In fact, in 2014 a test of all known Indian brands found that 85% had BPA. This is worrying since BPA or Bisphenol-A has been found to affect a baby’s developmental growth.

Most baby bottles and sippers are made of polycarbonates and have a lining that has BPA. Its purpose is to harden the plastic as well as prevent the plastic from reacting with the liquid. When you heat a milk bottle in a microwave or boil it in water, the BPA gets released and becomes dangerous for your child. This is also why you should not use an old milk bottle that you had kept safely away when your older child stopped bottle feeding.

How to sterilize plastic baby bottles

Milk is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and they can multiply fast in it. This makes it all the more necessary that the milk bottle is sterilized before it gets into a baby’s mouth. There are many dos and don’ts when it comes to how to sterilize plastic baby bottles. Many of them are just common sense but some might come as a surprise to you.

Before you sterilize bottles, you need to clean them to remove any surface dirt and leftover milk. Many parents buy baby bottle soap to clean the bottles. If you want to do the same, it can be bought at stores and is also available online. Whatever cleanser you use, ensure that you always use a bottle brush to reach every part of the bottle. Keep this bottle brush only for your baby’s utensils. Once the bottle is spotless, it is ready for the next stage: sterilization. If you’re wondering how to sterilize plastic baby bottles, here are some of the most effective ways.

1. Boiling water

How often have you taken a new pacifier out of its packing, maybe at the most rinsed it, and put it into your baby’s mouth? That is a big ‘dont’. New milk bottles, sippers and pacifiers must always be sterilized before their first use. Do boil the water for formula since in India we can never be sure of the quality of water even if you are using canned water. Erring on the side of caution is always the best way to go.

To sterilize your baby’s bottle, first make sure the bottle is taken entirely apart. Put it into a large pan or vessel. Completely cover it with water and keep it on a medium flame on your gas stove. Once the water comes to a boil, let it continue boiling for 5 to 10 minutes. Once done, switch off the flame. Dip the tongs in the hot water to sterilize it and use it to carefully lift out each part of the milk bottle. Never use a towel to dry it as it can contain germs as well. Instead, keep it on a clean tissue to air dry. Make sure you wash your hands with soap before you fill it with milk and never touch the tip of the nipple.

2. Dishwasher

If you have a dishwasher, check if it has a sanitizing setting as it is ideal for sterilizing bottles. However, a hot water cycle and a heat drying cycle will also do. Make sure you open out the baby bottle into its cap, ring, nipple and bottle sections. Keep all these parts in the top shelf before running the dishwasher. You can use a baby bottle cleaner liquid while dishwashing your bottles to ensure that there are no germs left on the bottle.


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3. Microwave

If the milk bottle is microwave-friendly, then you can even sterilize it quickly in the microwave. There are a few special tips on how to sterilize plastic baby bottles in a microwave. Make sure that the microwave has no splashes of food inside. It is best to wipe it clean inside with a damp cloth. Once again for this, you will have to separate the different parts of the bottle, wash it thoroughly and then put it into a large glass bowl. Cover it in water and microwave on high for about 2 minutes. Be careful when you take the glass bowl out as it is going to be hot for quite some time. Remove the bottle parts and let it air dry.

How to store sterilized baby bottles

There has always been a lot of confusion about how to store sterilized baby bottles. Many parents fill the sterilized bottles with formula or expressed mother’s milk and keep it in the refrigerator. This is perfectly safe to do, but remember, a mother’s milk has her antibodies in the milk and that will keep it safe at room temperature for up to 6 hours. However, formula must always be refrigerated until ready for use.

You can also store the empty sterilized bottles away in a kitchen cabinet till ready for use. Put all the parts back together without making it tight. Put back the bottle cover and store it safely. Correct hygiene and proper care of baby’s feeding appliances are part of daily parenting. It can sometimes feel overwhelming but do remember that babies develop resistance to most things quite fast. Soon your baby’s immune system will be strong enough to resist most common germs! For more tips on how to keep your baby healthy and safe, connect to the city’s top paediatricians on the mfine app.

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