How to Sterilize Baby Bottles and Nipples

Published by 
Jess Miller
Last updated: 
March 24, 2023
person holding baby bottles

Your baby is most vulnerable to diseases and illnesses during the first year of his life. If you don't properly sterilize baby bottles, then you risk having bacteria build up and potentially causing your baby to become ill.

Fortunately for your baby's bottles and nipples are dead simple. Read on to find out about all the different ways to keep your baby feeding equipment sanitized.

Important points before you start sterilizing

Before you jump right in and start sterilizing your baby’s feeding gear, there are some points to consider.

1. Watch out for BPA

Plastics can contain BPA and other nasty chemicals that when heated, leach through your bay's formula or milk. Studies have linked BPA to development problems in young children.

Because the most common methods of sterilization rely on heat, it is vital that you look for baby bottles that are BPA free. Many mothers choose to use glass bottles as they widely considered the safest for young babies.

2. Always sterilize brand new bottles

Just because a bottle is brand new does not mean that it is immediately germ-free. Whenever a new bottle or nipple enters your home, be sure to properly sterilize it using the methods below before giving it to your baby.

Three baby bottles
Image Source: Pixabay

3. Be extra vigilant if your baby has been sick

If your baby has recently come down with cold or flu you will want to ensure that your sterilizing method is up to scratch. You do not want to reinfect your baby with germs from his bout of sickness.

4. Sterilize glass baby bottles

Unless the instructions indicate the contrary, glass baby bottles can be sterilized the same way as plastic baby bottles using any of the methods below.

Best baby bottle sterilizer options

There are a couple different baby bottle sterilizer options depending on your preferences. We came up with the best baby bottle sterilizers with each of the sterilizer types so you know that you're getting the top product for you and your baby.

Sterilizing baby bottles with electric steamers

There is an appliance for every problem in the kitchen and sterilizing baby bottles is no different. Simply plug in your electric bottle sterilizer and walk away, only to return when your bottles have been sanitized.

Like with the microwave method below, electric sterilizers work by using high-temperature steam to kill germs and bacteria on your baby bottle and nipples.

Some electric baby bottle sterilizers will not only rid your bottles of germs and bacteria but also deodorize and dry your bottles with hot air.

When placing bottles and nipples in electric sterilizers, be sure that the openings are facing downward. This will allow the steam to sterilize your feeding gear as efficiently as possible.

Electric sterilizers come in many different shapes and sizes. Some will allow you to only sanitize a few baby bottles at a time while others will allow you to sterilize baby bottles in bulk. Consider how many baby bottles you need to sanitize before committing to a purchase.

Electric Baby Bottle Sterilizer

  • Sterilize, deodorize and dry
  • Easy to use
  • BPA free

Sterilizing baby bottles in the microwave

By using your microwave you can quickly and effectively sanitize your baby’s bottle. There are two separate microwave methods you can use in the sterilization process.

Before you start, you need to ensure that your microwave is clean. Most people will scrub down the microwave as part of giving the kitchen a cleanup. If your microwave has food splatters coating the inside and needs some TLC then it is time to get scrubbing.

The first and easiest way to sterilize baby bottles in the microwave is to use a microwave steam sterilizer. A steam sterilizer is essentially a large container designed to fit your baby bottles.

A steam sterilizer works by, you guessed it, steaming your bottles, nipples, and caps until they are sanitized. Simply add water to the steam sterilizer, toss in the microwave and walk away. When the microwave beeps at you, collect your now sterile baby bottles.

Microwave Steam Sterilizer

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Easy to use
  • BPA free

A steam sterilizer is not your only option of sanitizing baby bottles in the microwave. While this method is not as simple and will require careful balancing, it will still satisfactorily sterilize your baby bottles.

Wash your bottles as usual before half filling each baby bottle with water. place each bottle upright inside the microwave. Microwave for approximately a minute and a half.

To sterilize your nipples and rings place them in a microwave-safe bowl filled with just enough water to cover them. Place inside the microwave for approximately a minute and a half.

Whichever method you use, make sure you wait before moving the bottles and nipples. As you are relying on hot temperatures to sterilize, you risk seriously burning yourself if you move too quickly.

Sterilize baby bottles with UV light

Sterilizing baby bottles with light. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Ultraviolet light has been used in the purification of water for quite some time now due to its ability to kill viruses, mold, and bacteria. The technology has only recently started to appear on baby products.

While there are many different devices that use ultraviolet light to sterilize, there are currently none available to sanitize your entire bottle. Sadly, the current UV devices are only large enough to sterilize your baby’s nipple or pacifier.

Despite this shortcoming, the devices are lightweight, portable and generally sterilize in under three minutes. Many mothers swear by them. They are particularly useful for taking on long car trips where you might not otherwise have a sterilizing option available.

UV Sterilizer

  • Automatic timer
  • Fits most bottles
  • Kills germs, viruses, fungi, and spores

Sterilizing in cold water

If you travel a lot then there are going to be times when you do not have access to a stove or powerpoint. It is possible to sterilize your baby bottles and nipples using tap water and a sterilizing solution.

Simply add your bottles to a container with tap water and ensure that they are fully submerged and free from air pockets. Add your sterilizing solution following the directions provided. You may need to use a plate or heavy object to keep the bottles and other feeding equipment underwater.

Be mindful that you use a clean food grade container. Avoid containers that are not purpose made, such as ice cream containers, as plastic can contaminate the sterilizing solution.

For ease of transportation, you can use sterilizing tablets rather than a solution. Their lightweight size makes them easy to throw in a bag to have on hand should you need them.

Sterilizing Tablets

  • Sterilize in 15 minutes
  • Safe for baby equipment
  • Kills germs, viruses, fungi, and spores

Do I need to sanitize my baby bottles after each use?

For the most part, you will not need to sterilize your baby’s bottles after each and every use. A thorough clean with high soapy water or by running your bottles through a dishwasher cycle should be sufficient, assuming the bottles are dishwasher safe.

While you won’t need to sanitize your baby’s bottle after each feeding it is recommended that you do not skip sterilizing completely. Once a week should be more than adequate to prevent out of control bacteria build up.

The only times you should stray from your once a week sanitizing ritual is when your baby is sick, you have a new baby bottle or you are noticing the visible build-up of grime.

When should you stop sterilizing baby bottles?

It is widely recommended that you continue to sterilize your baby’s bottles until the age of one. After the age of one, your little baby’s immune system should have developed providing a much higher tolerance to germs.

Many mothers recommend sterilizing your baby’s nipples and dummies until your little one stops using them.

My friend doesn’t sterilize, so why should I?

Ultimately sterilizing your baby bottles is a choice. Some mothers feel strongly for it while others feel that it is a waste of time.

Whichever camp you fall into, you are right. Trust your instincts.

Featured Image Source: Unsplash

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