It's important to sterilise all your baby's feeding equipment, including bottles and teats, until they're at least 12 months old.
This will protect your baby against infections, in particular diarrhoea and vomiting.
Before sterilising, you need to:
- Clean bottles, teats and other feeding equipment in hot, soapy water as soon as possible after feeds.
- Use a clean bottle brush to clean bottles (only use this brush for cleaning bottles), and a small teat brush to clean the inside of teats. You can also turn teats inside out then wash them in hot soapy water. Do not use salt to clean teats, as this can be dangerous for your baby.
- Rinse all your equipment in clean, cold running water before sterilising.
You can put your baby's feeding equipment in the dishwasher to clean it if you prefer. Putting feeding equipment through the dishwasher will clean it but it does not sterilise it. Make sure bottles, lids and teats are facing downwards. You may prefer to wash teats separately by hand to make sure they are completely clean.
The advice about how to clean your baby's feeding equipment applies to all of the equipment, and whether you are using expressed breast milk or formula milk.
How to sterilise baby feeding equipment
There are several ways you can sterilise your baby's feeding equipment. These include:
- cold water sterilising solution
- steam sterilising
Cold water sterilising solution
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- Leave feeding equipment in the sterilising solution for at least 30 minutes.
- Change the sterilising solution every 24 hours.
- Make sure there are no air bubbles trapped in the bottles or teats when putting them in the sterilising solution.
- Your steriliser should have a floating cover or a plunger to keep all the equipment under the solution.
Steam sterilising (electric steriliser or microwave)
- It's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions, as there are several different types of sterilisers.
Sterilising by boiling
- Make sure the items you want to sterilise in this way are safe to boil.
- Boil the feeding equipment in a large pan of water for at least 10 minutes, making sure it all stays under the surface.
- Set a timer so you do not forget to turn the heat off.
- Remember that teats tend to get damaged faster with this method. Regularly check that teats and bottles are not torn, cracked or damaged.
After you've finished sterilising
- It's best to leave bottles and teats in the steriliser or pan until you need them.
- If you do take them out, put the teats and lids on the bottles straight away.
- Wash and dry your hands before handling sterilised equipment. Better still, use some sterile tongs.
- Assemble the bottles on a clean, disinfected surface or the upturned lid of the steriliser.
Find out more about expressing breast milk and how to make up formula feeds.