Baby bottles and teats must be sterilised until your child is at least one year old.
You can stop sterilising feeding equipment once they are using cups, as they are much easier to clean.
If you're bottle-feeding, you'll need to sterilise the bottles you use to feed your baby. Simply rinsing out with soap and water isn't enough to protect your baby against harmful germs hiding in the folds of the bottle's teats and other nooks and crannies.
Sterilisation protects babies against diarrhoea and vomiting infections caused by bacteria building up in the hard to clean areas of your baby's bottles and teats. Babies are very susceptible to these kinds of infections because their immune systems are still developing. Milk is a perfect breeding ground for germs and sterilisation can kill any microorganisms hanging around in your baby's milk. So, it's best to be extra careful when preparing your baby's milk and ensure you always sterilise your child's bottles before feeding them.
Top Tip: You can even sterilise the scoop you use for the formula powder to be extra certain that all your baby's feeding equipment is as clean as possible.
When Should I Start Weaning My Baby From The Bottle?
You should try to wean your baby off the bottle by the time they turn one year old. At 12 months old babies can start transitioning from formula milk to alternative milks such as cows' milk. This is a good moment to leave the bottle behind and let your baby drink their new milk from their own special new cup or beaker.
Aim to leave the bottle completely behind by the time your child is 18 months old. The main reason for weaning babies off bottles before a certain time is that there is an increased risk of tooth decay the longer your baby is sucking on the bottle.
Babies can be very attached to their bottles so it is best to phase out bottle feeds little by little, so that the process isn't too traumatic for your child. You could consider dropping your baby's midday feed, for example, and offering some milk or water in a cup instead. You can then wait a few days before dropping another bottle.
Tried and tested methods of getting a baby to forget about the bottle include gradually putting less and less milk in the bottle, or putting water in the bottle for one of their feeds. Put the milk you would have put in the bottle into a cup instead.
Weaning will go best when your child is happy, healthy and not too tired. Don't try weaning when your baby's sick, tired or unhappy.
How To Sterilise Your Baby's Bottle
Clean your baby's bottle, teat and scoop in hot soapy water as soon as you can after their feed. Use a bottle brush to clean the bottle and a teat brush to clean the teat.
Make sure the brushes are clean before using them. You can turn the teats inside out and wash them in warm soapy water to be certain they are completely clean. Don't use salt to clean the teats as it is harmful to infants.
You can put all your baby's feeding equipment into the dishwasher if you have one, just make sure all the items are facing downwards. Rinse them all clean in cold running water before you sterilise them. A dishwasher can't sterilise bottles, teats, or scoops but can rinse them in preparation for sterilisation.
Top Tip: Bottles must be sterilised for both formula and expressed breast milk.
How To Sterilise Your Baby's Bottle
You can sterilise your baby's feeding equipment by boiling, steam sterilising or using a cold water sterilising solution.
Boiling: Make sure the bottles and teats are safe to boil first. Boil them in a large pan of water for at least 10 minutes, ensuring all the items stay under the surface of the water. Set a timer so you remember to turn the off the heat. Check the teats regularly for signs of damage, as frequent boiling can result in teats getting cracked or tearing over time.
Steam Sterilising: This method involves using an electric steriliser or microwave. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and make sure all openings face downwards in the machine.
Cold Water Sterilisation: Leave all the feeding items in the solution for at least half an hour and change the solution every 24 hours. Make sure there are no trapped bubbles of air when you put your items in the solution. Ensure all equipment is completely submerged in the liquid.
It is best to leave all equipment in the steriliser or pan until you use them. When you take the items out, attach the teats to the bottles immediately. Before handling sterilised bottles, wash and dry your hands, and make sure you put your bottles together on a clean surface.
Note: This information is correct as of July 2020, but if you have any concerns about your child's health, please contact a health professional.
Eleanor lives in Brighton with her three year old daughter. They are always on the lookout for new experiences and environments to explore and exciting new activities to do together. One of their favourite ways to spend an afternoon is the cinema, you will always find them queueing for popcorn the minute a new kids’ film is released! They love getting the train to London in search of new activities and great places to eat. Eleanor is also training as a complementary therapist in her (limited!) spare time and is very interested in the practice of mindfulness.