Sterilizing Your Bottles Isn’t Enough

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Sterilization sounds pretty serious, right? Some think of sterilizing bottles as a “super-cleaning” that kills everything on that bottle that’s going to feed your precious little babe. But they would be mistaken.

Firstly, the actual recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics is that if your water is safe enough to drink, sterilization is not required. Cleaning thoroughly with hot soapy water is enough.

But we understand parents. And for some, regardless of the current AAP recommendation, taking that extra step of sterilization is not something they are willing to skip. It’s an extra bout of assurance that they are feeding your baby with something that is truly clean. And that’s a-okay. Sterilization is an effective way to kill the bacteria present on the bottle. But sterilization alone is not enough.

When sterilizing your bottles, it is imperative that they be cleaned thoroughly first. Sterilization does not replace a thorough cleaning. Cleaning uses hot water, soap, and abrasion to remove leftover milk or formula from the bottle along with any dirt, grime, or bacteria. Sterilization then is an extra step that guarantees all bacteria on the bottle has been killed. But, if you sterilize a bottle that has not been cleaned first, the dried-on milk or formula is still there. And you know what you get when you sterilize dried-on formula, breastmilk, or grime? You just get sterilized formula, breastmilk, or grime; nothing more. Sterilizing does not remove it. And that is important.

So when it comes to keeping your bottles safe for baby, clean them. Clean them thoroughly with hot soapy water each time they are used. If you would like to take the extra step of sterilizing, certainly do so. Even though the AAP doesn’t make a formal recommendation for it, there is not a recommendation against it. It is perfectly safe to sterilize your baby’s clean bottles. And if you don't want to bother with sterilization, don't sweat it. The AAP itself tells us that you are already doing enough by thoroughly cleaning your bottles after each feeding.