Your baby’s immune system is not fully developed in the first few months. It depends on you to stay healthy. It needs clean and germ-free surroundings. Along with cleaning the house and sanitizing every surface the baby comes in contact with, you should take care of all the objects your baby uses. The baby bottle is one of the objects that your baby uses the most. Keeping this clean is essential.
Yes, we know that cleaning is important. But how do we know if we are cleaning the right way? Is there something like too much cleaning? A whole host of questions crowd our minds when we talk about anything related to our baby’s health. Read on to know more about the best ways to keep the bottle clean.
First things first.
The advantages of a clean bottle
The most important one is that a clean bottle means that your baby is not being exposed to germs while feeding. When you clean your baby’s bottle after every feed, you make sure that it is free from any residual food. Liquid foods like milk and formula tend to leave a sticky residue film on the bottle. A simple rinse may not be sufficient.
You must clean your baby’s bottle after every feed in warm, soapy water. Use a bottle brush with soft bristles. You can also use a sponge that will not cause abrasions on the surface of the bottle. It is not advisable to use the same scrub as you use for all your other utensils. This is because these might be harsh on the material of the bottle. These could cause scratches or abrasions. Cracks, scratches, and abrasions are great hiding places for germs and bacteria.
Cleaning also keeps your baby’s gut healthy. Since their digestive systems are not yet ready to process threats, they need all the help ensuring that no harmful substances are entering their bodies. Without proper cleaning, a baby feeding bottle is a carrier of germs and diseases. Cleaning the bottle prevents illnesses such as
- Food poisoning
- Stomach aches and flu
Sometimes, they could also be exposed to more acute maladies like Hepatitis A or rotavirus.
How often should you clean the bottle?
Ideally, you should clean the bottle thoroughly after every feed. This is important to prevent germ buildup. It is also necessary to wash out any food that remains in the bottle. Normally, owing to the fat content in milk, a thin film of residue remains in the bottle. A clear glass bottle or a clear plastic one is usually more reliable to check for cleanliness.
If you are not sure if the bottle is clean or not, run the tip of your finger along the inner rim of the bottle. If you feel that it is slippery, then chances are that the bottle is not clean. In the case of a metal feeding bottle, you have to take extra care, as it is not visible from the outside.
In the same way, check the teat or nipple for milk or baby food. Rinse this thoroughly. The teat usually contains the last drops of food. It is important to wash the nipple properly.
Another reason to clean the baby bottle following every feed is that the bottle could have come in contact with various surfaces. Your baby may have dropped the bottle after feeding on it. The bottle could have fallen to the floor or the bed. It could have come in contact with some dust or germs.
Ways to clean your baby’s bottle
Cleaning a bottle involves a few steps. It is not a simple rinse.
- Remove the teat of the feeding bottle
- Warm-up some water
- Using running water, rinse the bottle and teat to remove any residual food particles
- Use a bottle brush to remove any stubborn residue
- Rinse with the warm, soapy water
- Pour some soapy water into the bottle and give it a good swish around
- Rinse again with some warm water to remove any residual detergent
You can use a dishwasher for cleaning the bottle. But you must make sure that it is not cleaned along with all the other utensils. Check the label of your bottle to make sure that it is dishwasher-safe. Many baby bottles are susceptible to cracks and breaking if they come in contact with metallic utensils. Any remaining food or food coloring on the other utensils could also prove problematic while cleaning the baby bottle.
It is not important to use a sterilizer to clean your baby’s bottle every single time. For the first three months of your baby’s life, we recommend that you sterilize the bottle regularly. As your baby grows, its immune system becomes more robust. You do not need to be constantly vigilant about germs at this point.
While cleaning, you must make sure that you are using the right materials.
- Any harsh detergents could compromise the quality of the plastic that your bottle is made of.
- If you are using a bottle that is not EA or BPA-free, then check the temperature of the water you are using. Harmful chemicals can leach into your baby’s food if the plastic is not EA-free.
- Metal scrubs could cause scratches and abrasions to the bottle. These become optimum hiding places for germs and food residue.
- Worn-out bottle brushes could do more harm than good. These could scratch the surface of the bottle. These could make the bottle less safe for use.
- Bleaches and harsh chemicals are not regular cleaning materials. These could cause severe illness and could prove fatal if not diluted.
Is there a difference between cleaning and sterilization?
Yes, cleaning your baby’s bottle is different from sterilizing it. Although both result in the bottle being germ-free and safe for use, you do not need to sterilize the bottle after every use. Cleaning a bottle involves making sure that there is no food left from the previous meal. But cleaning is not enough if your baby has been ill, or if anyone else in the house has had a contagious illness.
Sterilization involves a more thorough cleaning. You can sterilize using
- Hot water
- UV light
- Sterilization pills
- Diluted bleach solution
A sterilized bottle is more germ-free than a washed one. However, manufacturers of baby feeding bottles do not recommend sterilizing the bottles after every use. This is because the bottle is usually subjected to a lot of heat during sterilization. This could affect the plastic that they are made of. In the same way, glass bottles could crack after being exposed to too much heat.
Sterilization with hot water requires you to immerse the bottles and their accessories, such as teats and covers, in a pan containing boiling water. This is not recommended for those bottles that are not made of high-quality plastic. When sterilizing the bottles using this method, it is important to stay away from the heat and steam. Boiling water burns easily and can cause scarring.
In case you are traveling, and do not have access to clean water, sterilization is a good option before reusing a bottle to feed. Sterilization pills are available for this. All you need to do is to fill a utensil with water, immerse the feeding bottle and teat in it, and drop in the pill. Different ones require different durations of time, so read the instructions carefully, for best results.
What to remember
A healthy baby is a happy baby. There is no shortcut to good health. So, keeping your baby disease-free is a priority at all times. Along with the right food, a clean bottle goes a long way to keeping your baby without illness. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind about keeping the bottle clean.
- Clean the bottle after every use to remove food and germs.
- It is important to wash the bottle out and clean the grooves around the mouth of the bottle.
- The nipple or teat needs to be cleaned as well.
- Do not use harsh detergents.
- Organic detergents and cleaning agents are safer to use than chemical ones.
- While washing, check for cracks, dents, abrasions, and drastic color changes.
- Use a clean sponge while cleaning.
- Do not use very hot water.
- Check if the wipes, brushes, or sponges need to be replaced.
- Air dry in a clean place after washing.
- If you live in a place where there is no access to clean water, boil the water and let it cool down a bit before using it to wash the bottles.