Whenever you decide to start bottle-feeding your baby, you have to be extra careful to maintain a high standard of cleanliness. Bacteria breeds very fast in milk and without proper hygiene your baby could end up with stomach pains and an upset stomach.
All feeding equipments, like bottles, nipples, rings, discs and caps must be washed with warm water and soap, and thoroughly rinsed. You will also need to keep a periodic check on the shape of the nipple, particularly the size of its hole as frequent sterilizing can alter it. As babies tend to use up a number of bottles initially, you will probably have to wash at least twice a day. The number of bottles that require washing will decrease as your baby grows older.
Steps to Sterilize Bottles
- Immerse the bottles, nipples, rings, discs and caps in a wide utensil or pot of warm soapy water. Using a bottle brush, clean the inside, the rim and the screw thread at the mouth of the bottles thoroughly.
- When cleaning the nipples, wash the surface, turn them inside out and scrub with a nipple brush. You can sprinkle and rub some common salt to remove the hardened milk particles.
- Wash and rinse all the equipment in clean and hot water. Let water run through the nipples to ensure the holes have not enlarged.
- For sterilizing, you can either use boiling water or a sterilizer rack. If using the first method, put all the equipment in a pot of water and boil for about 10-15 minutes. Let the pot cool with the lid on. Remove the equipment and place on a soft cloth or paper towel with a clean tong and leave to dry. If using the sterilizer rack, put the bottles upside down on the rack and other items in one of the bottle slots. Fill the steam chamber of the sterilizer with water and place the rack inside. Cover with the lid and switch on. The sterilizer will automatically switch off once the water boils and the contents are sterilized.
- Never overheat plastic bottles, especially with formula or breast milk inside. Do not store breast milk in the bottles. Fill the milk just before feeding, and always throw away any remaining milk.
- Never heat milk in the microwave as it tends to heat the particles unevenly which could burn your baby's mouth.
- Babies normally prefer slightly warm milk (not hot) as it tastes closest to breast milk, although they can also drink milk kept at room temperature as long as it's not cold.
- To warm milk, place the milk bottle in a bowl of warm water just before feeding for a couple of minutes, and then remove it.
- As your baby grows older, his appetite and ability to suck the nipple will increase. Hence, you will either have to replace the nipple with a larger hole or enlarge the opening yourself, so that the milk flows faster. It is possible to enlarge the hole if the nipple is made of latex material rather than a silicone.