How to sterilise baby bottles to prevent hepatitis

So yesterday was World Hepatitis Daywhich is a virus or infection and can result in a pretty serious disease and inflammation of the liver. When it comes to your baby’s health and well being you can never be too safe or too clean.

There are 5 types of Hepatitis , which you can google and get more info on but the basics are:

  • Hepatitis A Virus (HAV)
  • Hepatitis B Virus (HBV)
  • Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)
  • Hepatitis D Virus (HDV)
  • Hepatitis E Virus (HEV)

Hepatitis can be caused by one of six categories: infectious, metabolic, ischemic, autoimmune, genetic, and other.

Signs and symptoms of acute hepatitis

Signs and symptoms of acute hepatitis appear quickly. They include:

  • fatigue
  • flu-like symptoms
  • dark urine
  • pale stool
  • abdominal pain
  • loss of appetite
  • unexplained weight loss
  • yellow skin and eyes, which may be signs of jaundice

One of the scary things is that sterilising baby’s bottles and dummies is soooo important to eliminate any chance of contamination. With my first baby I was obsessed with sterilising everything and with baby number 2, I have become less so.

Well wake up! Doing some research for this article has gotten me back on the straight and narrow and I have become fastidious again about sterilisation, much to my husband’s disappointment about how items that drop on the floor only build up a baby’s immunity. Yes my Love, that is true, but let’s be realistic in this society that we live in – our daughters can build up their immunity through many other ways and still be healthy and safe without contracting hepatitis. So the most important way to look after baby’s immune system health is to sterilise bottles and other feeding utensils.

The most important thing about sterilising baby’s bottles is to determine how you are going to do it and what resources you have available. Residue of breast-milk and formula in bottles can result in the growth of bacteria; leading to hepatitis A, rota virus and other foodborne illnesses which is why good cleaning and sterilisation is vital!

Many moms have the living daylights scared out of them about using infant formula and the high admin required to clean and sterilise bottles.  But the truth is that whether infant formula or breast-milk  is used in bottles, the same high level of sanitation needs to be applied and you need to educate yourself and others on the “why” and “how to” sterilise to prevent cases of contamination.

Regular, thorough cleaning of your baby bottles should prevent any residue from forming in the first place. So let’s unpack this:

How do I sterilise?

Let’s first take a step back – bottles, teats and accessories need to be cleaned out very well once they have been used using warm, clean water and soap.

Be sure to get into those hard to reach places which many modern day bottles come standard with – special colic funnels, air reduction intake valves, nipples/teats etc. Use a bottle brush and cloths that are only used for your bottles and not for your normal household pots and pans or cloths that have had household cleaning detergents on.

Try to wash your bottles separately to the rest of your normal eating and food preparation utensils to avoid cross contamination as well as possible grease and oil residues being transferred to the bottles.

After cleaning remember to rinse your bottles really well to get excess detergent off.

Question: Can I wash my bottles in the dishwasher?

Yes, you certainly can but again remember to try and wash bottles separately to other items and place the small loose bits such as the teats, lids etc. in a basket to avoid them moving inside the dishwasher.

TIP: It is important to empty out and rinse every bottle after every use to avoid bacteria build up AND the really offensive smell of old milk (formula or breast) – Gross!!

If you are battling to get off milk stains in the bottles make a solution of equal parts of white vinegar and water and allow bottles to stand for about 10 minutes to remove the stains and then rinse well.

If you cannot get rid of a stale milk odour in your bottles then fill with a bit of warm water and a teaspoon of baking powder. Shake well and leave overnight, rinse and smell . . . Happiness!

The main principal behind sterilisation is to ensure that the water temperature is hot enough to kill germs and bacteria .

The simplest way to sterilise is to fill a large pot on the stove with water, bottles and bottle accessories and boil for a minimum of 5 minutes. Be very careful that you do not burn yourself when taking out the items and that there are no little hands around to grab the pot or the recently boiled items.

Never come close to boiling water with your child close to you, including on your hip. 

The other alternative to this tried and trusted method is to use more modern or conventional methods such as steam and microwave sterilisers, sterilising solutions and you now even get formula “espresso” machines that sterilise too.

Your dishwasher will usually also sterilise your items as part of the run cycle as long as the water temperature gets hot enough (check the manual). Check that your bottles are dishwasher safe and that all the equipment that you want to put into your electric steriliser are suitable – some breast pump pieces are not suitable to go in an electric steamer.

If you are planning to use a sterilising solution, which you use cold water for, then be sure to use a separate container for your feeding equipment such as a bucket with a lid or a plate on top. The sterilising mixture must be changed every 24 hours. Your bottles will now be ready to use so keep them in their steamers or solution until ready to use.

Remember at all times: clean, sterlise and prepare your bottles with clean hands and in a clean working area.

Don’t begrudge the time it takes to sterilise bottles, rather think of how you are contributing to the health, safety and long term happiness of your baby.