baby-bottles-being-sterilised-from-hepatitis
Image: PHENPHAYOM/Shutterstock

With my first baby, I was obsessed with sterilising bottles and everything else, but less so when baby number two came along. After doing some research for this article, I was back on the straight and narrow and relearnt how to sterilise baby bottles fastidiously.  

This was much to my husband’s disappointment – he’s committed to the old school of thought that dropping items on the floor only builds up a baby’s immunity. Well, sure love, that’s true. But let’s be realistic – children can build up their immunity in many different ways while remaining healthy, safe, and Hepatitis free.

How is Hepatitis linked to your baby’s bottle?

Breast milk and formula residue in bottles can result in the growth of bacteria, leading to Hepatitis A, Rotavirus and other foodborne illnesses.”

Many moms are warned about using infant formula and the high admin required to clean and sterilise these bottles. 

However, when it comes to your baby’s health and well-being, you can never be too safe or too clean. And the truth is that whether you use infant formula or breast milk in these bottles, you have to apply the same high level of sanitation.

sterilising baby bottles to prevent hepatitis: baby with finger on a bottle

It’s important to be educated about this and have the know-how to sterilise bottles to prevent contamination. Regular, thorough cleaning of your baby bottles and other feeding utensils should prevent any residue from forming in the first place. 

However, sterilisation is an assured way of eliminating any harmful microorganisms that could cause your baby to become sick. Before starting the process, you need to determine how you’re going to do that and what resources you have available.

What is Hepatitis? 

Hepatitis is a viral infection that can result in serious disease and inflammation of the liver. This illness can fall into six different categories: infectious, metabolic, ischemic, autoimmune, genetic, and other. 

It can either be acute, where the virus is in your blood from a few weeks to a few months or chronic hepatitis, which is when it remains in your system for more than six months. There are five types of hepatitis:

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

Signs and symptoms of acute hepatitis

The signs and symptoms of acute Hepatitis appear quickly, whereas chronic Hepatitis takes longer. Symptoms include: 

  • Tiredness
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Dark urine
  • Pale stool
  • Pain in the abdomen 
  • Appetite loss
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Yellow skin and eyes (which could also be indicators of jaundice)

sterilising baby bottles to prevent hepatitis: baby sleeping

Sterilising baby bottles

So your newborn is ready to be introduced to the bottle. Besides the typical questions of which formula to choose, you may find yourself wondering if it’s necessary to sterilise your baby’s bottles. 

Keeping these and other feeding equipment clean is non-negotiable. Keep reading to learn how sterilisation eliminates harmful bacteria or viruses such as Hepatitis from your baby’s bottles. 

Why sterilise baby bottles?

Sterilisation is an extra step that goes beyond the general cleaning of bottles. The main reason for this is to eliminate all germs so that your baby remains happy and healthy. 

In the past, sterilisation was a necessity as water supplies weren’t the cleanest. Although that’s luckily not the case nowadays, sterilising your baby’s bottle is still an important step in keeping them safe from harmful germs.

When should I sterilise a baby bottle? 

As mentioned before, sterilisation isn’t quite as necessary as it once was due to safer water supplies. However, there are several instances where you should definitely sterilise bottles. 

  • Using borrowed or second-hand bottles 
  • If the baby, or anyone else in the household, has been sick 
  • If you don’t have access to safe, clean water 
  • Where a baby is premature or has other health issues
  • When you have bought new bottles  

After about three months of age, your baby should have a stronger immune system, and you won’t have to worry about sterilising as frequently.

sterilising baby bottles to prevent hepatitis: baby bottle

How to sterilise bottles

Bottles, teats and other feeding accessories need to be cleaned out very well after use with warm, clean water and soap. This needs to be done before sterilisation. You should also use a special bottle brush and cloths to clean your baby’s equipment so that it isn’t exposed to other household items and cleaning detergents. 

It’s also best to try to wash your bottles separately from your normal eating and food preparation utensils to avoid cross-contamination or transferring grease and oil residues. Be sure to get into those hard-to-reach places like special colic funnels, air reduction intake valves, teats, etc. After cleaning, rinse the bottles under cold water to remove excess detergent.

Now it’s time to get to the actual sterilisation process. There are several ways you can do this, such as using boiling water or serialisation products. 

How to sterilise baby bottles in boiling water

This is the simplest sterilisation method, but to be effective, you must ensure the water really does start to boil as the bacteria will only be killed if the temperature is hot enough. 

Simply fill a large pot with water, pop in the baby bottles and accessories, put it on the stove and boil for approximately 5 minutes. Be very careful not to burn yourself when removing the items from the water and that there are no little hands around to grab the pot or the recently boiled items. Never get close to boiling water when your child’s close to you, including on your hip. 

sterilising baby bottles to prevent hepatitis: boiling water on a stove

Alternative methods of sterilisation

If you want to try an alternative, modern sterilisation process to the above-trusted method, then you’ve got plenty of options. Steam and microwave sterilisers and sterilising solutions are just two popular ways. There is even a formula “espresso” machine that can sterilise too. 

Your dishwasher may 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 you want to put into your electric steriliser can handle getting wet – some breast pump pieces are not suitable to go in an electric steamer.

If you’re planning to use a sterilising solution designed for use in cold water, 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. Keep the bottles in the steamers or solution until you’re ready to use them.

Can I put a baby bottle in the dishwasher?

Does the dishwasher sterilise baby bottles? Yes, it does – if the water temperature is high enough. Remember to wash them separately from other items and place the small, loose bits such as the teats, lids etc., in a basket to avoid them moving around inside the dishwasher.

Tip: It’s important to empty out and rinse off every bottle after each use to avoid bacteria build-up and the really offensive smell of old milk (formula or breast).

sterilising baby bottles to prevent hepatitis: dishwasher

More cleaning and sterilisation tips

If you’re battling to remove milk stains in the bottles, prepare a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water and allow bottles to stand for about 10 minutes before rinsing them well. 

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

Always remember to wash, sterilise and prepare your bottles with clean hands and in a hygienic working area. Don’t begrudge the time it takes to sterilise bottles. Rather, think of how you’re contributing to the health, safety and long-term happiness of your baby.

amanda-rogaly-babyyumyum-founder
Amanda Rogaly is the Founder and Chief Mommy of #1ParentingPortal, BabyYumYum. She is passionate about empowering parenting, leveraging her own parenting journey to educate and inspire others. She was inspired to create BabyYumYum for real parents who understand the stresses and challenges of life.