What are the different methods of sterilising equipment?

There are a number of safe ways to sterilise infant feeding equipment. The bottles, teats and collars should always be cleaned first to ensure no traces of milk or milk residue remain.

Steam: Electric steamers sterilise bottles in 8–12 minutes. They leave no unpleasant smell or taste but are not suitable for all equipment (i.e. breast pumps). It is important to ensure the openings of the bottles and teats are facing downwards in the steriliser and that the manufacturer’s instructions are followed.

Microwave: Steam sterilising units create steam in the microwave which sterilises bottles and teats in 8–10 minutes. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, especially concerning the correct amount of water to use. This method is not suitable for glass bottles, as glass retains heat and can become extremely hot in the time it takes to sterilise. Teats should be placed upright not laid flat, as this allows the steam to circulate to all areas of the teat.

Boiling: To sterilise a bottle by boiling, completely submerge all the feeding equipment in boiling water for 5 minutes. The water should cool before taking the equipment out and then shake off excess water.

Coldwater: Using an approved sterilisation tablet (prepare the sterilising solution according to the manufacturer’s instruction) takes about 30 minutes and is highly effective: it can touch the skin with no ill-effects. The solution should be made up in a large glass or plastic container. It is important that the bottles and teats are fully submerged in the container (no air gaps). The bottles can stay sterilised in the water for up to 24 hours.