If you are not breastfeeding your baby, it's important to ensure that your baby bottles are properly sterilized in a baby bottle sterilizer. Poorly cleaned bottles can allow bacteria to enter the baby's system, which could cause infection.
As the name suggests, a baby bottle sterilizer leaves the interior of the baby bottles sterile and free from infection. With the right equipment, sterilizing bottles is not a difficult or particularly time-consuming task. However, it is an essential task for keeping your baby healthy and infection-free.
What is a baby bottle sterilizer, and do you really need one?
A baby bottle sterilizer is a device designed to sterilize empty bottles used for feeding babies. It doesn't act like a dishwasher, so the bottles usually need to be cleaned properly first. Sterilization is achieved through very hot steam, or with sterilizing tablets in cold water.
In fact, there are four main types of sterilizers that use different ways to sterilize currently available on the market:
- Cold water sterilizers use chemicals to sterilize the equipment. With this method you supply your own container, a large basin would do, for example. The sterilizing chemicals are in tablet form and they are dissolved in cold water. The equipment to be sterilized is then soaked in the chemical solution for a minimum of 15 minutes.
- Electric steam sterilizers simply use the heat of steam to kill any dangerous bacteria. The device has its own built-in container where the baby bottles and any other items can be placed to be sterilized. You then plug the sterilizer into an electric socket and a heating element creates the steam. Full sterilization can be achieved in five to 10 minutes, depending on the sophistication of the model you have.
- Microwave sterilizers also use steam to sterilize baby bottles and other items. The device is usually a large container that can hold a number of items to be sterilized, with a securely fitting lid. The device is then placed in your kitchen microwave machine, set to the manufacturer’s instructions, and switched on. The bottles can be sterilized in as little as two minutes, depending on the power of the microwave.
- Portable UV sterilizers are relatively new to the market. This type uses ultra-violet light to kill off bacteria. On the downside, this type of sterilizer is quite expensive to purchase. However, it does have the distinct advantage of being powered by batteries and portable, and it doesn't use any liquids. This makes the UV sterilizer the ideal choice for long car journeys, or indeed any kind of public travel service.
Which type of baby bottle sterilizer is right for you? That depends…If you have a microwave and you are comfortable with using it to sterilize your baby's bottles, then a microwave sterilizer is right for you. If you feel that chemicals are a good way to sterilize the bottles, then do it that way. The portable UV type is great if you're on the move. However, the electric steam sterilizer is probably the most common and popular. They are dependable, effective and easy to use.
Babies are extremely vulnerable to all the nasty microscopic things that inhabit our world. We have built up an immunity to them, but your baby has not. In time it will, but until then it is up to you to protect your child.
Feeding your baby from a bottle that has been thoroughly cleaned and sterilized is one obvious way to help ensure your baby doesn't suffer from unnecessary bacterial infections.
Your child won't always need the security of a baby bottle sterilizer. By the time he or she is around two years old, they should have built up their immune system with enough immunity to common bacteria to be able to safely use bottles that have only been properly washed. However, you should seek professional advice first before stopping bottle sterilization as every child is different.
Keep in mind all the valuable tips you read on this page while doing your research on the best sterilizer for your situation and budget. Some things such as the chemical solutions wouldn't be the first choice for most parents, but we felt it is important at a minimum to educate on what is available so you can make the best decision for you and your baby.
If you read our "About Us" section of this website, you would recall that the founder of the company has children as well so each product created by Papablic are usually inspired from the real life experience of a parent.
Baby sterilizers are no different in this regard and the owner consistently found water residue being left behind in the bottles or baby accessories from all the popular electric type sterilizers on the marketplace at the time.
Simply using a towel or rag to clean this up wasn't reliable enough since bacteria may be introduced using that method. And the extra step of having to be sure that the towel is bacteria free just didn't seem what any busy parent wants to think about in their daily schedule.
This inspired the idea of having a simple drying function designed and included in a well-built sterilizer which is exactly how the product you see on our website came to be created.
Our Papablic baby sterilizer eliminates the concern of any potential water residue to be left behind after sterilization. With the benefits of using sanitized hot air and negative ions, one can be sure their baby products will not only be cleaned well but also dry and bacteria free. For all the details on how it actually works, read the full description on our product page.
Pros and cons of the different types of baby bottle sterilizers
The four main types of bottle feeding sterilizers work in quite different ways. They each have their good points and their not so good points. Let's break down the pros and cons of each type to see which one is best for you.
Cold water sterilizers
Pros: This type doesn't use hot steam, which makes it much safer to use. Simply dropping some tablets into cold water is a quick and easy task, especially if you are pressed for time, which most parents are.
Cons: The baby bottles and other items you need sterilized have to be fully submerged in the water and chemical solution. You also need to make sure there are no bubbles trapped anywhere for the solution to work properly. Some people may not like the idea of using chemicals to kill off bacteria, thereby exposing the baby to the chemicals.
Electric steam sterilizers
Pros: This is the most common type of baby bottle sterilizer. Using steam to kill off bacteria is a very natural process. It is also a very efficient and reliable process. Baby bottles will stay fully sterilized for up to 24 hours in the device if the lid is kept securely locked. Look for models that have a drying function for best results.
Cons: Sterilization takes around 15 minutes, which can be a small problem if you are pushed for time. There's a bit of preparation to do as well but easily manageable through proper planning and becomes part of your daily routine.
Pros: This type can sterilize a baby bottle very quickly. Also, they employ the same operating principle as electric sterilizers. The equipment is generally the least expensive to purchase.
Cons: You need to already have a microwave oven in your kitchen. Most people do, of course, but not everyone does.
Portable UV sterilizers
Pros: These sterilizers are portable, being powered by batteries. This makes them perfect for times when you are away from home. They use no liquids, which again is very suitable for times when you are traveling.
Cons: They use batteries, which will need to be replaced on a regular basis. This type is also quite expensive to purchase.
Other things you need to consider when buying a baby bottle sterilizer
Sterilizing equipment can vary considerably in size, durability, ease of use and working time. It is extremely important, therefore, to factor in these considerations when looking to buy the sterilizer that is just right for you and your needs.
Making a wrong choice will mean that you either put up with the mistake, or you will have to buy another sterilizer, which could be a costly and unnecessary experience. When you have decided which type of baby bottle sterilizer is right for you, it is time to consider the other factors as well.
Simply put, the bigger the size of the sterilizing equipment, the more baby bottles it will accommodate at a time. This can save valuable time and cut down on running costs. However, in the case of the portable UV sterilizer, it is likely that you will not want a large and bulky device.
You will also need to consider the size of the equipment of you go for a microwave sterilizer as it will need to fit into your existing microwave oven. Generally speaking, the larger the size of the equipment, the more you can expect to pay.
With a baby who needs a lot of regular feeding, the equipment will get a lot of use. You want to make sure that the sterilizer you purchase is durable enough to stand up to all the wear and tear involved.
Most baby bottle sterilizing equipment on the market today is made from plastic. This is not a problem in itself, but some plastics may be weakened by the constant intense heating routines. It is therefore best to seek out a device that is made from hardened plastic. This may cost a bit more initially but will cost less than having to purchase a replacement later on.
Ease of use
You will obviously want to purchase a sterilizer that is easy to use that doesn't require the mind of a rocket scientist to operate. Preparing a bottle of milk for your baby at 3 am is no fun, so you really do want it to be as simple a procedure as possible.
Most baby bottle sterilizers are easy to use with an intuitive operating system, but some are not. These can make your bottle preparations in the 'wee small hours' a nightmare. This is no doubt something you can easily live without.
The working time of the sterilizer is another factor to consider. Most types take around 15 minutes to fully sterilize baby bottles. The microwave type is much faster, though. It can complete the task in around two minutes in some cases.
There are many different things to consider when purchasing a baby bottle sterilizer. What works well for someone else may not work well for you. You will need to use a sterilizer of some kind for at least two years, and maybe longer if you plan to have more children. It's important, therefore, that you make the right choice. This article has hopefully set you on the right path to making that right choice.