Medical Q&As

Baby's bottle - keep sterilising?

I was breastfeeding but have been bottle-feeding for 12 weeks. My baby is 6 months old. How long should I use the steriliser for or will a dishwasher provide enough protection. I always wash the inside of the teat with a special brush.

Since your baby is now six months old I don’t think it is necessary for you to continue with a strict regime of sterilising bottles. I am sure that many of our site members may be horrified by that comment but I do believe that we have become overly fastidious in relation to sterilising teats and bottles and many people continue with a strict regime until the baby is one year old, which I would consider to be totally unnecessary. Your current practice of cleaning the bottle and teat and then washing in the dishwasher is sufficient. I am not advocating a reckless and slovenly approach to bottle hygiene but I am not convinced that adherence to a strict regime is necessary for longer than the first six months. The world in which we live is not a sterile environment and I would be concerned that in our obsessive desire for strict hygiene our children are not being exposed to the relatively harmless bacteria and viruses that share the world we live in. It is necessary for children to be exposed to such agents in order to develop immunity. We develop our resistance to disease by having our immune systems challenged on a regular basis. Immunity is something that is acquired. It has been suggested that the upsurge in the incidence of allergic conditions may be related to excessive use of disinfectant and other hygiene products in the home. We all need a certain level of exposure to what older Dubliners refer to as “clean dirt”. In summary your current practices are perfectly adequate.