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How to Choose the Best Baby Bottle Sterilising Method

Updated on October 17, 2016

Planning for a baby is hard work. There are so many options to choose from for every little thing you need to buy, and everyone has an opinion on what works best. Bottle sterilisers are one of those things that you want to get right so that it's easy and convenient for you as well as your baby.

Sterilising your baby bottles is vital to keeping your baby healthy and free of illness. Bottles always need washing after use as you do with all of your dishes, however there is the one extra stage of sterilising to consider. Sterilising bottles and feeding equipment will kill off any harmful viruses and bacteria that your little one's vulnerable immune system cannot fight at such a young age.

Different people choose different methods; finding an option that works for them. We look at what each option involves and their pros and cons.

Please note that not all bottles and feeding equipment are suitable for each method and you should check this prior to buying them. Also check that the washing of your feeding equipment is suitable for the dishwasher or whether they need to be hand washed.

Electric Sterilisers

Probably the most modern method of sterilising baby bottles is the use of an electric steriliser.

As you have probably already deduced, this method requires the purchase of a special device that sterilises the bottles you put inside once you have plugged it in and turned it on. This method uses steam to sterilise feeding equipment. Many will sterilise up to six bottles at a time, as well as the bottle teats and soothers. They tend to take between 8 and 12 minutes to sterilise.

This method is very convenient and saves precious time for new parents. However, if you have a small kitchen, you must bear in mind that you will be constantly using this steriliser and it will take up worktop space. If you travel often, you will also have to take this steriliser with you or choose another sterilising method that you are prepared to use whilst away from the home.

Microwave Sterilisers

Microwave sterilisers are similar to electric sterilisers in that they also sterilise baby bottles using steam.

Again, they can hold up to six bottles along with teats and soothers, but many hold just four bottles. These can be sterilised very quickly; sometimes within 90 seconds.

If you have a microwave it is worth making sure that the steriliser you buy fits in your existing microwave, as many new parents face this issue. But if you can't spare the worktop space for an electric steriliser, this method would enable you to keep the steriliser in the microwave for the majority of the time.

Microwave sterilisers tend to cost less than electric sterilisers which can be tempting when trying to keep to your baby budget. They are also easier to travel with, as long as you know that your destination has a microwave.

Cold Water Sterilisers

Many grandparents will be amazed at the choice of bottle sterilisers available nowadays. This is because they probably only really had one choice: cold water sterilisation.

Cold water sterilisation involves placing the bottles and teats in a container of cold water which has had either a sterilisation tablet or sterilisation solution added to it. The container can either be a special cold water sterilisation unit or a bucket that has a lid on it.

The sterilisation solution needs changing every 24 hours, and bottles take approximately 15 minutes to sterilise. Many cold water sterilisers hold six bottles along with teats, soothers and teething rings.

Cold water sterilisation is very useful for travel when your destination does not have a microwave and you don't have the space for a large sterilising unit (ideal for trips abroad). Small cold water sterilising units can be purchased that will hold just a bottle or two.

The sterilising solution may leave an invisible residue on the bottles that babies may be able to taste. Many solutions nowadays claim this not to be the case, but you may want to take this into consideration.

Heat will damage and disintegrate the teats over time, whereas cold water will not.

Self-Sterilising Bottles

A very new method to sterilising is self-sterilising bottles. This method requires the use of a microwave for steam sterilising, but no additional equipment.

It is important to note here that this method will not work on any type of baby bottle, only those specially designed for self-sterilisation.

This method requires you to place a small amount of water in the bottle and assemble the bottle for sterilising as per the manufacturers instructions (many self-sterilising bottles come in different parts that unscrew). You then place the bottles in the microwave for the time specified by the manufacturer and the bottles are then sterilised. They remain sterilised until the separate parts are dismantled.

You may sterilise as few or as many bottles as you like. A bottle on its own tends to take approximately 3 minutes. Teats are sterilised inside the bottles, but soothers cannot be sterilised (there are soothers that come in their own sterilising boxes).

If you are travelling and your destination has a microwave, this method saves luggage space.

This method could save you money, through not buying additional sterilising equipment and through having the choice to buy fewer bottles as a single bottle can be sterilised straight away.

I have personally chosen this method for sterilising bottles and would recommend the MAM bottles. These have an anti-colic base and come in a variety of sizes and colours. If you are unsure of the sex of your baby, you could choose between bottles with a base and lid colour of either cream or green, otherwise you have further choices of blue and pink. They come in sizes of 130ml 160ml, or 260ml. To sterilise these bottles you need to unscrew the base and the ring holding the teat, place the teat and ring in the base, put the main bottle body over the top and the lid on top after measuring out 20ml of water (you can do this using the measurements shown on the bottle lid) and putting it in the base of the bottle. Then place one bottle in the microwave for 3 minutes. More bottles can be sterilised at the same time with increased time - as per instructions.


As many sterilisation methods use heat to kill viruses and bacteria, boiling the bottles and teats can also be an option.

Using a clean pan with a lid, you can boil the bottles in water using your hob.

This may be useful for travelling if you have access to a kitchen, as no additional equipment would be needed.

However, regular boiling is not greatly recommended as the heat will disintegrate the teats very quickly.

Boiling will take longer than the methods described previously, plus you need to add the cooling time required before you can reuse the bottles.

If you use this method, make sure you keep the lid on the pan after boiling to keep the bottles sterilised.

Which Sterilisation Method Do You Use?

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