The minute you jump into the world of parenthood, you’re bombarded with the latest and greatest technology in baby care. It seems like products are constantly being thrown at new parents while claiming to be must-haves. Among these products are bottle sterilizers, but is a bottle sterilizer worth it?
A bottle sterilizer is worth having if your tap water isn’t chlorinated or if you’re worried about contamination. But sterilizers aren’t always necessary. If you own a dishwasher, your baby’s bottles are likely to be top-rack dishwasher-safe. You can also boil bottles to get the same effect.
This article will explain everything you need to know about bottle sterilizers and other alternatives to use if you choose. In the end, you’ll be able to decide whether or not a bottle sterilizer is worth having.
What Is a Bottle Sterilizer?
A bottle sterilizer is a piece of equipment that sterilizes and sanitizes baby bottles to prevent contamination from previous feeds. The sterilizer uses steam to kill off any lingering bacteria that somehow escapes from regular washes.
They can be electric so much like a stand-alone piece of equipment or you can get ones that simply go in your microwave. There are a number of brands and price ranges available to suit all budgets.
Are There Alternatives to Using a Bottle Sterilizer?
There are alternatives to using a bottle sterilizer, such as boiling the bottles and parts on the stove. This is the longest-running tried and true method that has worked for generations. Alternatively, you can sterilize the pieces in cold water with a sterilizing tablet or solution.
So, if a bottle sterilizer isn’t for you, give these methods a try.
How Bottle Sterilizers Work
Depending on the type of sterilizer you’re using, the way it works will vary. While most sterilizers use hot water and steam, some use cold water instead. Most sterilizers use hot water and steam.
Let’s explore in a bit more detail how the process works with each type.
How To Use Hot Water Sterilizers
Here are the steps on how to use hot water sterilizers:
- Add water to the reservoir. To create steam, you need water. Depending on the brand, the water amount may vary. Most models will have a water line to make this step easier for you.
- Sterilize clean bottles only. While the sterilizer kills bacteria and germs, it won’t clean milk or formula residue. Only put the bottles and accessories into the sterilizer after giving them a good clean.
- Load the bottles into the sterilizer. Place each bottle upside down onto the provided prongs. There may also be spots for bottle nipples or other accessories, depending on the model.
- Put the cover on. There’s a provided cover to keep the steam trapped inside.
- Microwave or turn the machine on. Some sterilizers are meant to go in the microwave, while others are electric. If you have a microwave sterilizer, there are specific time instructions in the user manual. Electric, on the other hand, only requires the push of a button.
- Some have cooling cycles. Electric sterilizers will have a cooling cycle that runs after the sterilization process. It’s important to let this cycle run to avoid burning yourself. On the other hand, microwave sterilizers require you to remove the cover and let them cool on their own.
Cold Water Sterilizers
Coldwater sterilizers work much the same way as their microwave counterparts. All you do here is fill a food-grade container with cold water and use a sterilizing tablet or solution.
Keep all parts under the water for the allotted time to encourage complete sterilization and consult with the tablet’s instructions for time limits.
What Age Can You Use a Bottle Sterilizer Until?
The National Health Service (NHS) urges parents to sterilize their baby’s bottles and feeding accessories until they’re 12 months old. Doing this will eliminate residual bacteria and germs, preventing a baby from experiencing possible diarrhoea or vomiting.
While it’s necessary until 12 months of age, you can certainly continue using your sterilizing unit for far longer. Depending on the size of the sterilizer, you may use it for sterilizing sippy cups and feeding utensils.
What Are the Advantages of Having a Bottle Sterilizer?
The National Health Service (NHS) urges parents to sterilize their baby’s bottles and feeding accessories until they’re 12 months old. Doing this will eliminate residual bacteria and germs, preventing a baby from experiencing possible diarrhea or vomiting.
Instead of worrying about potentially harming your baby, sterilizing your baby’s bottles eliminates that risk. Aside from peace of mind, there are a few other benefits bottle sterilizers provide. Let’s take a look at some of them here:
- Thorough cleaning. Good bottle sterilizers will remove up to 99.99% of all lingering bacteria. Although, it’s important to remember that you need to wash all bottles and parts before sterilizing them.
- Less chance of foodborne illness. With sterilized bottles, you’re eliminating any risk of developing food poisoning, stomach flu, and vomiting, among other things.
- Useful for other things. Even after your baby graduates from bottles, you can still use the sterilizer for other things like sippy cups and eating utensils.
What Are The Disadvantages of Using a Bottle Sterilizer?
Although bottle sterilizers can eliminate lingering bacteria, some are clunky. Others may be unable to sterilize certain items, making them disadvantageous. A bottle sterilizer might not be practical for people living in a limited space. Also, some bottle sterilizers don’t work with metal.
That said, you want to check whether or not your bottle sterilizer will work with metal items. If they don’t, you need to check if any of your accessories are made with metal and find another way to sterilize them.
Along with that, there are other issues to take into account regarding bottle sterilizers:
- They’re not necessary for the long term. Although you can use them beyond the bottle days, it may not be necessary if you plan to skip sippy cups or baby utensils.
- You can sterilize items in other ways. Bottle sterilizers didn’t always exist. Parents used to sterilize baby bottles and accessories in a pot of boiling water, and this method is still relevant today.
- Bottle sterilizers may be pricey. Bottle sterilizers can be a bit expensive for something that isn’t necessary for parenthood. Electric sterilizers can cost between £50–60.
Are Bottle Sterilizers Expensive?
Bottle sterilizers can be expensive if they’re electric-powered. Coldwater sterilizers are typically the cheapest option. Most microwave sterilizers double as coldwater options and come in at around £15–25. Electric sterilizers, on the other hand, can cost from £50–60.
Cold Water/Microwave Sterilizers
Here are cold water/microwave sterilizers available on Amazon.co.uk:
Tommee Tippee Microwave Baby Bottle Sterilizer
This sterilizer can do so with cold water or in the microwave and costs roughly £.20. Customers like this one specifically because it can hold more bottles and accessories than other sterilizers.
The middle also comes with a hand, so removing the pieces without burning yourself is more manageable.
Milton Combi Microwave and Cool Water Sterilizer
This sterilizer comes to around £25 and holds at least 5 bottles of most major bottle brands. Customers recommend this one because it also works well with breast pump parts and is easy to use.
However, some have complained that the lid can be difficult to take off and put back on.
Here are electric sterilizers available on Amazon.co.uk:
This electric sterilizer comes in at around £45 and has easy lift handles to make removing parts easier.
Customers recommend this one because it’s compact and doesn’t take up much space on countertops.
However, some say it’s difficult to remove the lid with one hand.
For parents using Dr. Brown’s bottles, this sterilizer comes highly recommended as it holds all of the parts that come with Dr. Brown bottles.
It’s definitely on the pricier end, coming in at £99 when it’s not on sale. Customers also like this one because it has a drying feature.
How To Save Money on Bottle Sterilizers?
You can save money on bottle sterilizers by looking around for the best deals or visiting second-hand stores. In some cases, you can find sterilizers for half their original retail price.
However, if you choose to buy second-hand, it’s important to clean it thoroughly before the first use. This way, you rid it of any lingering bacteria from previous owners or from the store you bought it.
Buying new with a good deal is ideal because you don’t have to worry about who owned the sterilizer before you. Buying online via Amazon.com or other reputable marketplaces is the easiest way to find a good deal on these products.
However, you can usually find coupons and other sales at your local baby stores for things like these.
Are Bottle Sterilizers Worth Having?
Bottle sterilizers are worth having for anyone living without chlorinated water. They’re also worth having for people who are constantly on the go, as travel-specific sterilizers are also available.
However, some families might not consider bottle sterilizers worth having. As helpful as sterilizers can be, they take up space, and they aren’t necessary.
Anyone who wants to live as minimally as possible won’t need a sterilizer. For minimalist parents, sterilizing via boiling water on the stove is perfectly sufficient.