New parent anxiety is real. The first few months after my baby was born, I just wanted to wrap her in a giant fuzzy blanket and protect her from the big bad world. The feeling that you’re responsible for protecting this tiny little life can be a heavy burden for a first-time mom.
Parents often beat themselves up thinking about what more they could have done to prevent their child getting sick. I know I do every time my child got a sniffle or a fever.
Of course you won’t be able to protect your baby from everything out there, but you can absolutely take steps to make sure they aren’t drinking germs along with their milk. Having one of the best baby bottle sterilizers will cut down on some of your worry as a new parent.
|1. Philips AVENT||Best Value for Money|
|2. Munchkin Microwave||Best Microwave Sterilizer|
|3. Wabi Baby Steam||Best Sterilizer-Dryer Combo|
|4. Tommee Tippee||Best Electric Sterilizer|
|5. The First Years||Best Steam Sterilizer|
|6. Medela Micro Bags||Best Steam Bags|
|7. Papablic Baby||Best All-In-One Sterlizer|
Do I Need to Sterilize My Bottles?
Sterilizing bottles isn’t a necessity, but it’s a step many mothers still choose to take.
It’s easy, and it cuts back on the mountain of germs your baby is introduced to daily — and that’s always a good thing in my book. I know I can’t wrap my children in bubble wrap and keep them safe from everything, but if sterilizing bottles prevents even one illness, I think it’s worth it.
A baby’s immune system is fragile for the first year. When you’re a new parent, it feels like germs are everywhere and there’s nothing you can do to avoid exposure — people love to touch and hold your baby. But since nobody likes being labeled a paranoid mommy who won’t let people around her baby, you’re often left ignoring that inner voice telling you to watch out for germs.
If you can’t stop all the germs caused by the hordes of touchy-feely types around your child, at least you can make sure her bottles aren’t making her sick.
Different Ways to Sterilize a Bottle
There are several ways to sterilize bottles and nipples, some easier than others.
The way our moms sterilized bottles was to boil them in water on the stove in a pan. The method is simple: make sure you immerse each item thoroughly in boiling water for at least 10 minutes. This is cheap and relatively easy to do, although it can wear down bottle nipples with time, so be sure to check them for cracks once in a while.
While boiling is a perfectly good way to sterilize, I’ve always avoided it. I use plastic bottles, and I didn’t like the idea of boiling them because I wasn’t confident that harmful chemicals wouldn’t leach out when heated.
2. UV Light
UV bottle sterilizers are one of the newest methods for sterilization and use ultraviolet light to kill germs. If you go this route, be prepared to pay dearly – these units cost several times what you’d pay for an electric or microwave sterilizer. Though they work well, the cost puts them out of reach for those of us who aren’t prepared to skip a car payment to afford one.
3. Cold Water Sterilizing Solution
This method requires you to immerse your bottles and accessories in cold water in which you’ve dissolved a substance that will kill bacteria. The sterilizer usually comes in tablet form that dissolves and can be used to sanitize just about anything, not just bottles. This method is affordable but a little environmentally unfriendly and perhaps not as thorough as other methods.
Times have changed since we were babies, and there are simpler way to do things today. You can now use steam to sterilize bottles, either with an electric steam sterilizer or a microwaveable one as shown below.
Microwave steamers are simple in design: fill with water and place in the microwave for a few minutes to generate sterilizing steam.
- They’re typically cheap and easy to use.
- They can be taken on trips and used anywhere there’s a microwave.
- They may scald you when you reach into the microwave to pull them out.
- Some models may end up melting more delicate items.
- Microwaveable steamer bags are cheaper still but may require a little more practice to use. They are, however, the best choice for travel.
Electric steamers plug in and sterilize your bottles with the press of a button.
- They’re pricier than microwave sterilizers.
- Some parents find them more thorough.
- A few models come with a handy drying function.
- These kinds of sterilizers offer more variability in size, price and design, as you get a whole appliance dedicated just to bottle sterilization.
- Bigger units can hog kitchen counter space.
- If you live in a hard water area, these will need to be descaled regularly.
What Should I Look For When Buying?
The first time I used a bottle sterilizer I felt a bit like a nutty professor standing in my kitchen with rubber tongs in hand, looking down into a steaming bowl. When you breastfeed, there’s barely any chance for bacteria to get involved as the milk passes from you straight to your little one. But when bottles are introduced, a little extra care is needed to keep things sterile – even if that does feel like a mission sometimes.
Here’s what to look for when buying a good electric steamer/sterilizer:
- Ease of use: Electric baby bottle sterilizers should be simple to operate – if you find yourself scratching your head over the instructions or the number of buttons, move on in your search to find something more straightforward.
- The size: You want the unit to be large enough to fit all your bottles. Mothers who are breastfeeding and only use bottles occasionally can get by with a small unit that holds just a few bottles.
- How many bottles it sterilizes at once: Women who opt to feed their babies formula will need to sterilize bottles frequently throughout the day. So they’ll want to look for a bigger sterilizer that can handle a larger number of bottles.
- The cost: If your cash flow is a bit squeezed now that you’re a parent, cost will be an important consideration. Microwave sterilizers are usually cheaper than other types on the market.
- Does it dry: Microwave sterilizers work quickly, but the bottles are left wet, and they’ll have to be dried after they’re taken out, adding an extra step to your workload.
- Kitchen space: Some moms might like that microwave sterilizers won’t require any space on their kitchen counters. They can be stored in a cabinet until you need them and they don’t need an outlet to work. If you opt for an electric sterilizer, you’ll have to make some room on your counter for it.
The Best Baby Bottle Sterilizers of 2018
Keeping in mind that a sterilizer is primarily about keeping germs (and your paranoia) under control, you should feel supremely confident that it’s doing its job every time you use it. Convenience, overall size, efficiency and cost are important factors too, but at the end of the day what you most want is those sparkling clean bottles you can happily give to your baby. Here are the products we think can do just that.
1. Philips AVENT Microwave Steam Sterilizer
This plastic product is BPA free, inexpensive and effective. In under two minutes, it kills 99.9 percent of the bacteria that could harm your baby. It can hold bottles, breast pump parts, and feeding accessories. It fits into most microwaves, and if you keep the lid closed until right before you need the items inside, everything will stay sterilized for 24 hours.
Moms will appreciate that this unit is easy to pack for weekend getaways, and it won’t take up much storage space at your house. It doesn’t involve any complicated instructions – anyone can figure out how to use it.
- Cheaper than other options on the market.
- Can sterilize up to four bottles at a time.
- Sterilizes in under 2 minutes.
- The size of this sterilizer may be too large for many microwaves, at around 11 inches in height.
- Some moms have reported that the lid melts in the microwave.
2. Munchkin Steam Guard Microwave Sterilizer
This is one of the most affordable microwave sterilizers available.
Moms who have heard horror stories about their friends being burned by microwave sterilizers may appreciate that this unit has an open-away latch to help prevent steam burns. The heat-resistant handles may make moms feel safer taking this sterilizer out of the microwave.
Parents who want a multi-purpose steamer should like that this unit can also be used on pacifiers, teething rings and small toys. It fits all standard-sized microwaves and comes with tongs to help ensure the safe removal of the hot bottles.
- Fits up to four bottles and two breast pump shields at the same time.
- Works for both wide-mouth and standard size bottles.
- The bottles don’t stand up well in the sanitizer – they tend to fall over.
- If you don’t seal the unit well enough, it leaks water into your microwave.
3. Wabi Baby Electric Steam Sterilizer and Dryer
You’ll pay a little more to have dry bottles with this unit, which is more expensive than other sterilizers on this list. The Wabi sterilizer takes just 8 to 15 minutes to sterilize its contents, and it has a smart sensor that shuts the unit off automatically when it’s done sterilizing. It also has a countdown timer so you can track how much longer it will take.
It’s easy to operate – all you do is add the water, put the bottles in and press a button. Moms who go through a lot of bottles may appreciate the that it can accomodate eight standard-sized bottles at a time.
- The bottles will be completely dry when finished with the drying cycle.
- Less chance of being burned with this unit because of the long drying cycle.
- Costs roughly six times more than microwave sterilizers.
- You’ll need to have spare bottles ready to use since these will take a long time to sterilize and dry what’s inside.
4. Tommee Tippee Electric Steam Sterilizer
This unit may be the perfect choice for someone who wants to sterilize a lot of bottles at once. It can hold an entire day’s worth of bottles at one time. In just five minutes, all the sterilizing you’ll need for any given day will be done.
This sterilizer will kill 99.9 percent of the germs that can harm your baby. Because it has a space-saving design, moms with limited counter space may like that it doesn’t seem too big given how many bottles it holds. Plus, the lid can be flipped over to serve as a germ-free place to prepare bottles.
- Easy to clean and store.
- Cools down rapidly so you can get the bottles right away if you need them.
- BPA free.
- Can get a strong plastic smell when heating up.
- Needs to be frequently descaled, especially if you’re in a hard water area.
5. The First Years Power of Steam Electric Steam Sterilizer
This steam sterilizer offers versatility – it can be used for bottles, pacifiers, and small toys. It was designed to allow steam to reach deep into the bottle, which creates more thorough sterilization.
Moms might like that this unit has a built-in drying rack. The trays can be taken out of the sterilizer and placed on the counter to allow the bottles to air dry. This sterilizer is BPA and PVC free, which may be reassuring to parents who are worried about exposing their baby to harmful chemicals.
- Can accommodate a wide variety of bottle brands.
- Fits up to six bottles.
- Leaves a fair amount of water on the counter after it is opened.
- Residue builds up on the bottom of the unit and is hard to remove.
6. Medela Micro Steam Bags
Medela steam bags are a godsend, and sanitize bottles quickly, easily and thoroughly. All you need is a microwave (even a small one) and a little water. The box contains 5 bags that can each be reused 20 times before the seal starts to lose its integrity.
Like other sterilizers, they kill 99.9 percent of germs and best of all you can keep them sealed until the bottles are needed. You can toss in breast pump shields, nipples, dummies, feeding accessories and more and they’ll get a burst of cleaning steam as well. These take up barely any room – they’re great for use at home but work just as well on trips, as long as you have access to a small microwave.
- Very affordable.
- Convenient, compact and super easy to use.
- Some moms dislike that there’s no handle to grab the hot bag from the microwave.
- Despite claims, these bags might melt breast pump tubing.
7. Papablic Steam Sterilizer and Dryer
If you’re serious about sterilization and your little one is a bottle feeding champ who goes through tons of bottles, you might like the unit from Papablic. It’s a bit like a tiny dishwasher for all your bottles and accessories.
This sterilizer is large and fits up to 11 bottles inside, and the internal trays can be reorganized depending on what you want to clean. Add water, turn the dial, and after 45 minutes you’ll have perfectly clean and dry bottles you can use immediately. There are different settings, however, so you could also opt for a quicker sterilization cycle.
- The sterilizer can handle very large loads.
- Dries bottles thoroughly.
- Just turn on and go with minimal fuss.
- This is an extra large, tall unit and may just be too clunky for many moms.
- Some feel the quality is lacking for the substantial price.
Frequently Asked Questions
Depending on your sterilizer model, you’ll follow different methods for getting those perfectly clean, fresh bottles. First, wash everything in warm soapy water or in the dishwasher. Next, load up the sterilizer with clean bottles and add the appropriate amount of water to the unit.
For microwave sterilizers, put inside the microwave for the recommended time. Remove and allow bottles to cool inside until they’re needed, or use immediately. Dry with a clean, soft cloth.
For electric sterilizers, turn the unit on and let it get to work. If you’ve got a model that also dries, wait for the drying cycle to complete. Most models will keep your bottles sterile if left inside for 24 hours.
There’s no point in sterilizing bottles once a baby becomes mobile or begins to grab at every (dirty) thing she sees (source).
After you stop sterilizing, though, you should be certain that you’re doing a top-notch job of cleaning the bottles and nipples. And if your baby has an illness (source), you should sterilize her bottles until she is healthy again. You don’t want to reintroduce any germs to her recovering immune system.
Your sterilizer will come with detailed cleaning instructions, but as a rule most removable parts of any unit can be washed with mild soap and water, while the rest can be wiped down with a damp cloth.
Limescale build up looks like a yellow or white discoloration on the sterilizer’s heating pad. This can be removed at home with ordinary white vinegar or even lemon juice: simply soak for 30 minutes to overnight and rinse off well, followed by an empty cycle to dislodge any residue.
Again, your specific breast pump will have come with instructions for cleaning. Check these to see if the breast pump parts can go into the dishwasher.
After you’re done using your pump, use soap and water to wash any part that’s come into contact with breast milk. Allow to air dry (drying cloths can introduce bacteria again) before reassembling everything, and you’re good to go. Thorough home sterilization isn’t really possible, but you can sanitize breast pump parts adequately by simply washing, or using your bottle sterilizer (source).
Before you pop anything into your sterilizer though, check the manual for both the sterilizer and the breast pump to ensure it’s safe. If you’re unsure or want to save yourself the extra work, rest assured that daily sterilization is not necessary and you can clean breast pump accessories with just soap and water.
The Philips AVENT Microwave Steam Sterilizer is a great pick for the price. It’s effective at eliminating germs, and it does it in just two minutes. This unit won’t need to be descaled like electric sterilizers do, and it doesn’t take up precious counter space which is important because, when you’re a parent, your baby’s gadgets seem to take up more room than your own do.
No electrical component of this machine will malfunction or break down, so you’ll always feel like you got your money’s worth with it. It’s a cinch to pack up and take with you on trips, unlike electric sterilizers which take up more room and have a lot of parts to keep track of. This unit will help you move full steam ahead in your quest to protect your baby.
Now it’s over to you: do you use a bottle sterilizer, and if so, which one can you recommend to other mamas out there? Share this article with another mom or comment below; we’re always happy to hear your thoughts!