When to Stop Sterilizing Baby Bottles

By Lynn •  Updated: 01/28/22 •  11 min read
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We all know how important it is to keep baby bottles clean. Nevertheless, as your baby grows older, you may find yourself asking yourself when to stop sterilizing baby bottles, or even whether it is actually necessary to sterilize baby bottles at all. Thankfully, there are easy answers to these questions and plenty of products available to help you get your baby’s bottles and feeding accessories squeaky clean. So, join us as we explore the question of, “When do I stop sterilizing baby bottles?”

What Age Can You Stop Sterilizing Baby Bottles?

What Age Is It Recommended That You Can Stop Bottle Sterilization?

Though questions such as “how to wash cloth diapers for the first time” are very common, the question of when to stop sterilizing bottles often remains a mystery for many parents. 

According to the NHS (National Health Service), you can officially stop sterilizing baby bottles once your baby is a year old. This includes not only baby bottles, but also baby utensils, nipples, and bottle accessories. 

There are many reasons that moms and dads decide to stop sterilizing bottles early, but the reasoning behind waiting until your baby is at least a year before nixing a bottle sterilizer is clear. When you aren’t sterilizing your baby’s bottles, you run the risk of lurking bacteria entering your baby’s body and thus causing them to become ill.

Because babies’ immune systems are much weaker than adult immune systems, it is much easier for babies to become sick. The act of sterilizing bottles helps to prevent illness and keep infection from happening.

Papablic Baby Bottle Electric Steam Sterilizer and Dryer
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What Age Can You Stop Sterilizing Baby Bottles?

Remember that it is best to wait until your baby is at least one year or older before you stop sterilizing his or her bottles. Stopping too soon can put your baby at risk of developing an illness. Some household contaminants found in baby bottles include E.coli and Staph according to some studies. These types of infections have the ability to cause severe complications and even kidney failure in children under the age of 5. 

Until What Age Do You Need to Sterilize Bottles?

Sterilizing bottles will remain necessary until your baby is at least one year old. Remember, however, that serious illnesses such as E. Coli infection in children remain a threat to your little one during their toddler years and beyond. Thus, though you won’t need to continue to sterilize bottles past one year, you will need to continue to deep clean your baby’s bottles, sippy cups, and other feeding instruments. Doing so will lower the risks for illness and infection. 

Can I Stop Sterilizing at…

Can I Stop Sterilizing Bottles at 8 Months?

If you were to stop sterilizing your baby’s bottles at 8 months, you’d be putting your baby at risk. Although your 8-month-old is only four months shy of one year, you still want to protect your baby. Endure that his or her bottles and bottle accessories stay clean.

Tired of dealing with a sterilizer? It is important to note that sanitizing with boiling water works, too. You’ll simply need to make sure that the items you choose to boil can fit and be fully submerged within the water for at least 10 minutes to ensure that all the bacteria has been eliminated. 

The downside to boiling? Sometimes, boiling water can damage plastic and rubber items such as nipples. Thus, you’ll need to exercise caution when choosing to use this method. 

Stop Sterilizing at 6 Months

It isn’t wise to stop sterilizing bottles at 6 months for the same reasons it isn’t advised that you stop sterilizing your baby’s bottles at 8 months. 

A 6-month-old child, though becoming active, alert and strong, is still very young. He or she is very susceptible to germs that could cause them to become very ill. Rather than take the risk, consider purchasing an affordable easy-to-use sterilizer. They get the job done without the use of added chemicals and solutions.

HAUTURE Baby Bottle Sterilizer and Dryer, 6-in-1 Electric Steam Sterilizer for Baby Bottles, Pacifier, Breast Pump- Touch Screen & Auto-Off Bottle Sanitizer, White
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Is It Really Necessary to Sterilize Baby Bottles?

What Happens If You Don’t Sterilize Baby Bottles?

We know what you’re thinking. Though sterilization of baby bottles sounds great, the truth is that many moms and dads live jam-packed lives that don’t need more tasks added to the mix.

We get it! 

Still, sterilization isn’t something we’d recommend you skip. 

If you don’t sterilize baby bottles, you run the risk of bacteria hiding in your baby’s bottles. This is true even if you scrub your baby’s bottles by hand and place them in the dishwasher. 

Moreover, by sterilizing your baby’s bottles in boiling water or a sterilizer, you also avoid the risk of contaminating your baby’s milk with chemicals. This would be the case if you tried to sanitize your baby’s bottles and accessories with toxic cleaning solutions, such as bleach or other harmful cleaning agents. 

If you have specialty bottles, such as Comotomo bottles, and wonder “What are the best sterilizers for Comotomo bottles?” you can usually easily find bottle sterilizers for these unique and specific brand bottles either online or in stores.

Comotomo Baby Bottle, Green, 8 Ounce (2 Count)
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How often should you sterilize bottles?

Baby bottles should be sterilized after every use. If this seems like too much of a chore, consider simply rinsing your baby’s bottles out with water after use. Set them aside for the rest of the day. After accumulating all of your baby’s used bottles at the end of the day, go ahead and sterilize them all at once before their next use. 

Doing this keeps you from wasting time by sterilizing one bottle at a time. It might become too cumbersome of a task for many parents. 

Comotomo Baby Bottle, Green, 8 Ounce (2 Count)

Does a bottle sterilizer replace washing?

No, it does not.

Sterilizing a bottle is the process by which any leftover bacteria is eliminated. As with any type of disinfection process, a basic cleaning needs to happen first in order to lift the majority of residue from the bottle. 

If you skip cleaning the bottle and go straight to sterilization, you’ll be left with a bottle that likely still has leftover bacteria. The leftover milk and residue from the bottle wasn’t first removed. Thus, it is important to place clean bottles in the sterilizer. 

Papablic Baby Bottle Electric Steam Sterilizer and Dryer

FAQs

How Long Do Empty Bottles Stay Sterile/How Long Do Bottles Stay Sterile For?

After you’ve sterilized a bottle, you can expect that bottle to remain sterile for up to 24 hours. Past this point, the bottle is no longer considered sterile. 
If a baby bottle you wish to use hasn’t been sterilized in the past 24 hours, you can simply quickly sterilize it again before using it. Some sterilizers even dry your bottles after sterilizing, making it a quick, easy, and convenient option to use before feeding your baby.

Is It Bad to Sterilize Baby Bottles in the Microwave?

It isn’t always bad to sterilize your baby’s bottles in the microwave, although you’ll want to consider a few things before you give it a try.
First, how clean is your microwave? You’ll want to make sure that the microwave itself is clean before you use it, otherwise, the microwave you are using to attempt to sterilize your baby’s bottles won’t be clean itself, making the procedure practically useless. 
Next, you’ll want to make sure that the items that you are placing in the microwave to be sterilized are indeed microwave safe. Never place items that contain metal in the microwave, as doing so could cause arcing and damage to the appliance. 
Once you’ve ensured that your bottles and utensils are microwave safe, follow the proper procedure for sterilizing bottles in the microwave. Note that there are also baby bottle sterilizers that are designed to work in the microwave which makes sterilizing bottles this way even easier!

Philips AVENT Microwave Steam Sterilizer for Baby Bottles, Pacifiers, Cups and More, SCF281/05
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When to Stop Sterilizing Baby Bottles? Be Sure Not to Stop Too Early

In closing, it is important to reiterate the importance of properly sanitizing baby bottles. Remember that sterilizing a baby’s bottle rids the bottle of germs after you have washed the bottle. Sterilization eliminates bacteria that you may have missed. 

Recall that it isn’t enough to simply wash a bottle and throw it in the dishwasher. Sterilizers are special devices that work to banish all bacteria. Using them can give your baby a healthy feeding experience free from toxins and contaminants that could make them sick.

If you don’t have access to a sterilizer or would rather not purchase one, you may consider sterilizing your baby’s feeding equipment in boiling water. You can also use a microwave for sterilization. Whatever you do, be sure to sterilize your baby’s equipment safely. Never to feed your baby using bottles or utensils that may still be hot from sterilization.

All in all, following the above guidelines and ensuring that your baby is drinking and eating from sterile bottles and feeding equipment is necessary for maintaining the health of young babies under one year of age.

If you have more questions regarding the sterilization of bottles, be sure to speak with your local pediatrician. 

Lynn

Lynn is a freelance writer, a wife, and a mother of two beautiful kids. Lynn started Infant Empire with the aim of making parenting easier for fellow mums and dads. She believes the parenting tips provided here will be of great help to all parents.