Boiling the feeding bottle is the most common way of sterilizing it. But a better way to do it is with a baby bottle sterilizer, which is specifically made for that purpose. The sterilizer makes the process simpler, quicker, and safer.
In this article, MomJunction presents a complete guide to baby bottle sterilizers and the 13 best bottle sterilizers you may consider buying.
What Is A Baby Bottle Sterilizer?
A baby bottle sterilizer is a device that kills germs within and on the baby’s feeding bottle. The sterilizer resembles a plastic box or container that has slots to place the feeding bottles, along with a tray to hold the other components. Most sterilizers use steam to remove harmful bacteria, almost entirely. A clean and sterile baby bottle reduces the risk of the baby developing gastrointestinal problems to nearly zero.
Do You Need A Sterilizer?
It is important to sterilize the baby’s feeding bottles after you have cleaned them with soap and clean water. Warm water and disinfectant soap may remove the food residue but are not enough to kill pathogens in the bottle. Sterilization removes pathogens, adding that extra layer of protection.
While all baby bottle sterilizers aim to make the bottle sterile, the techniques or methodologies used by each are different.
What Are The Different Types Of Baby Bottle Sterilizers?
There are three types of baby bottle sterilizers:
- Electric sterilizers are plugged to a standard wall power outlet. They use electricity to make steam from the water in the tray. These sterilizers let you control the duration of sterilization and may even have a cooling or drying feature. Other benefits may include auto shut off and special trays to place other items like bottle nipples.
- A microwave baby bottle sterilizer is a box with slots to place the bottles. It creates steam when placed in a microwave: pour water, place the box in the microwave oven, and turn the oven on. The recommended time of sterilization varies as per the manufacturer and the wattage of the microwave oven. Microwave sterilizers are cheaper and also consume less space.
- Sterilization bags are zip-locked bags in which you pour water and put the bottle. The bag is then placed in the microwave oven and turned on for the time recommended by the manufacturer. The water evaporates into steam and sterilizes the bottles. It works the same way as a standard microwave sterilization box. While sterilization bags have limited capacity, they are portable and reusable for a limited number of times.
- UV light-based: These electric sterilizers use UV light to sterilize the bottles. The UV sterilization technology is similar to what we see in UV water purifiers except that here the UV light passes through the bottles. These sterilizers do not use steam or leave the bottles damp after sterilization. There are few models of UV sterilizers, which also makes them more expensive compared to electric and microwave devices.
How To Choose A Bottle Sterilizer?
The type of sterilizer you need depends on how you intend to use it. Look for the following features in the baby bottle sterilizer, to make the right choice.
- Easy to use: Operating and cleaning the sterilizer should be easy. Ease-of-use and control can let you sterilize the bottles safely and correctly.
- High quality and baby friendly plastic: The plastic of a bottle sterilizer is subjected to a lot of heat. Therefore, it needs to be durable and withstand several cycles of bottle sterilization, without releasing toxins. So, make sure the sterilization box or cover is free of harmful compounds like BPA, which can find their way to the bottle.
- Tray for bottle accessories: You will also need to sterilize the bottle nipples and other baby items like the pacifiers. Having a bottle sterilizer with a tray can let you sterilize all items at once, thus saving you time.
13 Best Baby Bottle Sterilizers
1. Philips AVENT Microwave Steam Sterilizer
- Simple, box-style design with minimal parts. The plastic is lightweight, durable, and does not contain BPA.
- The shape is compact enough to fit into most microwave ovens. No-heat grips on the sides allow you to remove it from the microwave oven safely.
- You can sterilize four bottles and nipples at a time. If you have Philips AVENT breast pump, then you can place the breast shield for sterilization too.
- The sterilization time is two minutes at 1200-1850 watts, four minutes at 850-1100 watts and six minutes at 500-800 watts.
- The contents of the sterilizer can stay sterile up to 24 hours if the lid is not opened.
- You can also sterilize other baby items like baby pacifiers, bottle nipples, and baby cutlery like spoons and cups.
2. Papablic Baby Bottle Electric Steam Sterilizer and Dryer
- It features two baskets, one at the top and the second at the middle with the reservoir at the base.
- It has three functions: sterilize, sterilize and dry, and sterilize and extra dry. These functions are controlled by a single rotary knob, which is easy to operate.
- The bottles and accessories are sterilized in just eight minutes. The sterilization and dry feature work for 45 minutes, and the sterilization and extra dry lasts for 65 minutes.
- The bottles remain sterilized within the unopened baskets for 12 hours.
- It can accommodate 11 bottles along with the bottle nipples and a few baby pacifiers.
3. Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags
- Use the bag to sterilize a couple of bottles, bottle parts, and pacifiers. The bag is also useful for sterilizing parts of the breast pump.
- You only need water and a microwave oven. Pour water in the bag as per the quantity specified, place the bottle, and microwave on maximum wattage for three minutes to sterilize.
- The bag is reusable up to 20 times. The manufacturer ships the bag in a pack of five.
4. Wabi Baby Touch Panel UV Sterilizer & Dryer
- The sterilizer disinfects using UV light, and can also dry bottles washed with water and soap.
- Place the washed bottles in the sterilizer. Turn on the dry functionality for the bottles to dry, and then go for the UV mode so that you can disinfected bottles.
- Dry and UV mode can be used together or independently.
- You can choose between 10, 20, and 40 minutes for drying. Pick from 5 and 10 minutes for UV only mode and 30, 50, and 70 minutes for dry with UV mode.
5. Dr. Brown’s Microwave Steam Sterilizer
- There are separate stands on the tray for sterilizing four bottles of different sizes, along with other bottle parts, at a time.
- It fits wide-neck and standard-neck bottles of most brands. It fits all Dr. Brown’s baby bottles.
- It is made from BPA-free plastic and is dishwasher safe.
- It comes with tongs to safely remove the bottles after sterilization.
6. Kiddiluv Microwave Steam Sterilizer
- Easy-to-use and straightforward design with very few parts. It takes no more than seven minutes to sterilize the bottles.
- It can hold up to six, wide-necked bottles of about 10oz (nearly 300ml).
- You can also sterilize other items like baby pacifiers and breast shields from breast pumps.
- It is lightweight and fits most standard microwave ovens. It is made from durable plastic and is free from BPA.
7. Munchkin Steam Guard Microwave Sterilizer
- You can sterilize four baby bottles and two breast pump shields at once.
- There is a latch on each side to keep the sterilizer air-tight.
- A central handle on the tray makes it easy to remove it from the sterilizer without risking burns.
- The manufacturer ships the sterilizer with heat-resistant tongs.
- It is lightweight and durable. The plastic does not contain latex, BPA, PVC, phthalate, and latex.
8. Munchkin Latch Microwave Sterilize Bags
- It can hold up to two wide mouth bottles to save sterilization time.
- Each set contains six bags, and each bag can be reused up to 30 times. Each bag has boxes illustrated on the outside so that you can check one after each use.
- Bags have cool-grip corners that let you remove the bag from the microwave oven without the risk of burns.
9. Dr. Brown’s Deluxe Bottle Sterilizer
- Simple and easy, two-button operation. The steamer begins to sterilize right at the press of the button.
- LED lights at the front indicate the current operation. It has a cooling-down phase when the bottles are allowed to become cool enough to be removed safely.
- The total time taken for sterilization plus cooling down is only ten minutes.
- It can hold six bottles at a time and has a tray to hold the nipples, pacifiers, and other parts of the bottle.
- It is made from BPA-free plastic. The manufacturer ships the device with tongs for easy removal of the bottles.
10. Tommee Tippee Electric Steam Baby Bottle Sterilizer
- It can hold five 9oz (266ml) bottles on the lower part and the five bottle nipples on the upper part of the inner tray.
- The sterilizer is compatible with bottles from most brands, including the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature and Advanced Anti-Colic bottles.
- It sterilizes the bottles in just five minutes. The baby bottles can stay sterile for 24 hours if left covered inside the sterilizer.
- The design is sleek with a simple on-off switch to turn on the sterilizer. The plastic is free from BPA and phthalates.
11. Baby Brezza Electric Bottle Sterilizer and Dryer
- The sterilizer has a tall and compact design, which saves a lot of space. It is made from BPA-free plastic.
- You can set modes as sterilizing only, dry only, or both sterilize and dry. You can set the time limit to 30, 45, or 60 minutes in all the modes, which is displayed on an LCD screen.
- Use the sterilizer for storage of bottles since the bottles stay sterile for 24 hours after sterilization.
- It can hold up to six bottles of any size along with their nipples. You can also sterilize pacifiers along with the bottles.
- The heating plate that contains the water is made from stainless steel, which is resistant to rusting and development of hard water stains.
12. Munchkin Steam Guard Electric Sterilizer
- It can sterilize up to nine bottles, along with the bottle accessories, at a time.
- The sterilizer comes with two trays. You can stack the trays as needed, depending on the bottles you would like to sterilize.
- A single button controls the functions of the sterilizer, thus making it easy-to-operate.
- It takes six minutes to sterilize the bottles. The auto-off feature turns it off after use.
13. Philips AVENT 3-in-1 Electric Steam Sterilizer
- It has a three-piece modular design, which lets you remove parts of the sterilizer and only use the ones you need.
- At its full capacity, it can sterilize six 11oz (325ml) bottles, along with their nipples and other accessories like pacifiers as well.
- It takes four minutes for the water to heat up and six more minutes to sterilize the bottles.
- The contents remain sterile for 24 hours if you do not open the lid.
- It is made from lightweight plastic, which is free from harmful compounds like BPA.
How To Clean A Baby Bottle Sterilizer?
Cleaning the sterilizer involves simple steps and the use of some additional cleaning agents. Refer the user manual for the manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning. In general, cleaning of bottle sterilizers involves the use of:
- Dishwasher or warm soapy water: If you are using a microwave sterilizer, then you can place all the parts in the dishwasher. In the case of electric and UV sterilizer, remove the washable components and put them in a dishwasher. Wash the usual way.
Wash the sterilizer separately without any other utensils to prevent any contamination. Alternatively, you can also use a brush, sponge, and warm soapy water to gently clean the components.
- Descaling: Hard water can leave mineral scales on the heating plate, and excessive scales may impair functionality. Therefore, it is essential to descale the unit. Remove the heating plate, throw away any water, and wipe it clean with a dry cloth.
Use a descaling solution made for sterilizers or regular white vinegar. Pour some vinegar on the heating pad and leave it for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours if you have a lot of scales. Discard the vinegar and rinse the heating plate with water. Wipe away the water with a clean, dry cloth.
Note that descaling is only required in electric sterilizers because they have a metal heating pad that develops scales easily.
Never assemble components of the electric or UV sterilizer while they are wet or damp since water may spoil the electrical components. Once the sterilizer is clean, run it empty or with standard bottles once to rinse any remnants of soapy water and vinegar.
Tips For Baby Bottle Sterilizer Usage
Here are some best practices for optimum usage and maintenance of the sterilizer:
- Only place washed bottles: Wash the bottles with soap and water before putting them in the sterilizer. Never directly place dirty bottles with milk in them. A sterilizer is meant to sterilize bottles that have already been cleaned with water and soap.
- Descaling once in four weeks: It is good practice to descale your electric sterilizer unit once in four weeks or about once a month. It prevents the formation of excess scales that can be hard to clean later. You may check the manufacturer’s guide to know how frequently you should descale.
- You can also use distilled water: If you live in an area that contains very hard water, then you can use distilled water instead of regular filtered water for sterilization.
Sterilizing the baby’s bottle is essential and should be a part of your daily routine of preparing the bottle for feeding. Sterilization can protect your baby from several infections. Maintenance of the sterilizer is vital as well to keep it in good condition for as long you need it.
Have you used a baby bottle sterilizer? Which type do you prefer the most? Do tell us in the comment section below.
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