How Often to Sterilize Baby Bottles

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Sterilizing baby bottles is an important way to help protect your baby’s health. A newborn’s immune system is still developing, and they are more susceptible to germs, bacteria, and viruses that would not affect a healthy adult.

Sterilizing their baby bottles helps to keep them safe while they grow. But how often to sterilize baby bottles? And for how long?

Let’s take a closer look at sterilizing baby bottles.

How Often to Sterilize Baby Bottles?

The truth is, your need to sterilize baby’s bottles and feeding equipment depends on your baby’s age, health, and the health of your household.

There are several factors to consider, so here’s everything you need to know.

Sterilize Baby Bottles: When You First Get Them

Always sterilize baby bottles, nipples, and feeding equipment before their first use. This is particularly important if you are using hand-me-down bottles or feeding equipment, but should also be done with brand new bottles and feeding equipment.

When to Sterilize Baby Bottles: After Every Feeding

Sterilize baby bottles and feeding equipment after every use if:

Your Baby Was Premature or Has Health Conditions

Sterilizing helps protect a baby’s immune system, and premature babies need more time for their digestion to develop. Sterilize bottles and feeding equipment after every use.

Your Household Water is from a Well

Well water can be unhealthy for babies, and should not be used to mix infant formula or be fed to babies.

If you use well water to wash baby bottles, they need to be sterilized after every use. If your house has well water, have it tested annually, and pediatricians recommend re-testing well water if there is a new infant in the house.

You or Anyone in Your Household is Sick

Sterilizing helps to protect a baby from common illnesses that other family members may have.

If You Live or are Traveling, in an Area With Potentially Unsafe Tap Water

If you are unsure of the quality of your tap water, it may be worth having it tested.

If you are traveling and unsure about the local tap water, it’s a good idea to use bottled water to mix infant formula and sterilize baby bottles after every use.

How Often to Sterilize Baby Bottles

When to Sterilize Baby Bottles: Once Every Day

If your water, your family, and your baby are healthy, you don’t need to sterilize bottles after every feeding. Sterilize baby bottles and feeding equipment every day if:

Your Baby is Less Than Three Months Old

During their first few months of life, the baby’s immune system is rapidly developing, and their digestive system is becoming more effective.

During the first three months, sterilize bottles and feeding equipment every day.

You Notice Build-Up or Debris Inside the Bottle or Nipples

If your bottles have a build-up in them or are becoming cloudy, they should be washed and sterilized.

For particularly difficult buildup or discoloration, or to get rid of unwanted smells, first clean baby bottles with hot water and soap.

Then soak them in a solution that is two parts water and one part white vinegar. Let them soak for an hour or so, then wash a second time to remove vinegar residue. Then sterilize the bottles.

When to Sterilize Baby Bottles: A Few Times a Week

After the first few months of a baby’s life, you no longer have to sterilize their bottles every day. For a healthy baby over 3 months old, sterilizing every 2-3 days should be sufficient. Remember to always sterilize if:

  • You see debris or build up inside the bottles or nipples
  • You or anyone in the household gets sick
  • You have any reason to be concerned about the health of your tap water

Also, remember that when baby starts teething, you will also need to sterilize teething rings and other chewing toys when you sterilize bottles and feeding equipment.

When to Stop Sterilizing Baby Bottles

You should stick to the schedule of sterilizing baby bottles a few times a week until the baby is weaned and not using a bottle anymore.

The exact age is different for every child, so it’s difficult to say exactly how long that process will take.

You should always sterilize bottles after every use if the baby or family members are sick, and if the bottles have visible residue or build up in them.


Sterilizing baby bottles is an important part of keeping a baby and a family healthy. Fortunately, there are several ways to do it, and it doesn’t have to be a difficult or time-consuming chore.

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