When it comes to all the things babies put in their mouth, parents are often faced with a tough choice: should they try to kill or neutralize every single germ or just wash the item with hot water? Is it better to play safe by sterilizing everything, or let the kiddo get used to the environment and develop his immune system?
Opinions are divided on this matter, making this just one of gazillions of questions that don’t have an easy answer. You shouldn’t obsess over germs and bacteria, but you shouldn’t make their job too easy either – especially if your kiddo is less than six months old. Warm water and soap are still your best, everyday allies, but that’s not to say you should never sterilize anything just because your own mother didn’t do it with you.
If your baby has issues with her immune system, get a good bottle sterilizer without a second thought. Her tiny and fragile organism can’t fight germs successfully, and it’s not worth the risk.
What to Look for in Bottle Sterilizers?
Frankly, there are ways to sterilize bottles, pacifiers, teethers and other stuff without having a specially designed tool for that. You can boil the items for a few minutes, or put them into a dishwasher with dry heating system.
However, parenting is a busy adventure, and you might not have enough time to do this time and time again throughout a single day. If you want to get automatic, here are a few basic considerations when choosing a perfect bottle sterilizer.
- How does it work? Some sterilizers come as separate contraptions that kill germs by using electric steam. Typically, they reach higher temperatures than you would get when putting a bottle in boiling water. Others will do their job with heat from your microwave. Yet another type counts UV lights, which are probably the most efficient sterilizers since those lights disintegrate bacteria at certain wavelengths.
- How much space does it take up? Countertops are usually cluttered just as much as they are valuable to you. How spacious is yours? Can it handle yet another device? Or do you have some other place where it could sit so as not to become a barricade in your kitchen? Ask yourself these questions before buying a bottle sterilizer.
- Ease of use and maintenance. Having to clean up baby things is enough, and you probably won’t want to spend even more time on cleaning the cleaners themselves. Steam tends to produce buildup and mineral residue. Some devices will need you to remove it if you don’t want it to finish in your infant’s meal. Others have self-cleaning mechanisms.
- How many bottles and other parts does it hold? Some of these units will accommodate four or five bottles, others only one or a couple of them, whereas some will easily hold all of your bottles, including tiny accessories and toys. These things were made to save your time, so you’d better make sure they save as much of it as possible, without burdening you with more work.
- Versatility. If you’re ready to spend bigger bucks, you can get a very functionable device that can disinfect not only bottles and other baby stuff, but even other items such as stuffed animals, smartphones or jewelry. If you opt for those advanced sterilizing systems, they will probably prove worthy of every penny, since you won’t have to ditch them once your baby grows up.
Best Bottle Sterilizers – Reviews
Before I dig into the best products I’ve found on the market, here’s a quick note for parents that haven’t had a chance to use any of these. Most of these units still require you to pre-clean the bottles if you want the best results. If not cleaned beforehand, milk and formula will form a film that the sterilizer won’t be able to get rid of. It will only kill the germs and bacteria that might be wandering about, but the food residue will still be there.
So, the best strategy would be to run the bottles through your dishwasher or wash them with warm water and fine dish soap, and only then use the sterilizers to – well, obviously, sterilize them.
One of the most efficient and cheapest options available, this sterilizer does all the work in just two minutes – perfect when you’re in urgent need of a clean bottle. It will fit most microwaves and will keep your accessories clean and sterile for up to 24 hours, so you can pop it into the microwave before going to sleep and have your accessories ready for the next morning’s brekkie. It has the best customer reviews on our list and will perform better than many high-end steamer alternatives.
A simple yet comprehensive solution for moms and pops, this little gadget will sterilize a bottle, warm it or heat food in two to five minutes. Your counter will appreciate its small dimensions and compactness. The fact that it can only handle a single bottle can be a downside, but then again it makes it perfect when you’re out and about, or when the baby gets hangry in the middle of the night. It fits all bottle varieties, standard or wide-neck, as well as food jars. A beep will let you know when it’s done with whatever function you’ve set.
If you’re looking for a reasonably priced device that won’t take up any space on your countertop, this could be the right choice. Just put four bottles (Dr. Brown’s standard or wide-neck would be the most compatible) and nipples into the sterilizing tray, slip it into your microwave and that’s it. There are specialized tongs that will help you remove the bottles from the tray so as to avoid burnt fingers as result. Five minutes for sterilizing, another couple of minutes for the bottles to cool down and they’re good to go. And you won’t have to worry about maintenance since the tray is removable and easy to clean. There’s just one possible downside: it won’t fit into every microwave type. The product’s dimensions are 10.5 x 6.7 x 10.5 inches, so you might want to measure your microwave before making the purchase.
The 4-in-1 sterilizer can function as a sterilizer only, sterilizer and dryer, dryer only, or a storage system so your sparkling bottles don’t catch any of the nasty bacteria crawling all over your kitchen. The steaming cycle takes up about 8 minutes, and you can opt for a 30, 45 or 60-minute drying cycle to get rid of condensation, with a control panel and display so you can always know where it’s at. I especially like the fact that you don’t need to babysit it, since it will automatically switch off once it’s done. The only downside that I’m aware of is that it takes a lot of space, so if you have a smallish counter, it’s probably not the best option. Check out my full review of its predecessor here.
Another combo device that sterilizes with steam, dries with hot air, and stores all of your tiny baby accessories, this contraption takes one hour to clean up to eight bottles at a time. It takes up to 15 minutes to sterilize, and up to 60 to dry everything up. The countdown timer will tell you exactly how much time it has left. If you opt for the Plus version, which is slightly more expensive, you will also get a bigger basket, one-button descaling to get rid of mineral deposits, a plate rack, as well as memory setting to make the next session even simpler.
Up to four bottles and two breast pump attachments will get sterilized in this little thing in just two minutes, with 99.9% of bacteria annihilated. Give them another 10 minutes to cool down and you’re set. The handles are heat-resistant, so you won’t have to be extra careful when pulling it out of the microwave. This item is one of the most popular in its category, with over 560 customer reviews as of this writing, and 4.3 out of 5 stars.
This sleek and compact sterilizer will handle up to five bottles at a time, using electric steam to get rid of 99.9% of bacteria. If you keep the lid closed, the bottles will stay sterilized for up to 24 hours – preserving the result if you’re gone for an entire day. It’s compatible with most bottle types. And you don’t really need to perform rocket science on it – just fill the base with water, load your bottles, pacifiers, breast pump parts or other stuff, turn it on and come back in 5 minutes.
You may have noticed that little UV contraption your dentist uses – well, its main purpose is to make your mouth bacteria-free. This technology is now introduced to baby industry. The ultraviolet disinfection works by disintegrating microorganisms’ cell structure, which either kills or disables them. It’s a far more advanced method than killing the germs at high temperatures like boiling or steaming does. And the price is accordingly high, but read on before you decide it’s out of your range. It’s the most versatile device from our list – it will even clean electronic devices such as TV remotes, your smartphone, kitchenware, jewelry, cosmetics, stuffed animals, so it will stay in use well after your baby grows up. The sterilizing and drying cycle takes up to 30 minutes; if you want to only sterilize or dry the items, it will take as little as 5 minutes. The display will always show the exact time a function will take, so you can set it and come back in the designated amount of time to pick up your disinfected gear.