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As a parent, your baby’s safety is always at the forefront of your mind.  Whether checking to make sure that the bath water is at a safe and comfortable temperature, baby proofing your windows, trying to keep your baby’s hands warm at night, or making sure there are no suffocation hazards in your baby’s sleep space, you’re constantly thinking about your little one.  It’s no surprise that another thing you’re likely doing to keep your baby safe and healthy is sterilising their bottles.  But now that your baby isn’t a tiny newborn anymore, you may be wondering when to stop sterilising baby bottles. If so, you’ve come to the right place!

We’ve put together some information and guidelines to help you answer the question, “What age can you stop sterilising baby bottles?”

Keep reading to find the answers to your questions so you will know when it is safe to stop sterilising your baby’s feeding bottles.

What Age Can You Stop Sterilising Baby Bottles in the UK?

To answer your question about when do you stop sterilising baby bottles, the National Health Service recommends that bottles, teats, and other feeding utensils for a baby should be sterilised until they are one year or older.

It is important to continue sterilising their bottles for this long because it can offer protection from infections, such as vomiting and diarrhoea.

When not properly sterilised, bacteria can develop in the areas that you can’t thoroughly clean with just soap and water.  Since a baby’s immune system is not as strong as yours is, it is important to do everything you can to protect your little one from getting an infection.

Sterilising doesn’t involve the use of any harsh chemicals or soaps.  Rather, sterilising uses hot water or steam to kill up to 99.9% of bacteria.  The water and steam are able to reach all the areas inside the bottles and teats that you may not have been able to thoroughly clean with just soap and water.

Is it Really Necessary to Sterilise Baby Bottles?

Some parents wonder if it is really necessary to sterilise baby bottles.  They think washing bottles with soap and water or running them through the dishwasher will be sufficient.  Others may believe that it is important to sterilise for the first few months, but ask, “Can I stop sterilising at 6 months? or “Can I stop sterilising bottles at 8 months?”

We understand.  Whether you are breastfeeding, formula feeding, or supplementing with formula, sterilising may seem like a daunting and unnecessary task with everything else on your plate.  However, as we shared above, sterilising bottles and teats is very important until your baby is 12 months old.

Without proper sterilisation, it is likely that bacteria will begin to accumulate in some of the harder-to-reach areas inside your baby’s bottles or teats.  This bacteria, coupled with a baby’s weaker immune system, could spell big trouble.

It just isn’t worth the risk of infection to your baby to stop sterilising their bottles too early or skip sterilisation all together.

How Do You Sterilise Bottles?

There are three main options when it comes to sterilising baby bottles.


One tried and true option is boiling the baby bottles.  For this approach, you will need to boil all of your baby’s feeding supplies in a pot of boiling water for at least 10 minutes.  It is important to make sure that everything is submerged in the pot for the entire time to allow the water to circulate and sterilised.

A downside to the boiling method of sterilisation is that some items, such as teats, can become damaged over time and may need to be replaced.  Also, some bottles and other feeding supplies may not be able to be submerged in boiling water for 10 minutes or more.  You will have to verify that everything you want to sterilise can safely go in boiling water.


Steam sterilisation is a popular method that many parents use to keep their baby’s bottles clean and safe

You can purchase an electric steam steriliser, such as the Philips Avent 3-in-1 Electric Steam.  These products are designed to do all the work for you.  You’ll simply need to wash your bottles and load them into the steriliser.  Then, add the required amount of water and start the steriliser.

When using a steam steriliser, you should always consult the manufacturer’s instructions.  Every product is different and there may be different guidelines regarding how to use it or set the controls.  You should also place items in the steriliser so the opening is facing down.  This will allow the steam to circulate and do its job.

Cold Water

A final sterilising option you may see is cold water sterilisation.  This method involves creating a sterilising solution and soaking all of your bottles, teats, and feeding supplies in the solution for 30 minutes or more.

Cold Water Sterilisers, such as the Milton Steriliser, have covers or plungers to make sure everything stays submerged in the solution.  If you use a cold water steriliser, be sure to change the solution every 24 hours.

If you want to learn more about the different options for sterilising bottles, look at the sterilising section in the pregnancy and baby guide from the NHS.

How Often Should You Sterilise Bottles?

So, now that we know how important it is to sterilise your baby’s bottles, how often should you sterilise bottles?

Ideally, bottles should be sterilised every time they are used.  This will help ensure that bacteria doesn’t have a chance to build up and find its way into your little one’s system.

While you want to sterilise a bottle before it is used again, you don’t have to run individual sterilisation loads every time your baby finishes a bottle.  Rather, you can rinse bottles out after your baby has finished them.  Then, once you have enough bottles for a load for the steriliser (or if your bottle supply is starting to diminish), you can clean all the bottles then run a load of sterilisation.

Does a Bottle Steriliser Replace Washing?

Many parents ask us “Does a bottle steriliser replace washing?”  After hearing how a steriliser can remove bacteria and prevent it from building up inside a bottle, it might sound like the answer to that question should be yes.

However, the answer is actually no.  Sterilising bottles does not take the place of washing them.

Sterilisation and cleaning should be used together to ensure a thoroughly clean bottle that is safe for your baby to drink from.

When you clean bottles, you use soap and warm water with a bottle brush to remove any pumped milk or formula that is still in the bottle.  Completing this step before sterilising bottles is essential because a steriliser won’t remove the excess milk.  Rather, steriliser work to remove any leftover bacteria.

Sterilising Baby Bottles: FAQs

How long do empty bottles stay sterile?

Generally, sterilised bottles will remain sterile and ready for your baby for up to 24 hours.  To make sure you always have sterile bottles for your baby, you can come up with a system that will work for you.

For example, you may choose to always sterilise bottles first thing in the morning, so they are ready for the day.  Or, you may decide that you’d prefer to get everything cleaned and sterilised at the end of the day to have it ready to go the next day.  Either option is fine, you will want to choose the one that will be easiest for you to implement.

Is it bad to sterilise bottles in the microwave?

No, sterilising bottles in the microwave is not bad.  However, you may want to think about whether you feel your microwave is clean enough for your baby’s bottles.  If you have a lot of spilled or caked on foods, you will probably want to give the microwave a deep-cleaning before using it for baby bottles.

Microwave bottle sterilisers, such as the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Microwave Steam Steriliser or Munchkin Cool Touch Microwave Steriliser Bags, can also be purchased.  These products are specifically designed to be used to sterilise baby bottles in the microwave.  If you choose a microwave baby bottle steriliser, be sure to carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

How should you store sterilised baby bottles?

Improper storage of baby bottles can negate the work you did to sterilise them.  Before removing the bottles from the steriliser, be sure to wash your hands with warm soap and water so you don’t contaminate them.  Allow the bottles and teats to air dry.  Then, put the bottles back together and put them in a sealed container.

Another option is to leave the bottles in the steriliser until you need them again.  This way you won’t risk them getting contaminated with something in the air or on your counter tops.

When to Stop Sterilising Baby Bottles: A Summary

Sterilising may seem like ‘one more’ thing to try to juggle as you care for your little one.  However, it is an important one.

Sterilising your baby’s bottles, teats, and other feeding supplies through their first year of life can help protect them against diarrhoea, vomiting, and other infections.

If questions about when to stop sterilising baby bottles have been worrying you, we hope you’ve found the answers you were looking for in this article!