Do you really need to use the best bottle sterilizers in order to keep your infant healthy? There are some parents that question if there really is a need for regular bottle sterilization. These parents worry that this extra step in infant care will negatively impact a baby’s developing immune system. But as a parent we know we have plenty to worry about and the chance of harmful bacteria and toxins contaminating our child’s bottles shouldn’t be one of them. While it’s true that a baby will develop an immunity to certain types of bacteria by being exposed to it, this shouldn’t involve exposure to bottles and pacifiers that are contaminated with mold and bacteria.
A bottle sterilizer will ensure that your child’s bottles are sterile and free from toxins, bacteria, and mold. I’ve reviewed many of the leading models on the market and I’ve narrowed it down to six machines that have the features every mom and dad are looking for. Some are dedicated sterilizers with a large bottle capacity, while others are multifunction machines that can heat up bottles, defrost breast milk, and more.
Choosing the best bottle sterilizer isn’t easy. In order for a model to make it onto my list, I checked a number of features such as safety, size, and effectiveness. I took a look at the sterilizing cycle times, bottle capacity, and overall durability. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that lists the bottle capacity for each model, style, and length of the sterilizing cycle, to give you a better idea of how each model measures up to the competition and the similarities they share.
Bottle Sterilizers Comparison Chart
|Product||Bottle capacity||Sterilizing cycle length||Cost||Rating|
|Papablic Sterilizer||11||8,45,65 mins||$|
|Philips AVENT 3-in-1||6||6 mins||$$|
|Grownsy 6-in-1||2||8 mins||$|
|Bimirth Sterilizer||2||8-20 mins||$$|
|Philips AVENT 4-in-1||6||6 mins||$|
|Dr. Brown's Sterilizer|
Largest Bottle Capacity-Papablic Baby Bottle Electric Steam Sterilizer and Dryer
The Papablic bottle sterilizer and dryer can handle up to eleven full-sized bottles per cycle and includes three different cycle length options that you can choose by using the large dial. This model can also sterilize breast pump parts, pacifiers, nipples, and small toys. The larger capacity is a huge selling point for parents who want to sterilize multiple bottles in one shot.
The drying function will thoroughly dry bottles and other accessories so you won’t have to do it manually once the cycle is complete. However, the drying feature can significantly lengthen the sterilizing cycle. Cycle times include a fast eight-minute process, without the drying feature, and a forty-five minute, and a sixty-five-minute sterilizing cycle. The third cycle is a great option for larger batches of bottles.
Overall, this model is very easy to use and maintain, however, it should be cleaned out every three cycles to prevent limescale or mold. This is a dedicated sterilizer, so it does lack extra functions that other models in this price range may offer, however, its ability to handle sterilizing several bottles per batch of any shape and size is enough to get most parents to hit that buy now button.
Shortest Sterilizing Cycle-Philips AVENT 3-in-1 Electric Steam Sterilizer
This bottle sterilizer can handle up to six eleven ounce full-sized baby bottles. It can also handle sterilizing breast pump accessories, bottle accessories, nipples, teething rings, and small toys. Additionally, it can accommodate bottles of all sizes including wide-neck and angled. It features a single six-minute cycle, complete with automatic shut off feature, so the machine will shut down as soon as the cycle is finished. This is a nice safety feature to have.
The manufacturer claims this machine can kill 99.9% of bacteria and germs and can keep baby bottles and other equipment sterile for a period of twenty-four hours if stored correctly. If that’s not enough reason to buy, this model also comes with a lengthy two-year product warranty.
Most Versatile-Grownsy 6-in-1 Fast Baby Bottle Warmer and Bottle Sterilizer
This is one of the most versatile bottle sterilizers on the market. While its primary function is to sterilize bottles, it can also heat up baby food and keep it ready to serve for up to six hours, thanks to its built-in temperature sensors. It can also defrost frozen breast milk and baby food, and warm up breast milk bags and formula, which is pretty impressive.
However, despite the fact that this is a powerful multifunction machine, you can only sterilize two bottles per cycle, which can be a big drawback for some parents, especially those with twins. However, it does have a short sterilizing cycle time of just eight minutes. As far as its heating functions, it can heat up room temperature baby food and bottles in as little as three minutes. Food or formula that comes from the fridge can take five to seven minutes to heat up to the ideal temperature.
Best LCD Display- Bimirth Baby Bottle Sterilizer and Warmer
This model comes loaded with some great features, including a large LCD display that allows you to keep a close eye on the temperature, in real-time. This is a multifunction sterilizer, so it can also heat up baby food, and warm bottles in addition to sterilizing two bottles at a time. When used to reheat food, it can keep food at the perfect temperature for up to two hours before the automatic shut off feature kicks in. Users can dial in the length of time for a sterilizing cycle ranging from eight minutes up to twenty minutes.
Unfortunately, this is a smaller capacity sterilizer, which can be a drawback for some parents. But the addition of the other functions is a nice compromise. Aside from bottles, this model can also sterilize nipples, bottle rings and caps, pacifiers, small toys, and breast pump accessories. The included double bottle lifter design will prevent moms and dads from scalding their skin when they remove the bottles after a sterilization cycle is complete. This sterilizer will be a great fit for moms and dads searching for a model that can do a whole lot more than just sterilize bottles.
Best Value-Philips AVENT 4-in-1 Electric Steam Sterilizer
This is one of the latest sterilizers from Phillips Avent. It’s slightly different than their other model, the 3-In-1, due to the addition of a large dishwasher basket, which can be used to clean bottles, nipples, caps, lids, and other accessories, securely containing them as they go through the wash cycle in the dishwasher. This is a great extra accessory that moms and dads will appreciate. The sterilizing cycle is six minutes in length and the model itself can accommodate up to six eleven ounce bottles per batch. If you’re looking for a powerful, efficient model that can sterilize half a dozen bottles in a matter of minutes, then you’ll love what the 4-in-1 has to offer. Like other bottle sterilizers by this manufacturer, this model can also eliminate up to 99.9% of germs and bacteria.
Accessories Package-Dr. Brown’s Deluxe Bottle Sterilizer
This dedicated bottle sterilizer isn’t quite as flashy as the other models on our list, but it is powerful, fast, and efficient. It can sterilize six eleven ounce bottles per batch, with a cycle time of eight minutes. The manufacturer claims that this model works best with bottles of the same brand, however, you’ll find that the interior is pretty spacious. The sterilizer can accommodate wide-mouth and angled bottles, in addition to standard-sized bottles. In terms of features, this model is pretty basic, however, it does come with some nice extras including tongs to use when removing the bottles after a cycle is complete, a measuring cup, and a sterilizing tray. The included tray should be used for smaller components, such as nipples, bottle rings, and lids, or pacifiers, teething rings, and breast pump accessories.
Bottle Sterilizer Buyer’s Guide
Bottle sterilizers aren’t just for formula-fed infants. In fact, many mothers that breastfeed will pump and store their breast milk in the event they need to take medication and cannot breastfeed, or for when they go back to work. Formula-fed infants can use as many as six to eight bottles a day, which can equal plenty of washing by hand. If you don’t know much about the benefits of using a bottle sterilizer, then you came to the right place. Below, I’ll discuss how they work, the different types available, and why you should always sterilize your bottles. You can also learn more about breast milk storage and the proper defrosting techniques by reading my guide on breast milk.
How Sterilizers Work
Babies and toddlers get sick. Preventing a cold is pretty inevitable, considering their immune systems are very delicate and continue to develop as they grow older you can expect your infant to get sick pretty often, especially during their first two years of life. Additionally, babies tend to love putting anything they can get their hands on in their mouths, so keeping them germ-free can be a true challenge. But in the home, moms and dads want to do whatever they can to keep their babies happy and healthy. Enter the best bottle sterilizers.
Placing baby bottles in the dishwasher or even washing them by hand isn’t going to kill off all the bacteria and germs that are probably lurking in your baby’s bottle or sippy cup. Sterilizing your infant’s bottles is a great way to ensure you’re killing off any mold or bacteria that can harm your child. This will be especially important in children with compromised immune systems. While some parents may think sterilizing bottles often is overkill, many parents are now incorporating this step into their bottle cleaning process.
How to sterilize baby bottles can be done in a couple of common ways: you can boil the bottles and their accessories in a pot of water on the stove, or you can use a bottle sterilizer. These sterilizers come in a couple of different types: electric or microwave. Both types use steam and will kill up to 99.9% of bacteria in a matter of a few minutes.
While some sterilizing methods can be effective, using a steam-powered model is said to be the best option. To learn more, click here to read my in-depth guide on sterilizing methods.
When you’re choosing a new sterilizer, it’s also important to take into consideration the role of bisphenol A, also referred to as BPA, which is a type of estrogen-mimicking chemical. As of 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration banned the use of BPA in baby sippy cups and bottles since it’s believed to cause developmental disorders.
Additionally, the FDA recommends abstaining from boiling any type of container that contains BPA, including baby bottles, since the heat can cause the chemical to leach into liquids. To stay on the safe side, avoid using microwave sterilizers and baby bottles that were made before 2012.
The right sterilizer shouldn’t take up too much counter space but should be large enough to fit all styles and types of bottles. If you have limited counter space then this will be especially important since the sterilizer will probably remain on the counter. On the other hand, a compact model should be large enough to hold some of the taller and wider bottles on the market. If you have to lay the bottles on their sides in order to fit in the sterilizer, this will allow water to collect inside, basically defeating the purpose of sterilizing them in the first place.
Some top-selling models come with a number of parts that will need to be taken apart and put back together for each use. This can complicate the entire process since there’s a chance of losing or breaking an important piece. Additionally, you will need something that’s easy to clean and maintain.
As a new parent, you have a lot to learn. But one thing you can definitely do without is trying to figure out how to use your new bottle sanitizer at three in the morning. Make sure the model you choose scores well in the ease of use department.
For most models, the length of time it takes to sterilize bottles is related to the volume of water added to the water reservoir. More water equals a longer sterilizing process. Most machines also come with instructions that include a recommended sterilization period of time.
Other models will have preprogrammed lengths that can range from six minutes up to seventy minutes. Typically, multifunction models will usually have lengthier cycles, especially if the machine has a built-in dryer. For the most part, you’ll find that a model will have a single cycle, so you won’t have control over the length of the sterilization process, while other models will have two or three cycles to choose from. Typically, higher-priced models will be more versatile and offer a variety of cycle length options.
Extra Health Precautions
A bottle sterilizer will be a must if your baby is prone to illness due to a weakened immune system. While washing your baby’s bottles by hand or in the dishwasher may be enough to protect them from dirt and some types of germs and bacteria, sterilizing them after they’re washed will give moms and dads total peace of mind. Using a modern-day sterilizer is much easier than boiling bottles on the stove.
When you’re shopping for a sterilizer, make sure you read reviews to learn about proper care and maintenance. To recap, the right type of sterilizer should be easy to maintain, easy to use, and should have a compact design that won’t take up too much counter or cupboard space. But there are also different styles of sterilizers to choose from. However, steam sterilizers are the most common type.
Additionally, steam sterilizers can either be categorized as countertop models, or they can be highly portable and designed for use in the microwave or dishwasher.
There are also battery-powered models, which are perfect for travel but may not be the best option if you sterilize bottles daily. Now, let’s delve a little deeper and learn about each type to help you to determine which style of sterilizer will work for you, your budget, and your growing family.
Electric Steam Sterilizers
With this type of sterilizer, you will need to stay on top of maintaining it regularly in order to prevent limescale. This will be especially important if you have hard water in your area. Cleaning it is as simple as spraying it down using a fifty-fifty solution of white vinegar and water and running it through a cleaning cycle. These sterilizers tend to be large enough to handle sterilizing bottles, the nipples, caps, teething rings, and pacifiers, all at once. Many of these sterilizers will also dry the bottles as well. Some even double as a bottle warmer, which is a huge bonus for any family on a tight budget.
This type of bottle sterilizer features a rather simple design. Basically, you’ll have a microwave-safe container that you can place all of your bottles and accessories in. Just like an electric sterilizer, this type also utilizes steam to kill germs and bacteria. You’ll place your bottles in their designated spots, add water, close the container and then place it in the microwave for the required amount of time. The length of time will depend on how many bottles you’re sterilizing at once, in addition to your microwave’s wattage. Unfortunately, there’s no drying features, or many of the other advantages you’ll enjoy with a countertop sterilizer.
Battery-operated UV sterilizers rely on ultraviolet light to kill germs and come equipped with powerful UV bulbs. These devices are much smaller than countertop sterilizers and can only be used for one bottle at a time. However, they can really come in handy when you’re traveling or you’re away from home for the day.
When you’ve been up all night with your infant, an appliance that can help you multitask can be almost priceless. That’s where multifunction sterilizers come in.
Do you want a dedicated bottle sterilizer, or would you prefer a machine that can do a variety of tasks including sterilizing bottles? There are many popular models on the market that can sterilize bottles, heat up the formula and breast milk, defrost breast milk, heat up and keep baby food warm, dry bottles, and many other features.
Keep in mind, if you’re looking for a multifunction model, many can only sterilize two to three bottles at a time. So, if you’re looking for a machine with a large bottle capacity, you’ll want to pass these multifunction models on by.
Multifunction models usually offer the following features:
- Bottle warmer
- Bottle dryer
- Baby food warmer
- Stay warm
- Breast milk bag warmer
- Sterilizing trays for accessories
Often, since there are so many parts, these multifunction models can be more difficult to clean, but they offer a variety of uses that will allow you to continue to benefit from the appliance even well after your infant has stopped using their bottle. Of course, the more bells and whistles an appliance has, the more you can expect to pay, but for some parents, this type of added convenience is often worth every penny.
Once you’ve chosen the style of sterilizer you want to buy, capacity should be another important spec to pay close attention to, especially if you have twins. Keep in mind that sterilizers can be used to sanitize other types of baby-related items including breast pump parts, teething rings, nipples, and pacifiers, not just bottles. Models with a larger capacity will allow you to sanitize multiple pieces and accessories all at once.
For most parents, portability may not be at the top of their list, but if you travel often or you’re looking for a sterilizer that you can easily pack up and take to the sitter’s or grandma’s house, then obviously, you’ll want a model that’s highly portable.
Care and Maintenance
Cleaning out a bottle sterilizer may seem like common sense, but many parents can be clueless when it comes to keeping their sterilizer descaled and in pristine condition, especially if they’ve never used one before. Typically, a sterilizer will come with its own user manual, which can provide plenty of helpful information that will tell you exactly how to care for your new appliance. The manual should also include tips for other ways to use the sterilizer once your child no longer uses bottles. Some models can sterilize baby dishes, silverware, and cups after your little one has been weaned off of formula.
Once you’ve used your new machine a few times it’s important to clean it out using vinegar and water. Just like with a coffee machine, a sterilizer can collect residue and build up limescale along the bottom.
To prevent this from happening make sure you clean the machine after every third cycle. This ensures that your appliance will last longer and prevents bacteria and mold from contaminating your child’s bottles and other feeding equipment.
After Each use
While sterilizers are very convenient, some models can be a hassle to clean, even though the entire sterilization process only takes a few minutes. But a few minutes of prep work is often worth keeping your machine in good working order. Because of this, I recommend taking your machine apart after each use. Doing so allows all of the components to dry out completely before you use the machine again. This will also deter rust from taking over certain components of the machine. Additionally, drying out the components will prevent bacteria and mold from growing, both of which tend to find their way in moist or wet hard to reach areas.
Many parents mistakenly believe that they can throw dirty bottles, nipples, and other accessories into a sterilizer only to be surprised when they find that the bottles are still dirty at the end of a cycle. You must clean bottles and every accessory, prior to placing them in the sterilizer. This machine is used in addition to cleaning the bottles by hand or in your dishwasher. Placing dirty bottles in the sterilizer can also cause cross-contamination, especially if you’re washing more than one child’s bottles. To sum it up, clean your bottles and other components prior to placing them in the sterilizer to ensure your bottles are completely free from bacteria.
Using the right model to help you sterilize bottles and any other item that finds its way into your infant’s mouth is crucial. Taking the time and effort to ensure that the bottles, bottle accessories, and teething rings, and pacifiers are bacteria and germ-free is important, especially for infants who are younger than three months or those born prematurely, both of which have weakened immune systems. Even if your child doesn’t have a weakened immune system or they have not been sick recently, sterilizing bottles is never a bad idea, in fact, it’s an important extra step that can ensure your little one remains safe and healthy.
With the best bottle sterilizer, you can sterilize bottles, pacifiers, teething, rings, and any other item that your infant has put in their mouth, in a matter of minutes. I hope that my guide and in-depth reviews of the leading models has given you a better idea of how these devices work, what type of results you can expect, and exactly why you need to sterilize all of your infant’s feeding equipment often.