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Breast milk is the best thing for your baby but it may not be so good if it is left behind in the bottles or any other part coming in contact with it while pumping. Milk residue provides a good medium for germs to grow on. It is essential to remove all possible traces from the feeding bottles and different parts of the breast pump that come in contact with the milk.
Other than breast milk, items like pacifiers or water sippers also need to be thoroughly cleaned in order to prevent infection in babies and toddlers. All infant and toddler feeding items need to be cleaned, sanitized and stored properly before being used.
• First thing to start off with are clean hands. Make sure to keep a good hand hygiene and give a good rub while you wash your hands for 20 seconds. Clean and dry hands are essential in handling all feeding bottles and items.
• Assemble the bottle parts or the breast pump while you inspect for any water droplets or any residue left behind. Make sure the items are completely air dried before use.
• In case of breast pump, clean the electric machine with disinfect wipes , making sure to clean the power switch and other operating buttons on it.
• Start off with disassembling the entire bottle , removing the cap, teat and the 2 -piece internal vent system (some bottles have them to prevent vacuum free feeding, helps as anti-colic system for babies) . In case of breast pumping set, remove the breast shields, membranes , connecting tube and uncap the bottles. The disassembled parts are kept separately in a washing tray or a clean basin. The connecting tube doesn’t need to be cleaned unless you can spot milk residue inside it.
• Fill the washing tray or basin with luke warm water and use a fragrance-free mild baby dish soap for cleaning the items( pigeon liquid soap or drbonner / puracy for an organic option). Avoid using normal dish detergents/ liquid soaps since they contain harsh chemicals that leave traces behind in the bottles or the sippers.
• Use a bottle cleaning brush, preferably one which has a combination of soft bristles and a sponge at the end. It works better in scrubbing and cleaning the bottle properly. Use a thin tip/ teat cleaning brushes to get inside the teat for a proper cleaning and getting rid of milk residues.
• Then rinse the bottle parts and other feeding items under running water (warm/cold) , making sure to get all the cleaning agent off the items.
• After a good rinse place all the items on a drying rack or over a clean dish towel or paper towel and allow them to air dry. Don’t pat to dry the items as it may transfers germs.
• Follow it up with sterilization for extra protection.
• Then store them in a dust/dirt free zone. You can use a tupperware storage unit/box.
• One can use a dishwasher also for washing the items ,using hot water and a heated drying option but make sure to put them in a mesh laundry bag to avoid them ending up in the dishwasher filter.
• If the baby is premature, younger than 3 months of age or suffers from a weak immune system due to any reason, it is advisable to sterilize after every use.
• Sterilization is a must at least once in a day.
• If you are using items made out of plastic (breast pumping items), it is better to wash them properly with warm water and try not sterilizing more than twice a day.It spoils the quality and may alter the shape of the item.
• There are various different types of sterilization method like boiling , using steam, bleaching, sanitizer sprays and by using sterilization tablets and bags
• You can use the boiling method, where you disassemble the feeding items and place them inside a pot which is filled with water.Let the water boil inside the pot for at least 5 minutes and then remove the items using a cleaned and previously sterilized tong.
• You can invest into a steamer (Philips avent ) and opt for the steaming method. It’s a good option and investment since its hazel free and easy to carry out the process. Since the steamer is used for the baby exclusively, you can leave in the bottles and other feeding items inside the steamer box and take them out just before use.
• You can bleach baby’s feeding items by using fragrance- free bleaching solution (2 teaspoon in 16 cups/1gallon of water). Keep all the items soaked in for at least 2 mins and then take them out of the solution with help of the tongs or clean hands. Let them air dry. Don’t rinse them as the bleach will break down as it dries.
• One can use sterilizing tablets (pigeon or ef-chlor), especially when travelling. They are easy to use, portable and can be used in cold water. They disinfect the surface and are provide a high efficacy solution for 24 hours in the most hygienic and safe way. Generally, one tablet is added to 2.3-2.5 liters of water and stirred to dissolve it completely. Then you have to immerse all the items to be cleaned into the solution for at least 30 minutes. It is then followed up with a good rinse with cold or warm water. The items are air dried and stored properly before their next use.(read the instruction for required amount of water for the tablet and whether rinsing is required post dipping the items in the solution)
• Then microwave steam sterilizer bags are available (dr brown’s/ medela) which are an easy and convenient method of sterilizing, allowing you to eliminate approximately 99.9 % of the germs from the feeding items or breast pump accessories. It has advantage of the bags being reusable (15-20 times) and it is burn-free experience.
• Few quick cleaning options as sanitizer sprays are available in the market which are good for “on the go “ option (medela). They work best for the breast pump and accessories.
• Start with Clean hands and use previously sterilized tongs.
• Use fragrance free mild baby dish soaps.
• Use of combination kind of cleaning brush (different for bottle and the teat/nipple).
• Sterilization is an important process of cleaning, should be done atleast once a day.
• Avoid cleaning the connecting tube of the breast pump unless it is soiled. If water droplets are left behind, switch on the electric machine and let the suction work. Make sure the tube is dry and clean always. Keep a spare one ready in case you spot water droplets or milk in the tube.
• Avoid frequent use of steamers for plastic bottles and other items. Quality and shape of few of the items may get altered by regular or frequent steaming.
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