Babies require a lot of equipment, and properly cleaned items place fewer demands on their fledgling immune systems. Although careful cleaning is necessary while a baby is building immunity, especially during its first 12 months, it’s not necessary to scrub down and sterilize everything in sight. The main aim is to be meticulous in cleaning any item that ends up in a baby’s mouth — bottles, nipples, pacifiers and all feeding utensils.
1. Baby bottles
+ Clean bottles as soon as possible after they are finished so that bacteria are less likely to grow.
+ Pour out any unused milk and rinse the bottle under the faucet.
+ Then, wash bottle, nipple and cap in hot, soapy water, using a bottle brush to clean them all thoroughly, inside and out.
+ Force the soapy water through the hole in the nipple.
+ Rinse everything well with clean water.
2. Sterilizing bottles
+ For babies under 12 months old, all feeding equipment should also be sterilized and for this step, you have a few choices. The simplest, most effective and time-honoured method is boiling.
+ Fill a large saucepan with cold water, immerse all the equipment in the water — it must be completely submerged — put the lid on the pan, bring to a boil and boil rapidly for 5 to 10 minutes.
+ Let cool in the water, then remove with tongs, shake off excess water, replace lids and store in a clean place until ready to fill.
+ An alternative to boiling is a sterilizer. There are numerous models available, some of which can be placed in your microwave. Others work as plug-in standalone units.
+ Glass bottles and metal utensils cannot be sterilized in the microwave version.
+ If the unit remains sealed after use, equipment remains sterile for 6 to 8 hours.
3. Strollers and high chairs
+ Sprinkle baking soda on a damp paper towel or clean cloth and wipe down the item, and rinse with warm water.
+ A sponge is no good for washing the surfaces of baby equipment, because bacteria can become trapped in the sponge and spread to other surfaces the next time it’s used.
4. Changing table
+ Place a couple of clean paper towels on it before each diaper change to protect the pad from germs.
+ If the mess saturates the paper towels, clean up with detergent or liquid soap and water.
+ Rinse off the area with water, pour a little alcohol on a clean cloth and wipe down the pad and table.
5. Baby toys
+ Remember that a lot of plastic and rubber toys can withstand a short cycle in the dishwasher.
+ Toss them into the dishwasher regularly to keep germs or organic material on the toys to a minimum.
+ Give any grubby looking toys a quick scrub with an old toothbrush first.
+ Wash stuffed animals in the washing machine, using hot water to kill dust mites.
6. Portable cribs and playpens
+ Don’t forget this important baby equipment in your cleaning regime.
+ Remove the mattress and frame regularly and thoroughly vacuum out any crevices.
+ Mix up a bucket of mild baby-safe detergent and water, and take two new household sponges, wring them out in the solution and, placing a sponge on either side of the mesh, work your way around, rubbing the mesh between the sponges and rinsing often.
+ Discard the sponges after use.