It is important to remember that powdered infant formula milk is not a sterile product. Correct preparation and handling is therefore vital to reduce the risk of serious illness in babies. Each feed should be made up as it is required. Storing pre-made infant formula milk may increase the chance of a baby becoming ill and should be avoided.
Clear instructions can be found on infant formula milks, so take time to familiarise yourself with the steps. Key points include:
N.B. The required temperature for some specialist milks will vary – always check the pack first.
N.B. Ordinary tap water is best. Artificially softened, filtered and repeatedly boiled water should not be used to make feeds, as mineral levels may be too high. When using still, bottled water, the sodium level needs to be less than 200mg per litre and the fluoride level less than 1.5mg per litre. Water or formula powder should not be added to make a feed stronger or weaker unless advised to do so by a healthcare professional. Food should never be added to a baby’s bottle.
Parents will need the following equipment, whether they are bottle feeding with infant formula or expressed breast milk:
Babies are most vulnerable to infections during their first year of life and as milk provides a perfect medium for the growth of bacteria, it is essential that bottle feeding equipment is sterilised for the first year.
Before sterilising, all equipment should be washed in a dishwasher or in hot, soapy water, with bottles scrubbed inside and out with a bottle brush. Teats should be scrubbed and cleaned with a teat brush and water squirted through them to remove all traces of milk. For mums who are expressing breast milk, the parts of the breast pump that come into contact with milk (e.g. suction cup) will also need to be sterilised before use. All equipment should then be rinsed in water before sterilising.
If sterilised bottles are not being used immediately, they should be fully assembled and used within 24 hours to prevent contamination.
There are three main methods of sterilising: cold water, electric steam and microwave.
These are the fastest methods of sterilising and require no tablets, liquid or rinsing of items. They are more expensive to buy and may require regular de-scaling. Some microwave sterilisers don’t hold as many bottles as electric versions.
1 Wash hands thoroughly and wash the feeding equipment in hot, soapy water. Scrub the insides and outsides of the bottles using a bottle brush. Scrub the teats with a teat brush and squirt water through them to help remove all traces of milk. Rinse all equipment thoroughly under the tap.
2 Add the require amount of water to the steriliser (see manufacturer’s instructions).
3 Load the steriliser with the equipment, including the teat tongs (making sure that no items are facing upwards/able to fill with water). Put the lid on the steriliser and either switch it on or put it in the microwave on the required power and time setting (see manufacturer’s instructions).
4 When it has finished, the steriliser will usually turn itself off. Keep the lid on the steriliser and allow the contents to cool slightly before opening.
5 Always assemble the bottles using the sterilised teat tongs to avoid contaminating the sterile equipment. If not being used immediately, bottles should be fully assembled with teats and lids in place. Use bottles within 24 hours (see manufacturer’s instructions, as this may vary).
Next, read the article on storage of feeds.
Originally Published by Training Matters