Bacteria can grow easily in warm or room-temperature milk and milk-based formula. To protect babies from bacterial infections of the gastrointestinal tract, it’s essential to make sure that formula stays perfectly fresh and all feeding equipment is kept clean and free from contamination.
Some doctors still recommend sterilizing bottles and other feeding equipment in boiling water and using only sterilized (boiled) water for making up formula. In some areas the water supply is clean enough that stringent hygiene is adequate. Ask your pediatrician for specific advice.
Even if you don’t sterilize bottles, you must scrub bottles and nipples using a bottle brush and hot, soapy water. Bottles and caps (but not nipples) can also be washed in an automatic dishwasher set at its highest temperature. Here are some other hygiene tips to follow carefully:
- If possible, make up only one bottle at a time. If you make up several bottles at once, refrigerate them immediately with the nipples covered and use them within 24 hours less if you are using a Thermos or other insulated container.
- Never heat bottles in the microwave. Mouth burns can occur if infants drink microwave-warmed bottles in which the heat is unevenly distributed.
- If you’re traveling, the safest way to take formula along is to use premixed, presterilized bottles. Never carry warm formula. Pack it chilled and warm it just before feeding.
- To cut down on bottle scrubbing, use presterilized, disposable plastic bottle inserts. Nipples must still be scrubbed, however.
- Scrupulously wash and/or sterilize all other equipment used in formula preparation, including measuring cups, spoons, and mixing jars.
- Don’t leave unused formula in a bottle for washing up later. Rinse out the bottle and leave it filled with water until you get the chance to scrub.
- If your baby leaves formula after a feeding, the safest bet is to discard it. If you save it, refrigerate it immediately and offer it only once more.
- Expressed breast milk should be treated with the same hygienic precautions as formula.
It may take time to figure out the best way to ease the transition into sleep, whether with rocking, cuddling, or a lullaby. Sometimes, the best method is simply to put a fussy, tired baby in the crib and let him cry until sleep comes.
If the crying continues several minutes, though, it’s perfectly all right to pick your baby up again. Remember, you can’t spoil a newborn. (Note: Be sure your baby sleeps with safe bedding and in a safe position).