To sterilise or not, that is the question

Should you sterilise this?

Should you sterilise this?

I’ve heard lots of mums talking about sterilising in various online places recently which has prompted this blog post. I had my eldest daughter, L, when we were living in France and when I talked about sterilising there I was met with two schools of thought:

School of thought 1
You must sterilise to protect your baby from the nasties that are everywhere, especially on baby bottles.

School of thought 2
Sterilising means that babies don’t develop their own immunity against the nasties that are everywhere, therefore you shouldn’t sterilise.

Now I would love to say that I sat down and weighed up the pros and cons of the two arguments, researched them, analysed them and so forth before making my decision. But that would be a big, fat lie. I’m all about making my life easier wherever possible (although I can’t be that lazy, as I use cloth nappies which I wash myself), so it was pretty much a foregone conclusion. If the medical professionals couldn’t decide which was best then I was going for the easy option. No sterilising.

That’s right. I did not sterilise one single thing of L’s, and C has just turned 10 months and has had nothing sterilised either. However, most baby bottles get washed in the dishwasher at around 50 or 60° so my thinking is that should kill a whole host of nasties.

I don’t preach this to others, I just state what I did (or rather didn’t do), as each to his/her own and all that.

What result did this not sterilising have in my children?

L had breast milk exclusively for 6 months, but from 3 months onwards half her feeds came in a bottle as she was at a childminder’s, from 6-12 months she was on about 50-50 breast milk/formula.

C had 80% breast milk/20% formula for her first 6 months. Then for the last 4 months she’s been more or less 70% breast milk/30% formula.

Both children have grown up around a dog and at least one cat, and a house that is not overly sterilised.

L had one minor cold when she was 9 months old (we were living in the south of France though!) and was ill for the first time, with a 24 hour gastric bug, when she was nearly a year old. In general now (aged nearly 7) she seems to be a lot less ill than a lot of her friends.

C has had a couple of minor colds and a minor viral rash just recently, but other than that is mostly well. I’ve had to give her Calpol a couple of times in the last 10 months, but I’d say on the whole she’s a pretty healthy baby.

L was exposed to other children from aged 3 months (including school age children), C was exposed to other children from the age of 2 days when she came on the school run with me (and L’s friends do love to smother her in kisses and strokes with their oh so clean hands!).

Is the lack of sterilisation linked to their general health? Or is that down to breastfeeding? Or some other unknown factor?

Do/did you sterilise your baby’s bottles? Their toys? Do you think I’m an unfit mother because I don’t/didn’t? I’d also be interested to know whether any French mums reading this sterilised their baby’s bottles, as I think all my British mum friends did.


14 Responses

  1. HonestMum says:

    Think we stopped steralising at 6 months, I stopped bfeeding at 3 with A, 7 months with O. Think do what feels right for you.
    HonestMum recently posted…PMT Busters (without moving abroad, although it might help).My Profile

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      Interesting as a lot of my UK mum friends sterilise to a year. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  2. Gcroft says:

    Am not a French mum.

    I sterilise LO’s bottles but when we were on holidays recently for a week, didn’t. She’s only had a cold once, when she was about 5 months old, which lasted for 10 days. LO was on breastmilk/Formula 70/30 until she was 4.5 months old. On formula since.

    We go to the children’s centre once or twice a week where she is exposed to other little kids.

    Due to start nursery in a few weeks’ time. We’ll see how her health is then.
    Gcroft recently posted…Baby update – 10 monthsMy Profile

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      I’ll be interested to see how she gets on once she’s at nursery. How old is she now? Did you carry on sterilising when you came back from holiday? Thanks for commenting.

  3. I sterilised to begin with but it was such a faff I ended up washing bottles in the dishwasher. We stopped with bottles around 12 months. My boy is rarely poorly, rarely has a cold. He is 9 now and I don’t think it affected him at all.

    I think we do over sterilise children’s lives.


    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      I think there is a tenancy to over-sterilise but it was really that I couldn’t be doing with the faff and I was being told that I probably didn’t need to, so that was good enough for me! Thanks for coming by and commenting.

  4. My eldest was EBF (and still nursing now a couple of times a day at 2.2!) but when I occasionally expressed in the first 6 months I sterilised the bottles. She only suffered minor colds and a bit of fever with teething and only had her first ‘illness’ with the sickness bug at 21 months. I put it down to being breastfed.

    Her sister’s 12 weeks old and not yet seen a bottle, I’m not sure I can be bothered with expressing but if I do I will probably sterilise the bottle the first time around as it’s been gathering dust but otherwise I probably won’t bother. Breastmilk is sterile already after all!

    I don’t sterilise anything else, it wouldn’t have occured to me to do the toys, what a faff! I go for the ‘eat dirt’ approach, it’s good for their immune system.

    I couldn’t care less whether people sterilise or not, I’ve never really thought about it!
    A Frog at Large recently posted…Life With Two KidsMy Profile

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      Interesting – thanks for commenting. It’s funny how we’re so much more relaxed the second time round. And yay for eat dirt 🙂

  5. Karen says:

    I sterilised any bottles or dummies we used, with Milton, and water, the first time we used, them, just to make sure they were clean, but then after that, we simply either dishwashed them or used hot, soapy water. Whilst I am a nurse and did work in infection control as part of my job, working with kids with special needs, I have done a fair amount of reading on the pros and cons of sterilising. Nothing is really sterile, unless you autoclave it (what they do in surgical theatres) or boil it properly and as soon as you touch a bottle or dummy, or teat as you pull it out of the steriliser, it is no longer sterile. Baby formula isn’t sterile, or produced in sterile conditions, and breast milk has anti microbial properties, so sterilising stuff seems a bit pointless, if that makes sense. Babies put everything in their mouths, especially once they are on the move or more mobile, and you cannot keep everything germ free. I think for immune compromised or premature babies, sterilising is important, as they don’t have the immune capabilities of a normal, full term baby, but we also don’t use anti bacterial soaps, wipes or sprays in our house either, so I am probably the opposite of a lot of parents.
    Karen recently posted…Ranty Friday – The school water fountain?My Profile

    • Franglaise Mummy says:

      That is so interesting, coming from someone who knows what they’re talking about. Thanks for sharing and for reassuring me that I did/do the right thing 🙂

  1. 06/10/2014

    […] so I won’t go back into it again, if you have any doubts/questions over sterilisation read To sterilise or not, that is the question (including the comments), then you can form your own opinion (I never sterilised anything for […]

  2. 24/10/2014

    […] It is by far the cheaper option. Formula milk costs a ridiculous amount, not to mention the need for bottles, teats and sterilising kit (although not essential, as I have previously explained). […]

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