To Sterilize or Not to Sterilize?

Posted 6.25.09 | Christine Graham-Garo

Over the last year I’ve received several phone calls from parents asking whether or not they need to sterilize the water for their child’s infant formula. And the confusion is completely understandable…depending on who you are talking to, you’ll most likely get a different answer.

I always recommend that parents take the extra precaution and boil the water for all preparations of the formula – In my mind, better to play it safe when it comes to your child’s health. (And as a side note, purified water, bottled water and nursery water, are not sterile, so make sure you boil them as well).

However, I’ve seen other manufacturers of infant formula state on their cans to “Ask your baby’s doctor if you need to boil (sterilize) water for formula and bottle preparations.”

Since this seems to be a topic of confusion, I thought I’d share some recommendations from the World Health Organization that I typically provide parents:


Cleaned equipment can be sterilized using a commercial sterilizer (follow manufacturer's instructions), or a pan and boiling water:

Step 1: Fill a large pan with water

Step 2: Place the cleaned feeding and preparation equipment into the water. Make sure that the equipment is completely covered with water and that no air bubbles are trapped. Step 3: Cover the pan with a lid and bring to a rolling boil, making sure the pan does not boil dry.

Step 4: Keep the pan covered until the feeding equipment is needed.

If you are interested in checking out the World Health Organization’s pamphlet with these steps and other guidelines for preparing formula for bottle feeding at home, click here.

If you have any questions about proper sterilization techniques for your child’s infant formula let us know. I encourage you to post a comment so others can see your question as well.

- Christine

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