Germs. Goggo-njanjas. Ick. The world is full of them! And we are convinced that they are out to get our babies! So, we bleach and sterilise everything. Everything! Everything, but the baby.

Social-distancing is often practiced too, even before COVID-19 was a thing – “No, Aunt Beth, you can only meet the baby once you have stopped coughing everywhere.”

Now how do we protect our little bundles of joy, against a world full of germs, without spending all our time cleaning the white off of rice?

Sr Rinie, our expert Midwife at the Crossing Centre Mopani Pharmacy Homegrown Babies Clinic, gave us the inside scoop on when it is ok to just… put the bleach down.

What to sterilise


Feeding equipment would be the most important part here, so definitely the bottles. Milk, albeit breastmilk or formula, makes for a happy habitat for bacteria and fungi. You should also make sure to wash and sterilise your breast-pump, should you be using one.

Sterilising the environment is a bit impossible, really. Your baby should get a fresh outfit every day – more often than not, you will have three or four, as babies do spit up. No need to sterilise the clothing, a good wash will do.  If there is no spilled milk or mess in their bedding / soft toys, these can be laundered weekly.

Toys that have turned sticky or dirty, that can not be submerged in water, can be wiped down with a disinfectant or a damp cloth if needed.  

How to sterilise


Bottles should be taken apart to their smallest parts. Each part should be washed with warm, soapy water and a bottle brush to remove all the milk trapped in small corners and edges.

After you have sufficiently washed the bottles and all the parts, you may sterilise it with the following methods:

  • Chemically: you can add a disinfectant such as JIK or Milton to the washing up water
  • Boiling: You may boil your bottles and all the parts
  • Steaming: Placing the bottles and parts into a steaming steriliser that steams at a very high temperature

Side note: You can place your washed bottles and their parts into a bowl with some water, into the microwave to get the steaming effect. However, never heat your baby’s milk in the microwave as it destroys valuable nutrients. Rather heat water in the microwave and then place your baby’s milk bottle in the warm water to heat up, after the fact. Alternatively, you may give your baby room temperature milk as well.

The first three months


In the first three months, you definitely want to sterilise your baby’s bottles before each use. Some babies are special – those born prematurely, or have autoimmune diseases or receiving chemo-therapy may need their bottles sterilised beyond this point, but your paediatrician will definitely advise on the matter.

After the first three months, it is usually not necessary to keep sterilising their bottles after this point.

You can ease up now

Once your baby has reached the 3- to 4-month mark, they are bringing their hands to their mouths – and putting things into their mouths. You are not going to be able to sterilise everything. If your child has medical issues as before mentioned, you can continue to sterilise their bottles and their environment at your discretion. Otherwise, some warm, soapy water, will do the trick!

Once they are crawling, everything will be tasted, from dogfood to dirt,  so sterilising everything is kind of out the window. They are literally on the floor the whole time. Regular cleaning of the home, as you would normally, is sufficient.

Read more: Baby milestones

To lick or not to lick

Many moms will lick a pacifier / dummy once it has fallen on the floor. This is ok to do once in a while, as your baby is more or less used to the germs of the mom. However, if mom is feeling under the weather or has a cold-sore of any kind, this is not advisable.

“There is some value to exposing your baby to some microbes to help them form a healthy immune system. We are not saying you should drag the dummy across the floor, then lick it and give it to your baby. However, ‘rinsing’ it by licking it if it fell, every once in a while, is not the end of the world.”

So, there we have it! The goggo-njanjas are not that hard to get rid of. Plus, a bottle steriliser can be super handy, as they can often take 6 bottles at a time!

Check out our bottle-sterilising equipment


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