But you’ll still be standing in the kitchen at 3am, swearing
This, for me, is where it all started. It was some while after our first child was born, as it slowly dawned on us that breastfeeding was, in fact, the prime reason we weren’t enjoying parenthood. Inevitably, my wife’s thoughts turned to sterilisation. (Insert your own gag here.)
Now let me ask you a question. If I wanted 10 minutes of your time, how much would that set me back? (That much, eh? You’re a big shot, aren’t you?)
Now what about if I wanted that 10 minutes at 3.40am, and I insisted it was spent with the soundtrack of a screaming, hungry infant? Because if you forget to put on your thirty quid steriliser before you go to bed – and you will – that’s what you’re letting yourself in for. And if you’re lucky you’ll get some bonus 3rd degree burns as you lever off the lid before you should, because you’re just so damn desperate to get that bottle into junior’s mouth and restore calm.
And remember that the moment you open up the steriliser, the bottles aren’t sterile any more, so if baby Balthazar wakes again at 5am…
(As an aside, should you even be bothering with this sterilising business? There’s a bunch of experts who say that in countries such as the USA you shouldn’t bother – that the heat of a dishwasher is quite sufficient. That the whole thing is a hangover from days when the water supply couldn’t be trusted. As a result, around a third of American parents don’t bother, in a country that excels in cotton-wool style protection. Certainly when you find your newborn sucking heartily on your t-shirt, the one you’ve had on all day, you might be inclined to agree).
But back to our middle-of-the-night high jinx. I know what you’re thinking. Why would we be sterilising bottles just before a feed, when everybody knows that formula should be made up fresh each time using recently boiled water, cooled to 70 degrees, and then cooled down enough to drink?
Alright, it’s a fair cop, it turns out we did it wrong for years. We boiled water, refrigerated it in sterilised bottles, and then mixed in the powder that by all accounts might be riddled with bacteria. Wrong! says the advice from the World Health Organization, which also reckons that the second best method to making it fresh is a set of feeds made up correctly and stored in the fridge for the day.
But chances are you’ll be doing the midnight microwave fandango at some point. Or cleaning hard water marks off the container. Or forgetting to take it away with you for the weekend. So brace yourself, because there’s a much, much better answer out there, formula fans. It’s has some heavy-duty pedigree, too – it was first used the First World War trenches.
Here’s a bit of tempting sales copy from the box:
Contains Troclosene Sodium. Harmful if swallowed. When in contact with an acid, releases a toxic gas … Keep away from children … Keep away from food and drinks.
Yes folks, it’s Milton Sterilising Tablets! In a revelation that will have grandmothers and nurses rolling their eyes nationwide, these humble tablets, on sale in most supermarkets, are brilliant. Using them is like the parental equivalent of a bucket of beer at a great party – there’s always a fresh bottle when you need it.
You just throw your clean bottles into a container of water with a tablet, leave for 15 minutes before use, and refresh every 24 hours. Add new bottles when you like. Take one out and use it straight away (no rinsing, no cooling). Shove a couple of spare tablets into your change bag, take them camping, wherever. At about £1.30 for a month’s supply, plus a quid or two for the bucket to dunk them in, what’s not to like?
Well a couple of things, in reality. Dunking your hands in and out of the water a lot dries them out (I’m told). You’re still left with the issue of the water for the formula, which should be mixed with powder at 70 degrees and then cooled (unless you consider the WHO’s second-best recommendation to be quite good enough for you).
And the smell is somewhat… odd. To my mind, it’s one part swimming pool, one part urine, but don’t let that put you off. I’ve grown to quite like it and apparently, just like wee, you could even drink it (don’t).
And there you have it. Suddenly I’m a Milton convert, and I’m banging on about it to everybody who will listen.
Next week: advanced egg-sucking for senior citizens.
Taken your tablets recently, or are you going steady with your microwave? Make your case in the comments, dithering fathers-to-be need you!