Dr. Scott Dunlop, Consultant Paediatrician is the founder and director of Sydney Paediatrics - A Multidisciplinary Paediatric Medical Practice in Sydney. Click here for for information. 

There are a number of different ways to sterilise:


            Boiling water

            Steam (eg microwave steamers)

            Chemical (eg Milton)

            UV light (eg uPang)


Do you need to bother with sterilising? The general answer is yes. This is absolutely the case for feeding bottles, teats and dummies, with the usual recommendation up to 12 months, although 6 months is probably reasonable. As far as toys go, the evidence is less clear. What we do know is that in studies looking at the cleanliness of toys in paediatricians’ offices, there is a very high rate of contamination with viruses and bacteria, moreso on soft toys than hard toys, and that regular cleaning is recommended. It is acceptable that hard toys can be washed in the dishwasher and be adequately disinfected. Clearly at home, there is less risk of pathogen transmission, but it is nonetheless an issue for parents to consider.


Whether toys need to be sterilised, as opposed to cleaned, is up to you. It’s probably not realistic to be regularly sterilising toys, but might be worth considering after a child’s illness.


Parents should also consider the potential problems with children living within an environment that is too clean – building up the immune system requires coming into contact with pathogens, so don’t be too obsessive about it.