If you are breastfeeding, you won't need any kitchen equipment, but as you start to wean your baby from breast to bottle, whether you are using breast milk or formula milk, there are a few basics you will need: bottles, teats and sterilizing equipment (see below). A bottle insulator is useful for transporting milk when you and your baby are out and about, and is also good for night feeds. An expressor is invaluable when you are breastfeeding, as it will enable you to prepare feeds in advance, giving you some independence from your baby. Both manual and electric ones are available. It's worth asking your hospital if they lend out electric ones.
As your baby starts to eat solid food, you will need an unbreakable bowl (plastic), spoons without hard edges and a large supply of bibs. A stainless-steel saucepan is best because non-stick ones are coated in plastic, which can contaminate food. A steamer is also useful, although a metal colander or sieve on top of a wide saucepan, covered with a lid, makes a good alternative. For making purées, I found that a hand-held blender with a detachable blade was quick and easy to clean, and it can travel with you. A mouli or ricer, or even a nylon sieve, will do the job, but it takes longer. Rubber ice-cube trays are the best for freezing small quantities of baby food, and you'll also need airtight containers and ziplock bags for freezing.
Most kitchen hygiene is common sense, but with a baby you will need to take extra care.
• Always wash your hands before preparing feeds and, as your baby becomes old enough to hold food or feed himself, wash his hands before and after meals.
• Make sure all your equipment is clean and sterilized correctly (see below).
• Put raw meat and fish at the bottom of the refrigerator, ensuring it cannot drip on to fresh food, and use different chopping boards for raw and cooked food.
• Cook food thoroughly and don't use food past its sell-by date.
• Keep pets out of the kitchen.
• Keep food covered.
• Never save uneaten food from the feeding bowl or undrunk milk from the bottle. Sterile bottles of breast milk or formula milk can be kept chilled in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours - after that they must be thrown away.
Whether feeding breast milk or formula milk, it is essential that all the equipment you use is thoroughly sterilized. Warm milk is the perfect feeding ground for bacteria. If teats and bottles are not washed thoroughly, your baby could become very ill. Most tummy upsets in babies are caused by poor hygiene when feeding.
There are three main methods of sterilizing: boil all the equipment for at least ten minutes in a large pan; soak the equipment in sterilizing solution for two hours and then rinse with boiling water; use an electric steam sterilizer. I found the steam sterilizer to be the easiest and most convenient method; just follow the instructions carefully.
As your baby is weaned onto solid food, it is best to sterilize his bowl and feeding spoons. However, as soon as he can crawl and put everything in reach into his mouth there is no need to continue sterilizing these items. Nevertheless, you should continue to sterilize any bottles you use for milk feeds up to the age of 1. With equipment that it is impractical to sterilize, such as saucepans and sieves, make sure you wash these items thoroughly in hot water and detergent, and rinse them well to remove any residues. There are two key things to remember:
• Sterile bottles of breast milk or formula milk can be kept chilled in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Follow manufacturer's guidelines for bottle insulators.
• Once your baby has finished feeding, get into the habit of rinsing and washing bottles ready for sterilizing. Always throw away any milk left over from a feed.
Washing And Drying Equipment
Use an organic detergent, if possible, because they are much milder and far less likely to irritate if they come into contact with your baby's skin. If you have a dishwasher, make use of it, because the water goes to a much higher temperature and the crockery will be air dried. Let equipment air dry as much as possible and avoid drying with a tea-towel which may harbour germs, use kitchen paper instead.
• Bottle cleaner
• Sterilizing equipment
• Bottle insulator
• Rubber ice-cube trays
• Ziplock freezer bags
• Airtight containers
• Nylon sieve
• Hand-held blender or electric food processor or blender
• Stainless-steel saucepan
• Plastic feeding bowl
• Shallow baby spoons