CDC bottle washing recs: They are unrealistic, right? What am I risking by not following them?—Anonymous
For reference, here are the CDC recommendations. They’re basically to take the bottles apart and either carefully handwash and sanitize them (which is a lot of work) or put them through the dishwasher. It tells you something, I think, about these recommendations in general that I thought this seemed not that onerous. Compared with the breast pump, which they suggest you take apart every time, these seem positively light.
The worry if you do not wash bottles is that bacteria could grow and make infants sick. The younger the baby, the bigger a worry this would be; the CDC draws a distinction between babies above and below three months, between premature and full-term, and between immune-compromised and not. The fact is that illness from improperly sanitized bottles is likely extremely rare, sufficiently so that we do not know how much there is (none? maybe!).
Is it a good idea to wash bottles after your child eats from them? Yes. Just like you wash your own cups. If you can run them through the dishwasher, do that. Should you obsessively sanitize every time? Definitely not.
It reminds me of this article I wrote about how we ask parents to do too much, which cites in particular the idea that you need to boil water for formula. There are only 24 hours in the day. We cannot expect people to spend them all sanitizing.