Product Type: Philips kids equipment
Newest Review: ... after doing the 3am feed and have bottles to clean. We opted in the end for the Philips Avent Microwave steriliser which has been absolut... more
Steaming Away the Baby Bottle Bugs
Philips Avent Express II Microwave Steam Sterilizer
Member Name: Hishyeness
Philips Avent Express II Microwave Steam Sterilizer
Advantages: Portable, practical, quick and hassle free sterilising
Disadvantages: Cycle can take up to six minutes with older microwaves
One of the more tedious chores when you have a new baby is sterilising bottles and other feeding and nursing equipment. With our first child, we invested in an Avent Microwave Steam Steriliser rather than an electronic version - mainly because of its portability and ease of use - and we were quite pleased with it.
Babies need the stuff they use sterilised to ensure their immune system doesn't have to work overtime to fight off any nasty bugs that may be lurking on it. Although a thorough wash in the sink with hot water makes equipment cosmetically clean, you need really high temperatures to kill off the hardier bacteria and viruses.
I retrieved our old Avent Steriliser from the attic, but despite a thorough clean before we stored it, it looked a little worse for wear (but perfectly serviceable). As such, we decided to dispatch our old stager to my mother-in-law's (my wife spends a fair bit of time there) and buy a new, upgraded model for home use. Enter the Avent Express II Microwave Steam Steriliser.
WHAT IS IT?
The product is essentially a large bowl with a clear plastic lid. The lid has two clips - one on either side to fasten it to the bottom half. Inside the bowl is a blue moulded and shaped rack that has impressions for various products (bottles, lids, feeding cups, lids, breast pump parts etc.).
Although the rack is designed specifically for Avent-branded bottles and accessories, we tend to use Tommee Tippee (TT) Closer to Nature bottles to feed our son and these fit in without a problem. Given the TT bottles are the widest on the market at the moment, that bodes well for other makes and brands as well.
All of the parts of the unit are dishwasher safe, and as such are easily cleaned and maintained. If it's not going into a dishwasher, it should be periodically washed and dried between uses. It's tempting to leave the water at the bottom, but in our experience, this causes a build up of unsightly lime scale in hard water areas.
We purchased our unit on sale from our local Mothercare shop for £17.99, but the promotion has since ended. It is currently available on-line from Amazon for £21.99 with free delivery, but prices vary wildly from one retailer to the next, so it pays to shop around before buying. Ours came packaged with a small pair of tongs, an Avent soother, two different sized Avent bottles (125ml and 260ml) with teats, and a small measuring beaker.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The concept is simple. You pour a measured amount of water into the basin (200ml), place your pre-washed plastic baby equipment into it, attach the cover and nuke it in the microwave for the stipulated amount of time (between two and six minutes depending on the wattage of your oven). It's good practice to empty out the water and add a new, measured amount for each cycle, as otherwise you may have too little (boiling the unit dry and damaging it) or too much (which means the water doesn't get hot enough to do the business).
The water is vapourised into steam, killing any bugs. You let the unit rest for two minutes after the cycle finishes, pop the top and viola - sterilised baby gear. If you leave the top of the unit in locked position, the contents will stay sterilised for up to 24 hours. Once the top comes off though, you need to bag up the bits as soon as possible, as contamination starts as soon as the air hits them. It goes without saying that the contents can be extremely hot, so you need to remember to leave it to settle before popping open the lid (ensuring it is on a stable surface and facing away from you), else you will get a face full of steam and scalded fingers.
Make sure you thoroughly wash your hands before handling sterilised parts, otherwise all of the work will have been for nought. A small pair of white tongs is provided so you don't have to manually handle them, although to be frank, these are fiddly to use and impossible for certain bottle and pump assemblies. Once the unit has cooled, we usually bag up the separate parts in Ziploc bags and place them in our fridge.
DOES IT WORK?
I can't speak for the science part - that bit has to be taken as read - but it certainly works for us on a practical level. We don't have the space for the footprint an electronic steriliser would take up on our kitchen counter, so this was an obvious solution - for both portability and storage (it practically lives in the microwave).
The bowl has a larger capacity than its predecessor (it is both deeper and taller) and is capable of holding six bottles or two sets of disassembled breast pump parts (my wife has both a manual and electronic one from Avent that use the same bits). A further improvement on the original is the replacement of a click on lid (with tabs that you had to release by pushing them away from the body - these were a real scald risk if you hadn't let the unit cool sufficiently) with a pair of cool "safety clips" engineered so that you don't get scalded by escaping hot air.
The rack that sits inside the unit has a lot more grooves, indentations and slots than the original and they present the user with a frankly bewildering set of options on how to load the thing. The instruction manual (which has pictorial instructions as well as written notes in several languages) has a detailed set of notes on how to load it properly, but after reading them once, we have loaded it pretty much as we see fit - it does the job anyway.
The next time Avent design one of these things, they should try to load it with two hours of sleep and a bawling infant precariously perched on their shoulder. I'd be most interested with the result!
The original unit that served us so well almost five years ago was already a very good product, but with the improvements made to the new model, Philips Avent are on to a real winner. The greater capacity, the safety clips, the portability and ease of cleaning make this a safe and practical solution for sterilising baby products at an excellent price.
© Hishyeness 2009
Summary: An excellent, portable and practical sterilising solution from Philips Avent
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