So, I'm a little weird about germs. And by "little," I mean that I hate the shopping cart with the fiery passion of a million suns. There are somehow more poop germs on the shopping cart you use at the grocery store than there probably are in all of your bathrooms in your house combined - you know, the same shopping cart on which you put your hands, and some babies try to suck the handles. And I just want to know how all of these poop germs got there. I mean, I don't necessarily actually want to know the specifics, but is there a hand or some other item acting as a middleman? This disturbs me on levels that I can't explain. When I was pregnant with Little A, I used so much hand sanitizer that I got little blisters on my fingers. (In my defense, my immune system is terrible from previous health issues. But still.)
So, let's keep that all in mind. I know I couldn't prevent all germs from reaching her, but I felt like I could control the majority of the items she put in her mouth (at least for a while, until she started putting everything she could reach in there). I wanted to keep bottle nipples, the bottles themselves, and binkies all sanitized and sterile, as free from germs as possible. Because, as we all know, I'm pretty sure that all pacifiers actually look like this if you look at them close up:
So, I did some research. When Little A was little, my husband worked second shift (from 2 to 10 p.m.) and I worked early (7 a.m. to 4 p.m.) so that we could minimize daycare needs. This meant that we were both a little short-handed and didn't have a ton of time to sterilize bottles, binkies, and nipples on the stove. We found the perfect solution - the Dr. Brown's Microwave Sterilizer (LINK):
It runs about $24 on Amazon, runs full price around $33 at BabiesRUs. Basically, you put X number of ounces into the bottom of the sterilizer, put all of your already-washed stuff you want to sterilize on the tray, and pop it into your microwave for the specified amount of time (in accordance with the wattage of your microwave). For us, this was about two minutes, and we had a whole tray full of sterilized bottles, binkies, and nipples all ready to go! No more dead bugs and hair and germs on the bottles, no germs from the dishwasher or sink left over, sparkly clean and bacteria free!
I should provide a safety clause here. They provide those tongs for a reason. You're gonna go ahead and burn the crap out of your finger if you try and grab something out of there without giving it a few minutes to cool down first. We would usually take it out of the microwave, take the lid slightly off, and let it cool for about five minutes before starting to put stuff away. We'd actually usually only get out items that needed to be used immediately, though, because they are all pretty damp - anything that wasn't needed immediately would sit in there overnight to dry off. This was partially because I was lazy and didn't want to dry everything, and partially because I felt like using either a towel or a paper towel on a newly-sanitized item sort of undid everything we had just accomplished by introducing germs back on there. That's sort of defeating my desired end game.
So, anyway - I really, really liked this item. We used it up until Little A was almost a year (which is, if I estimate correctly, about 11 months longer than normal people sterilize stuff). I will admit that I have done the total gross Mom thing when out and about and we only had one "bee-boo" (A's word for her binky) where I put it in my mouth and "cleaned" it if it fell, and then gave it to her. THIS IS A TERRIBLE IDEA, DON'T DO THIS. Adults can transfer their decay-causing saliva to their infants and cause their teeth to sort of rot (LINK) - I mean, this will probably happen as soon as they start kissing when they hit puberty if their kissing partner's parents shared saliva with them, so you're really only buying yourself about a decade or whatever, but still. That is my tooth PSA for the day.
Value: Between $24 and $33. For me, using this every 1 to 3 days for a year, it was a very good investment. If you're able to exclusively breastfeed without having to pump, or don't think you'll sterilize for that long, you may want to consider how much you'll use it first.
Child entertainment level: Not applicable.
Practicality: I think this was incredibly practical for us, as we were essentially two single parents who happened to be married, didn't have time to sterilize on the stove, but I was still crazy about germs. It didn't take up much room, was easy to use, and was not costly. 10/10 for us.