With quadruplets, come many bottles. And with many bottles come lots of things to wash. And with Dr. Brown bottles, come tons of teeny little parts. Which means more washing which takes more time which, as a mom to four newborns, I don't have. So my dishwasher and I had a talk. For any other quad moms or moms in general out there who hate to wash bottle parts as much as I do, here's my Dr. Brown bottle washin' how to.
We started out with about four different brand of bottles, but when you have four kids and two of them get reflux and the other two occasionally spit up just for fun—or because they just really didn't like what you were wearing that day—then you start looking for any kind of solution to help things. And for us, that solution was Dr. Brown bottles, despite the steep price tag (um, we needed 32 of them just to get through 24 hours!) and all the parts that come with them.
I assumed we'd have to hand wash everything, but after the first day or two I decided that was for the birds. I also didn't want to mess with loading piece after piece into a microwave steamer to disinfect them once a week, because that takes forever. So I decided to use my dishwasher and over the following weeks we've perfected our bottle routine. And I love it.
To start, we use plant-based soap in the dishwasher (we also use liquid soap at the sink, too, because I'm very cautious about introducing chemicals to the babies' in any way). Seventh Generation, Scotch Brite and Clorox Green all have fantastic dishwashing soaps that are chemical-free and baby-safe. We use Seventh Generation dishwashing tablets and just toss one in with every load, baby bottles and our regular dishes. I've been using it for a couple years now and it works great. If I can't find tablets, then we'll occasionally use the dishwashing gel liquid. I know that BabyGanics also makes soap and cleaning products and I've seen them for sale at Babies R Us, Amazon and BuyBuyBaby.
Anyway, we do our bottles in the evenings. My husband usually handles this process and he starts by making all 32 bottles for the next 24 hours. At the end of each feeding throughout the night and following day we give the bottles a quick rinse then stick them in the left side of the sink that we've filled with warm soapy water. This keeps the bottles from getting sticky and gunky until we put them in the dishwasher.
The next evening, we run a load of ALL 32 bottles. I typically put it on the short cycle and the hot temps and steam in the dishwasher disinfects everything, saving me the trouble of having to microwave steam stuff.
We have a variety of dishwasher baskets that I accumulated and load them with all the Dr. Brown bottle parts. One basket for the nipples, one for the collars, the vent inserts and vent reservoirs. The caps get thrown in the top rack. We also have a basket for pacifiers, too. Then the bottles get put in the bottom rack.
After the dishwasher is done, we pull everything out and lay it all to dry on a just-cleaned counter atop clean towels. (Ignore the non-Dr. Brown bottles in the photo, this was taken prior to our bottle conversion!) We put initials on the bottle collars so we know who's is who, since occasionally the babies' are on different amounts. This mostly helps us at the end of a feeding when we need to record each bottle on each baby's chart. Now we have blue Dr. Brown bottles for Harrison and pink ones for Kailey and we have Logan and Trystan's initials on the collars of the other bottles.
Once dry, all the bottles are filled and assembled.
Then we line 'em up on a designated fridge in the shelf, one row of bottles for each baby. When it's time to eat, we pull our fancy schmancy bottle warmer....aka a tupperware! We got this from the NICU, since they used the same warming method. We put the four bottles in then fill it with super hot water. After the first baby has been changed, we go back and dump the water and fill it again. By the time a second baby has been changed, the bottles are usually ready. (The liquid feels "neutral" when tested on the top of our hand, not cool and not hot.)
Once ready, we grab our handy bottle prop buddies, insert the bottles and get to work feeding those babies!
If you want to be reallllly organized, Dr. Brown makes dishwashing baskets and drying racks that'll match up with your bottles and parts. We're pretty happy with our method, it takes about 15 minutes to get the dishwasher loaded then about 20-30 minutes to fill the 32 bottles and put them together. But that's all we do once a day, so it's totally worth it to us. And I like that it's usually the husband's job. He's good at it. ;)
Happy bottle feeding, bottom's up!