Disinfectants for Hand-Feeding Syringes

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Q: There are so many disinfectants on the market that I am confused. There have been several articles written recently on the pros and cons of most of them. It is obvious fiom these articles that the one that you should choose depends on what you want to disinfectant.

The problem that I have is deciding which one to use for hand feeding syringes. It seems that the most effective ones are the most potentially toxic ones. Some have to be handled with rubber gloves. We assume that syringes soaked in these should be scrubbed before use so the chicks are not poisoned. Often, they will still have a chemical odor even after being washed with soap and water.

Has there been any research done on possible problems from chemical residues? Sometimes, it seems like we spend more time scrubbing syringes than hand feeding babies. How do you disinfect your hand feeding syringes?

A: There are many excellent disinfectants on the market. You are correct in your statement that the one you should choose will depend on what you plan to use it for. Food and water dishes are only periodically disinfected. Washing out potentially toxic residues is necessary and well worth the extra work.

I agree that when you are confronted with the necessity of disinfecting something every two to four hours, things change. We, too, were concerned about the possible side effects of residues that might be left on the feeding syringes. This becomes more of a worry as the baby season progresses, and we begin to wash things less efficiently due to “mid-season burnout.”

Last year, I began to give this problem serious consideration. After having my subconscious work on the problem for several nights, I woke up one morning with a brainstorm. I suddenly realized that I couldn’t solve the problem because I was in an animal-husbandry mind set. Animal husbandry has been historically concerned with short-lived animals. No one worries that a chicken might die of cancer at age 15 due to the ingestion of certain chemicals during its developmental stages. There is only one advanced husbandry practice that is focused on the long lived: human husbandry. It is the human baby that is paramount. It is the branch of “husbandry science” that has been the beneficiary of comparatively massive amounts of brain power and research funding. There is no more bacteriologically volatile hand-feeding formula than milk. There are no babies on the planet that we strive to protect more than human babies. Take note. To my knowledge, no disinfectant manufacturer is willing to take responsibility for the sterilization of human baby bottles and their rubber nipples. The reasons are those that you have outlined in your question. The ones that are the most effective also have the possibility of creating negative effects if residues are not thoroughly removed before use. At that point, I realized that I should have long ago consulted with my mother instead of my veterinarian. Before disposable plastic baby bottle inserts became popular, most mothers either boiled or “steam sterilized” glass bottles. We wash our feeding instruments in soap and water, and then sterilize them with steam. The Even-Flo company makes a baby bottle steam sterilizer that retails for about $40. You add water, place your instruments in the rack, replace the cover, push a button, and leave the room. When the process is done, the unit shuts itself off-no chemicals and no rescrubbing. Why didn’t I think of this years ago? Sometimes, I seriously disappoint myself by not being able to see the forest for the trees.

Baby Bottle Steam Sterilizer Revisited
Published in Bird Breeder Magazine, Breeder Q & A

Q: In your March column, you mention a baby bottle steam sterilizer that can be used for hand-feeding syringes. How do I get in touch with the EvenFlo company so that I can buy one of these?

A: It is the same company that is famous for baby bottles. You can call them at (800) 356-BABY (2229). Ask them who distributes this product in your area.