One of the greatest things about being a parent is when your child reaches a milestone. The first steps, the first time they tie their shoe and as adults, when they get married or graduate college.
One of the earliest milestones though is when your baby holds their own bottle. You will feel so proud and you can finally use that hand that was magnetized to the baby.
So, can we speed up this process?
Let’s have a look.
What’s The Average Age When A Baby Holds The Bottle?
Like with anything in life, some people take longer to learn and do things than others. Perhaps the earliest a baby will hold their own bottle is around 6 months, but it can be any time from 6 months to 1 year.
Breastfeeding will almost certainly make a difference in the timing. If your baby has not had “practise” as such with a bottle, they may not bother trying to hold it themselves.
If your baby is hungrier than other babies, you may find they want to hold the bottle earlier than other babies.
The thing is, you’re probably best not worrying about how long it’s taking for your baby to hold the bottle.
By the time they get to one year, you’ll want to wean them off the bottle anyway. So, don’t hold this milestone to a “must happen”.
Is My Baby Ready To Hold The Bottle?
Again, don’t panic. If your baby isn’t ready, they’re not ready.
It’s nothing to worry about. There are things to notice though and if they happen, the likelihood of your baby being able to hold their own bottle is increased.
Noticing your baby is sitting on their own? That’s a good sign!
If they’re holding themselves up and balancing if they’ve got something in their hand or reaches for something and stays upright – they’re certainly ready to hold their own bottle.
Another sign is if your baby is grabbing for (and trying to eat) their own food. They’re starting to understand their own needs and limitations at the same time.
Can I Do Anything To Encourage My Baby To Hold The Bottle?
Sometimes, it just takes a little help for your baby to understand the way to hold things and this includes holding the bottle.
A couple of things you can try and help your baby to hold the bottle are:
- Showing the baby the motions. Let your baby see what to do with items that are safe such as teething toys or bottles by doing it in front of them, but then show them the item goes from the floor to the hand to the mouth.
- Consider buying easy to hold bottles. Sippy cups are easier to hold if they have handles.
- Work as a pair – let your baby hold the bottle and then put your hand on it too. Gently move your hand towards their mouth. Over time, your baby should pick up the motions and build strength.
- Speaking of strength building, try and develop your baby’s strength with some games. “Tummy time” is a technique tried and tested. It involves putting your baby on their tummy and putting something in reach of their hands. Over time, they’ll build the strength to move and pick things up on their own. Tummy time is a fantastic way to build a baby’s core strength and skills.
Things To Consider
Wanting to get your baby to hold the bottle is definitely a good thing, but there are a few things to consider when transferring the “power.”
Understanding first what the bottle is for. We know that food and drink is for sustenance but a baby might use their new skills as a comfort technique or a way to help them go to sleep.
If you’re noticing that the bottle is moving more into these categories, it’s worth stepping in and changing the times and areas the baby has the bottle.
Second is where the baby is having the bottle. As we’ve said, sometimes a baby will use a drink as a way to get to sleep.
Try to avoid putting the bottle in their crib – dried milk can gather in the baby’s mouth and lead to teething issues like decay.
Another problem is that it’s a potential choking hazard. It’s always better to give your baby their food before they go to bed.
Finally, it’s important to avoid using anything to keep the bottle in their mouth. It might seem a good idea to have something to prop the bottle up for your baby, but it’s not a good idea.
This can promote overeating, could lead to choking and can make your baby avoid using their hands for the bottle.
Is It Essential That My Baby Learns To Hold The Bottle?
If you’re wondering if your baby would not learn the same skills as others, or how a breastfed baby learns the same skills as a bottle fed baby – you’re not alone.
It isn’t necessarily essential for your baby to learn to hold the bottle, but it does develop essential skills that will help over time.
Consider using some of the techniques outlined above which should help in your baby’s development.
Most babies will learn the hand-to-mouth actions up until the age of 1 and further develop their skills throughout infancy.
Again, don’t worry if your baby isn’t as advanced as you’d expect, you’ve got to allow time.
However, if your baby isn’t showing any development by the time they’re 1 years old, it’s a good idea to speak with a pediatrician or health advisor.
And that is all you need to know!