Bottle feeding is a fantastic way to bond with your child, but having your hands off might help at certain stages.
After all, independently holding a bottle promotes the baby’s cognitive and muscular growth and makes caring for a baby simpler.
However, that doesn’t mean you could practice independent feeding at any random stage – there is a ready point for that!
Thus, if you want to find the answer to the question, “When do babies hold their own bottle?” and how to teach baby to hold bottle, read on.
When Do Babies Hold Their Own Bottle?
About 6 months old, a few newborns could handle their drinking bottles. But that does not indicate that all babies should hold bottles at 6 months old. Indeed, there’s a large span when it comes to the question, “What age should baby hold bottle?” meaning the timeframe could be a bit sooner or later.
According to scientists, most babies show their readiness to hold a bottle when they are 8 or 9 months old.
The reason is that at this stage, they’ve developed the strength and essential muscle coordination to grasp things (even only one item in one hand) and move things wherever they want them to be.
Thus, to objectively answer the question, “At what age do babies start holding their own bottle?” we would say a scope of 6 to 10 months old.
Is Baby Holding Bottle A Must?
Not at all, although sometimes, babies holding bottles might be beneficial.
Indeed, as your newborn handles their bottles, they practice essential skills like “crossing the midline” or stretching from this half of the body to another using their hands and feet.
However, many babies, especially breastfeeding ones, never learn this through holding the bottles, and that’s fine. There are numerous methods for developing and practicing this ability.
At the stage of 1 year old, a breastfed newborn may transition from breastfeeding to sipping from a glass by themselves directly, which requires the same skills.
Crossing the midline can also be learned from different actions, such as utilizing the dominant hand to fetch an object from the non-dominant part of the body or getting a cake to their mouth.
Moreover, by 12 months old, you should start removing the bottle from your kid. Thus, you wouldn’t want your child to become too accustomed to the bottle and wouldn’t let the bottles go, especially when you have to start the weaning phase a few months later.
When Can Babies Hold Their Bottle?
Don’t panic if your kids aren’t ready to bottle-feed themselves; there’s probably nothing abnormal with their development. Each newborn is unique.
But if you notice the signals below, you can now teach your baby to hold bottles independently (or cup-drinking, alternatively). These signs include:
- Your child could sit up by themselves (Kids must be able to sit by themselves before bottle-feeding independently since this should be performed in a slightly straight posture).
- When sitting, your child could maintain stability while interacting with an object.
- While sitting, your child grabs and fetches items.
- Your child could pick up food from your hand and place it in their mouth.
- When you nurse your child, they could place 1 or even 2 hands on the bottle or cup.
How To Teach Baby To Hold Bottle (Tips To Keep In Mind)
As most parents agree, the newborn does whatever they choose, whenever and wherever they like. Thus, there is nearly no way to force them into doing anything.
However, if you want to help baby hold bottle willingly and gradually, you might try:
- Showing the hand-to-mouth action by moving baby-safe and clean objects (such as teethers) from the ground level to the kid’s lips.
- Getting easy-grip bottles or handle-equipped drinking cups (at first, the infant will have to handle the bottles with both hands).
- Placing their hands on the bottles with yours above and directing the bottle to their lips afterward.
- Investing a lot of work in strengthening your newborn’s muscles, even during tummy time. Indeed, tummy time will assist them in acquiring the primary muscles needed for this activity, and you may encourage them by having your baby sitting up in your lap.
However, as mentioned above, independent bottle-feeding in newborns isn’t always a must.
An alternative technique to foster independence and develop basic abilities is to allow your kid to eat independently and train them how to grasp and drink from their cups (sippy or standard) in the child seat as you continue to offer the bottles.
For more information, check this video:
Considerations While Handing Up Control Of The Bottles
It is, without question, a momentous time when your child could eat by themselves. However, they are not mature or knowledgeable enough to always decide what is best. Thus, it’s not advisable to leave them on their own companies.
3 things any parent should be aware of when practicing independent bottle-feeding on kids are:
- Keep in mind that the bottles serve for feeding, not for relaxation or sleep. So handing your kid the drinking bottle (or perhaps milk in a sippy cup) and then continuing with your other business might not be a good idea. Indeed, many cases reported having babies’ choked on milk and water, leading to great danger.
- Never put your child in their crib alone while holding a milk bottle. Although kids might love to put themselves to sleep with a fake nipple in their mouth, falling asleep with a bottle in their mouth is not a wise decision.
Milk could build up around their gums, causing dental rot in the long run and suffocation in the worst case. Alternatively, feed your kid beforehand and then send them to sleep (or allow them to do that while you check up on them) and then carefully wash their mouth and teeth. If it’s difficult to put them to bed without a nipple in their mouth, use a pacifier.
- If your newborn couldn’t yet handle milk bottles, fight the urge to place it in their mouth or try to use anything to do it. We understand how vital having two hands is when doing house chores, but doing so while leaving the infant alone is never a sensible move. It not only leads to an increased risk of suffocating, but it also presents a risk of overeating.
You now know the answer to the question, “When do babies hold their own bottle?” and several ways to help your kids get on with it.
Yet, as mentioned above, bottle holding isn’t a must and could be replaced by other activities. Thus, there is no need to panic when your child doesn’t want to hold a bottle on their own. Good luck!