Feeding your newborn baby is an indescribable experience and helps to create a deep bond between the parent and the child that lasts well beyond the infant years. Whether that’s through breastfeeding, pumped milk in a bottle or formula.
That said, once the initial euphoria has subsided on your part, you’ll probably be eager to see your little one become a little more independent, including learning how to feed themselves.
As with most aspects of pregnancy and parenthood, there’s no telling when your bundle of joy will start holding their own bottle. Today, though, we’ll look at a general timeline, along with some ways in which you can help expedite the process.
Aside from the obvious joy you get from it, seeing your baby hit a range of precious milestones, like holding their own bottle, is amazing. When they do achieve these milestones, the moment will signify an important developmental advance. Holding their own bottle is a clear demonstration that your baby’s brain and muscles are developing in sync, as they should be.
So, when can you expect this to happen?
When Babies Start Holding Their Own Bottles
For most babies, fine motor skills sharpen up after about six months.
From 6 to 10 months of age, this rapid development will have your baby grasping for their bottle, among other things. There’s no assurance it will happen during this timeframe, however, since every baby is different, so don’t be discouraged.
Patience is essential. It’s no cause for concern if your baby hits 10 months without holding their own bottle, for example.
The following signs all indicate your baby will soon be flying solo, so keep watch and enjoy the process.
- Your baby can sit unassisted for 5 to 10 minutes. Since the act of holding a bottle involves fine motor skills, it’s essential your baby can remain properly stable.
- Your baby starts grabbing the bottle while feeding. This shows your baby has taken a keen interest and is starting to develop on all fronts. It won’t be long before they start sipping away unaided.
- Your baby starts grasping for toys, biting them while sitting up. They can now cope with doing more than one thing at a time – an invaluable skill in a multitasking world. They’ll need to do just this when holding a bottle, so the milestone could be imminent.
Be patient. There’s no need to rush this progression. Your baby holding their own bottle is a big step, though, and there are a few things you can to do help expedite the skill.
5 Ways To Encourage Your Baby To Hold Their Bottle
- Get your baby used to the bottle. If you’re using formula rather than breastfeeding, you can gradually start getting your baby accustomed to how the bottle feels, from as early as two or three months. Hold your baby’s hand and press it gently against the bottle as you feed them. This will help them get used to the motion involved. At this stage, it’s vital you always keep a firm grasp on the bottle, but you can certainly offer them a taster.
- Let your baby hold the bottle while you support it. After six months, you can encourage your baby to hold the bottle with you. As their grip becomes stronger, and their muscles develop, you can let go for a short period and let them hold the bottle unassisted.
- Keep a close eye on your baby’s motor skills development. Once your baby has mastered the art of grabbing and holding toys and other objects, they are showing signs of being able to hold a bottle. If your baby has already picked up tiny pieces of food, their skills are in place.
- Introduce teethers and soft toys while your baby is sitting. By encouraging your baby to suck teethers or gnaw away at soft, safe toys, you’ll be getting them to use the same facial muscles they’ll use when feeding.
- Teach your baby how the bottle is linked to feeding. Hunger is the primary motivator for any baby learning to hold their own bottle. When you’re just starting to practice, choose the first feed so you can press home the link between hunger and feeding.