As a new mom, it's normal to always be mindful of different "milestones" for your little one.
For me, I had no idea when my son would or should start rolling over, stop being swaddled, take his first steps, say his first words, and eat his first solid foods.
I was so busy trying to stay in the know, that I noticed that out of the blue one day, he started holding his own bottle.
Yup—he literally took it right out of my hands and gulped it down like a pro!
I was ecstatic and sad at the same time (just one less opportunity for baby snuggles).
Read on to learn when this achievement can occur, and how you can help your little one safely drink their own bottle!
Your baby may be about to hold their own bottle if you notice them do any of the following:
- Start to reach toward the bottle as you position it into their mouth.
- Firmly grabs onto the bottle while you are feeding them.
- Starts to pick up a variety of objects and even tightly clasp them in their hands.
- Sits up on their own, without a lot of support.
- Shows interest in what you are eating or drinking.
- Gets excited when watching the preparation of a bottle.
- Pushes a bottle away when offered, or pulls it out of their own mouth when they’ve had enough to drink.
My son was able to hold his own bottle at around six months of age. But, some babies do it earlier, while others do it later (nine or ten months old).
However, the average range is six to eight months.
This is because their motor skills are fine tuned, and their curiosity and independence is starting to take over.
Keep in mind that if your baby takes longer to hold their own bottle, it doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong.
Every child is different and while one masters one thing at a fast rate, another may master something at a more delayed pace.
You will have this with any and every milestone feat!
While milestones are accomplished at varying rates, you may want to talk to your doctor if you notice the following:
- Your baby isn’t attempting to hold their own bottle by a year of age.
- They are interested in holding a bottle but it continuously slips out of their hands.
- Your baby isn’t helping you guide the bottle toward their mouth or motioning that they’ve had enough to drink.
- They are having difficulty picking up objects, self-feeding, and cannot track objects with their eyes or hands by a year of age.
- Your baby is not making eye contact, responding to visual or verbal prompts, or attempting to form sounds or some words by a year of age.
Your doctor may want you to get your baby evaluated to see if they need occupational therapy or other health related services that can help them fill in developmental gaps, or that can lead to a further diagnosis.
Just because your baby can hold their own bottle, doesn’t mean you could or should leave the room while they are eating. It’s important to always supervise any feeding.
Plus, babies still may need some assistance with sipping, regardless if they are able to hold their own bottle.
Once my son started to drink, he still needed help bringing the bottle back to his mouth when it would fall out, or if he was having difficulty pulling the nipple toward his lips (aim is still a tricky thing at this point).
Also, because your baby can hold their own bottle, you should never send them to bed with it. You never know if they’re strong enough to bite down and loosen the nipple, lodging it in their throat.
Going to bed with milk on their teeth and gums can also cause a condition called Bottle Rot, which affects the mouth and oral hygiene drastically.
Always wipe off your baby’s teeth or gums immediately after drinking and especially before going to bed for the night!
My Baby is Behind on this Milestone..How Can I Help?
Even though your baby is developing at a normal pace in other areas, but struggles to hold a bottle, there are a few things you can do to help them master this milestone.
You can remove your hands every now and then while feeding them, making them responsible for holding on.
You can also guide their hands to clasp and pick up the bottle on their own when they are sitting in their high chair.
This will show them it’s ok to take initiative and to encourage curiosity and independence.
When your baby begins to hold their own bottle, a whole new world will open up for them.
They will learn they hold a lot of power and can start to control not only their physical movements, but satisfy themselves emotionally.
Consider the tips above to safely supervise your little sipper, and also help them through this developmental process!