It wasn’t difficult for us to learn how to teach baby to hold a bottle.
Teaching baby to hold a bottle on her own required a little patience on our part, but lots of interest and determination from our daughter.
But after our experience with teaching baby to hold a bottle I am confident we will be able to teach any of our future babies to hold their own bottles as well.
Pediatricians use the absence of babies’ ability to hold their own bottle as a test for developmental problems. But the American Academy of Pediatrics does not mention self-holding in their tips on feeding from a bottle. So although it is not necessary to teach children to hold their own bottle, having a child who is not able to hold a bottle may be a sign of a problem.
Parenting books generally list three steps requirements before teaching a baby to hold a bottle:
1) The baby must show interest in drinking from the bottle.
2) The baby must show the physical dexterity necessary to hold the bottle.
3) The baby must be able to support the weight of her head.
Some babies are ready to hold their own bottle by six months while others take up to one year. Parents on internet forums are quick to distinguish between ability and desire when discussing their babies holding their own bottles. Having a one-year old who is not interested in holding a bottle is different than having one who is unable to do so.
While most babies should eventually learn to hold a bottle on their own, we have learned a few basic tips for making it easier. We started getting Arya to hold her bottle just before she turned six-months old.
By placing Arya’s hands directly onto the bottle and our hands over her’s, we were able to quickly teach her the amount of pressure necessary to hold the bottle in place. Within a few days of practice she was physically able to hold the bottle even though she seemed to prefer having someone hold the bottle for her.
Although some websites suggest using a small amount of formula when teaching baby to hold a bottle, we found that having a completely full bottle was much better. When a bottle has only an ounce of milk left, Arya must hold it at a very high angle (i.e. perpendicular to the floor) to be able to drink from it. A full bottle has enough liquid so that she can keep the bottle at a low angle and still get milk. Since it’s very hard for her to lean her head back and lift the bottle high in the air, she much prefer holding her own bottle when it is full of milk. Once a bottle gets empty she prefers having someone help her hold it in order to get the last few ounces.
Having baby learn to hold her own bottle actually freed up a significant amount of time for mommy and daddy. Now that Arya prefers to hold the bottle herself (and control the speed and timing of her milk) we can use the 15 minutes it takes her to drink a bottle to accomplish other tasks. When we eat lunch with baby in the library we can also have time to finish our own lunch while our daughter is drinking most of her milk.