image001Feeding your baby using a bottle is usually a conscious decision for most mothers. As a mother, you are able to identify if the baby is developmentally ready to start feeding through the bottle. As babies develop, they naturally start becoming independent and are able to reach their bottle and feed on their own. You can encourage your baby to become self-sufficient in feeding with a bottle.

When Can a Baby Hold a Bottle?

Babies develop differently, and while it may take some only about 6 months to get used to the bottle, others may take up to 10 months. The best way to tell if your baby is ready for the bottle is to give them the bottle and watch how they handle it. If the baby puts the bottle in the mouth and is able to remove it when full, you can slowly begin to introduce bottle feeding.

However, you must not force the bottle on your baby. Propping the bottle may force the baby to overeat and even lead to choking. If the baby sleeps with the bottle in the mouth, the breast milk or baby formula will pool around his or her mouth and this could lead to tooth decay. Watch your baby to avoid this.

According to research from the American Academy of Pediatrics, propped bottles could increase the risk of ear infections in babies. This is mainly due to the feeding position. If the baby is fed lying down, the formula could flow into the Eustachian tubes in the ears from the mouth where it will hang back and lead to an infection.

Additionally, propping a bottle is never a good idea because feeding should be a time of bonding for the baby and mother. Cuddling your baby while feeding gives the child a sense of security and safety and this naturally promotes the mother-child bond. Propping the bottle therefore could deprive your child of this essential single session.

How Can I Teach a Baby to Hold a Bottle?

Knowing when can a baby hold a bottle is not enough, teaching your baby to hold the bottle requires patience and keen observation. The following tips should help:

1. Wait for the Right Time

You must not hurry the feeding process. A good age to encourage your baby to hold the bottle on his or her own would be at six months. According to the Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota, at six months, the baby has physically developed and is able to coordinate the bottle with his or her hands. This is a process that takes time, so don’t rush it.

2. Hold Your Baby While Bottle-Feeding

You can encourage you baby to feed independently by holding him in your arms as you normally do when feeding. As we mentioned above, this snuggle time is important because it gives the baby a sense of security and allows you to bond. The Nationwide Children’s Hospital recommends holding the baby while feeding with the bottle and it is recommended that you hold the baby at a tilted angle with the held slightly inclined backward.

3. Try One Hand and Then Both

You need to guide your baby when feeding and a good way to encourage their feeding independently is by holding the bottle with one hand and placing it on the baby’s hands. Grasp the baby’s hands behind the bottle and hold them with your hands. This teaches the baby to hold the bottle.

4. Watch to See What Your Baby Does

Sometimes the best way to learn is to simply watch the baby as you teach them to use the bottle. If the baby removes his or her hands from the bottle, watch what happens when he or she is no longer able to get the milk. You can reposition the bottle then remove your hands until the baby learns that they need to hold onto the bottle in order to feed.

5. Monitor Your Baby’s Progress As He or She Learns

You must monitor your baby as he or she learns bottle feeding. You will need to provide support to his or her elbows and forearms as this ensures that the bottle is well propped. Eventually, the baby will learn to become independent while holding the bottle.

For more tips on how to teach your baby to hold the bottle watch this video:

Tips on Bottle Feeding

Before your baby can hold a bottle, bottle feeding is all your work, here is how to make the process smooth: 



Be patient

As a mother, you must learn to be patient. Holding a bottle is not a milestone in your baby’s developmental stage and you need not worry if they are not able to do it as fast as other babies.

Cuddle with your baby

Feeding time is bonding time. Despite the fact that your baby is becoming independent, feeding does not mean that you should stop cuddling. Cuddle your baby even if he or she is able to hold and feed on his or her own.

Enjoy your time

Feeding time should be enjoyable. Hold the baby and enjoy your time together. If you enjoy feeding time, the baby also gets this vibe and enjoys the process as well.

Support the bottle

You need to support the bottle even if the baby is able to hold the bottle on his or her own

Accompany your baby


As babies become independent with feeding, it’s easy to assume that they do not need your guidance or watch. You must never prop your baby on the bottle and leave them unattended. Always monitor the baby’s feeding to avoid incidences such as choking.

Never force your baby

Do not force this process. Eventually, all babies learn to feed on their own and yours will learn in due time.

Listen carefully

Pay close attention to how your baby suckles while feeding. If your baby is making a lot of noise while sucking, this means that he or she is swallowing a lot of air. You can avoid this by holding the baby’s head up a little. Ensure that you align the baby’s body to the bottle to avoid pouring formula on the neck.