Has my baby got stranger anxiety?
How to know if your baby has stranger anxiety and how to deal with it
What is stranger anxiety?
Stranger anxiety is when your baby is unfamiliar with a person holding them and gets distressed, particularly if they are left with someone else. It is a sign of healthy emotional development and attachment as your baby now understands the difference between you and a stranger, and naturally prefers you.
When can stranger anxiety occur?
Stranger anxiety tends to show its face around the age of 9 months and can sometimes last until about 18 months, by which time many babies will become more comfortable with meeting new and less familiar faces.
What can I do to help my baby?
If you are using a babysitter, ask them to come earlier than you need to go out. Spend that extra time playing together which should help your baby warm to the stranger before you have to leave.
Your baby reacts to your cues, so show positivity around the new person so your baby sees how comfortable you are with them.
Don’t drag out goodbyes. It’s likely your baby will cry when you leave and try to get you to stay. Try not to get drawn in, stay positive, keep the goodbye short and upbeat so that your baby is more than likely to settle when you leave.
It’s also important not to give up trying if your baby does get distressed with a stranger. Remember, it may take your baby a while to adjust to the new situation and people involved. So persevere to help your baby get used to the new situation and rest assured that they will not see them as strangers for too long.
Tips to help raise a friendly baby
• Let them see you be friendly yourself and start conversations with new people when you’re out and about.
• Make an effort to involve new people around you when they spend time with you and your baby.
• Talk positively about people you see out and about – ‘Doesn’t that lady have a cute dog’.
• Hold your baby when introducing them to new people. Be relaxed if they want to hide behind your leg and don’t feel the need to pull them out to say ‘hello’.
• Ask new people to chat gently and ease themselves in – save hugs and kisses until your baby feels more comfortable.
• Talk about things that help connect your baby to the person you’re introducing them to – ‘Did you know that Lily’s favourite programme is Peppa Pig too?’