What is Baby Stranger Anxiety?

By Jennie Berendson

Baby stranger anxiety is your child’s very first fear.  The onset is usually around 6 or 7 months of age with a peak at 10 or 12 months.  This is a time when a once social, content baby becomes shy and clingy.  These changes are just a common part of a child’s development and are very appropriate.  This article will discuss the causes of baby stranger anxiety and give some tips on how you can help your baby through this stressful time. 

For the first few months, a baby is unaware that they are their own person.  They feel attachment to their caregiver and security, but they soon start to realize that there are different people.   When a child realizes they are not attached to their care giver and they are their own person they will start to examine the people around them.  Your infant who once cooed and smiled at everyone may now start to prefer certain individuals over others.  You may notice they prefer women over men or like or dislike certain facial features like beards.  This is all just part of their learning process.  Baby stranger anxiety is really the start of a baby learning they are an individual and independent.

A baby learns very early in life that some things and people bring them comfort and joy, like their parents touch and their favorite teddy.  At the same time they realize that other things bring them pain and discomfort, like if the family cat bites them, or they hit their arm on the coffee table.  This causes them to start being a little timid around things and people who are new, and to cling to things that are familiar and safe to them.  When babies where attached to their parents they were protected and safe.  Now that they realize they are on their own and can get hurt, they can be unsure of things.  Everything is new and scary to them, so they will tend to hold on to what they know and want to stay where they feel safe.  

When your child is suffering from baby stranger anxiety it is important that you realize this is a real fear and try to comfort your worried child.  There are many things you can do to help your child get through these fears and worries.  Make sure to give your child time to adjust and get use to new places and people.  When you are going somewhere new let your child stay close to you for comfort and if possible let your child adapt at their own pace.  If you have to leave your baby, make sure that you set enough time to let them warm up to the new place or person before you leave.  When you are having a get together with friends or family, try to have it at your house.  This way your baby is at a place where they feel safe and secure.  They won’t have to adjust to the environment and people.  Let others know that your child has baby separation anxiety.  This way they know what to expect and won't get upset or try to approach a timid child too quickly. 

Take the time to understand baby stranger anxiety so you can help your child cope with their fears and anxiety. In time your child will learn to adjust quickly and new things won't be as scary for them.  Baby stranger anxiety is your child's first fear, so give them time to adapt and learn.  Before you know it your child will be ready to go off on their own and explore and you will be the one wanting them to stay behind and cuddle.   

I have set up a collection of books on child anxiety that will help both of you learn about the feelings involved and how to work through them. Go to www.ChildAnxietysite

Jennie has been an early child educator for over 10 years.  She has a lot of valuable information for parents on her website at www.for-parents.com Be sure to check it out for more useful information and products.


 








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