Know about fear of strangers in babies, stranger anxiety in infants and handling stranger anxiety in a baby.
Fear of Strangers
A baby’s temperament is reflected right from the way he or she reacts as an infant. Around 4 months of age, babies start trying to read people’s faces and behavior closely and try to differentiate between people who can be trusted and who cannot be trusted. Some babies are more extroverted and friendly than others and readily go to strangers and play with them while others may get anxious and afraid, when they see strangers.
Stranger and separation anxiety is a part of baby’s developmental phase and is even normal, healthy and protective in a way. The ability to crawl and walk, give children the freedom to wander away from caregivers to unknown persons and places that may not be safe. In part, anxiety keeps the baby close to you. However, here are some tips to make your child learn not to be too shy and learn to be friends with strangers too:
- Babies tend to sense what you are feeling and mimic your actions. So, if you smile to a stranger, react pleasantly to them, meet with them warmly, your child is likely to imitate you and will be all smiles and warm towards him or her.
- Since the babies still don’t understand much of what you want them to understand, you may inform the stranger for the baby about her anxiety and tell them that she would not like them intrude into her personal space or touch her and may react by crying or aggressively.
- Ask significant strangers, such as grandparents who the baby is seeing for the first time, to give your baby some time to be comfortable around them and be friendly and let you help. Instead of approaching the baby, they can play with her favorite toy or do her favorite activities as she observes them or gift her a toy that she desires so much, so that she warms up to them and do not feel threatened by them. Seeing them so cool make the baby feel that they are more like her and share her interests and she then may want to go to them and play with them.
- While meeting someone for the first time, smile and greet the person while you are still away from them. The space will make your baby feel safer and give her the time to adjust to the idea that if you are smiling to the person and chatting cheerfully with him or her, the person must be friendly. This may get the child to drop caution and anxiety and connect well to the stranger too.
Babies who trust and feel secure only in the arms of their parents and close caregivers may outgrow from her stranger anxiety in time, with a little soothing and reassuring expressions from you. You need not worry that close attachment to you or caution around strangers is unhealthy and pose a hurdle to her independence. It just means that she loves and trusts you more.
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