D.V. asks from Tampa, FL on December 12, 2006
Stranger Anxiety - Tampa,FL
My DD is 4.5 months old and has started a "stranger anxiety" phase. She is fine until a stranger, or really anyone besides me or my DH, looks at her or talks to her. She starts screaming at the top of her lungs and is inconsolable for at least 10 to 15 minutes. If she is around a lot of people, she screams on and off until we leave and settle her into the car or she tires herself out. Can any of you experienced moms out there tell me about how long this phase will last? Or do you have any suggestions as to how I can make simple things like birthday parties and Christmas easier on my LO?
R.H. answers from Tampa on December 14, 2006
My daughter went thru the same thing, though it only lasted a a couple of months. She was like that with both sets of grandparents but one more than the other. I brought her around them more oftenand around to public places more as well. With my mother, as soon as I walk in the door, she would take the baby from me and of course my daughter would cry for a minute, but she got over it much faster than she did with her fathers parents, who would walk away from her as soon as she started crying. I would of course not let just anyone take her, only close family. She was actually fine with younger people, like little kids on up to about 14 year olds, but put somene older in front of her and she went right to crying. But like I said, she's over now. All I can suggest is socialize her a little more with family, bring her out in public more often, so your child can get used to crowds, and she will grow out of this phase in no time.
T.H. answers from Tampa on December 13, 2006
Dear D. V.
I can only assume that you have discussed this "stranger anxiety" with your child's pediatrician. If so, what does the doctor say about it?
My neice went through a period of that type of behavior, however her situation was different than yours. My sister divorced her husband when my neice was 6 months old and because he was abusive, my sister (without intention) verbally expressed her own fears of him while in the presense of her daughter. Thus leading my neice to believe that she should fear everyone, except for those extremely close to her. In fact, if anyone would come to the door and ring the doorbell, she would run to her bedroom and hide.
I helped her through it and eventually my neice opened up and no longer had that fear of other people or strangers. Of course, we taught her a "healthy fear" of strangers like you would any child, but she no longer cried or hid from people.
If you haven't brought this up with her pediatrican, I would do that first.
Hope this helps.
S. answers from Tampa on December 13, 2006
We went through that around that age. It lasted a month or two I guess. Now she's very social (she just turned one). We just didn't let anyone come grab her or get into her face when they first saw her. We would hold her and let her know the person was ok and then she'd be fine after about 15 minutes. Another trick was to schedule things along with a feeding. Like when we took her for her portrait, we spent some time in the studio first and I fed her there. She got comfortable with the surroundings and people and was ok because she had the security of her bottle...
L.L. answers from Tampa on December 13, 2006
It's a natural phase but you can probably ease it by sitting with her and the stranger prior to letting them hold her. My son had stranger anxiety and seperation anxiety kick in high gear at 6 months. It's still pretty bad at almost 11 months but
it's getting better. Our babies start to realise who their caregivers are and learn that all people are not the same. Some babies don't go through stranger/seperation anxiety roughly but others (like mine) do. Just warn everyone and let them know it takes time for her to warm up to them. Maybe bring a stuffed animal along or blanket and they can have that in arms when holding her.
Here is a good article I found:
What is it?
Separation anxiety and stranger anxiety both coincide with a new intellectual skill called object permanence. They now remember objects and specific people that are not present. They will search for toys that have dropped out of sight. They are able to call up a mental image of what (or who) they are missing. They don’t want the stranger, because the stranger is not you.
They understand about people leaving before they learn about people returning. They can tell from your actions that you are about to leave. Anxiety begins to build even before you leave.
They can’t tell from your actions that you are about to return. They have no idea when – or even if – you will come back. And they miss you intensely. For them, each separation seems endless.
Dropping a screaming child at day care tugs at parents' hearts. Much nighttime screaming is an expression of separation anxiety. Sleep is a scary separation.
Peek-a-boo and bye-bye are fun ways for us to interact with babies. For babies at this age, these are issues of great concern.
Who gets it?
Most healthy babies and toddlers exhibit at least one phase of stranger/separation anxiety as part of normal development.