Advice for Stranger Anxiety in 7 Month Old

Updated on May 08, 2008
C.M. asks from Chicago, IL
7 answers

My 7 month old son has severe stranger anxiety when left alone with family members (his grandmother) and babysitters. This week he has had a really rough time and cried for almost 2 hours straight with a babysitter. I am a SAHM but expose him to lots of friends and family and have tried to have new people hold him whenever possible to get him comfortable. I have an event for my husband's work this weekend that I must attend but am very nervous that it will be really rough on my son and the babysitter. How long does this "intense" part of the stranger anxiety phase last and do you have any tips to help make him more comfortable when I need to use a babysitter?

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answers from Chicago on

Hi Charlotte,

Unfortunately there is nothing you can do to change this anxiety. It is what it is,... he's scared because he doesn't understand that you are coming back. Try playing more peek-a-boo with him. It will help him understand that even when he can't see something, it's still there. We used my son's burp cloths and a small toy. To this day, this is his FAVORITE game :) he LAUGHS and giggles those full bely laughs when he plays peek a boo :)

His anxiety was intense - he would cry the entire time I would go to the grocery store and my husband was watching him. his FATHER... my husband is home every day by 430, he puts our son to bed, he feeds him dinner... by no means should he be considered a stranger, but my son still freaked out when I left. For us it lasted a couple months. But i really believe every kid is different on this. My aunt's new baby is turning 2 and still has severe stranger anxiety. they can't even set her down at parties, and she cries if you look at her... my first daughter seemed to sail right thru this phase without any issues - she would go to ANYBODY - which was a little scary too...

Keep reassuring him, increase the peek-a-boo games and he will come around. The worst of it is the heartstrings it pulls on us, seeing them freak out. hopefully your babysitter can remain calm, reassuring and comfort him thru his fits. I think that is very important. I would try using a grandma until he gets past this. She will love him and be more understanding than anybody.

Good luck to you... I hope this phase passes soon for you.




answers from Chicago on

It could be hard on the babysitter but make sure you have a babysitter that you trust, with all your heart! Then, make sure you supply them with all the tools that they will need to help calm down your son. Let them know that they may be holding your son and coddling him for hours. Then.....go and enjoy your husband, don't fret all night - if you need to make a check-in call, do it. Just don't keep calling and calling - she has a baby to take care of. Then you can return, revitalized, and know your son will be fine. As for when this intense phase will pass - no one knows. Unfortunately, if you don't take time for yourself and your husband - life will just get harder and harder. Good luck and enjoy the adult company.



answers from Peoria on

I know how you feel!! My daughter went through stranger anxiety from 3 months - 5 months. One day she was fine with her grandparents (her only real babysitters at the time) and the next she was terrified of them. With us, it was very difficult because my MIL would get so upset when it happened, making it worse (even though we asked her to try to act normally). Basically we went 2 months without really leaving her with anyone (I am a SAHM), because she would be so hysterical, and I couldn't stand to do that to her or the babysitter. She outgrew it after a couple of months. It was really hard for all of us. What we tried to do is slowly introduce (or reintroduce) people to her. For example, when visitors came over, we asked them not to immediately look at her or talk to her. Instead we found it better if she could observe them talking to us first. We tried to do visits with the inlaws several times a week, and we would try not to let anyone hold her until she felt comfortable. Even as she started to be getting better, we tried to be cautious and not push it until we knew she was fine. Sometimes, it's hard to do that with overzealous relatives and friends.

I know that you don't have the luxury of time here. My advice would be to introduce every visitor slowly, including repeat visitors and family members, and have babysitters come over early to play for a while. Also, Remind every person that comes over, including grandparents, that its important not to become upset or react negatively to her anxiety. Babies can sense these feelings in us, and for us, it made things so much worse. If someone gets upset over this, just remind them that's about your son, not them. Also, as your son is old enough to be distracted with toys, can you use toys (or maybe even television, if you're okay with that) as a way to help distract him when he gets upset. Neither one of those worked for my daughter, but she was too young at the time.

Finally, if you can get to the point that feel ok about leaving your son (i.e. he's not too hysterical) and if you have any outside babysitters that you trust, I have found that in some cases, when I know my child isn't in the best mood, or will be difficult going to sleep, I'd rather be paying a babysitter instead of having a family member do me a favor. I guess I don't feel as bad for the person being paid if my child is more difficult to watch that time.

Good luck with everything. Hopefully this phase won't last much longer.



answers from Chicago on

No worries. Our daughter had severe separation anxiety from 5-15 mos. of age. It didn't matter who it was, she cried. Nobody else could even hold her during those months. Not grandparents or anyone else. Now, at 18 mos., we just left her for the first time for 4 nights with grandparents and not a single tear was shed. She is just fine. It takes time but your son will get over it. In the meantime, yes, it is hard on babysitters. They will suffer along with your son so choose carefully who will care for him. As for tips, not much worked. Favorite books, a bath or field trips around the house to arouse curiosity. Good luck.



answers from Chicago on

I do not think it is a good idea to leave your son at a place where he is going to cry for 2 hours straight. I know you are a SAHM and would like him to be able to stay at a baby sitter when needed but your son really does not want to be where you are leaving him. Try to see your self in his place, he is really afraid, this is someone who does not look or smell like mom and this is not my home. I would be scared too.
If you do have to leave him with some one it is best to make it a family member at your own home. He may cry a little bit but I think he will settle down a little better in his own home and with family member.
I am straight forward because this could lead into a problem way into his toddler years. Anxiety is a big issue with children (Babies) just as it is with adults. If your child is not comfortable there is a reason why. Find the reason and the anxiety will be gone.
One last thing you could try is having the sitter over to your home a few times while you are around. Have the sitter spend time with your baby while you are around and then slowly leave. Go out side, walk around the block, etc. It could solve your problem



answers from Peoria on

Charlotte M.,
My son was the same way. He didn't like being left with anyone. He would scream. For him what worked best was to try & get him interested in something & if that didn't work they would do something with his older sisters & then he wanted to join him. The first couple of times were screaming for an hour. Then it was pouting for 1/2 an hour. Then he decided he would rather play. I also babysit & have been on that end too. I had a couple of kids that would scream as their parents would start to go out the door. They would come back in for a minute & try again until I told them that once they finally leave they are fine. I live on a dead end street& the kids would be fine by the time the parents got to the corner. When I leave mine with anyone I tell them that I will be back shortly & I love them & go. Good luck with your little one.
L. W. a SAHM of 4. 3 girls(10,almost9,almost 3)& one boy (almost 5), Part time babysitter( 2 boys;7& 2)



answers from Chicago on

How about trying to hold him a bit more while you're with new people. You've already tried letting new people hold him so perhaps try to give him the security of being with YOU around new people. Interact with the new people or even with the family he already knows (since he's crying so much even w/ them) while holding him. Give him the security of you while at the same time letting him get comfortable around them.

And, since you didn't mention how quickly you leave when you leave him w/ someone else, maybe do the opposite of what you have been doing. So, if you've lingered and coddled him a bit as he cries, etc...maybe just sneak out and leave right away. Or, if you have left right away, perhaps stay a bit and play with him AND the sitter. Then go to the bathroom so he knows you're gone, but you won't be gone long. Then about five mins later leave the house.

I wish I had more advice! I'm not really sure how to handle that b/c both of my girls are only babysat by my parents and they are over the moon for my parents.

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