You are currently viewing Does My Baby Have Stranger Anxiety? How To Tell And What To Do About It

Does My Baby Have Stranger Anxiety? How To Tell And What To Do About It

Every parent has been there – that classic moment when your baby transforms into a tiny, wailing alarm system when handed to someone they’ve just met (sorry, Aunt Petunia). Let’s be honest, watching your precious little one cry at the mere sight of a distant relative can feel like a real party pooper. Don’t worry, it’s not them – it’s their stranger danger alarm, and it’s all part of your baby’s adorable and normal developmental journey.

In this guide we’ll be covering:

  • What is stranger anxiety and when does it start?
  • Does my baby have stranger anxiety?
  • How can I help my baby with stranger anxiety?

What is Stranger Anxiety and When Does It Start?

toddler stretching arms on sofa and not wanting to be given to a stranger

According to John Santrock, author of ‘Child Development’, babies start giving wary looks to unfamiliar faces around the time they hit 6 months old. By 9 months, things get more interesting – they might burst into tears when your friendly neighbour pops in for a chat.

And guess what? This is actually a good sign. It shows that your baby’s brain is working hard to figure out who’s who in their world – distinguishing the familiar from the unfamiliar. So, don’t be surprised if your tiny tot puts on a show the next time they meet someone new. It’s a sign that their cognitive gears are turning, and they’re starting to learn that the world is not just one giant playground filled with people they know.

Signs To Tell If If My Baby Has Stranger Anxiety?

Every baby is unique, and their reactions to strangers can vary. But if you suspect that your baby has stranger anxiety, be sure to watch out for these signs:

  • Fussy Reaction: If your baby starts getting fussy or cranky when new people are around, they might be feeling a bit unsure about the unfamiliar faces.
  • Clinging Behaviour: When your baby clings to you like a little koala bear around strangers, it’s their way of seeking comfort and security from someone they trust – you!
  • Shyness and Quietness: If your usually talkative baby suddenly becomes quiet or shy when meeting new people (where did my chatty baby go?), they may be taking a pause to figure out who these new folks are.
Happy Baby with bowtie smiling and talking to mum

How Can I Help My Baby with Stranger Anxiety?

Fear not, dear parents! Here are some tips that might make your baby’s stranger danger phase a bit more giggly and a lot less twitchy..

Show and tell: Familiarise your baby with new faces by showing them pictures or videos of family and friends. Take a look at the Grow with Me development boxes – they feature toys and products that can be used to help baby learn about other people and faces at the right stage of their development!

Baby steps: Like introducing broccoli to a baby’s diet, acquaint your baby with new faces gradually. Start with a friendly wave and a smile – like having “small bites” of social interactions.

Lead by example: Show your tiny tot that meeting new people isn’t so bad. Smile, laugh, and chat with others while holding your baby, sending the message that these folks come in peace. Singing groups, nurseries, libraries – all great places to go with your baby so they start getting used to new people.

Consent is key: Don’t force your baby into the arms of unknown people. Remember, consent is a thing, even for tiny humans.

Just remember, this phase won’t last forever, and soon enough, you’ll be waving at your kid as they gleefully sprint toward the playground without so much as a backward glance (they grow up so fast!). And hey, as they grow, their terror of strangers will probably evolve into a terror of vegetables – and that’s a whole other story!

Want to Stay Ahead of The Curve?

grow with me sensory toy subscription box with high quality wooden toys in a monthly box

Rather than worrying about your little one’s developmental progress after they’re born, leave that to us. Take a look at our Grow with Me development toy boxes. We provide a monthly, research-based, sensory box of educational and useful goodies – all with the aim of developing cognitive & motor skills through play, in 0-24 month olds. This leaves you to focus on spending quality time with your little one!