If your little one has a fear of strangers, don’t worry- it’s perfectly normal! It happens as your baby gets to know and develops a healthy attachment to familiar people – like their parents and siblings. And because they prefer familiar faces, they might react to strangers by crying or fussing, going very quiet, looking fearful or hiding. Even people they once adored, and went too willingly previously, may be on the hit list- normally grandparents and other semi-familiar faces.
This stranger anxiety can become more intense at around 7-10 months of age, and can last a few months or continue for much longer and well into toddlerhood. But like every other phase of development, this too will pass!
So what can you do in the meantime?
The best approach is to be patient & wait it out. With some babies, this phase will be over in a flash. With others, it may linger for months. But sooner or later, your little one will realise that they don’t have to choose between you and others, and their suspicion of strangers will pass.
Give people a heads up.
Until this stage passes, give your family and friends a heads up on what’s going on with your little one, which will also help with any hurt feelings they might get. Reassure them that it’s not personal and that your baby is just going through an anxious phase and needs some time. If possible, give them some tips on how to win your little one over- talk to them first instead of trying to pick them up straight away or play their favourite game like peekaboo. If they do win them over, stay in sight to ensure they don’t revert back!
Don’t push your little one.
If that doesn’t help the situation, be patient. Forcing them to come face-to-face with their anxiety and those strangers will only make it worse. It’ll be less stressful for everyone if you let your little one decide when they are ready. And eventually, they will.