Since the day your baby was born, you and your family members are the only people your baby recognises. You may notice that your baby becomes extra fussy, quiet, or starts crying when he/she sees strangers. The anxiety when your baby sees someone new is called "fear of the stranger" or "stranger anxiety. A baby’s fear of strangers is commonly seen and expected in child development. Fear of strangers in babies is usually intense when your baby is between seven and 10 months of age and lasts for a few months or longer. This anxiety is the very first emotional milestone achieved by your baby.
What to do before your child meets a new face; how to help your baby handle fear.
Although anxiety and fear of strangers in babies is normal, here are some tips to help your child feel more comfortable:
- When your baby is meeting new people, hold hands with your baby and have him/her sit in your lap.
- Prepare and excite the baby before you introduce them to others. Instead of a surprise meet, a prepared meet is better where the baby anticipates meeting someone new.
- Never ignore your baby’s fear. This will make your baby more upset and fearful. Make sure that you introduce new people in your baby’s comfort zone (e.g., at home) or that you take his or her favourite blanket or toys if you are meeting new people in a new setting. This will make your child less anxious.
- Always be patient and never push your baby to meet someone when he/she is not ready.
- Babies copy adults. When you are with your baby, show them that you are not afraid of people. Greet everyone with a positive attitude and a warm smile. Keep introducing new people to your baby. The more new people your baby meets, the more they will become comfortable.
- Before you plan to leave your baby with a babysitter, give them some time to get comfortable around the babysitter. Assure them that they will be safe. Talk to them and tell them when you will return and how much you love them. Never leave suddenly. Spend some time with them before leaving. When you return, play with your baby or read a book together.
Most of the time, this fear of strangers in babies passes, and children adjust better to new people when they reach about two years of age.
However, if this fear continues longer than expected, try to work on a child’s independence. You can:
- Let your child self-feed.
- Let them entertain themselves with new toys and explore new play environments.
- Keep giving your baby new experiences and introducing them to new people.
- Let your kid solve his or her problems by themselves.
- Let them sleep on their own.
If your child is still not relieved of the fear of strangers, you can talk to your paediatrician or visit a specialist anxiety clinic.
Your baby’s stranger fright can be a challenging period for both you and your baby because the baby becomes more fussy, extra clingy, and unsociable. When it comes to babies, never rush them to do anything. Every baby is different. Your baby may need some more time than others, which is perfectly okay. You need to understand them, comfort them, and stick with them. With the right amount of warmth and time, your baby will be ready to meet the world!
Social and emotional developmental activities will help prepare your child for the world ahead. To learn more, head to your BabyG App to get complete access to 1000+ Development Activities, Milestones and Growth Reports, Meal Plans, Recipes, Bedtime Stories, Tips and a global Community of likeminded parents.
Raisingchildren.net.au. Fear of Strangers: babies & young children. 
Healthychildren.org. Emotional and Social Development: 8 to 12 Months 
Parenting Counts. “I want my Mommy”