Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dr. Jen’s Tips for Dealing with Stranger Anxiety

This is a repost from

An 11-month-old is in the peak period for stranger anxiety, and it’s a challenging phase. And it will end. As my grandma, my mother, and now I like to say when we face many of life’s challenges, “This too shall pass.”

Here are Dr. Jen’s Tips for Dealing with Stranger Anxiety:

  • It is normal for babies to be uncomfortable around “strangers”, and to express this in the only way they know how: by crying and fussing (and screaming, spitting and howling…). 
  • “Strangers” can be anyone—anyone that isn’t you! A babysitter, a grandparent, even the parent who is with the child less often than you can be the source of “stranger” anxiety. 
  • Stranger anxiety peaks just before children turn one and usually ends by 18-24 months. Developmentally, this is a period when children make a big discovery: Before, when an object disappeared, it was out of sight, out of mind; now your baby is learning that objects can go away. And one of those objects is you! 
  • How to help? Consistency is key—the more consistent a routine you can create, and the more familiar your baby’s schedule and the faces he meets become, the easier this period will be for both your child and you. 
  • Still, sometimes, you “gotta do what you gotta do.” Your baby will be OK! Go out for a night on the town and know that after you leave, eventually the tantrum will die down. Schedule the outing after a feeding, don’t linger over leaving (Do it fast!) and let him cry. He will be fine! 
  • Once you start daycare, talk to the provider about methods for saying “goodbye.” When my sons started daycare at 18 months, we had a “push mommy out the door” moment every morning that empowered them by putting them in control. Most experienced providers will be well suited to handle this. 
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. This is a normal part of child development.