What is Stranger Anxiety?
Stranger anxiety usually comes around the same time separation anxiety sets in, sometimes earlier. It tends to appear when babies are between 3 and 6 months and can last for a year or two. Your baby is now aware of a stranger’s presence and the fact that she is a separate person. When she is separated from her parents and introduced to the presence of a “stranger”, she becomes anxious. This is related to the developmental object permanence stage. She thinks that once a person (like her mother) disappears from site, then she literally has disappeared into thin air. She is scared that her mother is not coming back and she is left with this “stranger”.
Who gets Stranger Anxiety?
Babies from 3-6 months through toddlerhood experience stranger anxiety.
What can a parent do to alleviate Stranger Anxiety?
When a stranger enters the room or starts to interact with your baby, keep your baby feeling secure with your touch and soothing voice. Ask the “stranger” to ignore the baby for a while so that your toddler does not feel threatened.
Remember that toddlers feed off their parents. If you become anxious or nervous, your child will too.
Ask the “stranger” to wait until your toddler comes to them. Do not thrust your crying child into the “stranger’s” arms. Once your child is in the same room with the “stranger” for a while and sees that they are good, she will warm up to them eventually.
Like separation anxiety, your toddler will outgrow this stage too, as soon as she learns that the “stranger” is not a threat.