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How can I make my baby feel secure and comfortable around others?

My 9-month-old baby is scared to participate in the Mommy and Me music class we attend. Should we stop going?
Submitted by American Baby Team

I'd say stick with it. While some babies naturally go with the flow and jump right into new situations, others are slower to warm up. They tend to be more comfortable with one-on-one interaction and can feel easily overwhelmed in a group. Another factor may be your child's sensitivity to sounds. He may love hearing music at home, but in a class, the noise and movement of the other children might at first be too much for him to handle. But kids are very adaptable, and there's plenty you can do to help your son feel secure and comfortable:
• Play with musical instruments at home and gradually add different sounds.
• Arrange playdates with babies around your child's age so he can get used to spending time with other kids.
• Give him opportunities to feel comfortable in gatherings by attending other organized activities like playgroups or story time at the library.
• If possible, arrive at the music class early to give your child a chance to explore the environment without other kids around.
• Follow your child's lead in group situations, especially new ones. If he clings to you, help him explore from the safety of your arms or lap. If he needs a break, take a stroll around the room or go to a quiet area. If you give him time, he will soon feel safe enough to join the fun.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, May 2005. Updated 2009.

The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.

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