Q: My baby cries and screams around new people. What can I do?

A: It's perfectly normal for a baby to be wary of unfamiliar faces or friends and family members she doesn't see all the time. This tends to crop up around 9 months and may last until about 18 months, by which time many babies become more comfortable with new faces.

This stranger anxiety is caused by your baby's realization that there's a difference between Mom and Dad and everyone else -- and she'd rather be with who she knows, loves, and trusts. (Take it as a compliment!) Stranger anxiety is also related, development-wise, to separation anxiety -- your baby's ability to understand that you're still around even when she can't see or be with you. The result? Your baby cries any time you leave her or hand her off to a friend or relative.

Separation and stranger anxiety tend to come and go until your baby's verbal enough to comfortably communicate with people besides her parents. A certain amount of this behavior is inevitable, but leaving your baby with a capable, nurturing sitter for short stints (an hour or two at first) will help her adjust to new faces and life away from you. She will get upset when you go, but over time she'll see that you always come back, and that she can feel safe and have fun with other people too.

Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.

Answered by Parents.com-Team


Comments (2)

April 27, 2019
Hi, thanks for this post. We used it as a reference on our blog about stranger anxiety here: https://www.rainforestlearningcentre.ca/concerned-daycare-baby-stranger-anxiety/ -maybe that would also help answer this? Glad for q&a places on the web like this!
December 4, 2018
Quick tip for all you parents all out there: My baby never slept well (especially through the night) until I started using the website >>>>SleepBaby .org<<<< - that website has been by far one of the best things I've ever got my hands on to get him to fall asleep quickly. Best time is 45 seconds from awake to asleep! I heard about it through a kindergarten teacher who uses it to put to sleep a group of 30 children. Check it out! Sorry, you can't post links here so you'll have to turn it into a normal link. >>SleepBaby .org<< Best of luck to you and your family! :)