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Baby fear of strangers: The basics
Baby fear of strangers: The basics

Fear of strangers is very common. It’s a normal stage in child development.

It happens as your baby develops a healthy attachment to familiar people – like you. Because babies prefer familiar adults, they might react to strangers by crying or fussing, going very quiet, looking fearful or hiding.

Fear of strangers usually becomes more intense at around 7-10 months of age. It can last a few months or continue for much longer. It usually passes somewhere between 18 months and 2 years.

Helping with fear of strangers: what you can do

Although fear of strangers is part of normal development for babies and young children, there are things you can do to help your child feel less upset.

Helping your child feel comfortable around strangers

  • Don’t ignore or dismiss your child’s fear of strangers. This could make the fear worse.
  • Hold your child’s hand or let him sit on your lap when he meets new people.
  • Introduce strangers first at home, if possible. Home is where your child feels most comfortable.
  • If your child gets very upset with a new person, comfort her and try a different approach like all playing together. You could also move your child slightly away from the new person until she calms down. Then you can try again.
  • Take your child’s comfort item (toy or blanket) with you when you’re spending time with new people.
  • Stay calm yourself. Your child will pick up on your cues. He’ll be more likely to be calm and confident if he senses that you feel the same way.

Meeting new people

  • Keep introducing your child to new people. The more chances your child has to meet new people and discover that they’re safe, the more likely it is that her fear will reduce.
  • Show your child that you’re not scared of new people. Greet them warmly with positive body language – smiles, relaxed posture, eye contact and a happy voice.


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