Babies and Stranger Anxiety – Help!
Zoe is now 8 months and is starting to show anxiety towards strangers. I knew that this phase was coming, but I didn’t expect it to feel so terrible when it happened. Recently, I went down to visit Zoe at the center and there was a different teacher covering in the classroom. Zoe was hysterically crying, just staring at the new lady. I hadn’t heard these screams before and felt so badly for the new teacher. I picked Zoe up and played with her to calm her down while I spoke to her regular teacher. Her teacher reassured me that stranger anxiety is normal at this age and said that it would be fine. I stayed for a few minutes and then as I put her down and started to leave, she got upset again. I felt this giant pit in my stomach as I walked out of the center.
This also happened around Easter. My parents traveled up from NY a few days prior to Easter to get in some “Zoe-time.” My parents usually visit about every 6 weeks or so and we often video-chat so Zoe has heard their voices and seen them plenty of times before. When my mom said hello to her, Zoe immediately started crying. My mom was unable to pick her up and I was crushed. I knew that my mom understood stranger anxiety and it wasn’t a big deal, but I felt so badly that Zoe wouldn’t go to her. A few minutes later, my dad tried to say hello and got the same reaction. My parents were staying with us so that first night was a bust. The next morning, I had my parents sit on the floor next to Zoe while I played with her. They picked up toys and made silly noises to get her attention. After a few minutes, she began to get a little more comfortable with them. My dad tried to pick her up but she expressed that she was not yet ready for that. I found that having my parents down on her level helped Zoe get more comfortable. It was only on the third day that they were able to hold her without her crying.
Easter morning we headed to my husband’s family’s house and it was the same deal. I suggested that his parents sit on the floor with her and it seemed to work but I think that, overall, there were just too many people there. Eventually everyone got a few smiles but I still felt bad because Zoe was not giving them the reaction that I had hoped.
How have you dealt with stranger anxiety? Do you have any tips on to help get through it?