Fears, anxieties and worries are normal childhood experiences. Your child will experience various kinds of common fears during her growing and learning years (sometimes leaving your baby crying and you wondering ‘why do babies cry’), but they are more often than not temporary. Your baby will probably begin to demonstrate her first symptom or sign of fear around 7 to 8 months.
Why do babies develop fear (6 months to 1 year)
At 6 months of age, your baby develops strong attachment with you and other family members around. During this time she starts learning to discriminate between known and unknown faces, familiar and unfamiliar touches, etc. Separation from the persons of attachment, at this age, can make leave her feeling anxious. Experts have described this fear as ‘separation anxiety’. Sometimes she may show fearful reactions towards strangers, be clingy, nagging or cry around them. Apart from fear of strangers and separation, loud noises can also create sudden fear in baby and startle her especially if she is alone or sleeping.
To reduce separation anxiety in infants, when going out, reassure them lovingly that you will be back soon and that she (the baby) is being left with people who love her.
How to help your baby overcome fear
- Let her hear you when she is not able to see you – If your baby is playing in the next room and you are busy in another part of the house, your physical absence, even for a short while, might make her considerably anxious. To alleviate this anxiety, talk to her from there itself. This helps your baby to feel secure and protective even if you are out of sight.
- Announce your leave and arrival – When going somewhere and leaving your baby with a caregiver, talk to your baby about it: “Mummy / Papa is going out for some time, till then aunt will take care of you. Don’t be naughty.” Then joyfully announce your arrival when you come back by saying, “See I am back. I will now change and play with you.” This will help your baby adjust with your routine of going out.
- Introduce your baby to new people in your presence – Allow other known people (besides family members) to play with your baby. This will help your baby to develop trust on newly-introduced persons.
- Don’t leave your crying baby – Never leave your baby with anyone else while she is crying. This creates fear, mistrust and emotional agony within her. Instead pat her to ease and assure her in a calm and a confident manner.
By implementing these ideas and working on them in a consistent manner, your baby will gradually learn to trust her environment and be less fearful.
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