Separation and Stranger Anxiety

pediatrician checking child's ears

Babies go through many stages of social development, just as they go through phases of language development and motor development. Between 6 and 12 months of age, babies begin to show separation anxiety and stranger anxiety.

Stranger anxiety may begin between 6 months and a year, usually around 8 to 9 months of age.

While the word “anxiety” makes it sound like something is wrong, these are in fact normal stages of development.

Separation anxiety is fear of the parent leaving. Babies who seemed perfectly happy to stay with a sitter or grandparent may change dramatically during this time and only want to be with parents or even one parent in particular. Leaving the baby with a sitter or in childcare can be much more upsetting for the baby and the parents.

{ MORE: 5 Tips to Deal with Separation from Your Child }

Related to this is stranger anxiety. It means that your baby has learned the difference between people they know, and people they do not know. It also means that they are bonding more strongly to you. Stranger anxiety may begin between 6 months and a year, usually around 8 to 9 months of age. With stranger anxiety, your baby may cry when approached by an unfamiliar person. This may happen at your baby's nine-month doctor visit. They may not want to see the doctor and certainly will not want to be picked up and taken over to a table to be examined.

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Separation and Stranger Anxiety

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14 comments

  1. r t says:

    No clue if anyone still checks this – but my daughter is definitely full on into this stage, she’s 14mths & wigs out anytime “strangers” are around – but ONLY women. I’m not worried about it, I know it’ll pass, but it makes going to the dr’s or interacting with other adults almost impossible. Any tips to help make it easier? I’ve of course tried toys (using a new toy to try & distract her) but nothing seems to help, she’s been sick for a week or so now & today will be the 3rd dr visit & it’s just really hard to try & communicate with the dr about her health while she’s having a full blown melt down…or when I had her with me to pick up my son from school & his teacher pulled me aside to tell me why he got in trouble that day & it was pretty much impossible to talk to her since my daughter was screaming her head off…

    I know I probably have at least a few more months of this so any pointers would be great. My son didn’t have any stranger anxiety (he was cool with anyone)…but this little lady hates any woman other than me or her grandma…

  2. Kenzi says:

    Should I be worried if my 8 month old is fine with strangers, the only time he’s fussy with strangers is when he’s tired or hungry.

    • Megan Klay says:

      Hi Kenzi – At his age, he’s probably too young to really recognize “strangers” since it hasn’t been too long since he’s been able to recognize and remember people.

  3. Heide says:

    My son is 16 months, and I haven’t really noticed any stranger anxiety, but he doesn’t like it when I leave. Unless he’s with Grandma, or Daddy. Then it’s okay.

  4. Alicia says:

    My girl has bad seperation anxiety, i cant walk out of the room for 1 second before she starts screaming

  5. Anber says:

    My baby started crying around strangers at 4 months and a half. She is now 5 months and she still stares at strangers from a distance. When approached she either cries or giggles depending on the person.

  6. Janice says:

    All of my children went through that stage and then got over it just like it never happened.

  7. gloing67 says:

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  8. gloing67 says:

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  9. My daughter has it now and i feel so bad because she does her sad face and it breaks my heart. 🙁

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