Stranger Anxiety

Stranger Anxiety refers to the fear or wariness displayed by infants and young children when encountering unfamiliar individuals. This is a normal and developmentally appropriate response that typically emerges around 6 to 8 months of age.


Stranger anxiety arises due to the cognitive and social development of infants. It is a result of their growing ability to differentiate between familiar and unfamiliar faces. Infants become more sensitive to changes in their environment and start recognizing the people they interact with regularly. As a result, they become cautious and anxious when exposed to unfamiliar faces.

Signs and Symptoms

– Crying or distress when approached by strangers
– Clinging tightly to parents or familiar caregivers
– Avoiding eye contact with unknown individuals
– Fearful facial expressions or body language
– Seeking comfort and reassurance from trusted individuals
– Difficulty calming down in the presence of strangers

Developmental Importance

Stranger anxiety is considered a positive developmental milestone in a child’s life. It indicates the child’s growing cognitive abilities, perception, and understanding of their surroundings. This newfound wariness towards strangers is an evolutionary survival mechanism that helps protect infants from potential harm and danger.

Strategies to Manage Stranger Anxiety

– Provide a secure and predictable environment
– Gradually introduce the child to unfamiliar people
– Encourage social interaction in controlled settings
– Foster a trusting relationship between the child and their primary caregivers
– Maintain consistency in parenting techniques
– Offer comfort and reassurance when the child displays anxiety

When to Seek Help

While stranger anxiety is a normal part of a child’s development, it is essential to seek professional help if the anxiety becomes excessive or persistent. A healthcare provider can evaluate the situation and provide guidance on how to manage and support the child through this phase.