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How to I get my 13 month old to accept family members and friends?

My first and only daughter is 13 months old and still screams bloody murder when close friends and family she sees almost everyday try to hold her out even get too close. Me and my husband have always "rescued" her and held her when she acts this way because we don't want her to be afraid but I'm afraid we have trained her to fear everyone even though we try to treasure her that its okay. How do I fix this now? Its embarrassing and can't be good for her. And just for clarity's sake, our family (both sides) and friends aren't the slightest overbearing, loud, pushy, or anything. If anything, they are super understanding and NEVER try to reach out for her. They're educators and keep telling me she's sure to get better with time, but it's worse than I can stand. She's friendly to them from a distance, but if I or my husband leave the room, she screams in terror, looking at them (even if they're sitting across the room) and SCREAMS. Either me or my husband always have to rush back into the room to pick her up and comfort her or she'll get so upset, she'll throw up. I know this isn't normal but have no idea what to do. I had my sister babysit (super gentle soul, sees the baby every day) and we left when the baby was asleep. When the baby woke, she saw that we were gone and screamed the entire five hours we were gone, NEVER easing up at all. I'm at my wits end. The waiting for her to choose to go to people isn't resulting in any change and she's almost 14 months old now -- well past the "fear stage" that our pediatrician told us about.

Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated!!!


Asked by lawyertxmom at 8:46 PM on Jan. 17, 2011 in Toddlers (1-2)

Level 2 (7 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (6)
  • We have a boy that is VERY shy around family and friends. He is five years old and for the first time, went to his grandma ON HIS OWN and sat on her lap!! Now he never screamed like you describe, but has be VERY slow to be comfortable with other people.

    My philosophy is why push them if they are uncomfortable? We say kids walk in their own time, the roll over when they are ready, why can't they grow socially in their own time too?

    On the other hand, I would certainly be working with my child to help them learn to be comfortable. We never forced our kids, but do talk to them about being kind to family. If they talk to you, you can hide behind mommy, but wave at them or give them a smile. Let them know you heard. I think I would rescue my son just like you do with your daughter. I would try to not make it look like a rescue so she doesn't feel like you also think she needs rescued. Just remind her you are there . .

    Answer by micheledo at 9:11 PM on Jan. 17, 2011

  • I'd like to know too. My cousin's 9 month old is like this as well.

    Answer by butterflyblue19 at 8:49 PM on Jan. 17, 2011

  • All I can think of is making her spend more time with them...if you leave the room and she starts up then come back in and dont comfort her right to her but dont pick up let her realize that you are there and they are not doing anything....if it keeps going then pick up and comfort....but give her a little time. I dont know of much else to try........ill give you a bump to see if anyone else can help.....

    Answer by Shelii at 8:57 PM on Jan. 17, 2011

  • At least the 9 month old is acting normally. My pediatrician told me that from 9 to 11 months, the babies are in a "stranger apprehension" stage that'll pass. I've seen it pass in every other baby except mine. That's what worries me so much!!! Hopefully, your little family member will be one of those kids who passes thorugh that stage without staying in it for too long. :) But thanks for letting me know I'm not alone!!

    Comment by lawyertxmom (original poster) at 8:58 PM on Jan. 17, 2011

  • She seems to need you guys! Reassure her of your presence and for now I would just work on sitting in a different chair across the room. Don't even worry about leaving her sight until she is comfortable with you there.

    I'm so sorry your dealing with this. Like I said, mine was mild compared to your situation so what we did might not work. :D Today we visited a Great Aunt my kids have never met. I was so proud of my 5 year old when he hugged and kissed her goodbye! He has come SO far.

    Answer by micheledo at 9:14 PM on Jan. 17, 2011

  • This is still very appropriate for her age. Not all babies have stranger anxiety fro months 9-11. That is a common time for it to peak, but that does not mean that's when it peaks for every child. Think about the huge range of "normal" for when kids learn to walk. I've known kids who walked as early as 8 months and as late as 16 months. This is when your baby is having intense anxiety around people she doesn't know well. Try and be patient, it will get better!

    Answer by maggiemom2000 at 11:02 PM on Jan. 17, 2011