So Chance turned 10 months old a couple days ago and i’ve noticed that for a few weeks now, he has developed “Stranger Anxiety”. This means that our usually smiley and social baby becomes a scared “sad sack” around people he doesn’t know or doesn’t see often. Sometimes even if someone he doesn’t know is in the same room with him,he all of a sudden wants mummy or daddy or uncle or grandma to hold and “protect” him. I wanted to understand why this happened so I started to watch his interactions with others and in doing so developed a set of rules that apply when interacting with my baby (and maybe yours…):
1. Calm the Fuck Down!!
If you come in and are talking like you’re cheering at the footy – Bubba will not like you. Babies are sensitive to noise and sounds and most get scared at loud abrupt noises. Chance used to get scared every time we sneezed so we started laughing it off after each sneeze to show him that it was ok. Now he sneezes then bursts into laughter every time! Um yeah so – please use your “inside voice”.
2. Back the Fuck Up!!
If you came into my house and got into my face and carried on some goo goo mumbo jumbo whilst pinching my cheeks and telling me how cute you thought I was, I would punch you. Most people would. Dont do it to my baby. He only likes mummy and daddy to get in his face so he can munch on our chins and noses, eyebrows etc… The personal space rule applies to babies also.
3. This Ain’t No Disco
If you smell like a pub or an astray then you’d best be keeping your distance. Babies have a great sense of smell and mine tends to take offence to the smell of beer and cigarettes. Plus I don’t condone the presence of alcohol and cigarettes around any child. Clean it up or clear out.
4. Be Cool
Ok this one is made up of a few sub-points:
I really feel that babies pick up on peoples’ vibes a lot. Since Chance was born we have tried to keep a stress free and happy environment around him, and so when something’s off – he gets it. That means that if you are anxious and uncomfortable with holding him, he will be too. And if you have ‘decided’ that he doesn’t like you or ‘babies’ don’t like you, he probably won’t. Also if you are desperate for his attention and going out of your way extravagantly to make him like you, he won’t . Nobody likes try-hards. If you’re a man, then talk like a man. Don’t speak a couple of octaves higher or in a squeaky voice just cause you are talking to him. Its weird. And Scary. And very un-sexy. If you’re one of those ‘I hate kids but I’ll pretend to like this one’ kinda person, Bubba will see right through you. Always.
5. Remember who my parents are.
This applies to most singers I know who are parents. If you are going to sing to a child who has singers/musicians as parents, You’d better bring it — In Key. There have been a number of times Chance has burst out into tears because his ears are ‘bleeding’ from bad singing or music. So if you don’t cut it on the singing front then don’t bother. There are other ways to entertain him.
Kids have their own personalities and oddities and at a very young age, are unable to communicate what they feel and think about people and situations, with the exception of crying. They are usually going on a vibe and maybe when they are older they will be able to tell you what they didn’t like about a certain stranger. But until then, try not to force them into situations that they are uncomfortable with.
‘Stranger Anxiety’ is a milestone in their normal development and it means they are learning the skills to trust and to bond with selective people around them. I would be more worried if they were just happy to be carried away by any old person. It shows that they recognise the people who care for them and are consistently around, and hold these individuals with a higher regard. It is not so dramatic down the line so the best thing to do is to roll with it for a few months. If you are really worried about bad reactions to certain ‘distant’ relatives and friends then keep showing them photos of these people so that there is familiarity when they are round.
Be happy and honoured that your baby likes you more than everyone else. You deserve that. Cause you made him – And therefore in his eyes, you are awesome.