Newborns have two fears: loud noises and falling. “Babies’ brains and nerves grow rapidly in the first two years of life, but they are born with very immature nervous systems,” says Dr. Brown.
One of the first fears demonstrated by infants between 4 and 9 months of age is “stranger anxiety.” As infants recognize their parents’ faces, they become aware of those individuals who are different – and infants often demonstrate adverse reactions to those “strangers” (even grandparents or other relatives who have not been seen on a regular basis). Visiting relatives can be asked to approach the infant more slowly, taking time to talk to the infant from a distance, rather than quickly approaching and picking up the baby. Reassuring physical touches and hugs along with calm, soothing words are appropriate parental responses to infants’ stranger anxiety.
It has been noted that parental response to infant pain associated with immunization is a strong predictor of that child’s later response to pain. So when your infant receives immunizations, calmly speak soothing words of reassurance and gently distract your infant to something more pleasant. “Daddy is here holding you. Let’s look out the window now.” If you overreact, not only will your infant be more likely to cry for a longer period of time, but may experience more pain later on.
Next time: Toddler’s Fears-Part 3