Dealing with an Anxious Baby

by thenibecamemum

There wasn’t a trigger that I know of. I didn’t change my parenting nor our routines but one day Little One woke up and he had become one anxious baby.Anxious baby

I sneezed. He cried. He saw a guitar…he cried. The Christmas tree went up and he clung on for dear life. As well as this, he clutched on whilst sleeping and if he couldn’t find you, he’d wake. And putting him down was impossible!

I understood that things would be unfamiliar and therefore frightening but he was becoming scared of things that had never bothered him before. So, I took to Google, my holy grail, to see if it could enlighten me.

What I Found

During my searches, I found that it was perfectly normal for babies to suddenly become anxious and that this could happen from around 5 and a half months old and beyond. The reason for this anxiety is that they are beginning to recognise the familiar and unfamiliar – their world has got a little larger. There is also an element of control which is taken from them when they meet something unfamiliar which can also instill fear.

Anxious baby

Knowing this, I set about trying to deal with the anxiety. Here are 6 steps that we tried and found worked:

6 Steps for Dealing with an Anxious Baby

    • Smile – Often, babies look to their parents in search of a reaction. Smiling reassures your baby that everything is okay. If your baby is seeming fearful, catch their eye or place yourself in front of them and smile!
    • Positive comments and your tone of voice –  There is no point turning to your child and asking, “Why are you scared?”. This is counter effective, especially when they’re too young to respond. The questioning tone is all your child is hearing rather than feeling reassured.
      I find that there are two effective ways to respond. The first is using a reassuring tone and explaining what it is:

      “It’s okay. That loud noise is the washing machine.”

      The second, which I prefer, is to be enthusiastic about the thing they’re fearful of, such as:

      “Oh wow! Can you hear the loud hoover?” 

      “What an exciting tree!”

      Remember to keep wearing those smiles. I won’t lie, you’ll probably feel utterly ridiculous but your enthusiasm should rub off so that they no longer feel scared.

  • Don’t force them – Forcing your baby to face something they are anxious about is wrong in every sense. Although you may mean well, put yourselves in their shoes. Those who are fearful of spiders would not be happy bunnies if somebody forced one upon them!Introduce them slowly and give them control. Place them facing the item but at a distance. Follow their body language. If they are leaning or moving towards the item then move towards it at their pace.Are they moving themselves away? Then this is the time to stop and try again another day, which leads on to the next step.
  • Exposure, exposure, exposure – When you find that your baby is still unsure, then the next step is exposure. Avoiding what they are scared of is not going to achieve anything as you are not helping them to convert the unfamiliar to the familiar. For example, Little One was terrified of the hairdryer so every time hubby dried his hair we went to have a quick look at what the noise was all about. Eventually, the fear subsided as it shifted from the unfamiliar to the familiar.
  • Demonstrate – Demonstrating that you are not scared is an easy way to address fear. Your baby trusts you so by showing them you are willing to touch the item or talk to an unfamiliar person confirms that it is safe for them too. Seeing me strum his Dad’s guitar put Little One at ease and eventually, he changed his opinion of the guitar.
  • Prompt them – Admittedly, this has been my biggest faux pas. Whilst baking in the kitchen, I turned on the mixer with Little One sat close by. Unsurprisingly, arms and legs started waving and Little One began wailing. I hadn’t prompted him that I was about to make a loud noise. After that, it took weeks to build up Little One’s bravery and that is my fault. It is so simple to give a little signal:

“Ready…the loud noise is coming now…”

“_______ is going to come and say hello. Are you ready?”

Easy Peasy

The steps might seem like common sense, yet, I regularly hear parents asking their baby why they are scared or telling them not to be silly. I, too, have been guilty of it! Of course, I’m not telling anybody how to parent their children, nor am I claiming to be an expert. However, we have found that we’ve had success with these 6 steps. Although Little One will continue to be anxious as he meets more and more unfamiliar things, at least we are making his world a little more familiar!

Tell us what your children fear. Have you got any successes to share? Comment and let us know!

– Tee ????

You Baby Me Mummy


Nell 9th December 2016 - 9:40 am

Perfectly normal! This is the first time a giant tree has been bought into the house. I feel a little anxious myself! What if there are spiders inside?

I don’t think there is enough exposure on these little moments in a baby’s life. I’m glad you posted 🙂

thenibecamemum 9th December 2016 - 1:51 pm

Haha! Our tree is artificial so fortunately I don’t have this worry!

Thanks for reading ????

Rosie @ Little Fish 13th December 2016 - 5:24 am

These are fab tips! My littlest is starting to go through some anxiety at 10 months, though more separation anxiety than anything else. I remember my oldest, as a baby went through a badly anxious stage. Things he’d been fine with before he was suddenly petrified of! The elevator was one of them! I think exposure, smiles and lots of reassurance are great tips. Spot on! x #TheList

thenibecamemum 14th December 2016 - 7:26 am

Ahh hopefully this stage is short lived! Thank you for reading ????

Bex 14th December 2016 - 9:54 pm

Really helpful post, thank you! Xxx

thenibecamemum 14th December 2016 - 10:24 pm

Thank you for reading ????

Nanswaa 16th December 2016 - 5:54 pm

Sneezes, guitars, Christmas trees and now you need to add coasters and placemats with pictures of pigs on them! That’s right! Today I traumatised this bloggers Little One with my tableware!! Sorry about that!

thenibecamemum 17th December 2016 - 12:02 pm

No idea why he was frightened of them! We’ve been looking at photos of pigs today and he seemed fine. Although, the pigs on your placemats are rather freaky!xx

thenibecamemum 17th December 2016 - 12:02 pm

No idea why he was frightened of them! We’ve been looking at photos of pigs today and he seemed fine. Although, the pigs on your placemats are rather freaky!xx

Maria Hackett 7th January 2017 - 6:40 am

oh this is a fantastic article, I have 12 month old twins and they have been anxious for the past three days. i just couldn’t cope, i did google and found it was normal. They have never been like that before, we had our christmas tree on, we had music on, my 4 year old is loud when she plays, but they never bothered them before until this week.

thenibecamemum 7th January 2017 - 11:25 am

Isn’t it strange how something can just trigger the behaviour?! Thanks for reading ????

Bev 7th January 2017 - 9:52 am

Great tips, especially about handling the dangerous and scary item yourself!

thenibecamemum 7th January 2017 - 11:23 am

Thank you for reading ????

Helen Moulden 11th January 2017 - 8:38 am

This is great, some really good tips. I’m not so sure I can bring myself to handle a spider though!

thenibecamemum 12th January 2017 - 6:22 pm

Haha! I’m okay with spiders but I can think of a good few things that you wouldn’t get me doing, no matter how hard you try ????

Amy Fidler 16th January 2017 - 11:06 am

Thanks for sharing this xx

Amy Fidler 22nd January 2017 - 10:25 am

i passed this to my friend,and it’s helped her x

thenibecamemum 22nd January 2017 - 9:37 pm

That’s good to hear!


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