Fear is not always bad for a child. In fact fear can be healthy for a child’s emotional development. Childhood fears are common and natural. Babies are not born with fear, but they gradually develop some based on their environment. Some fears are a part of their developmental milestones so they can be a bit predictable. Yet some may just suddenly appear due to other environmental factors.
A frightened baby is under great stress, which can make any parent anxious and worried. They may scream at the top of their lungs and resist the object of fear for days, weeks or even months. Parents work to eliminate one fear and suddenly find themselves struggling with another. A baby who has started expressing his emotions can overcome the fear more easily than a baby who is still crawling and learning to speak. It's important that the parents acknowledge the fear of an older baby, however they need to appear as nonchalant as possible to make the situation light. Working with the infant to eliminate fear may prevent it from becoming a phobia later on. Removing a little baby’s fear could be harder, but most babies grow out of their fears naturally over time.
The parents should be gentle and reassuring while dealing with their child’s fear. Some babies could be afraid of funny things that may instead prompt parents to laugh over it. However, parents should resist laughing in front of the child. While it may seem funny to us, to the child, the fear is very real. Being close to the baby will provide comfort and a feeling of security that is extremely important in such situations. You may wonder what might scare a baby, so here are a few examples.
15 Screaming In The Dark
Many babies and toddlers are scared to be left alone in a dark room. This fear of darkness has been noticed in babies as young as 7 months. Most parents coax their babies to sleep successfully between 4 to 6 months, but suddenly after they turn 7 or 8 months old, they don't want to sleep in the dark and start screaming the moment the lights are out.
It may not be easy to identify the reason of crying at night, but ruling out other problems like hunger, colics and room temperature may help figure out the reason. Most importantly, babies who sleep peacefully during the day but cry at night could be one signal of fear of the dark.
Sometimes night lights work for some babies, but for some, brighter night lamps need to be lit throughout the night to help them overcome the fear. Leaving the bedroom door ajar may also help the baby to sleep calmly.
14 Afraid Of The Vacuum Cleaner
Some babies can really get scared of the noise made by the vacuum cleaner. Even if the vacuum is being used in another room, babies may fret over it. If they are horribly scared of the vacuum, they may cry by even looking at it when it’s not in use. It's natural for some mothers to be protective and remove the object of fear from the child, however cleaning can’t take a back seat for long if the baby is scared.
One trick the mothers can try to remove the fear of the vacuum is by holding baby while using the vacuum. This could give the baby some idea that the vacuum is controlled by the mother and can’t hurt anyone. Another option is to let the partner do the cleaning and the mother can sit with the baby on the floor. This will help the baby to overcome the fear.
13 Cries At The Sight Of Dogs
Most little babies are not scared of dogs and might even find them amusing. However, it's toddlers who become a bit wary of the canines. Just one bad experience with the pet is enough to scare them. A scared baby doesn’t mean that the she should be kept away from the dog, this will often increase the fear. Let them gradually learn to cope with the fear by carefully introducing the baby to a dog while keeping the baby close. Giving a feeling of protection to the baby will reduce some amount of anxiety.
Parents can start acquainting the baby with a different variety of dogs by showing them pictures. A little bit of explanation about the friendly disposition of dogs and the way they show their affection by wagging their tails can make the baby more comfortable being around a dog. The child should not be forced in any way to touch the pet. And, although we don’t want the child to be fearful, remember to teach them to be cautious and not approach strange animals.
12 Cries In Crowds
It is not uncommon to see a baby cry when in a huge gathering. They suddenly show a lot of discomfort amidst so many strangers and it may become difficult to calm the baby unless taken to a secluded place. It can happen at a birthday party, grocery store, noisy place or even a mall. When the baby isn’t exposed to the outside world too much, this fear can potentially take the form of a phobia.
Even a baby as little as 4 to 5 months old should be taken out for a walk frequently for the baby to become comfortable in social settings early on. It's noteworthy that many babies who are born in big families are more adaptable with strangers and big gatherings. When the baby is scared of crowds, it's important to identify the reason for crying and provide comfort or it may lead to a huge meltdown in public.
11 Cries During Bath Time
Some babies suddenly develop a fear of the bath and it may make the parent wonder about the triggers of such a fear. This sudden fear may be due to a developmental milestone when they start noticing more things while taking a bath. Some babies may be gripped by the fear of going down the drain along with the water. However, this fear will not stay for long and baby can easily overcome this one.
A few changes can do the trick to distract the baby while bathing her. Instead of a filled tub try an empty tub, and water should get drained immediately. Bath time toys can make the baby busy playing and not focus on the bath. A different place of bath may also help. Also, a nurturing ritual of massage, bath, feeding and putting to sleep can be comforting to the baby. If nothing works, then mom or dad can try taking a bath with the baby, which will make the baby feel more secure.
10 Cries When Alone On Bed Or Sofa
Little babies who haven’t yet learned crawling usually aren’t scared of heights. They get frightened of heights once they start to explore things around them by reaching out. This fear may not show up immediately when the baby starts crawling. It takes a few weeks for the baby to get wary of heights after crawling. At the age of 8 to 9 months they start rolling off the bed and may get a little hurt in the process once in awhile. That's when they feel scared of heights. Before that they may act quite courageously.
A fear of heights for a baby may be a blessing in disguise as it may prevent them from doing something adventurous and save them from getting injured. But this may slow down their development of motor skills as they try to stay away from heights. However, the baby will slowly learn to skilfully manage her way to do things when she is near heights.
9 Cries When Introduced To Moving Toys
Most babies are happy with their prized possessions, but there are a few babies who may get scared by a new toy. Toys that make sudden screeching or loud sounds could be the reason for the fear of new toys. Even toys that jump and make sudden moves on their own may spook the baby. Shopping in malls could become difficult as there could be many moving toys to scare the baby. There is no option but to take a detour in such cases.
However, before letting the baby be near a moving toy, have the baby look at it from a distance and hand it over only if the baby’s wants to touch it. Toys with buttons that initiate a movement are better than automatic ones. Also, a younger baby should be exposed to only those toys that make a soothing sound such as singing. Scary toys should be hidden from her sight until she grows up a little to accept them. As the baby gets older, she may get over the fear.
8 Startled By The Mixer’s Noise
Very young babies are very sensitive to loud noises. They get scared very easily by the noises of a mixer, other appliances, loud noises, or objects dropping with a thud. Babies are born with an immature, underdeveloped nervous system that grows rapidly during the first two years of life. So they are unable to process sensory input such as loud noises. Any abrupt movement or even setting them on the bed in a fast motion can create disturbances in their mind.
The fear of unknown fast motions and a loud environments tend to fade slowly by 10 to 12 months. However, at that age some new fears may crop up as they absorb and understand the things in their environment. Usually, babies cry inconsolably or appear startled when they react to loud noises. Such triggers become quite apparent to the care provider so they should make an effort to not expose the baby to any shrilling or thunderous noises.
7 Afraid Of Monsters In The Room
Smaller babies may get scared at the sight of a strange animal. This fear usually turns into a fear of child-eating monsters when the child turns two and a half or three. Fear of monsters hiding under the bed is the most common fear. Almost 50% of toddlers get scared by the thought of a monster. This fear develops once they start understanding stories. They even get an idea of a monster from television shows. Unfortunately, it often comes innocently from the parents who will tease in fun and say the ‘monster’ will get them if they don’t stay in bed, eat their vegetables, etc.
The intensity of this fear may vary from child to child. They may try to delay sleep time or they may express their desire to sleep with the parents when they're scared. They may even get awakened by a monster in their dreams. Parents need to educate the child that the dreams, television shows and bogeymen aren’t real. While tucking them into bed, turning on the night light may help the child feel secure.
6 Screams When Automatic Toilets Flush
If it's time to potty train the baby, then an automatic flush toilet can be the worst nightmare for the child. Public restrooms can induce this fear and the child may just refuse to use the toilet when he's still getting trained. The automatic sensors may not be good enough to detect the movement of small bodies accurately. They can startle the toddler with the sudden loud noise.
An easy solution to this is carrying dark Post-Its to cover up the sensors on the wall. A small cloth such as a burp rag or a cloth diaper can be used to cover the sensor on the plumbing. Slowly, the child will get over the fear of these auto toilet flushes if mom explains and shows how the sensors work. There may be times when it's difficult to tell the difference between a manual and automatic toilet, but the child may definitely get over it with time.
5 Cries Because Of Men With Beards
Some babies, as young as 7 to 8 months old, may get wary or terrified of men with facial hair. Some babies may be afraid of other men with beards even when the father has a beard. Even a moustache can sometimes scare a few babies. The man with a beard could be a granddad, too. Initially, it may seem a bit strange to a mother and it may also take a while to identify the reason of baby being comfortable around women, but not some men.
Just like other fears, this fear will also fade away with time. Interestingly, according to a study published by Oxford Journal of Behavioral Ecology, beards make men less attractive, and men who have one have been perceived as threatening. So it isn't unusual that a bearded man could appear very intimidating to a child. Also, even in our story books, villains and monsters are mostly illustrated as bearded huge men.
4 Cries When Windshield Wipers Start
It could come as a surprise on a rainy day when the toddler suddenly starts screaming looking at the windshield wipers. It may not be easy to soothe the child when it’s raining and wipers can’t be done away with. If it is raining heavily it may add to the fear. This may end up making the child anxious about a rainy day, and thunder and lightening. In such a scenario, going out on a cloudy day may have to be ruled out until the child gets used to it and understands what the wipers do.
Educating the child on the function of wipers with a couple of rhymes is important. Show the baby a few videos while singing ‘The wipers on the bus go – swish swish swish.’ A toy vehicle with wipers on it can also help alleviate the baby's fear. Letting the baby touch the wipers on a clear day may also work.
3 Gets Startled At Farts
This one could be hilarious for parents, but not the baby. There are some babies who freak out on loud farts. The baby may appear suddenly startled or may jump out of fear after a loud farting sound. This may also happen in babies who are really colicky and may get startled by their own farts. The amazing thing is that even if they produce this sound frequently, it doesn’t sound familiar to them. They cry every time they pass gas loudly.
The parent laughing at a scared baby will scare her even more. So resist the temptation to laugh when the baby gets scared, even though she may look adorable. Instead bring the baby close to soothe her. This fear is not going to stay for long as the baby gets more used to louder noises. It's a part of their developmental process. Out of all their senses, hearing is most highly developed in a small baby.
2 Cries When Naked
While most babies and toddlers love playing only in their diapers, a few may be averse to being undressed. There could be many reasons for such a fear. One reason could be room temperature. If it's cold the baby may not like to be without clothes even for a few moments. In case the baby is undressed while they are sleeping they could wake up shocked.
This may be difficult for the parent as the babies need to be changed often. This may make even potty training harder. But this is normal as every child has some fear eventually. They usually grow out of one fear and get another as they grow older. This phase will also end and the child will soon get over their fear. However, it's a good idea to not force the child to undress, instead ask permission until he's comfortable.
1 Baby Won't Nurse After Yelling
When the baby is scared of the mother then that is when she will refuse to nurse. The mother yelling the last time the baby was nursing is likely to have scared the baby and make her afraid of the mother. The nursing strike may be short-lived or it may continue for days. It depends on how scared the baby is. Many mothers breastfeed to soothe or comfort the baby when they get hurt or upset, but when they shun breasts it may become difficult to soothe a scared baby.
It's really trying for the mother when the baby refuses to nurse - it causes anxiety and panic for the mom. It's very important for mom to remain calm and be patient. Lots of skin to skin contact and offering to nurse frequently can slowly make the baby forget the yelling. However, supplementing the milk should be avoided, instead keep the baby nourished with expressed milk.