OK, team, we've made it into the second half of the first year. Look out,
the ride is going to get a little bumpy. A number of developmental advances are
going to occur in the next months that will make your baby a bit more challenging.
Baby Month by Month
Your baby's first year will be full of joys and challenges. WebMD pediatrician
Steven Parker, MD, explains what you can expect as your baby grows and
I see it in my office. Up to now, when I examined your little one, he looked
back at old Dr. P with a big goofy grin. I am so cool! I am so funny! You could
leave your baby with me and go out for a bit and your baby would be happy to
continue to flirt with me. Your baby's philosophy apparently was, "If you
can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with."
Of course, that didn't mean your baby was totally promiscuous. You were and
are your baby's No. 1 best buddy. If something were to trigger anxiety or pain, your baby would howl if I
tried to give comfort and would want only you to soothe a worried brow. But,
when times are good, your baby would put up with the likes of me quite
Alas, nor for much longer. You may have already noticed some signs of
"stranger anxiety." Does your baby ever protest when left with
strangers? Has your baby gotten very upset by new people invading his or her
private space? Let's see if we can deconstruct what is going with emerging
stranger anxiety and separation anxiety, which is a
predictable, normal stage displayed by most (but not 100%) of infants.
What Causes Stranger Anxiety
Stranger anxiety emerges when your baby's memory has taken a leap forward.
Up to now, babies have pretty good "recognition memory." That is, they
could recognize things and faces and environments with which they were already
familiar. Witness that huge, warm smile they save for when you magically
But, what emerges around now is "retrieval memory" which is the
ability to bring back to mind something that is not currently present. It is
linked with a better sense of object permanence, when babies can find objects
that are completely hidden. So, out of sight is no longer out of mind.
Now when a guy like me, whom your baby hasn't seen in a few months and
barely knows, gets in their face, recognition memory fails ("who is this
guy??") and retrieval memory cannot call up any past comforting
interactions. The uncertainty of it all triggers the "flight or fight"
stress response and your baby begins to protest violently. Parents are always
so apologetic to kindly old Dr. P, but I find it wonderful: "You go guy.
Stick up for yourself. After all, why should you give me the time of