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Our 8 month old son started being aware and wary of strangers since he turned 7 months old. We've discovered that the way to get friendly with him is to approach him slowly. Interact with him from afar, get him to be interested in you, and then finally get closer. He might even come to you voluntarily, asking to be held. Takes no more than 20-30 mins for this whole process.

But my husband's father, in his excitement at meeting his grandchild after many months, picked him up as soon as he entered our house. My son didn't even have 5 seconds to register this new person. Naturally, he screamed and cried and then was handed back to us. Its been 5 days since this incident and we've tried lots of ways to get him to go to his grandpa.

  1. Playing from far off, trying to get closer slowly -> He's fine, and even curious about his grandpa as long as there's a distance between them. As soon as he gets closer, he expresses his displeasure/fear. Today, he even let his grandpa get close, but cried if he extended his arms to pick him up or hold him.
  2. Both the grandfather and one of us holding him together. -> cries
  3. My husband hugging his dad, trying to show our son that he can be trusted; he's a friend. -> no apparent affect
  4. The grandfather picking him up anyway, hoping he'll just suck it up and be ok with it -> This seems to have reset any progress made through the steps above.

What else can we try? Should we just keep trying 1-3 and let it take as long as it does? Should we give #4 another try or wait longer to see if he stops crying? We took him back in a minute the last time.

P.S: I did take a look at this question : 8-month old terrified of new caretakers but it doesn't apply to me because:

  • We do know how to get our son acquainted with new people. But what do we do when those steps were tossed aside, and he's now scared of this one person?
  • We do not NEED his grandfather for child care. So there's isn't an inconvenience or a time crunch.
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  • Spend more time together with grandfather, with your child and at least one of the parents present.
  • Let the grandparent hold and play with something of interest to the child. It can be a new toy, or a favorite old toy. Or it can even be a household object fascinating to an infant: flashlights (blinking ones are the best), rattling keys on a keychain, velcro strips, empty crinkly plastic bottles, plastic cups, other containers, etc. Encourage the child to watch. He will approach the grandfather when he is ready and curiosity overcomes his fear. It also helps if the grandfather simply pays attention to the thing he is "playing" with and does not pay attention to the child (no inviting the child over, no waving to the child to come closer). The grandfather simply plays, for example, with the blocks and waits. In other words, do not force it. Do not bring the child any closer than the safe distance that the child chooses himself.
  • It takes time. Depending on the child, it may take from several days to several months. Please have patience!

My comments on your suggestions:

  1. Playing from far off, trying to get closer slowly.

Playing from far off is great! But do not try to get closer, slowly or otherwise. Let the child approach the grandfather, not the other way around. No sneaking up, either.

  1. Both the grandfather and one of us holding him together.

Don't do that - you already noticed the negative results.

  1. My husband hugging his dad, trying to show our son that he can be trusted; he's a friend.

I think it is a great idea to show physical affection to the grandfather, but mostly for grandfather's sake (provided the grandfather likes it).

  1. The grandfather picking him up anyway, hoping he'll just suck it up and be ok with it.

Really, don't. I think your guess is right about it.

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