Can a 4-month-old baby really get angry when they don’t get what they want? And can they already have stranger anxiety? 

The mom in this Q&A is wondering about her daughter’s behavior. 

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Mom’s Question:

My 4 1/2-month-old daughter seems so angry when she doesn’t get what she wants. She grabs for toys and when she can’t reach them she gets mad and almost growls and her face turns bright red.

This is on top of crazy stranger anxiety. She WILL NOT go with other people except for me, my husband and my mother. She sees my father every single day and she still doesn’t like him either. I’m super stressed and don’t know what to do!

Angry 4-Month-Old Baby With Stranger Anxiety

When you think about it, life can be pretty frustrating when you can’t make your body do what you want and you can’t talk! Your little girl sounds like she is going to be very determined to succeed in the world and will do everything she can to get what she wants!

Some frustration is a good thing as it makes us try harder to achieve what we want. But sometimes, too much frustration causes us to give up – it’s just too hard.

With a very determined and frustrated baby, I would help her a bit more to lower the frustration – offer her things to grab so she can stretch and reach and get those little hands working to grab. Push things a bit closer to her, keep moving, and offer different shapes and toys so she can get the muscle coordination to do what she wants. At this age, she is learning so much about how to control her little body, and it is not easy!

Now, as for the stranger anxiety, it is perfectly normal, even if most babies start showing signs of stranger anxiety a bit later. This actually means that she has banded well with you and her closets family, so it is a good developmental sign. She is likely to get worse before it gets better! Stranger anxiety often goes hand in hand with separation anxiety, and if not yet, it is likely that you will notice signs of that too in the near future. It may be that when you leave the room, she will panic and be terrified you won’t come back. Babies have no concept of time; everything is NOW. So when the most special person is not there, all hell breaks loose!

Sad for your Dad that she has not taken to him yet. It will come in time, but you can’t force a baby to like someone. Maybe he is bigger than she is used to or smells different, his voice may be gruffer, etc. Whereas your Mom probably sounds and feels more like you. My daughter rarely went to ANYONE, not even her father, for nearly the first 12 months. So yes, it is exhausting, but the more you try to force it the more distressed she will be.

Try to play games with her and your father; you hold her while he plays peek a boo with her favorite toy – have him sing the same little rhyme each time he sees her so it becomes familiar. But really you just have to give her time, once she is a toddler he may well be her favorite person, who chases her or plays tickle games!

Have fun with your wee girl, she will grow up before you know it, so make the most of this time when she is young.

All the best,

More On Babies’ Frustration And Stranger Anxiety

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Anah

    When my 15month daughter doesn’t get her own way, she will slap me and her father in the face and throw a tantrum and pull my hair. What should we do?

    1. Paula @ easybabylife

      Stop your baby gently and try to distract her. At her age, there is no point at all to try to discipline her. She will either think your sharp voice and words are a game, or she will get scared. Either way, the message is missed entirely. So make sure she doesn’t hurt any of you (or herself) and don’t give her any extra attention for the behavior.
      Hope it helps

  2. Vanessa Mccoitry

    My almost 4 month old daughter seems to get very mad when not getting her way or when trying to do something and can’t suceed. Every toy she has tries to go directly in her mouth and when she can’t get it the way ‘ she wants” it just adds feel to her fire! She arches her back and scratches her face an SCREAMS!even when just trying to hold something she gets extremely mad.I’m a stay at home mom with my 5 yr old son and now her.I remember my son getting aggravated……but NOT THIS BADLY! I DON’T KNOW HOW TO CALM HER DOWN AND REASURE HER THAT EVERYTHING IS OKAY??????? IS IT NORMAL FOR A BABY AT hER AGE TO GET SO MAD AND BE SOO DETERMINED???? I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THIS.I’M ALWAYS playing with her and reading to does her brother and her son is HIGHLY INTELLIGENT AND IS A EXTREMELY DETERMINED CHILD BUT HE’S 5 YEARS OLD SO I UNDERSTAND slot better where his frustration comes from but with her I’M not! She just gets EXTREMELY MAD!!!!!!!!! SOMEONE PLEASE HELP!