The Social Life of Babies
Later, only Mom or Dad will do.
Around 7 months, your child's emotional development leads to a more obvious preference for Mom and Dad. This can result in both separation and stranger anxiety. Dropoffs at daycare become excruciating, Grandma suddenly gets the cold shoulder, and the stranger smiling in aisle 2 is more likely to make her cry than elicit a charmed smile.
She's starting to understand that she's a separate person, rather than an extension of you. Independence is scary at first, so she reacts by clinging closely to the greatest source of comfort in her life. Fortunately, this won't last forever. Separation anxiety peaks at 13 to 15 months, and stranger anxiety peaks even earlier -- around the first birthday.
Boys may be clingier than girls. In general, baby boys are less developmentally mature, probably due to hormonal shifts during their prenatal development that cause slight delays -- just enough to give females an advantage. That means boys tend to be harder to soothe when upset, make eye contact less readily, and don't like waiting when moms are slow to respond to them, says Gretchen Lovas, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. Which may explain why at 9 months Sam buried his face in my neck when I took him to work, while two colleagues who had daughters the same age passed their girls from lap to lap without a whimper.
Luckily, there are ways to ease stranger and separation anxiety for both boys and girls. Give your baby time to adjust to a new environment, let him crawl or walk away from you instead of being plucked out of your arms, and leave him with his toys and pacifiers. He'll also feel less threatened by strangers if they stoop to his level (rather than towering above him), don't reach out to touch him right away, and don't inadvertently block his view of Mom or Dad.