Baby Cries When Grandma Holds Her

Baby Cries When Grandma Holds Her


Many parents experience the distressing situation where their baby cries when grandma holds her or when she’s in someone else’s arms. This phenomenon is often due to separation anxiety, which is a normal developmental phase for young children. It can be disheartening for grandparents when a baby cries upon being held by them.

To help alleviate the distress for both the baby and the family members, it’s essential to understand the reasons behind the baby’s tears.

In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this behavior and offer strategies to help your baby become more comfortable spending time with other family members or in-laws.

Common Reasons Behind a Baby Crying When Held by Grandma

Separation Anxiety and Baby’s Fear of Being Held by Others

Separation anxiety is a common occurrence in babies and young children as they develop a strong attachment to their primary caregiver, often their mother. This attachment provides a sense of security and stability.

The development of object permanence, the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they’re out of sight, contributes to separation anxiety as babies become aware of their caregiver’s absence.

Stranger Anxiety and Baby’s Reaction to Unfamiliar People

Stranger anxiety is another normal developmental stage that occurs around the same time as separation anxiety. Babies become more aware of their surroundings and may become fearful of unfamiliar people, leading to crying when held by someone new. This reaction can be more pronounced during the holiday season when families often gather with relatives they haven’t seen in a while.

Unfamiliarity with Grandparents

If a baby has not spent much time with their grandparents, they might not recognize them as familiar and safe figures, causing them to cry when held.

Sensitivity to Change

Babies can be sensitive to changes in their environment or routine. The transition from being held by their primary caregiver to being held by their grandma might be unsettling, leading to tears.

Different Holding Techniques

Grandparents might hold the baby differently than the parents, which could cause discomfort and make the baby start crying.

Building Trust and Familiarity to Reduce Baby’s Fear and Separation Anxiety

Familiarity plays a significant role in a child’s sense of security. Babies and young children are more likely to feel comfortable with their immediate family members, such as familiar people like parents and siblings. This is because they spend most of their time with these individuals, creating a sense of familiarity and trust.

Here are some strategies to help build this sense of familiarity build trust and help reduce baby’s fear and separation anxiety:

  1. Gradual IntroductionIntroduce your baby to new caregivers, such as grandparents, slowly and in a familiar environment. This will help them associate the new person with a sense of security and comfort. Allow the baby to observe grandma from a distance before attempting physical contact. Gradually increase the duration of holding sessions as the baby becomes more comfortable.
  2. Establishing a RoutineCreate a routine for your baby when they’re with other caregivers. Consistency will help them feel more secure and comfortable in their new environment.
  3. Comfort ItemsProvide your baby with a familiar item, like a favorite toy or blanket, when they’re with another caregiver. This can help them feel more secure and connected to their primary caregiver.
  4. Encourage InteractionEncourage your baby to interact with grandma and other family members and caregivers from a young age, engaging in play and other bonding activities. This will help them develop trust and familiarity with these individuals, easing separation anxiety.
  5. Stay Patient and SupportiveOvercoming separation anxiety takes time, and it’s essential to remain patient and supportive throughout the process. Remember that it’s a normal part of development and will likely improve as your child grows.

Tips to Help Calm Your Crying Baby

In addition to building trust and familiarity, it is crucial to understand your baby’s cues and address their needs to help stop crying. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Identify and Address Basic Needs: Pay close attention to the baby’s cues, such as hunger, tiredness, or a need for a diaper change. Addressing these basic needs can help stop crying and alleviate separation anxiety. Regularly communicate with family members, such as grandparents, to ensure they understand the baby’s needs and can help provide comfort and care.

Create a Calming Atmosphere: A soothing environment can help reduce anxiety and calm a crying baby. Dim the lights, play soft music, and maintain a comfortable room temperature. Encourage grandparents to hold the baby gently and speak softly, as familiar voices can help ease the baby’s fear. Maintain a consistent routine to help the baby feel more secure.

Look for Signs of Overstimulation: Babies can become overwhelmed and anxious in busy or noisy environments. Observe your baby for signs of overstimulation, such as fussiness, rubbing their eyes, or turning away.

If your little one appears overstimulated or upset, reduce the sensory input by moving to a quieter room, limiting visitors, or giving the baby a break from playtime. This can help prevent excessive crying and make it easier for grandparents or other relatives to hold and comfort the baby.

Supporting Grandma and Other Family Members

Helping grandma and other family members understand and cope with a baby’s fear or anxiety when being held is essential. Encourage open communication, empathy, and patience to foster a positive and supportive environment for everyone involved.

To support Grandma and other family members when the baby starts crying when they hold her, consider the following tips:

  1. Be patient and understanding: Remind family members that it’s normal for babies to experience separation anxiety or stranger anxiety. Encourage them not to take the crying personally and to remain patient and calm.
  2. Offer guidance: Educate grandparents and relatives about the baby’s cues, preferences, and ways to soothe her. Share techniques that work for you and the baby, such as rocking, singing, or swaddling.
  3. Encourage bonding: Create opportunities for family members to bond with the little one through playtime, feeding, or reading. Regular interactions will help the baby become more familiar with their relatives and feel more comfortable in their presence.
  4. Provide reassurance: Remind family members that the baby’s crying is a phase that will pass as the child grows and becomes more accustomed to different people. Encourage them to stay involved and maintain a positive attitude.
  5. Communicate openly: Maintain open communication with family members about the baby’s progress, and address any concerns or feelings they may have. This will help build trust and understanding within the family.
  6. Model calm behavior: Show family members how you respond when the baby cries and demonstrate your confidence in their ability to care for the child. This can help set the tone for a positive, supportive atmosphere.
  7. Be supportive: Empathize with the family members’ feelings of disappointment or frustration, and remind them that their relationship with the baby will grow and strengthen over time. Offer words of encouragement and praise when they successfully calm the baby.


A Baby crying when a grandmother holds her can be attributed to separation anxiety, stranger anxiety, or unfamiliarity with family members. By understanding these reasons, taking steps to build trust and familiarity, and addressing your baby’s needs, you can create a more comfortable and enjoyable experience for both your baby and grandma.

Remember that patience and understanding are key, and with time and effort, your baby will likely grow more comfortable being held by their grandma and other relatives.


Why does my baby cry when her grandma holds her?

A baby may cry when held by their grandma due to separation anxiety or stranger anxiety. They may feel uneasy when separated from their primary caregiver or when held by someone unfamiliar. Spending more time with grandma can help the baby form a bond and feel more comfortable.

Why does my baby not like her grandma?

A baby may appear to dislike their grandma if they haven’t spent enough time together to form a bond. The baby may feel anxious or fearful when held by someone they don’t recognize as familiar. Increasing interaction between the baby and grandma can help improve their relationship.

Why do babies cry around grandparents?

Babies may cry around grandparents due to separation anxiety, stranger anxiety, or a lack of familiarity with their grandparents. Ensuring grandparents spend more time with the baby and providing reassurance can help the baby feel more secure and comfortable around them.

Why do babies cry when a certain person holds them?

Babies may cry when held by a particular person because they feel anxious, fearful, or uncomfortable. This could be due to a lack of familiarity with the person, stranger anxiety, or a different holding technique that makes the baby feel uneasy. Spending more time with the baby and providing reassurance can help alleviate their distress.




This post is written and edited by Sandy who is a clinical pharmacist with over 20 years of experience specializing in pre-natal and post-natal care.