Can a 14 month old have a phobia?

We rented a cottage in northern Ontario a few days ago and the place was just teeming with spiders, mostly outdoors but we caught sight of a few indoors also. I have a big fear of spiders, but I tried not to let him see that I didn’t like them. When I cought sight of a tiny spider in the living room I pointed it out to him and sang incy wincy spider. He didn’t really like the look of the spider but he didn’t seem too bothered. Later when he was looking into the air conditioning vent on the floor he must have seen a spider. He let out the most fearful cry I have ever heard from him and ran into my arms making his sign for spider. He didn’t calm down for several minutes. He never really recovered from that for the next few days, when he was in the house he would fearfully look around every few minutes and make the sign for spider and wouldn’t calm down until I reasurred him that there were no spiders around.

He really acts like how I felt when I was more afraid of spiders where a spider sighting would leave me on edge for hours afterwards but I really didn’t think a baby would have the concentration span to remember an incident for so long. Is this normal baby behavior?

A baby can run, eh?

In my experience, toddlers are prone to developing sudden fears for no reason I could ever pinpoint. The good news is that those fears can disappear just as quickly. Good luck!

Some 14-month olds can run pretty well. They can’t beat an adult whose legs and stride are much longer, but they can take their steps as quickly or almost so. Our son took his first steps at 10 months and 2 days. So he’d been walking for 6 months by the time he was 14 months old.

My son would freak out about spiders when he was very small (totally my fault, I’m sure, because I freak out about them too). However, he was getting upset by very common and tiny spiders, the kind that are the size of the hole in a sheet of notebook paper. Even I can cope with those!

So, for that particular type, I would say, “Oh, that’s just Gus. Gus is a nice spider. I think he’s just saying hello to you.” And it worked! To this day, those spiders are “Gus” and nobody minds him.

Now, show me a spider the size of a nickel and I’ll be ready to join you in having hysterics. :slight_smile:

Are you sure he was scared OF the spider, and not crying because the poor spider was caught in the vent?

On day when my granddaughter was about that age she started crying when they passed the rotisserie with roasting chickens on it in the supermarket, so my daughter tells me.

Come to think of it, when my older daughter was that age, one day she saw a blond man with a beard, the kind that just goes around the chin, like the Gorton’s fisherman. She screamed as if in terror. We never did figure out why. She’d certainly seen her uncle, who had that kind of beard, but was dark-haired.

It’s difficult with babies that age, because they can’t explain exactly why they’re scared, they just are.

I like Dung Beetle’s solution.

Thanks for all the good advice folks. It’s definitely good to hear that he’ll probably grow out of it, I’ve been pretty miserable carting around this fear of spiders most of my life I’d love it if he didn’t follow in my footsteps.

Since we’re out of the situation of the crazy spider infested town (seriously what was up with that town, spiderwebs everywhere…) and back in our nice relatively bug free condo I think I’ll just reassure him every time he asks if there is a spider around. I don’t think trying to make him think spiders are not scarey will work. When we were in a playground in spiderville there were ants in the sand which he thought were spiders, I was reassuring him that they weren’t spiders and telling him they were friendly but he was having none of it. He didn’t freak out but he definitely wasn’t happy. It’s pretty heartbreaking to see him like that, you can tell he’s scared but he is just trying to be brave. Hopefully he’ll forget about it.

I guess no one will ever really know the mind of a baby/toddler but I wonder if he is experiencing this fear like an adult experiences a phobia. Where after an exposure you’re really on edge, seeing your what you fear out of the corner of your eye for hours afterwards and having your fear intrude in your thoughts without warning. It seemed that way to me, but I guess I’ll just choose to file it under ‘babies be crazy’ (that’s a pretty big file by now) and stop worrying about it.

A boy in my daughter’s day care was terrified of ants for a while. He eventually grew out of it.

My son at 18 months developed a sudden and unexpected fear of frogs/toads. It began when he discovered a toad hidden under a rock at our home. He enjoyed watching the toad for a while, and he laughed about it. That night, however, at bed time he began to cry about the “scary frog”. He wouldn’t go to bed in the dark, and from time to time would run scared to us muttering about frogs. He had a couple of wake-up nightmares at this time (unusual for him). After one nightmare he started the talk about “scary frog”. This lasted for about 2 weeks and then totally disappeared.

I was really worried he was going to develop a real phobia, but it went away just like that. We have tried to analyse why the toad fixed a fear in him. No idea whatsoever.

My son was TERRIFIED of the shower, and even terrified if I just used a cup to pour water over his body. But he loved playing in water, and loved taking baths?!

Eventually he got over it without much drama. SHRUG