Meeting the needs of any child after divorce takes careful consideration. However, the needs of an infant change constantly, and creating a parenting plan that meets a young child’s needs may require additional thought. What might divorcing parents want to consider when creating a parenting plan for their infant child?
Parents can create a plan that meets the unique needs of an infant.
Infants benefit from spending time with both parents, but a custody schedule for an infant may need to address a wide variety of factors. A parenting plan that provides a child with a consistent environment and the flexibility to accommodate their inconsistent sleep and feeding schedules will likely look different from an arrangement for an older child. For example, in situations where one parent breastfeeds, parents may need to build additional flexibility into their parenting plan to support their nursing routine.
Parents with infants may also want to consider how their parenting plan may impact their child’s emotional needs. For example, one 2013 study from the University of Virginia indicated that babies who spent one night each week away from their mothers had more insecure attachments. Parents concerned about their child’s need for secure attachments may want to schedule frequent visitations during the day to protect their child’s relationship with both parents while maintaining a consistent nighttime routine.
Later modifications can create a more equal schedule.
As a child grows and their needs change, parents can modify their parenting plan to ensure that both parents take an active role in their child’s life. After weaning, for example, a breastfed child may be able to spend more time with their father without concerns for their feeding schedule. Older children may also be able to spend more nights away from their primary caregiver. These modifications can help both parents foster a strong relationship with their child as they grow.