Sharing custody is difficult in any scenario, but it can be particularly hard with very young children. Some people even think that it is not possible to share custody of an infant. Special and unique planning can make create a safe and nurturing environment for your baby.
The parents can both remain involved even if the child you share is a newborn. Of course, there are unique considerations that influence shared custody arrangements involving infants. Discussing these matters can help you plan to share custody of your young child or to make custody arrangements even prior to the birth of your child.
What kind of nutrition will the infant receive?
Perhaps the most important consideration when deciding how to structure shared parenting time of your newborn is how the parents intend to meet your child’s nutritional needs and create healthy sleep habits. Formula-fed infants may offer more flexibility for visitation and co-parenting arrangements than breastfed infants do and plans to encourage breastfeeding are possible too.
A newborn eats so frequently that actual custodial visitation where the parents leave with the child may not be an option with a breastfed baby unless special planning is considered. Also, visitation may involve the father coming to hold, care for and talk to the newborn for an hour or two after work every day. Longer visits and trips away from the mother may be easier to arrange in a bottle-feeding scenario, which may include formula or expressed milk.
Planning visits around eating and sleeping patterns is an important consideration for your baby and the parents. Encouraging and supporting a parenting plan based on your child’s development can work well for parties and your baby.
Who will be the primary attachment for the child?
Sometimes, both parents will be back to work within weeks of your child’s birth. Other times, one parent intends to stay home or work part-time so that they can serve as the primary caregiver for your child. The person who spends more time with your child may likely become their primary attachment in those early months.
Prioritizing the stability of that attachment is very important for your child’s psychological development, while fostering a relationship with both parents is possible too. Inclusion of both parents is important. Parents will need to balance the importance of attachment to both parents with a child’s underdeveloped sense of object permanence when arranging for custody during the first months of life.
How soon do you want to revisit your parenting plan?
Newborn children grow at an incredible rate. In just a few months, what kind of visitation is possible will change dramatically.
You either need to preemptively address these changing stages of development for your child by planning ahead to shift your custody arrangements or agree to revisit the parenting plan when the child reaches six months of age, a year and then two years of age.
Sharing custody of a newborn child requires careful planning, but parents can absolutely both play an important role in those precious earliest months of a newborn’s life even if they no longer have a relationship.