Shared Parenting Plans for Babies
Children have different needs according to their ages. As you are creating a custody agreement, you should consider your child’s age and make a schedule that works for that age. Over the next few days, we’ll go over suggestions for setting up custody arrangements for every age group of children. Hopefully you find this helpful as you try to create your agreement. Today we’ll look at shared parenting plans for infants and babies.
Infant (0-9 months)
For an infant, it’s important to consider who the primary caregiver has been. Giving care to an infant includes changing diapers, feeding, putting to sleep, playing, bathing, and other interactions. An infant develops a bond to the person who takes care of him/her. And, it’s important to keep an infant’s routine as stable as possible.
To set up a shared parenting plan for an infant, parents should think about who is giving care and the schedule of the infant. The infant may also be breastfeeding, which parents should also plan for in the custody arrangement. If one parent has been giving the most care, the infant should live with that parent. To start with, the visitation schedule should include frequent short visits every other day or so. These visits should be long enough for the other parent to have opportunities to give care–so, they should have times when they can bathe the child, change diapers, feed, put to bed, etc. As the other parent does this, the infant will develop a bond with that parent. Visits can then last longer and you may be able to schedule some overnight visits if the infant adjusts well enough.
If both parents have been giving care, the infant can spend time with both. Frequent visits are best because and infant shouldn’t go more than a day or two without seeing one of the parents. This helps them remember that parent. It is also vital that parents have good communication about the infant. Infants develop very quickly, and the parents should keep a log of some sort about things that are going on.
Baby (9-18 months)
During this time, a baby develops very quickly into a toddler. It is important to have routine with a baby. A baby has a stronger attachment to caregivers and may become more anxious around strangers. Parents making custody arrangements for a baby should consider the routine and schedule that the baby follow. Visits for a baby should be frequent and allow the parent enough time to give care to the child (feeding, changing diapers, bathing, playing, etc) so they can bond. A baby recognizes the caregiver and feels comfortable with that person.
If one parent was the primary caregiver to the baby, the baby may need time to adjust to the other parent. If this is the case, visits can be scheduled brief and frequently while the baby adapts to the other parent. The baby shouldn’t go more that a couple of days without seeing either parent. If the baby is used to both parents as caregivers, they should be able to handle overnight visits with each parent.
If you are setting up a shared parenting or joint custody agreement, you may find this brochure helpful: http://www.mass.gov/courts/courtsandjudges/courts/probateandfamilycourt/afccsharedparenting.pdf