Parenting Plan Template for Babies
Children of different age groups have different needs. As parents make a parenting plan after they divorce or separate, one of the first things to consider is the child’s age. For parents with babies (ages 0-18 months) here is a parenting plan template for babies that specifically addresses the issues and needs of infants.
(A lot of this information has come from Planning for Shared Parenting: A Guide for Parents Living Apart. If you haven’t encountered this brochure online before, I highly recommend it. The brochure goes through each age group and addresses how to make the best plan for the children. It has some very helpful information.)
Before you begin making your parenting plan, you need to assess your family situation. Looking realistically at your situation can help you make a plan that will work best for your child. Infants have unique needs and you have the challenge of figuring out how you and the infant’s other parent will meet those needs. To do that, you need to know where you are coming from. Some important things to consider are:
1. The temperament and age of the child. How well does your baby adapt to new circumstances? What special needs does your baby have? Is your baby breastfeeding?
2. The relationship of the child with siblings or extended family members. Does your baby see grandma and grandpa every day? Do you have older children who are part of the baby’s life?
3. The role of each parent in giving care to the baby. Did each parent share the responsibility of caring for the baby? Did one parent do the majority of the caretaking?
4. The work schedules and lifestyle routines of each parent. Does one parent travel frequently? Do both parents have stable home environments?
5. The distance between the parents’ homes, the homes and the child-care, etc. Is it realistic to have frequent visitation exchanges?
6. How well the parents communicate. Will the mother and father be able to keep a daily log about the developments of the baby?
Once you’ve thought about these issues, you’re ready to move on to the next part of the parenting plan template for infants.
For infants and babies, you need to come up with a parenting time schedule that maintains a basic sleeping, feeding, and waking schedule. If the mother is breastfeeding the baby, this most definitely needs to be taken into account. (Although, if a mother is breastfeeding, that doesn’t mean that the father doesn’t have visits with the child. The parents can agree to use formula along with breastfeeding, or the mother can send milk with the visits when the father has the baby.) So, you need to make a schedule that revolves around the needs of the baby.
Both parents should have frequent contact with the baby. In fact, the baby shouldn’t be away from either parent for more than a few days. This will help the infant develop a strong relationship with both parents. A parenting plan for babies should include several weekly visits with the parent who doesn’t have custody. These visits should be long enough for the parent to give care to the child–ie, the parent should have opportunities to feed the baby, put the baby down for a nap, change the baby’s diaper, play with the baby, etc. If one parent was not very involved in giving care to the child before the separation, the visits should start shorter and then increase as the parent feels more comfortable performing the tasks. If both parents were involved in caring for the child, the baby can spend overnight visits with both parents (this should also happen when the other parent has had time to give care to the child).
Infants and babies develop substantially between the ages of 0 and 18 months. Because of this, it is vital that the parents share information about the development of the baby. The parents should keep a daily log about what goes on with the child. This log should include information about eating (including the introduction of new foods), sleeping habits, new skills the baby learns (rolling over, new words, walking, etc). This way the mother and father both know what is going on.
In addition to the parenting time schedule, a parenting plan for infants can include provisions and stipulations that apply directly to the needs of the baby. The parents should decide how they will make legal decisions for the infant. This includes making decisions about medical care–including immunizations and other preventative medicine–and other important decisions. The parents can decide to share this responsibility, or one parent can be given the responsibility. If the parents share the duty (which most states prefer) the parents should come up with a process for how they will make the decisions.
Parents can also think ahead to avoid problems. The mother and father should come up with a provision for resolving disputes and making changes to the schedule. If the parents use child-care, they should decide on the child-care together. It is also important to talk about exchanges and how the parents will handle transportation for visits. For babies, parents must also discuss the necessary equipment that both households will have, and what equipment goes back and forth between the houses.
By following this parenting plan template, hopefully parents can make a good plan for their infants and babies. In the next few posts, we’ll discuss how to make plans for children of other ages.