Baby Parenting Plans and Custody Schedules
(birth to 18 months)
A parenting plan for a baby has all of the information of a basic parenting plan, but it is customized to fit the unique needs of a baby (birth to 18 months).
Custody X Change is software that helps parents create a parenting plan and schedule for a baby.
Here are some things you need to know about babies to make your parenting plan more effective.
- Babies need consistency. Your plan should allow your baby to have a predictable routine for sleeping, waking and eating.
- Babies have a limited capacity to remember. Your plan should give your baby frequent contact with both parents.
- Babies change and grow rapidly. Your plan should have a way for the parents to communicate about the baby's development, and as your baby grows, you should adjust your plan to fit your baby's needs.
- Babies feel fear and recognize anger and harsh words. Your plan needs to provide a way for parents to work out disagreements so that your baby isn't around conflict.
If your baby is breastfeeding, you should include related information in your plan. You will need to plan parenting time around your baby's feeding schedule, and you may wait to have overnight visits.
You may want a provision in your plan for keeping a daily communication log about the baby's eating, sleeping, diapering, and new developments. The parents can transfer the log back and forth with the the baby. This can help parents establish a consistent routine with the baby and can also help the parents communicate.
Your custody schedule should give your baby frequent contact with both parents, and your baby should not be away from either parent for more than a few days.
Usually an infant lives with one parent and has visits with the other parent. The nonresidential parent should have several visits a week with the baby, and the visits should give the parent opportunities to feed, bathe and soothe the baby, as well as play with him or her and put him or her to sleep.
Here is an example of a visitation schedule for a baby.
You can start overnight visits to the nonresidential parent when you think your baby is ready.
When both parents work during the week and the baby is in daycare, a common schedule is for the parents to split the weekend. In addition, during the week the nonresidential parent has one overnight visit and one shorter visit.
The following schedules can also work for a baby:
- 2-2-3 schedule, where your baby spends 2 days with one parent, 2 days with the other parent and then 3 days again with the first parent.
- Alternating every 2 days schedule, where your baby alternates spending 2 days with each parent.
- 5-2 schedule, where your baby spends 5 days with one parent and 2 days with the other parent. You'd want to add midweek visits to this schedule.
- Every 3rd day schedule, where your child spends every 3rd day with the nonresidential parent.
Babies may have a caregiver preference and feel anxious when separated from that parent for too long. Your schedule may need to be adjusted if that happens.
If one parent hasn't been involved in taking care of the baby and wants to start being involved, you can start with a schedule that gives the parent short visits of several hours every few days (perhaps at the baby's home). As the parent becomes more competent with caregiver skills, the visits can go longer and you can start overnight visits.
The holiday schedule for a baby typically includes a few important holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother's Day and Father's Day. The baby spends a few hours with each parent on or around the holiday. You can increase the number of holidays in your schedule and the length of holiday time as your baby gets older.
Understanding some of the development of babies from birth to 18 months can help you make a better parenting plan and custody schedule for your baby.
Babies can form attachments to multiple caregivers. They bond with parents and other caregivers who hold, feed, soothe, play with, talk to and meet the needs of the baby. A baby around 6 months old can recognize parents and caregivers and may start to have stranger anxiety. Stranger anxiety can last until the baby is a toddler.
Babies have a limited capacity to remember, but they do have emotional memories. They will remember feeling frightened, and they can recognize anger and harsh words.
Babies grow and develop rapidly during this time. Here are some of the ways they develop:
- Motor skills: crawling, standing and walking
- Communication: sounds, smiles, pointing and simple words
- Expressions of emotions: hugs, kisses, cuddling, anger, frustration and fear