Shared Custody Schedules for Newborns
You can create your own custody and visitation schedule (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates custody schedules and parenting plans. You make each part of your schedule, and then you can print your calendar and plan.
A shared custody schedule for newborns begins when both parents meet to discuss how they will divide up the newborn's time between them so that it is developmentally appropriate.
To understand what is best for your newborn, look at what experts determine is the least stressful schedule for any baby. Before you begin to negotiate with the other parent about a shared custody schedule, learn what is best for your newborn.
Keep these key points in mind as you begin to create a shared custody schedule for your newborn:
- Newborns bond with their parents when they are held, played with, fed, soothed, diapered and bathed.
- Newborns generally don't follow a predictable schedule of sleeping, eating and waking
- Newborns can experience stress due to significant disruptions in their daily routine.
- Newborns need to spend short, frequent sessions with both parents rather than long absences from either parent.
Based on these points, you and the other parent can begin creating a shared custody schedule that will promote your newborn's healthy development. Many parents find it helpful to use a custody scheduling software such as Custody X Change.
A well-developed shared custody schedule for newborns will not hinder healthy development as long as both parents agree to tailor the shared custody schedule to their baby's needs. Such a schedule may not be ideal or convenient for you in the first few months of your newborn's life, but as your child ages, you can make modifications to the custody schedule that fit better.
To ensure your newborn develops healthy attachments, your custody schedule should include:
- One home established as the primary residence
- Short, frequent visits by the non-primary caregiver in the primary residence
- Visitation times where both parents can provide major caretaking tasks
- Short trips outside the home with either parent
- No overnight visits at the non-primary residence
- Agreements to introduce any changes slowly and gradually
Do your best to put your newborn on a feeding and sleeping schedule, but know that it takes several months before your baby will fall into a fairly predictable pattern. For the first 3 to 4 months, your custody schedule must avoid extremes. Don't set too strict a schedule for your newborn must follow but at the same time, avoid disrupting your newborn's daily routine too much.
Newborns have the best chance of developing healthy attachments with both parents when a stable custody schedule is implemented. The early months of your baby's life are focused on developing trust and expecting love and care. Work together to expand visitations as your baby matures.
Exclusive breast feeding is a positive and healthy process that deserves an important place in a shared custody schedule for newborns. Experts agree that both breast feeding and formula feeding are fine for the health and wellness of newborns, but make special accommodations to the schedule if the mother desires to breast feed exclusively.
If you and the other parent feel that breast feeding is important for your newborn, implement what you agree on in your parenting plan and custody schedule. Breast milk protects newborns against infections, illness and allergies. It also enhances development, both physical and cognitive.
Newborns need to be fed every 3 to 5 hours, so avoid shared custody schedules that take the baby away from the mother for more than an hour or two. Newborns may experience nipple confusion when they alternate between breast feeding and bottle feeding, so specify in your parenting plan and custody schedule when and if the baby should be given a bottle.
Custody X Change software allows you to create customized parenting plans that include provisions for breast feeding. It also allows you to modify shared custody schedules when your infant moves toward a more predictable feeding schedule and begins eating solid food.
You can tell when a good shared custody schedule for newborns is working because you will experience minimal conflict with the other parent over visitations and your baby will not show signs of stress.
Here are some signs that indicate your shared custody schedule needs adjusting:
- You and the other parent often miscommunicate about pick-up and drop-off times
- You don't have a clear understanding of your visitation time
- You or the other parent are missing key caretaking opportunities with your newborn, such as bathing or feeding
- You or the other parent are constantly rearranging your visitation times
- Your newborn's naps or feedings are often delayed to accommodate the schedule
- Your newborn seems stressed, with excessive crying and flexing
A custody schedule should put your newborn's needs first. When you and the other parent sit down to adjust it, discuss ways you can reduce your baby's stress level and provide the care he or she needs to thrive.
Many parents find it helpful to create a visual custody calendar that clearly indicates visitation times. Custody X Change offers a color-coded calendar that you can print out or upload to your mobile devices. This calendar makes it easier to understand when your time begins and ends.
Consider making revisions to your shared custody schedule when your newborn reaches 6 months old. At that age, infants begin to eat solid food, follow a more predictable napping schedule and can go longer between feedings.
When you introduce a change to the custody schedule, do so slowly and gradually to reduce stress and frustration in your infant. For example, make a goal that in two weeks, the baby will spend an evening with the secondary caretaker in that residence.
For two weeks, the secondary caretaker should do plenty of feeding, bathing and comforting at the primary residence so the infant feels comfortable. Then, the transition to the non-primary residence should not be as stressful.
Other aspects that may need revised as your newborn ages include:
- Lengthening the time for outings
- Including possible overnights with the secondary caretaker
- Introducing visits with third party family members like grandparents
- Revising day care options
- Documenting agreements on the infant's diet
- Agreeing when you'll re-examine your parenting plan and schedule, perhaps when the baby turns 1 year old.
Custody X Change offers you the ability to make adjustments to your parenting plan as well as the custody calendar. Revise them as many times as you and the other parent feel is necessary.
Keep track of any aspect of the custody schedule you wish using a parenting journal specifically designed for making notes about co-parenting issues. Custody X Change software provides you the space to make daily and weekly notes about any aspect of parenting. You can print out that parenting journal into a report as needed.
A parenting journal is valuable to keep track of what is working and what is not, when it comes to raising your newborn with the other parent. When you want to implement some kind of change to your shared custody schedule for newborns, it's helpful to have documentation that backs up your position.
Some things to keep track of in your parenting journal for newborns include:
- Unusual behavior in your newborn
- When the other parent is late or misses a visit
- When you are late or miss a visit and why
- Attempts at communicating with the other parent
- Major developmental milestones for your newborn
- Any symptoms of illness
- Any medications given, including time and dosage
Writing in a parenting journal helps you keep track of the events surrounding your newborn's life and provides powerful backup to your opinions on raising your newborn, especially if you and the other parent cannot agree on something.
If you end up in court again, a thoughtful, detailed parenting journal can strengthen your position in getting a formal change to the shared custody schedule for your newborn.