Beliefs about co-parenting infants after divorce are changing

When a couple with an infant decides to separate or divorce, they face co-parenting challenges that couples with older kids don’t. However, beliefs about what’s best for the infant in these situations are evolving.

In the past, it was generally accepted that infants should spend most of their time with their primary caregiver, who is usually the mother — particularly if the baby is breastfeeding. Part of the reasoning behind this is that routine is crucial to a baby’s development and well-being. Therefore, custody schedules for infants were divided unevenly — with the primary co-parent having the child far more than the other one.

However, attitudes are changing. Iincreasingly, parents and family law attorneys are striving to work out parenting schedules that allow both parents enough time to bond with the child. This means creating a schedule where the nonprimary caregiver isn’t away from the baby for an extended period. Frequent visits (at least every other day), even if they’re brief, are encouraged.

It’s generally recommended that both parents participate in the caregiving tasks. While only the mother can breastfeed, the father should participate in things like bathing the baby and changing diapers rather than just playing with the infant.

If you have an infant, putting off ending an unhappy marriage until your child is a little older is sometimes not in anyone’s best interests. There will always be parenting challenges, whether you have an infant, toddler or teen. The important thing is to focus on agreeing on a custody schedule and parenting plan that works for your children and evolves as they grow and their needs and lives change.

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