It is never simple to divide parental responsibilities across two households, but it is particularly difficult to manage when the child is very young. Newborns and infants require constant support as well as specialized equipment like cribs and diapers.
Some parents may defer sharing custody until a very young child matures a bit. Still, with some care and planning, it is possible to share custody even during the earliest months of a child’s life. You and your ex can both spend time caring for and bonding with your baby even from their first weeks of life.
If you want to seek shared custody of an infant, there are two considerations that will influence how you structure your parenting plan.
Who is the child’s primary attachment?
The parent who serves as the primary caregiver plays a crucial role in the child’s life. They provide the child with a sense of stability and security. Making sure that this attachment develops well is crucial for a child’s later social and emotional health.
Given that infants do not yet have a sense of object permanence, the parent who is not the primary caregiver may need to accept visitation, possibly even in the home of the primary caregiver for the first few months of life. However, protecting that primary attachment is not more important than fostering a bond with both parents.
Studies have shown that seeing both parents frequently leads to healthy relationships. As the child grows older and develops a bond with both parents, longer visits and overnight stays become more reasonable.
What is the child’s primary form of nutrition?
There is a saying among pediatricians that “fed is best” because of the so-called “mommy wars” that develop around breastfeeding or formula feeding a newborn. Both nutritional options will result in a healthy child, but there are certain advantages that come from breastfeeding.
If that is the approach that the mother takes, it could affect shared custody arrangements for the first six months or longer. If the mother is able to provide a pumped breast milk supply, overnight stays may be possible. Otherwise, an exclusively breastfed baby may need to be near their mother most of the time, especially when they are very young and fed approximately every two hours.
Being realistic when planning for the shared custody of infants can help you make the most of this difficult situation.