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Co-Parenting Before Birth
As discussed in our blog, beginning the co-parenting process before birth can give both parents time to communicate and plan. Parents can create a parenting plan that works for them and discuss some of the many challenging aspects of co-parenting that may arise over time.
Co-Parenting a Newborn
At the newborn and infant stages in a child’s life, they are working to form secure attachments to their parents. For this, they require consistency and stability that allows them to rely on a routine—this is also why experts encourage both parents to be present in the early months of a child’s life through consistent visitation.
One factor that often complicates visitation and shared custody is a breastfeeding schedule. If a mother chooses to breastfeed exclusively, she may be hesitant to agree to overnights or full-day separations from her baby. While fathers should demonstrate their understanding and respect for the mother’s choice, the mother’s support towards the child-father bond-building is essential. Co-parents are already creating patterns and developing their new relationship as it pertains to a new baby.
According to Psychology Today, “continued and frequent opportunities for routine interaction with both parents is crucial to [a child’s] well-being”. Overnight visits allow for additional bonding opportunities as the non-primary parent soothes and bathes the child or other activities that may not take place during a visit.
Newborn Co-Parenting Schedules
Regardless of the custody or visitation schedule you arrange with your co-parent, it will need to take into consideration the baby’s routine and feeding schedule. You should arrange pick up times and visitation hours that do not conflict with naps or that happen in the middle of a wind-down routine.
Experts recommend avoiding long separations from either parent over the first two years; this will encourage the growth of the child’s bond with both parents.
Step-up schedules are becoming increasingly popular as they allow co-parents to transition young children from one custody agreement to another based on their age. Often, a step-up plan will begin with visits that span between feedings (if the child is breastfeeding), and that schedule will remain until the child is eating solid foods. From that point, parents can agree on extending the visitations or including overnights if they have not already done so. This schedule can help acclimate the child in both houses and reinforce their positive relationship with both parents.
As the child gets older, parents can transition to shared custody schedules that suit them.
Your baby’s needs will always come first. You and your co-parent will continue to develop a co-parenting relationship along with new communication skills. While these may not come easily or immediately, you can both focus on the happiness and well being of your little one.
Of course, no two co-parenting situations are the same, and it is impossible to prescribe a one-size-fits-all schedule. Co-parents will need to communicate to determine what is best for them, and most importantly, for their child.
Creating a co-parenting agreement and communicating effectively with the other parent will help you develop solutions to any issues you encounter along the way. Using a co-parenting service such as TalkingParents can help you keep each other accountable for your words and help you speak clearly.
TalkingParents blogs are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Always consult with a qualified attorney regarding legal matters.