Co-Parenting at Different Ages: Birth to 18 Months
Co-parenting a baby isn’t the same as co-parenting a teenager. In the first of our series about co-parenting children at different ages, we’ll take a closer look at the ways this arrangement is unique for parents of babies from the time they’re born until around 18 months old. What do you need to know about co-parenting a baby with your former partner? Here are a few thoughts to get you started.
Determine Consistent Custody Arrangements
Above all, babies need consistency. Newborns need predictable, established routines, which can make co-parenting difficult if the parents live separately. But complicated doesn’t mean impossible. Because of their schedule, babies will need one parent to be the primary caregiver. It’s most often the mother due to breastfeeding, but not always. Some co-parents decide to live together in the first several months to make the experience easier on the baby.
Co-Parenting a Breastfeeding Baby
In the instance of breastfeeding, the nursing parent should be prepared to offer the co-parent time to spend with the child. Some states even have statutes that take breastfeeding into account in custody and visitation agreements. As the child gets a little older and mealtimes become more established, there may be the option to provide milk to the other parent during their time with the baby. However, in practice in Georgia courts, using breast feeding as a reason one should limit visitation or retain custody has not always been a winning argument. Georgia courts are quite willing to call a parent on the breast feeding issue (if they feel it is a pre-text to limit the father’s parenting time) and bring out the option of “pumping” and even some courts will go as far as say, “is there some reason why formula would hurt this baby?” Point being, don’t use breast feeding as a legal shield. It may back fire. Instead, work in good-faith to make parenting time work for both parents even if the circumstances involve breast feeding.
Communicate About Developmental Changes
When it comes to co-parenting an infant, they go through so many developmental changes that parents worry about what they’ll miss. It’s imperative for the parents to communicate as the child grows so everyone understands the developmental changes the baby is going through daily. Maintaining a journal or using a co-parenting app can help facilitate communication.
Dealing with Stranger Anxiety
Young babies form intense bonds with their caregivers. That means, depending on the length of time between custody exchanges or visitations, it could take some time for the child to acclimate. When they’re taken out of their familiar home, they may experience stranger anxiety. Coparents need to anticipate and plan for this.
Work with an Experienced Family Law Attorney
Before you make any agreements to co-parent your baby, talk with an experienced family lawyer to ensure that your legal rights are met.
We are Georgia divorce and child custody attorneys. This is all we have done since 1995. We can help. If you need help or have any questions, we would be happy to speak with you via email, text, or phone. Check us out at www.shawlaw.com.
Shaw Law Firm, PC
(770) 594-8309 (phone or text)