Navigating Infant Care Plans After a Divorce

Crafting the most suitable parenting plan is the goal for many families after a New Mexico separation or divorce. When a parenting plan supports healthy, stable relationships, it’s the best thing for the children’s happiness over the long term. Creating the “best” parenting plan, however, can feel intimidating at the onset, especially if one of the children involved is an infant.
Parenting plans that work for teenagers, grade-schoolers and even toddlers may not work for kids under 18 months. An infant has entirely different needs on a daily basis than older children do, so your parenting plan for your infant must recognize and account for these needs to be a success.

Predictable Routines Rule the Roost

Stability of routine and predictability are the hallmarks of a well-crafted infant parenting plan. At this age, children are forming strong attachments to family members and caregivers, and inconsistent parenting interactions and schedules will cause unnecessary stress.
To address the need for the most consistency in routine, infant parenting plans usually name a primary caregiver. The child will reside with that caregiver only if the other parent has frequent day-time contact over the week. Parents can also include overnights occasionally or less frequent but longer daytime visits.
You will need to consider many factors to determine the best course of action to take in your parenting plan, including the key elements outlined below.
•       Nutrition: Whether a family uses formula, breast milk or both, an infant’s feeding schedule will often be a guiding factor in the creation of the schedule for the plan.
•       Siblings: When there are other children involved besides the infant, the parenting schedule of the siblings may need to be considered when the parenting plan for the infant is being created.
•       Schedules and distance: In order for the infant to have regular and frequent contact with both of his or her parents, the distance between those parents has to be weighed.
•       Conflict: Any conflict between the co-parents might have an impact on their ability to manage multiple change-overs each week.

The Level of Cooperation Counts

Both parents striving to raise their children in an environment free of conflict is crucial with infant parenting plans, as the more frequent change-overs will put co-parents into regular face-to-face contact with each other – and usually more often than would happen with older kids.
Regardless of the tone of your divorce, you and your co-parent should commit to cooperate for the sake of your kids. Although an infant may not understand the exact content of your conversations, conflict between you and your co-parent could still negatively impact the child’s well-being.

Updates Are on the Menu

There are a lot of “firsts” with an infant, including steps, words and even things like eating a sour food. No matter how small or big a “first” is, it can be tough for a co-parent to hear about it secondhand. Commit to communicating with your co-parent regularly, and each of you should be considerate when the other parent is missing out on these moments. Taking photos and videos to share with your co-parent can help ease the sting.
As your child grows, his or her needs will change. Just about every infant parenting plan, no matter how well thought-out, will eventually need modifications to address those shifts. It’s usually best to gradually transition routines rather than making abrupt schedule changes, and even if you both agree to modifications, you should still get it in writing and with the court’s approval. Contact a family law professional for help with the formal modification of a parenting plan in New Mexico.