When it comes to overnight parenting time for an infant, challenges can arise for a noncustodial parent. Infants need to acclimate being away from their primary caregiver. On the surface, immediate overnights may sound logical, but it overlooks a basic need of the very young child which is trust and security that comes from consistent nurturing care by their primary caregiver in a familiar setting. Parents going through a divorce with an infant need to consider the implications of overnight parenting time switches on the infant.
Should You Have Overnight Parenting Time Changes for an Infant?
Consider that by the time a child reaches one year, the child has developed a close “attachment” and bond to one of the parents, the primary caregiver. When the child is upset, they will turn to that parent for comfort and security. Since at this age there is no language ability and little or no sense of time, the child cannot be prepared for big changes in their environment or routine.
These “overnights” away from the primary caregiver, the primary attachment figure, will be stressful as it is impossible for anyone to explain to a child under three years of age what is going on. “I love you,” “I am not deserting you,” “I will see you again in twenty-four hours” are just concepts not yet developed in the child.
When a child of this age gets up in the middle of the night they are looking for and need comfort from their primary caregiver. Children of this age adjust to others providing care for them and they will become accustomed to spending over-nights away from their primary caregiver.
Consider the Best Interest of the Child
However, for purposes of the best interest of the child, it is best to do this in stages. One night for a while as an adjustment then at some point when the child becomes verbal and understands the process and can help pack a bag and understands concepts of time, it would then be more in line with the child’s best interest.
Regular and consistent contact is best to prepare for these overnights. The more time each parent can spend with a child, the better.
Get in Touch for Trusted Advice on How to Care for an Infant During or After a Divorce
Going through a divorce or separation is stressful, but doing so when you have a young infant or toddler is even more challenging. Making sure you obtain trusted legal advice is critical to your role as a parent and the best interest of your child. Our child custody attorneys have expertise and success with cases involving overnight parenting for infants and toddlers and can provide you with trusted advice you need.
Contact Anderson & Boback for legal advice on parenting time issues including the unique challenges that come with overnight parenting time for infants and toddlers.