If you're a new single parent, you may be wondering about the best visitation schedule for infants. Like so many other aspects of parenting, there's no one 'right' answer. What's most important is that you make decisions together that support your baby's need for a predictable routine, as well as his or her need to bond with both parents. The tips below will help:
Trust the Process
No parent knows from the very first moment what to do 100% of the time.
Fortunately, your baby will give you lots and lots of opportunities to hone your skills. But learning your baby's unique cues, like distinguishing a hungry cry from a tired one, takes time. And while that's a beautiful process, it can also be difficult to imagine that anyone else in the world—even your child's other parent—could learn your baby's cues as quickly as you have. And that's where trust comes in. When there's no one else in the room, we start to figure it out for ourselves and learn what a certain cry really means or how the baby wants to be held. And that does more than solve the problem in the moment; it also builds up your confidence as a new parent. So trust that while your ex may not always take the same approach, he or she has the capacity and willingness to learn.
Start with Baby Steps
(Yes, you read that right.) All jokes aside, you'll want to start small and build up from there.
Short, frequent visits provide the best opportunity to bond. If it's feasible, aim for visits of no less than thirty minutes 3 - 4 times per week. Be sure to speak with your ex about the baby's feeding and sleep routine, and time your visits around what works best for all of you.
Introducing an Overnight Visitation Schedule for Infants
Overnight visitations can be beneficial for both parents.
It gives the noncustodial parent more time with the baby, while also giving the custodial parent time to catch on some (probably much-needed) sleep. However, some courts will not order overnight visitations at all until a child reaches the age of 3, so you may want to check out the child custody laws in your state before filing a motion to request overnights.
Infant Visitation and Breastfeeding
For breastfeeding moms, the issue of determining the best visitation schedule for an infant can be even more challenging, especially if she's having difficulty pumping. If you'd like to begin longer visits but your ex is resistant because of breastfeeding, talk with her to find out:
- What her concerns are — Are her concerns strictly limited to feedings, or are there deeper issues—such as differences in parenting styles, concerns about disrupting the baby's routine, or her own insecurities about being apart from the baby overnight?
- Whether she's open to pumping breastmilk — Many women are able to pump successfully without reducing their milk supply. This option would allow her to continue breastfeeding uninterrupted, while allowing for occasional longer, or even overnight, visits.
- Whether supplementing with formula is an option — If keeping up is an issue, you may want to consider the idea of pumping once or twice while mom and baby are apart, in order to keep her milk supply up, and supplementing with formula.
So What's the Best Visitation Schedule for Infants?
Consistent, frequent visits provide the opportunity bond, and that's really the goal behind establishing a visitation schedule. Remember, too, that the visits do not have to be long at this age in order to develop a close relationship and lasting bond.