How to Create a Co-Parenting Schedule for Infants

Father holding newborn daughter

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If you're a newly 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.

Creating Infant Visitation Schedules

The tips below will help you create a plan that works for everyone involved:

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 solving the problem at 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, they have the capacity and willingness to learn.

Start With Baby Steps

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 three to four 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.

Consider Overnight Visits

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 up 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. 

Visitation Schedules for a Breastfeeding Infant

For breastfeeding moms, the issue of determining the best visitation schedule for an infant can be even more challenging, especially if they're having difficulty pumping.

If you'd like to begin longer visits, but your ex is resistant because of breastfeeding, talk with them to find out:

  • Their Concerns: Are their 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 They're 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.

A Word From Verywell

Ultimately, the best infant visitation schedule is the one that works best for all parties in your family. Usually, consistent, frequent visits provide the opportunity to 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.

1 Source
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  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Baby’s Hunger Cues.

By Jennifer Wolf
Jennifer Wolf is a PCI Certified Parent Coach and a strong advocate for single moms and dads.