Every co-parenting situation is unique; from parents living in different states, to all of the various provisions that a parenting plan includes. In this, there are numerous variables to consider.
One of the most important variables is the age of the child. A 6 month old, 6 year old, and 16 year old need very different things from their co-parents.
3 Tips to Co-Parenting Children Under 18 Months Old
Small Doses Go Long Way
Any new parent knows that infants love to do a few things… a lot: eat, cry, fill up their diapers, and sleep. They aren’t taking in a lot of cognitive information into their newly forming brains. But they are taking in a ton of emotional and experiential information!
The cognitive and rational parts of an infant/toddler brain do not even begin to light up until around month 18! So, up until then, the learning is mainly emotional, behavioral, and experiential.
So, what does this mean for you? It means that each parent should see their child more frequently than would be needed for older children. While it might be OK to see a teen once every other week, an infant needs much more frequency than that.
A teen’s life can be chaotic. And, as adults, we often never know what the next day will hold, even if we are proactive with our planning. However, with infants, it is so important to keep your day-to-day life as consistent as possible.
A newborn does not have the same sense of routine we do, which is why they wake up at all times of the night. Over time, they get used to whatever routines their parents follow. That means they get accustomed to sleeping at the same time every night, and eating at the same times through the day.
When both Mom and Dad are under the same roof, keeping these times consistent is relatively easy. But when co-parenting, following such a routine might take a little more effort. Regardless of how much extra effort it takes, it’s something that should not be overlooked.
Keep it Civil
No matter what the reason you and your child’s other parent have decided to not live together, when you are both with your child, set aside your relationship problems. Infants and toddlers are incredibly intuitive of their surroundings; they feel the energy and moods that are in the room.
They might be small and they don’t have the full range of emotions of older children and adults, but they can sense extremes such as happiness and anger. While you are with your child together, be friendly with each other, even if it’s not what you’re feeling on the inside. Honor each other as an important person in your child’s life.
Additionally, make sure you have a time and place set aside to discuss disagreements out of the visual and audio range of your child.
Raising an infant is challenging whether you are living with a spouse or in a co-parenting arrangement. Co-parents have the extra challenge of trying to raise a healthy child under potentially less-than-ideal circumstances.
By giving your child frequent visits with each parent, ensuring a consistent schedule, and keeping shared time together friendly, you will be well on the way to having a successful first 18 months as co-parents.
~ Tim Backes