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CoParenting Infants: Typical Coparenting Issues

Co-parenting conflicts arise in conjunction with the developmental stage of the child. Knowing the issues that may arise as your child hits each developmental stage and careful advance planning can help you to set a foundation for avoiding those conflicts.

Each child is unique.

Each family is unique.

Despite being unique, the developmental stage of the child and the life cycle stage of the family will influence parenting and the relationship between coparents. 

In this article I will describe the issues that typically arise between coparents at the developmental stage of infancy,  the typical factors that are considered to resolve the conflict, as well as the factors that typically allow for deviation from generally accepted practices when negotiating conflicts about infants.


Examples of the relationship between the infant developmental stage and possible co-parenting conflicts:

  • When is a one week on and one week off schedule okay for the child?
  • How should nursing impact parenting time?
  • Do parents have an interest in whom the other parent uses for childcare?


CoParenting Infants

Infants need nurturing caregivers who are responsive in a consistent and predictable way. Responsive caring is the basis for a secure attachment.  The secure attachment may be with one parent, both parents, or it may be with another, such as a grandparent. 

A securely attached infant trusts that their caretaker will be there to fulfill their needs.


What do courts typically look for at the infant stage when they are deciding on what is in the best interest of the child?

At what point can an infant handle overnight visits or shared physical custody?


When determining an appropriate parenting arrangement for an infant, courts typically look for evidence of the infant's temperament, attachment figures, factors related to their safety and security and whether the infant exhibits any acute signs of distress. The temperament, attachment, safety and security of the particular infant are all variables that the court looks at to see if the child is similar or dissimilar from  other children of the same general developmental stage.

Children have unique temperaments and attachment styles. They vary with regard to these factors even within the same developmental stage and even within the same family.


Each child reacts in their own way to change and in their ability to adapt to change and in the way their sense of change impacts their feelings of  safety and security.


Understanding your child's temperament gives you insight into your child's needs.


Infants who demonstrate a high tolerance for stimulation and changes to their environment may be ready to do things, such as have equal sleepovers with each parent, earlier than infants who have a hard time adapting to change.  Infants who have considerable difficulty with change may experience insecurity living with a parenting plan involving frequent caregiver shifts, that insecurity can be an obstacle to forming a healthy attachment. A secure infant may switch between nursing and a bottle given by the non-nursing parent with ease. A less secure infant may need more time to adapt to changes such as changes in feeding.

If there is a primary caregiver, courts pay attention to what will maintain the primary attachment while also making sure the child does not lose closeness with the non-primary parent. They will not be willing to prejudice the party who has not been the child's primary caretaker.

The exact point when an infant can handle overnight visits or shared physical custody is best determined by considering attributes specific to the child's attachment, temperament, and whether or not they are nursing, 

Attachment theory is typically not an effective argument toward excluding a parent who hasn't been the primary caretaker.

Generally, parents are asked to work together to slowly increase the non primary caretaker's parenting time. In this way, the child and the parent have time to adapt to the parenting schedule.



With an infant, the court will want to understand how the child copes with transitions. Is there a past experience we can look to? What is their particular temperament? How did they adjust to change before? How can we make sure that the primary caretaker attachment they already formed isn't damaged as well as make sure the child is slowly building attachment with their other parent.

The developmental stages of infancy comes with its own typical coparenting issues. Being mindful of your infants characteristics can help you to anticipate the behaviors or issues that might lead to argument or disagreement with your coparent in advance enabling you to be prepared to negotiate through the conflict.

Helping CoParents Move Through Conflict And Into A New Peaceful Period For Them and Their Children Is One of my Specialties. If you have a coparenting question, don't hesitate to get in touch! Call 602.975.4305


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