A newborn’s care is always a top priority for parents, even when their marriage has dissolved. Whether the couple wants to share custody or opt for a primary caregiver, the newborn may struggle with this change.

Having a newborn is a stressful time for any parent, especially when your household splits. A smooth transition to shared custody is possible, but it certainly wears on the newborn. Understanding how this transition can affect your child can help you avoid feelings of distress.

How will this change effect my child?

Infants process changes in different ways than older children and adults. Their whole life is reliant on their parents. When there are too many changes in their lives, newborns can feel confused and scared.

  • A newborn can sense the distress between parents even if they can’t understand why the distress happened. A parent’s feelings influence their newborns. Newborns will likely mirror those reactions. If you are worried and disinterested, your newborn will react in the same way.
  • A young child has difficulty seeing beyond themselves. When their home life shifts, the only thing they know falls apart, in their eyes. A young child becomes concerned that they will no longer receive the care they need. If you aim to keep as much consistency in the household as possible, the stress level of your child decreases. The more stability and consistency you can offer, the safer your child will feel during this big change.
  • A newborn, as stated earlier, can sense feelings of their parents. If the parents are untrusting towards one another, the infant will mirror this. The infant can show an unattachment to both parents. They will show signs of distrust and insecurity. On the flip side, if parents can create an open and cooperative environment, their child will thrive. It’s a hard balance to achieve, but it’s important to work out your emotions before exposing your child to this strenuous change.
  • When a child doesn’t see their caregivers for an extended amount of time, they believe they aren’t coming back. Young children don’t have a concept of object permanence. This can lead them to have distress when a parent is no longer around like they once were. If a child spends time with one parent over the other, the child will gain a preference. The infant will have an increased separation distress. Because of this, it may be beneficial to give your infant enough time with your co-parent regularly. Regular contact can help your child ward off feelings of distress.

After a divorce, child custody with young children involved can be difficult. If you remain consistent in your schedules, allow time for your co-parent to see the child and keep communication open, the change won’t be so harsh on your newborn.