Since many infants are breastfed for much of the first year of their lives, how do parents arrange parenting time when the mother breastfeeds? It turns out there are multiple options. For more information on co-parenting young children, contact the DuPage County child custody lawyers of Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C.
Strategies for Co-Parenting a Breastfeeding Infant
It is best for parents to sit down and discuss what type of schedule is best for their child and is truly workable for them. Not every situation is right for all families. Some of the strategies co-parents use when a child is breastfeeding include:
- Pump and provide: Many moms pump their breastmilk, which can then be frozen or refrigerated and used later with a bottle. If a mother is able to pump, she may be able to provide the father with enough milk for while the child is away from her. However, this is not always an option since some mothers have trouble producing enough milk to create extra bottles, some babies dislike using bottles, and the principles of attachment parenting favor natural breastfeeding over bottles.
- Schedule the other parent’s time as short, frequent visits: When pumping is not an option or not ideal, some parents will simply schedule the father’s parenting time in short yet frequent visits. For instance, the father may have the child each evening for a couple of hours or weekend mornings or afternoons. This works best when parents have very consistent schedules, the baby is on a regular feeding schedule, and the parents live near one another.
- Have the mother present during the other parent’s time: If the parents have an amicable relationship, they may spend time with the child together. A dad gets more time with his son or daughter, yet also has the mom present for when the baby is hungry. This enables longer visits for dads.
- Have mom or dad participate in overnights at the other parent’s home: This only works if the parents get along and have an appropriate place for the other parent to sleep. If the child predominantly lives at the mother’s house, the father may sometimes sleep in the guestroom to be present for when the baby wakes up throughout the night. Or if the child is spending the night at dad’s house, the mother can utilize a guest bedroom to wake up for feedings.
- Consider formula supplementation when necessary: Many children can safely have formula in addition to breastmilk. If the parents do not have a great relationship and pumping is an issue, the father may be able to use formula to feed his son or daughter during his parenting time. Be sure to discuss the best formula for your child with his or her pediatrician.
- Remain flexible during this time: No matter the intended schedule, infants can have ideas of their own. Their feeding schedules can shift over the days, weeks, or months. Parents who are trying to share their child’s time while he or she breastfeeds should remember that flexibility is key.
Breastfeeding Cannot be Used to Limit a Father’s Parenting Time
It is important that mothers realize they cannot use breastfeeding as a reason to limit a father’s time with his child. Breastfeeding may require a unique schedule or mean that a father has slightly less time with the infant than he would if his son or daughter was bottle-fed. However, breastfeeding cannot be used as a basis for giving the father little-to-no parenting time.
Contact a DuPage County Child Custody Lawyer for Help
If you and your child’s other parent need to determine a parenting time schedule while your child is breastfeeding, call Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C. at 630-961-0060.