The extent of overnight timesharing that is beneficial for infants and toddlers is controversial among mental health professionals. Most experts agree that parent/baby bonding is essential with both parents. However, the disagreement lies in how this bonding is best accomplished when parents never or no longer live together.
The more traditional view is that the strong attachment bond between the baby and his or her primary caregiver should not be compromised by overnight visitation with the other parent for the first two years of the baby’s life. The view does not diminish the importance of bonding between the other parent and baby, it simply organizes the contact differently. Frequent contact of shorter duration between the baby and the other parent is strongly encouraged, while daily contact is considered ideal.
This timesharing arrangement works best, of course, for parents who maintain a cordial, child-focused relationship with each other and who live in close geographical proximity. Frequent, shorter duration timesharing, especially daily contact with the baby, reinforces the importance of the other parent’s bonding with the baby by ensuring that there are no long gaps in contact between the baby and the other parent. At the same time, under the traditional viewpoint, it poses little risk of compromising the baby’s attachment to the primary caretaker, because the separation of the baby from the primary caretaker is of short duration.
The main weakness of this approach to baby/toddler timesharing is when parents are unable to maintain a cooperative, child-centered type of relationship and/or live too far apart to make it work. Alternatively, one or both parents may believe that longer duration, overnight timesharing is the better way to establish a stronger bond with the other parent.
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