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Research shows fathers should get overnight visits with infants

If you and your wife have or will have a baby together and you are considering a divorce, it should not be an accepted fact that the parenting plan limits your visits to two or three hours during the day. In fact, as the baby’s father, it is just as important for you to have overnight visits as it is for the mother.

Here are three reasons supported by research that indicate your child should have overnight visits with you, regardless of age.

1. You are a primary caregiver

Much of the research done in the past began with the false assumption that a mother is the only primary caregiver, and the father is secondary. However, according to Psychology Today, psychiatrists and others specializing in attachment theory now understand that babies will naturally form a strong primary attachment to fathers as well as mothers. Long periods of time between your visits puts the security of that attachment bond at risk.

2. Your father-child attachment promotes healthy development

Current research also shows that your child’s brain relies on the security of the attachment with you for emotional growth, HelpGuide.org reports. Even as an infant, your child needs that sense of safety to begin to develop trust, empathy and self-awareness. Not only does this promote emotional health, it also has an impact on physical, mental, social and intellectual development as your child matures.

3. Love is not enough to create a primary attachment

No matter how much you love your child, your emotions do not produce attachment between you and your baby on their own. Only during time with you can your infant get nonverbal cues through eye contact, touch, facial expressions, gestures and the tone of your voice. These are what allow your child to recognize you and feel safe and comforted when you are together. A schedule that includes regular overnight visits gives you the chance to perform the essential attachment-building activities of bedtime and morning routines, such as feeding, bathing and soothing your infant.

Your divorce does not end your role as your child's father. As you and your wife discuss the parenting plan, it may help to provide information about why it is in your baby’s best interest to create a schedule that provides time to form a strong father-child bond.

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