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Study: Overnights may affect babies' attachment

Creating parenting plans for infants can be a difficult task. Babies can't really express their feelings or preferences for how the plan should work. This mechanism becomes complicated when parents are both intimately involved in caring for the baby, but are not living together. In these situations, the child may spend extended amounts of time away from their "primary" caregiver. 

Is this good for baby? Some researchers have their doubts. According to a recent study conducted at the University of Virginia, researchers found that infants who spent at least one night away from their mothers had more difficult attachments compared to babies who spent their evenings exclusively with mom.

The study was focused on studying attachments in the context of forming deep emotional connections within a child's first year of life. Such attachments are critical for young children and can affect how children form relationships later in life. 

One imporant point noted in the study was that a primary caregiver did not have to be an infant's mother. It could be the child's father, an aunt or an uncle, as well as a grandparent. However, the focus is on consistency, which could be difficult when balancing competing parenting interests. Indeed, kids are best served when cared for by two parents, but having a solid home base is important too.

Nevertheless, Houston family court judges must make decisions that consider the best interests of the child. Whether this is best served by spending overnights with a single caregiver or by dividing this responsibility is determined largely on a case-by-case basis.

Source: News.virginia.edu, Overnights away from home affect childrens attachments, study shows, July 18, 2013

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