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Effects of Divorce in Infants and Toddlers

How Will My Divorce Affect My Infant or Toddler?

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The following behaviors may indicate that the divorce-related stress you are experiencing is impacting your child. However, it’s also important to keep in mind that many other factors can bring on these behaviors. If you are worried about how your divorce is affecting your baby, make a list of the specific behaviors that concern you and share it with your child’s pediatrician.

Related: Effects of Divorce in Children | Preschoolers | K-6 Children | Tweens/Teens

Potential Evidence of Stress in Infants and Toddlers:

  • Appears to be unusually fussy and demanding
  • Reacts to either parents’ intense emotions
  • Slow to gain weight
  • Developmental delays
  • Regression (appearing to have unlearned skills he or she previously mastered)
  • Changes in his or her regular eating and sleeping habits

Action Steps for Parents of Infants and Toddlers:

  • Maintain your baby’s regular routine
  • Smile, cuddle, and play together
  • Continue to meet your child’s everyday needs
  • Offer reassuring words
  • Be consistent
  • Maintain contact between your child and the non-resident parent
  • Make an intentional effort to take care of yourself, too

References:
Block, Jocelyn, M.A., et al. "Children and Divorce: Helping Your Kids Cope With the Effects of Separation and Divorce." Helpguide.org., Apr. 2010. Web. 3 Dec. 2010. <http://helpguide.org/mental/children_divorce.htm>.

Wilson, Elaine, Brenda Sheik, and Tammy Fowler. Co-Parenting. Stillwater, Oklahoma: Oklahoma State University. PDF file.

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