Parenting Arrangements for 0-4 Year Old Age Group

What are Parenting Arrangements?

Parenting arrangements refer to the legal and practical arrangements made between separated or divorced parents regarding the care, welfare, and development of their children. These arrangements are typically made in accordance with the best interests of the child and are governed by the Family Law Act 1975.

At Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers, we recognize the significance of seeking professional legal advice when establishing the best parenting arrangements, especially for the crucial 0-4 year old age group. Our specialized parenting coordination services are designed to ensure your child’s best interests are protected throughout this important developmental stage. Contact us today to talk to one of our expert lawyers.

There are various types of parenting arrangements that can be made, including:

  1. Equal Shared Parental Responsibility: where both parents have equal responsibility for making decisions about their children and spend significant or substantial time with them.
  2. Sole Parental Responsibility: where one parent has sole custody or is the primary caregiver with the responsibility of making decisions about the child and the child primarily resides with them.

The specific care arrangements will depend on the individual circumstances of each case and the needs of the child. In cases where parents are unable to agree on the best custody arrangements, the matter may be referred to the Family Court of Australia for a decision.

Key Factors for Consideration

When making a plan for children in the 0-4 year age group, there are several key factors to consider. Here are some of the most important:

  1. Health and safety: The health and safety of children of this age group is of paramount importance. When planning for this age group, it is important to consider factors such as vaccinations, hygiene practices, and child-proofing the environment.
  2. Physical development: Children in this age group are rapidly developing physically. It is important to consider their gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and overall physical development when planning activities and experiences for them.
  3. Cognitive development: Children’s brains are also rapidly developing during this period, so it is important to consider their cognitive abilities when planning activities and experiences. This includes language development, problem-solving skills, and memory.
  4. Social and emotional development: Young children are also developing their social and emotional skills. It is important to create opportunities for children to engage with others, build relationships, and learn how to regulate their emotions.
  5. Play-based learning: Play is a critical part of young children’s development, and should be a key component of any plan for this age group. It is important to create opportunities for children to engage in different types of play, including imaginative play, sensory play, and physical play.
  6. Communication with parents and caregivers:  Finally, it is important to involve parents and caregivers in the planning process, and to communicate regularly with them about their child’s development and progress.  This helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.


Attachment is the emotional bond that develops between a child and their primary caregiver, typically their mother or father, during the first few years of life. This bond provides the child with a sense of security and safety, which is essential for their overall emotional development.

During the first year of life, babies begin to form attachment bonds with their caregivers through attachment behaviour. This behaviour includes things like crying, smiling, and reaching out for their caregivers. When a caregiver responds to these behaviours in a sensitive and timely manner, the baby’s sense of security and trust in their caregiver is strengthened.

As children grow and develop, their attachment relationships continue to evolve. Toddlers often become more independent and may explore their environment, but they still rely on their caregivers for comfort and support when they need it. A secure attachment bond with a caregiver provides toddlers with a secure base from which to explore their world and develop new skills.

The quality of a child’s attachments with their primary attachment figure has long-term implications for their social, emotional, and cognitive development. Children who form secure attachment bonds tend to have better relationships with others, higher self-esteem, and better emotional regulation skills compared to children who have insecure attachment relationships.

Infants Aged Up to 12 Months

Parenting arrangements for infants aged 0-12 months can vary depending on the family’s circumstances and preferences. However, there are some general guidelines that can be helpful for new parents:


Breastfeeding: If the mother is breastfeeding, it’s important to establish a routine that allows her to breastfeed on demand or as frequently as the baby needs it. This may mean that the baby spends more time with the mother than the father or other caregivers in the early months.

Co-sleeping: Some parents choose to have their baby sleep in the same bed as them, while others prefer to have the baby sleep in a separate crib or bassinet in the same room to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Bonding time: Both parents should have ample opportunities to bond with the baby, including holding, cuddling, and playing. This can help the baby feel secure and develop a strong attachment to both parents.

Flexible schedules: Infants’ needs can be unpredictable, so it is important to have flexible schedules that can accommodate their feeding, sleeping, and other needs. Parents should communicate and work together to ensure that both get sufficient rest and time off from parenting duties.

Quality time: While it’s important to take care of the baby’s basic needs, it’s also crucial to spend quality time engaging in activities that stimulate the baby’s cognitive, emotional, and social development, such as reading, singing, and playing.


Overall, parenting arrangements for infants should prioritize the baby’s physical and emotional well-being, as well as the parents’ ability to meet their needs and bond with them. It’s essential to communicate openly and work together as a team to create a nurturing and supportive environment for the baby.

Children Aged Up to 4 Years

Parenting arrangements for children 0-4 years of age can vary depending on individual circumstances, such as the parents’ work schedules, living arrangements, and the child’s needs. However, there are some general guidelines that can be helpful for parents to consider when making these arrangements:


Primary Caregiver: In most cases, it is best for young children to have a primary carer who is available to provide consistent care and support. This caregiver may be a parent, grandparent, or other trusted adult. The primary caregiver should be someone who is responsive to the child’s needs and is able to provide a secure and nurturing environment.

Co-Parenting: If both parents are involved in the child’s life, it is important to establish a co-parenting plan that allows both parents to be involved in the child’s care. This may involve sharing time with the child, dividing responsibilities such as feeding and bathing, and communicating regularly about the child’s needs and development.

Consistency: Consistency is key for young children, so it is important to establish a predictable routine for the child. This may include regular mealtimes, nap times, and bedtime routines. It is also important to maintain consistency in the child’s environment, such as keeping the same toys and bedding at both parents’ homes.

Flexibility: While consistency is important, it is also important to be flexible and adaptable to the child’s changing needs. This may involve adjusting routines or parenting arrangements as the child grows and develops.

Communication: Open and effective communication between parents is essential for successful parenting arrangements. It is important to keep each other informed about the child’s needs and development, and to work together to address any issues that may arise.


Ultimately, the most important factor in any parenting arrangement is the well-being and happiness of the child. Parents should always prioritize the child’s needs and work together to create a supportive and loving environment for their child.

When Parents Cannot Agree

If parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, they may need to seek assistance from the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court.

The first step in this process is usually for both parents to attend family dispute resolution (FDR) with an accredited FDR practitioner. The aim of FDR is to assist parents to come to an agreement about child custody arrangements without the need for court intervention. If an agreement is reached, the FDR practitioner will prepare a parenting plan that reflects the agreed arrangements.

If FDR is unsuccessful or if one parent is not willing to attend FDR, then either parent can make an application to the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court for parenting orders. The court will consider all relevant factors, including the best interests of the child, and make orders that reflect those interests.

Ultimately, seeking legal help for parenting arrangements and child custody schedules is an important step in ensuring that your rights and the best interests of your children are protected. Family lawyers can provide advice and guidance on the legal process and help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a parent.


Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers offer specialist family law advice and are based in St Leonards on Sydney’s North Shore.  If you have recently separated or have a Family Law enquiry, please contact us on (02) 9437 0010 or send us an email at to discuss your matter in complete confidence.  We have a dedicated team of experienced family lawyers to handle your matter effectively and efficiently, providing you with reliable, direct and practical advice.


About the Authors:

Lisa Wagner is Managing Director and Principal of Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers. Lisa is an Accredited Family Law specialist holding honours degrees in economics and law. She is also a Collaboratively trained Family Lawyer, a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, and a Parenting Coordinator. With over 30 years’ experience as a specialist family lawyer, Lisa is an experienced litigator and skilful negotiator in all family law matters; working for the majority of that time in Sydney’s CBD as well as on Sydney’s lower North Shore and Northern Beaches.

Connect with Lisa on LinkedIn


Zoha Khan is a Senior Family Lawyer at Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers.  Zoha holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws from Macquarie University and is currently undertaking a Master of Applied Law (Family Law) at the College of Law.  With experience in advising on a range of complex property and high-conflict parenting matters, Zoha is a valuable member of the Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers team.

Connect with Zoha on LinkedIn



These posts are only intended as an overview or comment on current issues that may interest you and are not legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.

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