coworker keeps bringing her baby to work because she misses him

A reader writes:

I have a coworker who recently had a baby boy about six months ago. Four or five times now, she has asked her babysitter to drive her son to our workplace during lunch because she misses him and wants to spend time with him.

Because of our work setting, employees’ family and friends are not technically allowed into the back areas of the facility where the break rooms are. My coworker will bring her son into the break room, meaning that he is in there with everyone else who is trying to eat lunch. She sometimes lets him sit on the table or touch things, or will ask people if they want to hold him. She also talks incessantly to him in a baby voice or makes silly noises at him repeatedly. I find this irritating, as the babysitter and baby take up some of the limited space we have in the room. Plus, all of the silly noises and voices make it difficult to have a conversation with someone else in such a small space.

These aren’t the standard, brief “bring my baby in to meet my coworkers for a few minutes” type of events. She will bring her baby into the break room to sit in her lap or on the table while she eats lunch for a good 20 to 30 minutes each time this happens.

I don’t understand why she can’t spend time with her son in her office if she desperately needs to see him so badly. No one else with young children who works there brings their children into the break room. However, I now feel like a terrible, cold-hearted person. Am I being totally unreasonable? Is there anything I can do about this? I don’t want to get her in trouble or come across as a baby-hating curmudgeon, but I’m getting frustrated with having to share the break room with someone’s baby on multiple occasions.

No, you’re not being unreasonable.

If this happened once or twice over the course of a year, then yeah, I’d say you were being a curmudgeon. (Not that there’s anything wrong with being a curmudgeon; I’m pretty curmudgeonly myself. But it’s still helpful to recognize when it’s happening.)

But four or five times in the space of … what, three months? It’s crossing over into clear “too much” territory, as well as self-centered parent territory, and I think it’s understandable to be annoyed.

But four or five times may not be enough to make it worth speaking up about it. I mean, in my opinion, a single lunch filled with the sounds of an adult speaking baby talk is too much, but I’m balancing that against the pain-in-the-ass factor of taking this on.

If it continues to happen or increases in frequency, I think you’d be in a stronger position to say something. Even then, though, you’ll have to decide if you’re willing to deal with the potential tension it’s likely to cause with your coworker, and possibly with anyone else who doesn’t mind the baby there and can’t understand why someone else might.

If you have other options for where you eat lunch, I might just use one of those on the days this happens.

{ 435 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. ZSD

    I’m relieved that this is just happening over the lunch break. From the title, I thought this was going to be about someone bringing her baby in to work for the whole day. While I can see why you’re a bit annoyed, I think that since this doesn’t seem to be affecting productivity for the mother or anyone else during actual working hours, I think Alison’s right that for now, you should just let it go and try to eat lunch somewhere else when necessary.

    Reply
    1. Red Reader

      She has her own office, AND the break rooms are in an employee-only area? Bleh. Inappropriate. But unfortunately a question of picking your battles.

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      1. Fortitude Jones

        That’s what bothers me about it. She can go to her own dang office with her kid and leave the break room free for her coworkers to use distraction free. The only reason I can think of why she wouldn’t is if she knows her boss would pitch a fit upon seeing a baby in her actual office.

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        1. NoLongerMsCleo

          Or she is trying to show off the baby and expects everyone to be just as enamored with her/her as she is. It’s easy to forget that not everyone thinks your baby is as amazing as you do.

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          1. fposte

            I think that’s part of it. Mom sees this as a win-win–she gets to see her baby, and everybody gets to see somebody adorable over lunch! Which sounds nice but isn’t really the mental frame for the workplace.

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          2. Kimberlee, Esq

            Or, like, she could be getting all kinds of positive feedback from other employees who DO like having a baby around during lunch.

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            1. sarah

              Yeah, I think this is probably key here. If everyone feels like you, it’s one thing, but there are probably some people who are delighted by the distraction of a cute baby during lunch (I for one would be!) As long as it’s only occasional and there seem to be some people who appreciate it and want to hold the baby, I would count this as annoying but probably not a battle worth taking on.

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              1. Kore

                Yeah, whenever one of my coworkers are out on maternity leave, the visits with the mother + baby usually last well over an hour if not over two hours. Which, feels excessive and distracting to me. That said, a lot of my other coworkers LOVE it and find it delightful, so I just make my short visit and try to work as best I can, since it isn’t happening daily.

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            2. Bookworm

              yeah – you’re more likely to speak up with approval than disapproval to a coworker. The people who like it are probably vocal while the annoyed people stay silent.

              Reply
  2. EddieSherbert

    This would drive me crazy. But I think Alison has a point that really addressing it might bring some weird attention onto yourself.

    Besides a nice, polite “Coworker, would you mind relocating with child during lunch?” if it doesn’t stop, I wouldn’t know how to bring this to the attention of anyone who can stop it (her manager? HR?) without coming across strangely.

    I’d probably just try to have lunch at a different time than her and avoid the situation (I have that flexibility, but I know not everyone does). Hahaha….

    Reply
    1. Lana Kane

      I agree that there’s almost no way to do this without the OP looking like the bad guy.

      At a previous office, sometimes moms on maternity leave would stop by the office with their babies to say hi. Many times a small group would form in the cubicle area of people chatting to mom and cooing over baby. It wasn’t too loud, and there were no people nearby on phones who needed absolute quiet, so most people didn’t think much of it. One person did, though, and complained to management. From then on, all such visits were confined to the breakroom – which seems reasonable, but it’s hard to let people know you’re there, and I’m sure it felt like you were sitting there holding court, waiting for visitors!

      It didn’t keep the person who complained from being seen as a gigantic Grinch, though, and she even said later she regretted saying anything. (No one retaliated or anything, I just think that she thought better of it after she had complained.)

      Unless this becomes a big problem or a daily occurrence, I’d work around it if it bothered me. It’s most likely temporary anyway – I don’t think she’ll be so comfortable bringing a toddler or older child (or one would hope!)

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      1. Not Yet Looking

        How about trying to be nice, and claiming it is your own issue? “Hey, can you let me know in advance when you are planning to bring your child in to the break room, so I can make other plans? Nothing against you or your child, I just have some germ issues. It isn’t your fault, you didn’t know, and I naturally thought this wouldn’t come up much in the employee breakroom. I’m just trying to find a reasonable solution to my own issues, since it seems like this will be a recurring issue.”

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          1. Nerdy Canuck

            Right, but which seems better for a peaceful solution – “I have some germ issues” or “I find your kid annoying and don’t want to eat lunch around them”?

            They’re both fair, but one of them would come across like an attack; that doesn’t help anyone.

            Reply
  3. LawBee

    It seems to me that there’s a pretty clear case to bring it up, since she’s breaking the workplace rules by bringing family members (and I assume the nanny) into an area where family is not allowed. I’m assuming there’s either a safety issue or a security issue – either way, she’s not supposed to be doing that.

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    1. ZSD

      Yeah, that’s a good point. Maybe it would be appropriate to say, “You know, for safety reasons we’re not supposed to have family members back here. Do you think you could eat lunch outside on days when you want to eat with your son?”

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    2. Lemon Zinger

      Exactly what I thought! There is a REASON why non-employees aren’t allowed back there, and this employee is blatantly ignoring that reason, whatever it may be.

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      1. Ineloquent

        Probably insurance liability – that’s the excuse a former workplace gave when they told a new parent why she had to stop bringing her baby around. What if she looks away and the kid rolls off the table? Or takes out his eye by thrashing his head directly into a coworker’s glasses or something? Will she sue? Would she have grounds?

        I’m a new mom myself, and probably fit into the self centered parent category, but I get around my desire to see my kid a lot by negotiating a 50/50 telecommute schedule – my bosses are super awesome about this. I know a lot of people don’t care about my new baby, so I try not to bug people with it too much. I can see how she may not get that though – it seems like the only thing people want to talk to you about during pregnancy and new motherhood is your offspring, so she may just think that this is the logical continuation of their polite interest/small talk.

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    3. RVA Cat

      Not to mention I see a safety issue with the infant sitting on top of the table (!) and touching things where he’s not allowed. Last thing you need is for the poor kid to get hurt or sick.

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      1. Cary

        I can’t even explain how weird your concern sounds to me. Babies sit on tables and touch things all the damn time without getting hurt or sick.

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        1. MsChanandlerBong

          Putting aside the risk of injury, it is really not okay to put a baby–who potentially has a leaky diaper–on a surface intended for food and beverages. I’m not even all that worried about germs, but I can see why some people might be grossed out by that.

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        2. Annonymouse

          Yes, but that’s normally at home or at a public table where the only things on the table are what the parents put down.

          At bare minimum I’d expect hot coffee and cutlery on the table plus, you know, people’s actual food that may be hot or not.

          Factor in that mum is probably talking to other people as well and I can see why there are concerns about safety.

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    4. INTP

      I agree. I think there’s an opportunity here to say “Hey, this isn’t bothering ME but I wanted to let you know it’s happening in case there is some legal reason for the rule and we’re exposed to risk here…” You don’t look like a curmudgeon that way, just like someone that doesn’t want to make a bigger drama than you have to and is concerned about the company.

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    5. Engineer Girl

      And that’s the way you should frame it when talking to her. “Hey Zelena, I don’t know if you know this – but family members aren’t allowed back here. I’d hate for you to get written up for breaking the rules. Maybe you could go to the park with Robin so you could spend time with him and not get into trouble?”

      Usually there is an insurance reason for not having family members on site. Most companies get riders for take your kid to work day, etc.

      Reply
      1. Lora

        +1000

        Where I work there are sufficient hazards that nobody is allowed on site without vaccinations, and they are never EVER allowed in certain areas where intellectual property is developed. There are generally too many hazards for anyone not a grown up and certified science/engineering geek to be anywhere outside of the office area and a couple of conference rooms.

        Even in the offices, there’s enough adult language that I wouldn’t want a child around unless you want Junior to learn some REALLY advanced language skills. Hell, some of my colleagues shouldn’t be exposed to other adults, now that I think about it… on top of the usual teleconference background noises and speakerphone issues. You can tell all your colleagues sitting around you to knock it off with the F-bombs around your kid, but you can’t expect the same out of the irate contractor on speakerphone.

        I work in a very Old Boys Club type of environment; it would be like bringing a small child into a bar when there’s a Major Sportsball game on the TV and everyone is shouting their opinions of the referee. It’s just REALLY not a welcoming place for children.

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    6. TheCupcakeCounter

      YES! That is exactly what I was coming here to say. The OP specifically states that family and friends are not allowed back there so at minimum OP can report that non-employees are somewhat regularly being brought into that restricted area. No mention of baby being in any way disruptive just a “in case you weren’t aware this is happening and my understanding is that shouldn’t be happening for reasons X, Y, Z”. That way it appears you are looking out for the company rather than complaining about the baby.

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      1. Anna

        As is mentioned below, the OP says they “technically” not allowed. Meaning it’s written down somewhere, but is probably not enforced and other people bring visitors back. So if the OP brought it up, there would be an immediate “Yeah, but Sam, Nobby, Carrot, Cheerybottom, and Granny Weatherwax all bring family back so I’m not sure why this is different.” It would mean that for this inconvenience the rule would be enforced across the board and that is inviting more side eye.

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        1. LawBee

          You may be reading into that more than there is – “technically” could also mean “not a hard-and-fast rule, but we all know it’s a bad idea”. Basically, this is probably something that should be nailed down anyway, and this seems like a good reason to start.

          I mean, sometimes Helen Lovejoy has it right – “won’t someone please think of the children?!!!” :D

          Reply
  4. Elizabeth West

    Because of our work setting, employees’ family and friends are not technically allowed into the back areas of the facility where the break rooms are.

    That right there is enough reason for it to stop. She’s bringing her baby and the babysitter into a restricted area where they should not be.

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    1. MK

      The problem is the “technically” qualifier. If this rule is not enforced very stringently, the OP might get pushback from the coworker who sees other family members there on occasion, or from others who might not be crazy about the baby visits, but do sometimes have guests of their own.

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      1. Bwmn

        I agree with this that the “technically” is the sticking point.

        All guests to our building beyond the lobby are “technically” required to be logged in with building security and get a temporary badge for the meeting. We also work in a building where if someone’s spouse/friend/children were to stop by – no one has ever logged that person is. Now, at my office, those visits are pretty rare and at most in the 3-5 times a year for 5 minutes. Should the same coworker be in my office where a baby is coming now for 20-30 minutes at lunch time and in the kitchen (our equivalent of a break room but many people just eat in their offices) – it would technically not be allowed. But for our office, where this are no safety issues at hand beyond standard baby proofing concerns, the technical rules would be awkward.

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        1. not really a lurker anymore

          My husband’s office has me sign in and get a name tag. Unless I wait in the lobby area. My impression is that not all family do this and the receptionist is the one who gets the blame for not following protocol. So I always sign in to help her.

          His office has personal and financial data so it’s more security issues than safety issues.

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        2. Engineer Girl

          It crossed the “technically” bridge when it went from an occasional one-off to a pattern of behavior. And five times in a few months is definately a pattern. That’s the difference.

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          1. MK

            Well, we don’t know that other people don’t have regular visitors either. But that’s not the point. If the OP evokes the rule, as commenters are suggesting, a very likely result would be that it’s going to be enforced strictly to all. A manager will hardly want to get into debates about how a baby is not allowed but a partner is, or how many times in how many weeks is too much; in all probability, they will just ban all outside visitors. That might not be a bad thing, but it could create a lot of bad feeling for the OP.

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      2. BananaPants

        This rule isn’t stringently enforced here either; employees have badge access and if they’re bringing their kid in to sit at their desk for 10 minutes or whatever, they just bring the child in through one of the entrances not manned by security. If someone’s spouse/SO is joining them for lunch the employee usually won’t bother getting a visitor badge for that, either.

        Either this needs to be enforced for every employee’s guests or not. I agree that this many visits from the baby are excessive and they shouldn’t be taking place in the break room, but if Bob’s husband can come in for lunch and hang out in the break room, than Jane might get pissed off if there are complaints to HR about her baby coming in and hanging out in the break room during lunch.

        I don’t understand why this employee doesn’t take her baby to her office; it sounds like no one would object to that.

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        1. Jen S 2.0

          Likely because she legitimately thinks everyone else loves having Baby there, too, and wants to be able to participate in the visit. There’s no audience in her office.

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    2. Zoe Karvounopsina

      Yep. Do they have staff into which babies should not get? Or things which “The Mint Chocolate Teapot Manager’s Nanny” really shouldn’t be seeing?

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        1. TeacherNerd

          I like your typo better. I have colleagues I would not want my theoretical children getting. These are the same colleagues I don’t get, though, either. “Sorry, Bridget, you may not get Mr. Cuckoo Pants.”

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  5. Callalily

    I think even 4-5 times in 3 months is not a ‘too much’ interval. I mean we are talking maybe 30 minutes every 2-3 weeks where this baby is making an appearance in the break room.

    I am not a baby person at all – babies make me uncomfortable and I have infertility issues to boot – but I wouldn’t mind someone bringing in their baby this often. If I was uncomfortable with the baby in the break room, I would go to my desk to eat for that one day.

    Before saying anything to anyone, I would get a feel from other coworkers on if they are bothered by this. It would look awful for one coworker to put a snuff to these occasional baby visits if everyone else loves them or is indifferent to them. Some may probably even see you as the evil baby vanquisher.

    There may even be a reason why this happens every so often. Maybe the baby has appointments those days and is calmed by seeings its mother, or those days the mother has to work late and the baby would be sleeping when she gets home, or maybe she is suffering from depression and has the baby drop by on bad days. It is worth having a casual conversation and maybe seeing if you can squeeze out why the babysitter drops by with the baby.

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    1. TL -

      Oh, I think it’s too much. It doesn’t really matter what the underlying issue is – it sounds like the coworker could take the baby to her office or take lunch somewhere else with the baby if she needs to see him that much.

      Besides, babies are hugely disruptive. The OP has every right to be annoyed without having to “what-if” the mother’s reasoning.

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      1. Anonymous in the South

        I’m with you, TL. I have 2 children- they are both adults now- and I never had them brought by the office to eat lunch. When they were young, baby & toddler stages, sure, I missed them, too. I’m sure most parents do, but most parents do not get the nanny/babysitter to bring them by for lunch. The baby talk thing would drive me bonkers.

        OP states that they are not supposed to gave family and friends in that area, so I would discretely mention to the supervisor (as Interviewer suggests below) and see what happens. If they supervisor does nothing or lets it go, I would eat in my office or maybe treat myself to lunch out that day.

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        1. Not Yet Looking

          And if you don’t have your own office, eat in HER office. I’m not going to recommend that you leave lots of crumbs, because boy that would be petty, wouldn’t it?

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    2. The IT Manager

      The OP is not the boss. The boss has the responsibility to tell the co-worker not to bring the baby sitter and the baby into the office. The boss would also have the “right” to ask questions about why to understand the situation. A co-worker (not friend) who doesn’t like the baby being there certainly should not start asking questions.

      I’m with the LW. I am a rule follower. Clearly this is a violation of rules. And I don’t get all soft and mushy over someone’s baby so I would be annoyed too. However I’m not sure if I would want to be the person to bring it up to the boss to request he enforce the the existing rules. I be concerned the co-worker with the baby will not be pleased if she’s told by the boss to stop. And she probably has some friends or fellow parents who would take her side against you. I might try reminding her that guests shouldn’t be in the break room, and hope she decides to follow the rules. If she doesn’t I might let it drop unless it becomes more frequent.

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      1. SarahTheEntwife

        Does the boss know about these visits? If she doesn’t take lunch a the same time as the coworker she may not realize what’s going on, or may have only caught one visit and thought it was a one-off special occasion.

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    3. AnotherAlison

      I fell on this side of things. I think the 3 month time-frame is Alison’s assumption anyway. The baby was born 6 months ago. With a 7 week maternity leave like mine was, that would only be about 1x per month. (All that said, people occasionally bring babies into my work area. I’m not a baby person, either, and I find it distracting but it’s not worth alienating coworkers over for the infrequent visits.)

      If the manager wanted to nip it in the bud on a policy basis, I’d go along with that, but it’s not the OP’s call.

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      1. Lissa

        I was just thinking I’d kinda like to steal it as a username, but people who didn’t read this thread might not be amused. ;)

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    4. Bwmn

      I’m with you – as a nonbaby person as well, it would be weird, but less than two times a month really doesn’t seem like that many times to me. It’s during this person’s break time – and as I mentioned upthread there are lots of reasons why “technically not allowed” may not be the strict version of the policy the organization wants.

      In the grand scheme of things that coworkers are irritating during breaks – I sympathize with this one. But in the realm of being a “family friendly workplace” – I can see a boss/manager wanting not wanting this to be the battle to fight.

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      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        I don’t know; “family friendly workplace” means that employees are able to have flexibility to take off for family-related/personal reasons, not that they are allowed to bring their family into the workplace. I wouldn’t mind a baby being trotted through for a quick meet-the-baby visit once or twice, but I wouldn’t want to habitually find my break room, where I intend to relax or have an adult conversation, overtaken by another employee with their baby talk and non-employee babysitter. That would put a damper on my and other employee’s use of the room.

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        1. Bwmn

          While family friendly often means outside of work – in my experience it’s also meant the occasional kid in the office. Sick kid needs to hang out in a parent’s office for 30 minutes or so, spouses having the chance to have the occasional lunch together without necessarily having to leave work grounds, etc.

          Point being, I think different offices will have different definitions. And while I definitely don’t think the OP co-worker is doing something typical – it doesn’t sound so wildly inappropriate that every typical manager would have a problem with it.

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          1. sarah

            Agreed. My office frequently will have kids around for snow days, occasional “sort of sick” days, other school holidays, etc. I realize that is not the norm everywhere! But, in our office, if you really didn’t want to be distracted you could go in your office and close the door, so it’s seen as a way to be family friendly. Personally I think it’s a lot of fun, but regardless, I think if you were the lone dissenter who objected you’d be seen as sort of anti-family/anti-fun. Maybe that is not fair! But that would be the reality in my office. So, I would read the environment pretty carefully before making a stink. You don’t want to inadvertently alienate your coworkers over a once-or-twice a month annoyance.

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    5. Ellie H.

      I really dislike babies. I would be incredibly put off to have someone have their baby, ON THE TABLE, where I would have to look at it, hear it, hear someone talking to it, etc. And it is totally unsanitary and gross. The baby is not supposed to be there, employees eating lunch are supposed to be there and have a right to be there. Maybe they’re not supposed to eat at their desks or whatever, or at any rate it sounds like there is a distinct custom of people eating lunch in the breakroom. I think more than twice is outside the bounds of reasonableness. I personally would leave the lunch room if it were there and I’d be annoyed if I had to do that more than once or twice.

      She doesn’t even need to NOT have the baby visit her at work, she just needs to not have it in the lunch room – I don’t get why that would be any kind of problem. If she has the baby in her office (!) it’s not bothering anyone, by having it in the lunch room she is doing it in a way that bothers people and she can choose not to.

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      1. OlympiasEpiriot

        I’m sympathetic. I have a kid and he once was a baby, and *I* don’t like babies, either. I mean, if a baby is miserable near me, I try to help it/it’s parent/etc, but, given a choice, I like baby-free. I love my kid (including when he was a baby), but I don’t shove him into people’s lives.

        I get pretty offended by people when they act like I’ve got to appreciate their baby. I generally make myself scarce. (This is not the same as someone has a baby with them but isn’t showing baby off or expecting me to interact with said baby.)

        I’d be looking for a way to not have the baby visits in the lunch room.

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        1. Beezus

          Me too…I’m a parent and I do not adore random baby encounters. I like the idea of babies, and I like specific babies in the right time and place, but I don’t want to encounter unfamiliar babies in places where babies are generally understood to not belong. It’s especially aggravating when I’ve followed convention and made arrangements to leave my kid behind.

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    6. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

      In thinking about the situation, I kept thinking about how this would go if the woman in question was a newlywed and had her partner joining her for lunch 2-3 weeks, or if her parents had recently moved back to town and had her mother joining her for lunch, etc.

      I think it’s less about the baby and more about violating the boundaries of communal space. I’m with the others that this is much more about respecting the rules and coworker’s space than the baby. I wouldn’t ask that a coworker eat at their desk or have lunch out so I can enjoy time with someone. It makes much more sense to shift that responsibility to me.

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      1. Ellie H.

        I think a baby is a lot more disruptive and distracting than having another adult who is presumably capable of behaving according to standard business conventions. Although I do see the potential for it to be be slightly disruptive to have a coworker having a social conversation with someone who is not a fellow worker while the other employees are just trying to get some down time over lunch. I agree that a base issue is violating communal space boundaries.

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        1. Anna

          I don’t understand the last part of your paragraph at all. I would assume nobody who works there is just sitting in stoic silence chewing their food. What difference does it make if the casual conversation is between two coworkers and a coworker and an outside person? No matter what, they’re going to be social conversations.

          All in all, I don’t think it’s the actual having a baby there that’s the issue. It’s the baby talk and shoving baby at other people. I don’t dislike babies, but I am not grabbing at every baby I see or even know, so this would be annoying to me.

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  6. starsaphire

    The “not allowed” part is key here. She’s bringing in the baby *and* the babysitter, presumably an adult who is not an employee of the company, into an employees-only area — which could be a liability issue, were something to happen.

    Honestly, I’d have a discreet word with my supervisor, if this happened at my job. Depending, of course, on the supervisor.

    Reply
  7. Interviewer

    With the number of visits and frequency you described, it feels a bit like touching the 3rd rail to even mention your concerns to anyone else. Clearly if it was a real issue, someone should have mentioned it to her by now. The only pretext for bringing it up would be the restricted access to your space that you mention. Perhaps next time it happens, you could casually ask your manager if you are allowed to have guests eat lunch in the breakroom, since you have seen Jane eat a few times with her baby and the sitter. Based on the manager’s reaction, you may find out if this is an actual problem, or if you need to relocate for lunch on the days the baby is there.

    Reply
    1. JB (not in Houston)

      “Clearly if it was a real issue, someone should have mentioned it to her by now.” Or everyone else who is bothered by it is like the OP–annoyed but silent because they don’t know how or if to bring it up. Lots of things are allowed to go on far longer than other people want them to simply because nobody wants to be the person to bring it up.

      Reply
      1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

        If I had a dollar for every time I have heard, “I’m so glad someone said it” at work…of course, I’d probably have to give one back for all the times I’ve been grateful that someone else raised an issue :)

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    2. MV

      Actually, I think its enough that is annoys OP, another employee. Its an employee area and the Mother doesn’t get to bring non-employees in who annoy actual employees. I am not a baby person and the sound the baby babbling and making baby noises would annoy me enough to leave the break room. Why should a non-employee get to make an an employee this uncomfortable in an employee only area?

      Reply
  8. Michaela

    There’s also a health concern here: is the baby vaccinated? Are the OP’s coworkers vaccinated? If a coworker is coming down with a cold, is the baby going to catch it and be miserable and possibly make the mother take time off work? If the baby is going to daycare (probably not, as the OP references a presumably-fulltime nanny, but you never know), is the baby going to be an infection vector for pinkeye/strep/whatever (are any of OP’s coworkers immunocompromised)?

    Reply
    1. Zoe Karvounopsina

      I hadn’t even *thought* of that, but yeah. One un-vaccinated baby, and a grownup who hasn’t had a flu shot, or a booster jab recently…

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    2. PBCracker

      I think this is a silly argument – babies go out into the world – why would going into OP’s office be any different than going to the mall, or a restaurant, etc. Unless OP works in an infectious disease lab this argument seems like reaching for straws to me – germs are everywhere – not just in OP’s break room.

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      1. Manders

        Yeah, I’ve seen parents bringing babies into much more germ-y places than an office break room. I’ve even seen kids who looked very, very young at cons that are known for brewing up particularly nasty strains of con crud.

        I wouldn’t be wild about having to listen to someone baby-talk their child for thirty minutes during my lunch break, but I wouldn’t be concerned about that baby’s health being put at risk by being out in public (unless, as another commenter said, this office works with infectious diseases or strong chemicals or something else babies really should not be exposed to).

        Reply
      2. BananaPants

        I agree, this is *really* clutching at straws. The argument can easily be made for the baby to not be in the break room without getting into silliness like this. Germs are everywhere.

        Reply
        1. Newby

          I agree, unless the child is actively sick. I have seen some coworkers bring their kid to work because they are sick and cannot go to daycare. That kinda freaks me out.

          Reply
      3. Nerdy Canuck

        Nooooooooooooooooooooot really? Keep in mind that it isn’t only about the baby’s health at that point – what happens if someone in the office is dealing with a condition such that they can’t be vaccinated or have a compromised immune system? Dealing with a human petri dish sitting on the break room table where they’re supposed to be able to eat their lunch would suddenly become a serious health concern.

        Reply
        1. Dangerfield

          Everyone there is a human petri dish. Babies – especially preschool babies not in group childcare – are more likely to be up to date on their vaccinations/boosters and not currently infectious than an adult with limited sick time.

          Reply
    3. Muriel Heslop

      That was my first thought: germs! Maybe if OP mentions the potential for baby to become ill (cold and flu season is drawing nigh) the visits will stop or be contained to mom’s office.

      This would make me nuts. Good luck, OP.

      Reply
    4. Ineloquent

      That’d be the mom’s decision to make and risk to take, though. Her workplace doesn’t get to make that call (if only it were illegal to skip vaccines if you were physically able to get them though…)

      Reply
      1. MV

        Agree that it’s mom’s decision to make regarding the health of her baby. but not the health of her workers. I don’t want to be exposed to the baby’s germs, it doesn’t need to be in my office, unlike my coworkers that work there. I have a comprised immune system and cannot receive vaccines. I avoid babies and small children that I don’t know and would be none to happy to be exposed at work to more germs then I need to be.

        Reply
    5. Whats In A Name

      My mind went immediately to this too. What if the baby has strep? An ear infection? Pink eye? My neighbor’s 10 month old was at our house a few weeks ago; midway through the evening her stomach bug showed up in the form of projectile vomiting. About 24 hours later mine did too.

      Reply
    6. LizM

      I kind of feel like this is the parents’ decision to make – it may be a reason I choose to not bring my baby somewhere, but if someone said that to me as a reason to not bring my baby somewhere, I’d be annoyed and file it under “advice I’m going to ignore.”

      It’s a valid concern during flu season, but if the argument is that the baby is disruptive to other employees, you should frame it like that, not as feigned concern for the baby. New moms are generally getting a lot of practice in dealing with unsolicited advice and it may not be taken the way you intend it it.

      Reply
        1. LizM

          That’s fair, although if the baby spends most of her time with a nanny, she’s probably less of a vector than most of the adults you work with. My son was in a small daycare for his first year, and rarely got sick.

          Now that he’s in a daycare center with 12 other toddlers in his room, ugh, don’t get me started. But at 6 months, he was fine.

          Reply
  9. SittingDuck

    Is having the baby at her desk even an option though? Perhaps she brings the baby to the break room because having the baby at her desk may look like she is trying to work with the baby there, and she wants to make it clear that is not the case?

    I personally don’t think that once every 2-3 weeks is too much. The OP says family isn’t ‘technically’ allowed in the back – but that seems to imply there is wiggle room to the rule (otherwise I’d think OP would have just said family isn’t allowed. Period)

    Reply
    1. MillersSpring

      Once a year in a non-restricted area would be OK. Every few weeks in a restricted area where other people are trying to eat in peace is RIDICULOUS. OP should go straight to the coworker’s supervisor and say, “I’m not sure if you’re aware, but Jane has had her infant and nanny in our tiny break room several times now. They come in for 20-30 minutes, and Jane talks to little Olivia. But the break room is a restricted area, and these visits prevent others there from having a peaceful break. Can I count on you to speak to her and stop these occurrences?” And OP be sure you give a heads-up to your own supervisor that you had this conversation.

      Reply
      1. irritable vowel

        I completely agree. I’d be fine with it if it happened like once every six months or so (which is usually about how often one expects to see someone’s baby or small child where I work), and if it was clearly about “here is my baby look how cute he is,” not about spending parent-child time together in the workplace. I’m sympathetic to how much new parents must miss their babies when they have to go back to work, and as a manager would totally support this woman using her lunch hour to spend time with her baby, but it shouldn’t be happening at work. It’s completely not fair to the other employees, as well as being a liability for the company. Assuming it’s too far for her to go home and come back in that amount of time, she should be arranging to meet the baby and the nanny at another location near work.

        Reply
        1. No thanks

          I am so late to the game, but A) every single time I see your name I laugh, and B) all I can say is that if I had to look at this mother and the baby and the nanny in my break room for more than two minutes total, ever , while working with this person, I would go to the mom’s supervisor immediately. Not only do I not dig babies, but I really really don’t dig other people’s babies, and I really really really don’t dig other people’s babies while I’m at work or trying to eat my lunch at work. And if I wanted to see babies on tables during the workday, I’d work at a daycare center. No thank you. She can spend her PTO with her baby outside of the office. Plus, realistically, she needs to learn that no one else is as enthralled with her child as she is, and the faster she learns that the better. Sorry but I cannot stand when parents have blinders on and truly seem to believe that everyone feels the way they do about their kid. We don’t.

          Reply
    2. TL -

      20-30 minutes of loud baby talk and crying and burping and diaper smells every 2-3 weeks is indeed too much.

      The baby coming in for 5 minutes that often? Seeing him on the way to mom’s office? No problem. Forced, long interaction? Too much.

      Reply
  10. Beck

    This just makes me mad about the garbage state of perental leave in the US (where I’m assuming this is taking place). Mothers (and fathers) are forced to leave their babies at such a young age to go back to work so they don’t have to suffer financially, when really they just want to stay with their babies to bond with them and take care of them. It’s such a shame.

    Reply
    1. AthenaC

      One of my audit clients from years ago had a policy where you could bring your baby to work with you for the first 6 months. The one year I was on that job, there was a woman on the same floor with a 4-month-old at her desk.

      Worked out great for me, because the audit team was very, very toxic so it was a sanity-saver for me to step out of the audit room at about 4:00 pm (i.e. halfway through our work day) and go hold the baby for a few minutes.

      Reply
      1. Recruit-o-rama

        I would love that. My kids are teenagers (AKA eye rolling Instagram addicted heathens who eat all my food) and I looovvveee other people’s babies. I can hold them and coo at them and make silly noises and then give them back and get a good nights sleep. I work from home but would have loved a baby in the office every once in a while back when I was an office dweller.

        Reply
    2. The Artist Formerly Known as AdminAnon

      +1,000,000,000

      My daughter will be 3 months old later this week and I’ve been back at work since she was 4.5 weeks old :(

      I have endless amounts of empathy for the mother in this scenario, though I do think there are better ways for her to get time with her baby. She could presumably meet the baby/sitter elsewhere or (as others have suggested) in her own office. And–sidebar–baby talk drives me BANANAS. I don’t ever do it, but if I did it certainly wouldn’t be in front of other adults trying to eat their lunch. And as much as babies love silliness, it’s entirely possible to entertain them without noises. Silly faces work just as well and are much less distracting.

      Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        YES to your last point. From the time my niece was a baby (she’s two now), my brother and I have spoken to her in our regular voices like we’d speak to an adult, and she’s understood us perfectly. There was no need for annoying baby talk.

        Reply
          1. Fortitude Jones

            I know, my three year old cousin could sit and have adult conversations with people, and they were floored this kid knew the words he knew and how to use them correctly (his mom hates baby talk with a passion). This wound up biting my aunt in the ass, though, because by the time he was six, he thought he was grown and would tell her so.

            Reply
    3. LBK

      In fairness, we don’t actually know anything about the OP’s company’s maternity leave policy. It’s possible that the coworker did have the option to stay home but decided to come back to work and is now having regrets. I know we’ve had plenty of conversations here about mothers who thought they would come back to work after maternity leave and ended up quitting because their feelings changed once they actually had their child; this could be someone who thought she could tough it out but has now discovered that she does want to be around her baby more than she expected.

      Reply
      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        ?? I’m not sure what your point is, but parental leave in the US is objectively substandard.

        (I’m American, and not a parent. This just seems like an obvious point to me.)

        Reply
        1. Government Worker

          It is, but on other threads Alison has expressed some exasperation with the way any thread that touches on vacation policies, health insurance, parental leave, etc. US employers and laws tend to be worse for employees than those in many other parts of the world, but it derails the conversation here for lots of people to complain about them at every opportunity. And it doesn’t really help OPs, who presumably can’t change these thing but instead have to do the best they can with the way things are now.

          Reply
      2. Aunt Vixen

        … *That’s* what you’re annoyed about every time the subject of parents in the workplace comes up? Not the fact that working parents get no statutory leave and are separated from their children sooner than anywhere else in the developed (and a not-insignificant part of the developing) world, but the fact that anyone has the audacity to *complain* about it?!

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          BananaPants is referring to the fact that I’ve asked repeatedly that we not have this same discussion every time anything remotely related to parental leave in the U.S. comes up. It’s exhausting.

          Reply
          1. Aunt Vixen

            Well, there is that. :-) No doubt just as you’d prefer we not do half a page of just-because-I-don’t-have-kids-I-have-to-be-more-available-for-holidays etc. You’re right, they’re both exhausting, and I apologize for snapping back at BP’s tone rather than observing the attempt to avoid a derail.

            Reply
          2. DMC

            Yes, thank you. I find it annoying myself (granted, I’m in the U.S. and I don’t have children, so perhaps that makes me biased, but it’s annoying nonetheless).

            Reply
          3. LizM

            It’s exhausting, and I agree not useful to having yet another political debate about leave policy, but I do think it’s potentially relevant here, because it points to the fact that in many other places, the mother still wouldn’t be back at work, and I think argues for a little bit of grace as she adjusts to coming back to work.

            Reply
            1. Mookie

              Yep. The absence or inferiority of parental leave and employer- and government-based parental support in the US actually contextualizes, rather than derails, the precise situation the OP is describing.

              Reply
            2. CanAnon

              I agree, in this case the lack of parental leave in the US seems like an important factor in the context of the question. She’s bringing in a 6 month (and much younger for the majority of the 4-5 visits) baby, not a toddler. The US really is the odd one out here, in most of the world a child of this age and their primary caregiver (most often mother) aren’t separated for the majority of the child’s waking hours, and I think it’s worth considering that in how one might form their response.

              Reply
    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      Yes. I genuinely don’t understand how people do it, given the complete lack of support structures we have in place.

      Reply
      1. The Artist Formerly Known as Admin Anon

        I’m doing it now and I still don’t know how people do it! One day at a time and with a lot of help haha.

        Reply
  11. abankyteller

    I understand missing your child while you’re at work, but I think this mom should be using her own office for these visits instead of a common area with limited space. You’re not off base for being annoyed about this, OP.

    Reply
    1. Karanda Baywood

      Agreed.

      Honestly, it sounds like New Mom is just SURE that all her coworkers are dying to spend time with her baby. In reality, that half-hour lunch break is supposed to be a sanity saver for the worker. Not being subjected to baby talk.

      Reply
  12. Erin

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all to offer to have her visit with the baby in her office, or even asking her to go to her babysitter’s on lunch (presuming she has an hour lunch to do so and they’re fairly close by.)

    I think it comes to down framing this as nicely as possible. Keep in mind other coworkers are probably annoyed by this and just aren’t speaking up, so you’d be doing the majority a favor. I’d be annoyed, and I love kids and am about to have my own baby! In fact, I’d probably be really pissed off about it, because I’d be jealous that I couldn’t have MY baby in to visit, and she’d be getting this special exception just because I know social/work norms and she doesn’t.

    I’d maybe concentrate on the fact that breakrooms are for employees only, and make that the primary reason. You’d be jeopardizing security or whatnot by allowing this exception, and it’s not fair to other employees who may want to visit with their kids or spouses on lunch. By offering her office as an alternative, she can the invite other employees to stop by on their break and visit with baby as well, if she wants to.

    If you really wanted to go the extra mile for her, you could plan a social work thing where she’d be able to bring her baby (assuming you’re in a position where you plan things like that). So the message would be: We love little Baby X, we just can’t have him and babysitter in the breakroom. You’re welcome to bring him into your own office on lunch breaks, and at the holiday party/fundraiser/get together we’re planning next month!

    Reply
    1. Erin

      Adding one thing: I was reading this assuming you’re her supervisor, but it looks like that may not be the case. In that case, I’d weigh your options of discussing this directly with her versus directly with the boss, whomever you think you might have the better rapport with/better chances with.

      But in any case, it’s absolutely a reasonable thing to bring up.

      Reply
  13. Interplanet Janet

    Wait til the kid is a toddler, walking around and grabbing everything in sight. Nope, it’s not “cute” that your kid wants a bite of my lunch thankyouverymuch. Nip it in the bud now. If she’s that needy for her kid, she can meet the sitter and child in her office or somewhere outside the office environment. Good luck.

    Reply
      1. Rebecca in Dallas

        Oh I forgot all about that song until just now! She’s a galaxy girl!

        My sister-in-law used to put my niece on the table in her Bumbo seat while we all ate. Like, in the middle of the table, like a centerpiece. It was not fun once she was at that grabby age! And I always got afraid she would have a diaper blowout near the food. :/

        Reply
    1. NoNoNoNoNo

      Yes! Kids do not belong in tbe workplace, full stop.

      Yes I am a parent (30 years) and managed despite horrible US policies to not disrupt everyone else with *my* kid at work.

      Reply
  14. Jubilance

    Does this coworker live far away or get a short lunch period? I’m surprised she’s bringing the baby in instead of just going home during her lunch break.

    I like babies, I’m having one myself…but this seems like a lot to me. Especially when your workplace doesn’t allow visitors in the employee-only areas. Perhaps you can mention it to your manager in a casual way, like “hey, I’ve noticed that Jane is bringing her baby in regularly, just wanted to make sure management was aware and ok with it”.

    Reply
  15. LES

    4-5 times in a couple of months? I would be willing to guess that these visits are going to decrease in frequency pretty quickly as your coworker eases back in to work. It can be difficult for some women to make the transition after having a baby, so if I were you I would try to be as sympathetic as possible right now. I can understand being annoyed at listening to baby talk during your breaks, but I would expect this to stop fairly soon.

    Reply
  16. Lauren

    Let me first say upfront that I am NOT a fan of babies or children. I just don’t like them. At all. That said, I would never hurt a child; I’ve even taught a few to play Solitaire. But I am squicked out at the thought of the baby on the table. I mean really squicked out. I can’t stand listening to them or to parents cooing at them but the idea of a kid in diapers on a dining table … *shudders*

    Reply
    1. BananaPants

      As long as the diaper isn’t overflowing or leaking, what’s the issue? Adults who don’t wash their hands after using the toilet are leaving plenty of germs on those dining tables in the break room.

      (Note: the parents who do things like diaper changes on dining tables are super-gross. But a diapered, clothed baby sitting on a table just isn’t as gross as you seem to think it is.)

      Reply
          1. Isabel C.

            From my experience, an infant that doesn’t produce one or both over a thirty-minute period is some kind of awesome mutan, and the government should probably be informed.

            Reply
            1. AMG

              Mine could. Perhaps I should find someplace where they can be studied for further analysis. Seriously–they are not little water faucets that are uncontainable. Seems like a bit of an exaggeration to me.

              Reply
              1. Isabel C.

                They may be small miracles, yep!

                I wouldn’t mind one way or the other in the OP’s situation–I prefer eating at my desk or alone with a book anyhow, and I’m not particularly worried about germs as long as there aren’t smells–but man, from what I remember from friends’ and relatives’ kids, at six months or so they were constantly either having or needing their faces wiped in some fashion.

                Cute little guys, babies, but awfully…leaky, in so many ways.

                Reply
              2. GovWorker

                So many comments on not liking babies or children. To each her own, but it seems so unnecessarily hostile, especially with babies. What’s not to like, especially if you do not have to take care of him or her. I do not like referring to a child as an it, that is really othering a whole group of people that we all used to belong to. I know mine is an unpopular opinion, but I stand by it.

                It’s comical to be concerned about baby butts on tables when there were cubicles I wouldn’t let my dog eat in. And don’t get me started on the nasty keyboards! Glad I work at home now, I get to avoid all this office mess.

                Reply
                1. MV

                  I would say I kind of dislike babies, in the way that I wish them no ill will and will at times interact with ones I “know” (my friend’s babies), but generally try to avoid them in the wild. Reasons why I don’t like them much: Noise – happy squeals, baby babble, unhappy screams, crying, squealing, gurgling etc. The baby talk that some people talk to babies with. Mess – they always seem sticky, drooly, they grab things with their hands that always seem wet because they put them and everything around them in their mouths. Have you seen an area under a high chair at a restaurant, gross. They seem to get joy out of throwing things. Those are the two biggies for me (though I also don’t enjoy when one gets near enough to grab my hair or necklace).

                  I am not nasty to them, or to parents who seem to be trying, I just don’t like how they act and the amount of noise they make. These things I dislike are just the ways babies act. So for short hand I am just going to say I do not like babies. I understand what people DO like about them and why, can you understand the other side after having it explained?

                2. Lissa

                  Referring to a child as “it” is a pretty common linguistic thing, it used to be really common in the past! I think it might be falling out of favour, though.

                3. GovWorker

                  I still don’t like referring to a human beings as an it, glad I never heard anyone calling my baby an it. I’m 61 and don’t recall this ever being popular in the USA.

                  Babies are very small people and vary in temperament and behavior. Mine was chill, no colic, no crying jags, just easy. Sticky? Mine wasn’t, thats why baby wipes were created. Then again I’m a bit compulsive about cleanliness.

            2. Moonsaults

              If an infant isn’t ill or upset, they shouldn’t be a leaky faucet of sorts o.O

              I’ve known plenty that are chill little nuggets for hours at a time, no leaks.

              Reply
      1. Fortitude Jones

        Adults who don’t wash their hands after using the toilet are leaving plenty of germs on those dining tables in the break room.

        Hence why I don’t use anything communal in my workplace because we have quite a few of those people on my floor.

        Reply
      2. Aurion

        Adults who don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom are gross, no arguments there. But I can’t tell who these people are just by looking at them, whereas it’s obvious when a baby sits on a table meant for food. And break room tables aren’t wiped down very frequently compared to, say, restaurants. This is a case of prevent what we can.

        Reply
    2. Macedon

      Yeah, that’s the part that got me too. I don’t want the derrieres of adult folk who can presumably control their bodily functions on my table, let alone that of a baby (who, for no fault of his/her own, could ‘go’ at any time).

      Reply
      1. LCL

        Yes! Keep the lower half of your body, clothed or not, adult or child, off my eating surface. Do that in your own house, if you want.
        I wouldn’t object to the baby in the breakroom though, as long as we’re not talking factory/safety hazard type of environment.

        Reply
    3. Erin

      Hm, yeah. It’s something that wouldn’t bother me at all, but I’m aware enough to know it might bother others and would not do that with my kid.

      Reply
  17. Christine

    I’ll be the grump here. I would be the first person to say something to HR or the safety officer. Not supposed to be there period. Specially if it can be done without you being named as the complainer.

    I’m not a baby person so I do not want to see or hear one during my lunch break. I am trying to mentally recharge and that would be an added stressor. I have learned how to handle someone asking me to hold a baby, tell a fib, you don’t want me to, I’m coming down with a cold. Be careful how you handle this, or can be perceived as a baby hater. I had to tell a co-worker years ago that kept shoving their kid in my face, that I wasn’t into kids. I got a cold shoulder for awhile. Learned to use the head cold fib after that.

    Reply
    1. Aurion

      Yeah, I can’t picture a break room being very restful or mentally recharging if it’s filled with something that annoys you–whether that be politics, religion, or babies where there shouldn’t be. I would be really irate at the baby’s presence for this reason alone (along with all the other salient points above).

      It’s one thing if the business is baby-friendly, but since this is not allowed, I’d try to nip this in the bud.

      Reply
    2. Zoe Karvounopsina

      One of my colleagues a few days ago, said “I just don’t like babies! I mean, I’m okay with mine, my kid’s okay…”

      This is the same view my mother has always held.

      Reply
    3. ChrysantheMumsTheWord

      Just even telling my family that I didn’t want kids years ago got me labeled as a Bodash*

      Yup, my life choices = baby hater.

      *Bodash is a supposedly mythical creature that hates children and steals naughty ones.

      Reply
      1. General Ginger

        Some of my extended family label me Echidna for the same, though the mythological Echidna had a number of monster babies, so the logic doesn’t track — and actually, I’m not seeing the Bodash logic, either. Hates kids, therefore goes out of the way to end up with particularly naughty ones?

        Reply
    4. Moonsaults

      I come from a world that the breakroom is the least relaxing situation ever, so I think that may be where my confusion always comes from when these things bother others. I have to listen to other people talking or rustling around, I have to eat around people, which stresses me out even more on top of all that. So at least a baby is a distraction in some sense than some of the banter I have to hear from the adults otherwise >_>

      Reply
  18. Jade

    This happened to me a few times at a previous job. I complained to my manager that I would like to enjoy some quiet adult time after facing customers for hours. They told this employee and the rest of the employees that the break room is for employees only. It was glorious relief. Was the coworker upset? Don’t know and don’t care. It’s not a public space.

    Reply
  19. Charlotte, not NC

    Regarding sitting the baby on the table, I saw this a lot when I was a server. It’s not acceptable. You wouldn’t appreciate being told to feed your baby in the bathroom, and you shouldn’t put his diapered backside on a surface that other people eat from. All it takes is one poorly-cleaned-up accident for the entire office to come down with a stomach virus. It’s unsanitary and inconsiderate.

    Reply
    1. BananaPants

      What’s really unsanitary are colleagues who don’t wash their hands after using the toilet, then go right to the cafeteria to eat. Every time I see another coworker who doesn’t wash hands in the ladies’ room, I add another name to the “do not eat their potluck dishes or baked goods” list. The list is disturbingly long.

      Reply
    1. AMG

      Because they love their babies more than they have ever loved anything or anyone, and it’s new. Haven’t you ever heard people who have a new puppy, are planning a wedding, or a recent religious conversion just gush? They just excited. (Shrugs) I’m happy for those people and like to hear about their new, awesome thing.

      Reply
      1. spinachteeth

        I don’t know if Mike C. meant talking about the baby or talking AT the baby in the “Oos a widdle goo-goo? Yous a widdle goo-goo! Yes, you are. Yous a widdle baby goo-goo!”

        I can handle a little talking about the baby. I cannot handle any talking at a baby in this voice.

        Reply
              1. Lauren

                It’s rude when you force other people to listen to it because they are in a space where they belong and the baby does not but is.

                Reply
            1. Ineloquent

              Well, if it’s to an infant, infantilizing probably isn’t a huge issue…

              That being said, I’m not a huge fan either. How’s Tiny Baby going to learn how to properly pronounce words and string together sentences if the parents don’t set a good example? It’s got to make life so much harder later on.

              Reply
              1. dawbs

                FWIW, the science doesn’t really seem to reflect that–there seems to be a lot that shows that the voices/pitches and nonsense and simplifying of sentences and things that people often seem to instinctively do around little ones is actually part of how they learn language.

                Doesn’t mean it’s not annoying to listen to, and doesn’t mean I don’t think that correct words and grammar (and, for pete’s sake, not ‘the voice’) aren’t important as a part of that, but the science doesn’t really bakc me up.
                If you google “infant directed speech”, Jesse Snedeker, Joy Geren and Carissa Shafto have some interesting research there.

                Reply
              2. LawBee

                “Well, if it’s to an infant, infantilizing probably isn’t a huge issue…”

                Ha.

                IIRC from my child psych classes MANY MANY years ago, there’s a theory that this type of talk is instinctive, and helps them tune into the conversation and learn. (This does not include just babbling at the baby, which parents do because it’s fun for them and makes baby laugh.)

                Reply
                1. Candi

                  And just to show you can find information to support two sides of anything…

                  A couple years ago now, I was reading an article that speaking in a normal, adult manner to babies was better for their cognitive and language development.

                  I know I can’t stand baby talk and never used it with my kids. But their high reading and comprehension scores probably have as much to do with the fact I’m a total bookworm, and passed it on to them. :)

      2. Whats In A Name

        I’m all for sharing your happiness. Just not in the form of “cubby-wubby-bubby-baby-belly-tubby” form, which I think Mike C. is referring to.

        Reply
          1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

            I live in a *super* dog-friendly city…my SO got so frustrated the other day after I stopped to talk to my fifth or sixth dog, and muttered, “do you have to stop for every G-D dog?!?!?!”

            My answer, of course, was “yes.”

            Reply
        1. Lora

          LOL I am the WORST about this. Even when some tough guy is on the sidewalk with his spiky-collared pit bull, trying to look ferocious, I feel compelled to squee “whoza cuuuute pupper? YOU’RE a cute pupper! Kisses! Kisses! Oh you are such a good pupper! Yes you are! Who wants an ear scritch? Oh that feels good doesn’t it! Yeah, ear scritches are the best!”

          Reply
          1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

            My neighbor joked that I turned his “guard dog into a wus,” because his large, well-trained german shepherd stops when he sees me and won’t continue his walk until I come over and give him scritches.

            He just about died the day his dog rolled over and asked for belly rubs!

            Reply
          2. AvonLady Barksdale

            Me out in the world, whether the dog is with me or not: “Oh, look, it’s a BUDDY! Hi bud! How ya doin? Oh my goodness, that’s a handsome buddy!”

            I’m lucky, my boyfriend is the same way. We travel together very well, because we understand that all dogs must be stopped for and properly greeted. We recently went to LA and he hated it (I already didn’t like it much) because no one responded when he greeted their dogs.

            Reply
          3. Lissa

            My thing is informing cats that they’re cats. I don’t know why I have to do this but any time I’m around any of my friends’ cats it’s “Hey Zelda…you’re a cat.” “Were you aware that you’re a kitty?”

            It’s a problem…

            Reply
    2. LAC

      Scientists theorize that people are biologically hard wired to baby talk because it helps babies learn language. The high pitched, lilting tone and repetition of baby talk helps babies figure out sentence structure and where one word ends and the other begins. Baby talk is found in pretty much every language and studies have shown that kids who hear baby talk pick up language faster. That being said, there’s no known benefit to the made up words portion of baby talk. So feel free to be annoyed by people using “iddle waddle,” “goochy goo” and other nonsense words. But the first part is actually a natural part of childhood development.

      Reply
    3. SarahTheEntwife

      It seems to be somewhat automatic for many people, and it has a lot of features that help babies acquire language more easily.

      (I don’t want to hear it at lunch for more than a minute or two either. But it’s linguistically fascinating!)

      Reply
    4. New Bee

      The old-school term is motherese (now child- or infant-directed speech). Studies are mixed (some show infants under 6 months prefer it and that it helps with grammar acquisition), but neither it nor speaking like an adult to a child is going to do any harm. It would be like nails on a chalkboard during lunch in an adult space, though.

      Reply
      1. GovWorker

        What about people who baby talk to their pets? And kiss them, and sleep with them, fleas and all? Methinks this baby hysteria is overdone. I have no pets, don’t like them but I admire cute puppies and kittens.

        Reply
        1. Panda Bandit

          Most pets don’t have fleas and any decent pet owner will get rid of fleas immediately if their pet has them.

          Reply
  20. KR

    I second the suggestion of finding another place to eat while the baby is there. If you have coworkers who are annoyed with the crowded break room too, you could suggest they come with you. It’ll hopefully be obvious to her and the babysitter (and maybe your supervisor) that people are avoiding the break room. Then again, I’m pretty non-confrontational and wouldn’t dream of asking her to move.

    Reply
  21. YouHaveBeenWarned

    OP, I feel for you here: this sucks. You have, what, 30 minutes or an hour of time to yourself every day at work, and having a baby there is definitely jarring and not conducive to unwinding. I say this as someone who loves babies, particularly my own. I would be pissed if this were me.

    My only consolation to you is this: right now this mom really misses her baby. Lots of moms feel that way at times when their babies are very young. However, most moms eventually reach a point where they appreciate that work offers them not only a time to use a different use of skills than perhaps they use at home with their children, but also a time when no one throws their food on the floor, no one needs to go potty in the middle of a cup of coffee, and no one requires that they sing the Hans part of of Love is an Open Door when all they really want to do is read Five Thirty Eight’s latest poll forecast for the love of god. This mom will get there. You will get your break room back.

    Reply
    1. Queen Anne of Cleves

      Agreed! I don’t see this lasting long term. The work day sometimes can’t come soon enough for me and I love my young daughter more than my heart can hold. This mom WILL get there.

      Reply
      1. Lissa

        I actually think that the OP was quite empathetic towards the new mom in the letter! I definitely got “I am sympathetic to this situation but it still frustrates me” vibes, which I think is legit. Sometimes being empathetic/seeing the other side doesn’t remove annoyance (though I wish it did, that would be great…I hate being annoyed by dumb things, as I am all the time…)

        Reply
  22. Aim away from face

    “I don’t want to … or come across as a baby-hating curmudgeon.”

    So? Who cares? You’re entitled to have whatever opinions you have, and be whatever you want to be.
    I’ll freely admit that I despise babies. If people don’t like that, too bad, so sad.

    Reply
    1. Kai

      Sure, you’re both entitled to the opinion, but that has nothing to do with how you present it to other people–particularly coworkers with whom you’d hope to keep up a pleasant relationship otherwise.

      Reply
    2. Anon for this

      While I agree with you, if you work with a lot of parents… If you aren’t already being put down for not having children, you’re screwed once you say you don’t like babies. Think about exactly what you want to say if you’re going to have to get along with people long-term.

      Reply
    3. GovWorker

      Civilized decent people care about other people. Despising babies sounds scary to me. Glad I don’t know you because I would respond to such a hateful remark directed toward any group of humans, and I would not care what you thought either.

      I enjoy AAM but I do not understand why rabid baby hate is so acceptable here. It’s a prejudice, and a form of othering, no matter how OK it is here. Suppose I said I hated kittens and puppies, I despise them even. How well would that go over here?

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I really don’t see “rabid baby hate” being prevalent here. With the exception of one or two comments, I mostly see people saying they don’t like being around babies, which is a different thing. Babies are loud, unpredictable, often messy, can be hard for some people to relate to, and behave in ways that other humans do not, and not everyone enjoys being around that, which is perfectly acceptable.

        Reply
        1. Candi

          I have two kids, and got paid to care for 3 months to 2 year olds, and I can completely understand why some people just don’t want to deal with them.

          As long as they’ll still do their damnedest to save a baby in danger, I don’t think it’s a big deal.

          Reply
  23. Anonymous Educator

    Can you ask your co-workers what they think? I mean, from an objective third-party perspective, I think this person is being way out of line, but it’s not just about what I think or what any of us not at your workplace think. You’ll come across as a curmudgeon or baby-hater only if you’re the only person at your workplace who has a problem with this.

    I wouldn’t confront her as a group, but I would consult with others casually to see what they think. If they’re all like “Oh, it’s totally adorable! I love having _____ cooing in the break room,” then you can bring it up, but you’re just going to look like a killjoy. But if others are like “Yeah, it’s annoying, but I don’t want to say anything,” then you can go ahead and say what everyone else is thinking.

    Reply
  24. Macedon

    I love dogs. I love babies. I love them in a social environment in my private time, not unsolicited in my work space. Unless the office has a very clear ‘we are proud of our flexibility in letting children/spouses/family’ come right over, and I signed up for that when I took the job, I don’t want regular infant visits.

    And putting a baby on a dining table is unacceptable.

    Reply
  25. East of Nowhere south of Lost

    Babies at work. Ugh. Part of me thinks if she’s that ‘needy’ for the baby, why is she working?

    Reply
    1. AMG

      I work for the pure elation of seeing someone else get an annual 8-figure bonus. Having a place to live and a nest egg for myself and my family actually means nothing to me in comparison.

      Reply
  26. Catabodua

    I suspect this will be something you can ignore and it will go away without you having to do anything.

    As the baby gets older and mom gets back into the swing of work, the visits will naturally decrease.

    Also, depending on what part of the US you are in, it’s highly likely that the visits will stop completely once cold weather hits.

    Reply
  27. Chantal

    I think a quiet talk with your supervisor is warranted, just to get a feel for the office norms. It doesn’t sound like she’s bringing the baby in that often, but I can see why you’re annoyed, and it does create a liability situation. If she could bring the baby to her office, or have lunch with him/her outside (if weather & climate permits), that’d probably be the best option. I say this as someone who has a 5 month old and would miss her terribly if I had to leave her all day at work – so thankful I get a year of mat leave in Canada.

    Reply
  28. NoLongerMsCleo

    I have an 11 month old so I understand how hard it is to go back to work after maternity leave. I understand how hard it is to be away from the baby, especially right after going back to work. Thankfully daycare is just down the street so I’m can go there and see her on my lunch break when I’m missing her.
    I don’t think a baby in the break room would really bother me too much, but the baby talk would drive me insane. I do not allow (as much as I can control it) people to talk to my kid that way. Baby talk is like nails on a chalkboard to me. It is NOT cute and it can actually be bad for their speech development.
    I would love if everyone loved my baby as much as I do, but I know they don’t and I do my very best to respect that.

    Reply
    1. CoffeeLover

      This is a little off topic, but I read a study about a year or so ago (too lazy to look for it now) saying that baby talk is actually an evolutionary thing and that it helps babies learn to speak faster.

      Reply
      1. NoLongerMsCleo

        I think the experts are constantly coming out with new opinions about things like this. The articles I’ve seen said it can delay speech. I’ve also had speech therapist friends say the same thing. I’m sure there are studies supporting both sides.
        I do talk to her in a soft tone but use real words (bottle instead of baba), but I don’t fault others who chose to do so. It’s their kid, they should do what they are comfortable with.

        Reply
  29. Christine

    There are approaches available that doesn’t come across as you being a curmudgeon. But I would be so disappointed if HR, Management or that the Safety Officer didn’t put a stop on it. I resent people that put me in the position of being the “bad guy” when they are in the wrong. That would color my response so I would be leery of saying anything. I hate confrontations, I would be tempted to tell the co-worker that this was an employee only area and see what they say. I may have to come across being one in that situation. I just do not want to see baby or child at lunch.

    Reply
    1. AMG

      I can see the OP being labeled as ‘that person’ no matter how it’s presented. I would probably think that, honestly. Maybe it’s worth picking your battles, and maybe it will subside as the baby gets older. I guess it depends on how big of a deal it is to you.

      Reply
  30. PK

    Yea, I’d be saying something to a supervisor. Break rooms are for employee breaks and a means for a quick recharge. I feel like it falls on the part of the parent to find an alternative place to eat and not the rest of the coworkers.

    Reply
  31. Jenna

    I think it is totally off-base to suggest that if the parent wants to visit the baby, she should do so alone, in her own office. New parents feel isolated enough, why do we always make baby-time and adult-time mutually exclusive? We can complain endlessly about the lack of parental leave in the US, but how about doing away with the culture
    that suggests that children are an inconvenience everywhere they go. It’d be nice if we could normalize their presence and just be whole people with children by our sides, rather than constantly obsessing about children only being in places that are “for children.”

    Reply
      1. Anon for this

        But if your child isn’t with you at all times, you’re not a whole person. :(

        I won’t have children for medical reasons, so I guess I don’t count as a whole woman.

        Reply
    1. KimberlyR

      I have 2 kids and I agree that I would like our culture to change to a more family-friendly one, but I see nothing wrong with treating babies as an inconvenience at work. They are an inconvenience at work. They cry or coo when you’re on the phone, which can be audible to the person on the other end of the phone. They have bodily functions that happen anywhere, anytime. People will stop doing work to play with, look at, hold the baby. Its just not necessary.

      I can see bringing your baby in a couple of times, as a meet the work family type thing. I’ve done that before. But I limited my visits to 10 min. or less and I only did it once or twice total, not per month.

      Reply
    2. LBK

      I don’t want children in the workplace any more than I want anyone else who doesn’t have good reason to be there – SOs, family members, pets, etc. Children in particular can be more irritating because they tend to struggle with the idea of being quiet, but I’m not thrilled by the presence of anyone in my office who’s not my coworker and don’t want those presences “normalized” just because you somehow read it as anti-child or whatever.

      Reply
    3. chocolate lover

      I think in this case, it’s about children being where they should not. And yes, there are some places where it’s not the norm, particularly at a job that doesn’t involve children, and in an employee break room where “technically” non employees aren’t allowed. I can sympathize with the mom missing her baby, but I think going to her office is reasonable. It really isn’t the mom’s place to insert her child onto her coworkers. I think the coworkers have just as much right to opt out of being around children in their employee break room, if not more, then the mother bringing her baby to the break room.

      Reply
    4. Anon for this

      Why is it that when one person has a child, everyone around them is given the responsibility of babysitting, hand-holding, and being endlessly patient?

      I want parents to get more leave and every other benefit that will help them raise their children, but helping you parent is not part of my job.

      Reply
      1. Isabel C.

        Thiiis. I like my friends’ kids: I’m glad to help out, I enjoy interacting, I think they’re adorable. Likewise my nephew. Cutest ever!

        Strangers’ or coworkers’ kids, not so much: I wish them well, I’d certainly intervene if they were about to walk into traffic, but otherwise? Nope, did not sign up for that.

        Reply
    5. Perse's Mom

      A. She has an office, she has email, presumably after many if these visits, she knows which coworkers want to see the baby. Email them to notify them about when the baby will be there. Problem solved.

      B. Children often ARE an inconvenience. Responsible parents can mitigate a lot of that by not taking their teething baby to a 9pm showing of an R rated movie, not letting their children run screaming around tables/throwing food at restaurants, not bringing their children to adult-only environments (be that a no-kids wedding or work on any day that isn’t a specific bring-your-kid-to-work day).

      Reply
    6. Rusty Shackelford

      There’s a big difference between “this workplace is not the appropriate place to play with your baby” and “babies should only be kept in baby places!”

      Reply
  32. vanBOOM

    I think the no family/friends rule about the break room should be followed, and I love reading AAM, but I almost always dread reading letters about working parents because of the working parent-shaming and negativity that ensues here. And I say that as someone who does not have children, who is not a “kid person”, and who is the only non-parent with very young children on my team.

    I mean, you can objectively make the case for how inconvenient the mother/baby/babysitter presence is without calling attention to the mother’s “silly” and “irritating” baby voice and mocking the fact that she misses her newborn child (“if she desperately needs to see him….no one else with young children….”). You can also consider the possibility that the mother may not be aware of the rule, that she forgot, or that she received special permission from someone without suggesting that she may be a self-centered parent.

    And all of that, for two 30-minute interruptions a month (or less than that, if the mother’s leave is akin to my co-worker’s recent 2-week parental leave)? Astounding.

    Reply
    1. Ellie H.

      I don’t think the letter writer comes off as unreasonably negative or mean-spirited nor did I perceive any general hostility toward parents or working parents. Personally, I think the fact that the coworker’s interactions with her baby during the lunch break period, in the common area, are disruptive to other colleagues eating lunch IS relevant, so it makes sense that the letter-writer described the nature of these episodes as prolonged interaction rather than a brief “let me introduce you/let anyone who’s interested say hi to my child” event.

      Overall my impression has been that commenters here are very sympathetic toward working parents as well as sympathetic to working non-parents.

      Reply
    2. working parent

      I also dread when coworker with kids questions pop up. The comments are so often completely without empathy. :(

      Reply
    3. New Bee

      +1 One thing I like about Alison’s responses (including this one) is they communicate that it’s OK to be annoyed/frustrated/fed up with a situation and still not let that dictate your response (like she calls out here that it might not be the hill to die on). And parenting is one of those subjects for which people are really invested in being right, which can come off as self-righteousness or judgment in written format.

      Reply
    4. LaurenB

      100% agreed. I would feel as strange to go to my boss to complain about my co-worker using baby talk in the break room as I would complaining about that guy with the loud laugh.

      Reply
    5. Engineer Girl

      The issue is that the parent is taking her problem (missing the baby) and turning it into the coworkers problem (having disruptions in the break room).
      The coworker is being selfish by forcing her wants (not needs) on to others.
      This isn’t about babies per se. It’s about coworkers violating the norms of a particular workplace and trying to play the sympathy card so they can get away with it.

      Reply
    6. No thanks

      Again, I’m totally late to the game. I think you and I have read a different AAM letter and a different set of comments, because nothing I’ve read has been as negative as your comment claims. A company’s off-limits, SHARED, meal-centered break room is no place for babies. End of story. That’s not up for debate. The question here is how to approach the not-aware-of-professional-norms mom regarding her somewhat selfish and clueless actions. I’d roll with something direct but I’m not into trying to soften the approach. Many people on here are much kinder and more sensitive to others’ feelings, but regardless of the tactic, this mom needs to be stopped. I really feel for her coworkers to be quite honest.

      Reply
      1. No thanks

        My comment was in response to the person claiming baby-shaming and other negative issues- my apologies for the random location I ended up in!!

        Reply
  33. Avoidance

    So per the majority of the AAM commentariat, babies at work are not okay, but Halloween costumes are a yes?

    I’m not saying I agree or disagree with either position, but it is a little bit amusing that people strongly defended dressing up at work as being perfectly work-appropriate and not at all disruptive for adults, but a baby in the break room for 5% of the lunch periods disrupts the peace and quiet at lunch that people are entitled to.

    Reply
        1. Crazy Canuck

          Halloween is once a year. Mom is bringing in baby once per month. Also, costumes may be visually distracting, but they are quiet. Babies are not quiet. Costumes also do not take space up in a crowded break room, but babies and babysitters do. I think this comparison is terrible.

          Reply
        2. Rusty Shackelford

          Distracting costumes shouldn’t be allowed. Personally, I’ve never come across a costume that would distract me if a coworker were wearing it, but I guess if it made noise, or had a smell, that would be distracting.

          Reply
    1. Aurion

      I’m really not sure where you’re going with this? Provided that the business can accommodate costumes (i.e. not a place where, say, PPE is required) and people aren’t forced into costumes (which unfortunately isn’t always the case), I don’t see the huge disruption.

      On the other hand, a baby in the breakroom can cry, can grab things, and inspire baby-talk which is annoying to a lot of people. Sure, you can have a baby who is simply napping in their mother’s lap and be completely non-disruptive, but that’s clearly not the case here. The OP states that the baby is touching things, inspires the baby talk, and the baby/babysitter takes up space in what is a small break room. All of that adds up to disruption.

      For what it’s worth, I don’t like babies at work or Halloween costumes, but at least in this letter, the disruptive factor is not equivalent between the two.

      Reply
    2. spinachteeth

      I wasn’t aware that most Halloween costumes made unexpected noise or shat themselves on the break room tables.

      Reply
        1. Aurion

          I’ve seen some incredible cosplay costumes that no doubt takes up a lot of space/make a lot of noise/other disruptive behaviour, but I don’t often see them at work. For one thing, those elaborate, intricate costumes take a lot of work to get into/out of, are not travel-friendly (i.e. the commute to work is difficult with them), and are not usually conducive to typical work tasks. I can’t imagine people wearing wings with a four-foot wingspan could fit in their computer chairs all that well, or be comfortable sitting down for hours on their foam-padded costumes.

          Reply
          1. LBK

            Ha – I was just being glib, not seriously suggesting that people would show up to work in their full Sephiroth regalia :)

            Reply
            1. Aurion

              Sorry, my reading comprehension is pretty poor today. Haven’t had my tea. :)

              On another note, I have really got to finish that game…(or at least watch the playthrough. I’m missing so many references)

              Reply
    3. LBK

      What a weird false equivalence. The two have almost nothing in common aside from being things that are atypical in the workplace.

      Reply
    4. Natalie

      I’m not sure the majority here are opposed to the mere sight of a baby at work ever. The issue is frequency. In my experience, even the most ardently anti-baby commenters accept that a new parent will probably bring their baby to work once, because other people want to see it. But once a year, like Halloween, is a lot different than once every few weeks.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this

        +1

        I am I guess on the “anti-baby” side here, but I have been fine with my coworkers bringing babies and children to work, even when it was frequent. They were quiet and they didn’t interrupt anyone’s work or break time.

        My problem with this specific story is that Baby Time is being foisted upon people who don’t want it.

        Reply
  34. Elle

    My daughter’s sitter was five minutes from where I worked, but the sitter discouraged my coming to see her at lunch. She said it would be confusing to my daughter. I thought about it, and she was right. Also, when babies get to be about 9 months old, they start to develop some separation anxiety, so to have to separate twice from my daughter in one day would have been hell. So maybe this situation will end itself.

    Reply
  35. Crazy Canuck

    Well, up here in Canada the mother gets 15 weeks maternal leave, and then there is 35 weeks of parental leave that can be used by either parent. That would probably explain why I’ve never seen a parent bring their baby in to work other than a meet and greet type of thing. You have my sympathy OP, I’d be the jerk who would say in a very loud voice the next time it happens, “Why are you bringing your baby and babysitter into an employee-only area?” Not exactly subtle, but I bet it would solve the issue.

    I also need a t-shirt with baby-hating curmudgeon written on it, just in case this happens in the future.

    Reply
  36. kzkz

    I would never in a million years do this myself (as a mom of a two-year-old) but I personally don’t see it as a big deal if it’s once a month or so (every week would be a different matter). Obviously people here disagree and that’s totally valid, but if you want a public opinion poll, my vote would be just to let her do it.

    Reply
    1. Hannah

      My vote would also be that it’s fine. I don’t have kids. I just don’t get what the big deal is, since it’s the break room, not a work area. The baby voice sounds annoying, but lots of other coworkers are annoying and they’re still allowed to exist in the break room, so that alone doesn’t seem like enough of a criteria. I also don’t think babies are disgusting germ cesspools that shouldn’t be able to come in contact with a table, I don’t get that part at all.

      I think companies that allow for work life balance are likely to attract high performers with kids. Part of that is not having to pretend you don’t have children whose care you are balancing with your work responsibilities.

      If the real issue is that this particular office break room is just too small to accommodate everyone, nevermind guests, I would just come at it from that angle.

      Reply
      1. Whats In A Name

        This is why I just avoid breakrooms: lots of other coworkers are annoying and they’re still allowed to exist in the break room

        Reply
        1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

          Now I want to put up stanchions and velvet rope and tell certain coworkers they are not on the breakroom list :)

          Reply
      2. LBK

        I think the difference is that the coworkers have better reason to be there, given that it’s their workplace as well. The baby is not an employee – and even if you want to argue that the mother’s claim to be their extends to her baby, it definitely doesn’t extend to the babysitter, who really shouldn’t be on private company property when there’s explicit rules saying only employees can enter the breakroom.

        Reply
        1. Aurion

          Well said. I’d argue that the mother’s claim to be there does not extend to the baby, but fully agreed that it definitely doesn’t extend to the babysitter.

          Reply
      3. spinachteeth

        But a baby is not a coworker. I put up with annoying coworkers because my company hired them. Why should I also have to put up with an annoying baby if he’s not actually part of the company? I’m all for work/life balance, but I prefer to think of it as “you come here and work and we balance that work so that you can go home and live”.

        Reply
      4. iseeshiny

        Thanks for this. As someone who cried actual tears every time I dropped my infant off at daycare for the first week, I thought I was being overly biased wondering why this is such a big deal. Something vaguely irritating that happens once or twice a month would just not bug me that much. Once or twice a month a group of eight people take over our break room to stuff mailers for the entire day and talk really loudly. It’s annoying, but it’s not something I stew about. I realize these things are subjective but this seems like a lot of emotional energy wasted over something that doesn’t seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

        Reply
        1. MV

          The difference is those people work there, the baby does not. Once or twice a month is way too many times to be uncomfortable in your break room because of a non-employees use of it.

          Reply
          1. iseeshiny

            I appreciate the difference, but I’m still confused at the amount of outrage.

            (And I still think it’s arguable that it is, in fact, an employee using the break room – she’s the one who brought the baby and sitter in, they didn’t just wander in off the street to hang out.)

            Reply
            1. Aurion

              I’m baffled by this train of thought. Just because the employee brought the baby and sitter in doesn’t mean they become extensions of the employee and thus are privy to the breakroom and other employee amenities. I can’t bring my parent in to work as an extension of myself (I am assuming that with a babysitter the baby isn’t dependent on the mother for care).

              I mean, in the grand scheme of things it’s only 30 minutes at a time and a dining table (and I’d feel a lot less strongly if these visits were spaced out further apart). If everyone was cool with making the exception for this baby and babysitter, whatever. But clearly not everyone is comfortable with it, and as such I think the feelings of the employees should take precedence since these visitors are against company policy.

              Reply
            2. MV

              I actually wonder if you DO appreciate the difference? The baby and babysitter are with the employee and did not wander off of the street for sure. But THEY do not actually work there. If it were just an employee (the mother) using the room, then no problem, maybe she’s doing the baby talk on the phone to the baby and it’s annoying, but she works there. so she is using the employee break room for an employee to take a break. But it’s an employee + her guests and her guests are making at least one actual employee uncomfortable in the employee break room. In this case its not just an employee taking a break. They aren’t just an extension of the women but are separate people.

              Reply
            3. LBK

              I should think it goes without saying that random people off the street can’t use the room – the purpose of making the break room explicitly employees-only is to specify that employees can’t bring others into it. If bringing someone else in were considered an employee “using the room” then it would defeat the purpose of it being employees-only.

              Reply
            4. iseeshiny

              I get what you all are saying, and it’s entirely possible that it’s just a case of my calibration of office norms is off, but in my place of work now and the last one I was in it is totally normal to have partners stop by and eat lunch together in the breakroom every once in a while, or kids on snow days to eat lunch with their parent rather than staying closeted in the parent’s office. It just isn’t weird to me at all. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

              Reply
              1. LBK

                The OP pretty explicitly says that’s not the norm in her office and that there’s actually a policy saying non-employees aren’t allowed in the break room.

                Reply
              2. Moonsaults

                I think that this has to do with each person’s expectations of an office and the office cultures involved. I’ve never worked anywhere that was “employees only” anywhere, so it doesn’t phase me at all if someone has their family/friends/whatever dropping by at break/lunchtimes.

                Reply
              3. AdminRalph

                I want to know why people feel hanging out with their baby in their office is “closeted” or isolating. If you have a private office with a door that is the perfect scenario in my mind whereas if Mom worked in an open office area I could see why she would choose the breakroom for privacy and to be polite. You can typically invite people into your office though in many places not the same with break rooms.

                Reply
      1. LBK

        Who’s dying on a hill? There’s nothing in the letter to suggest this will be that big of a struggle to deal with.

        Reply
      2. Violet Fox

        Truthfully for me at least the thought of having poopy diaper butt on the tables I eat lunch on would gross me out and make me unable to use the lunch room. I also really am not a kids/babies person (don’t have any), and would not want them around when I am trying to eat lunch and decompress from my morning at work.

        This is something very worth politely speaking up about.

        Reply
      3. Lissa

        I think that’s partly why the LW wrote in, though…to get advice about whether or not it was a good idea to bring up at all. I don’t really see any hill to die on here — I might if it was a situation like, oh, the letter writer had gone to the supervisors who said “let the baby stay” and s/he was writing AAM to get advice on how to insist, etc, but this was really more of a “this annoys me, who’s in the right” type of query…

        Reply
  37. ZuKeeper

    Having to share a break room with coworkers is exactly why I went home for lunch every day, haha. I say if she shows up with the baby again and the weather is nice, go eat outside. No baby talk and you get some fresh air.

    Reply
  38. DefAnon for this

    I can tell I’m wading into a lot of resistance here but I will venture to provide a counter perspective. I started a new job six weeks after my first child was born. I wanted to breastfeed and arranged with my new office to have my partner and child come into the office every day (yes, every day) so that I could do so on my lunch break. This was cleared with HR, the office manager, and my supervisor. Our office prides itself in being “family friendly” and anyone is welcome to have friends or family member meet them for lunch. A few people have their partners come in on a regular basis. Most of my coworkers’ children are older but some stop by occasionally to visit. Until my child was probably 8 months old, we spent the majority of our time in my office with the door closed. As the baby got older and my coworkers became more familiar, we were frequently invited to join my colleagues at the lunch table and did so on a regular basis until the baby turned one. I then cut his visits back to once per week and frequently had colleagues ask why the baby wasn’t coming in on a regular basis because they missed him. I get that not everyone is a baby person and I totally respect that. I imagine I have coworkers who weren’t thrilled with our set up but no one was anything but welcoming. We don’t really talk baby talk to our child, we carried on adult conversations with the people at the table and I made sure to clean up after the baby if he was at the table. Our lunch room is a pretty basic kitchen where the same few people eat lunch at the same time everyday, several other people bustle through to use the microwave or grab something from the fridge, no one really seems to seek solace or relaxation there so I’m not sure that having a baby around really changed the atmosphere too much. This is obviously different from OP’s situation where friends and family are NOT supposed to be in the back of the facility but I think it’s worth considering that this can and and does work in certain environments.

    Reply
    1. OlympiasEpiriot

      This is completely different. And, the OP didn’t mention breastfeeding at all. If she had, I’d be much less inclined to say ‘get the baby out’.

      Reply
      1. LizM

        I would be careful with that line of reasoning – a lot of women want to breastfeed and cannot, and telling a woman that it’s okay to have her child in the office because she breastfeeds but a woman who formula feeds (or a father, for that matter) cannot has the potential to be extremely hurtful.

        I’m sure you didn’t intend it that way, but I could easily see the conversation going that way. Babies should be allowed, or not allowed, regardless of breastfeeding.

        Reply
    2. Annonymouse

      It sounds like a different situation though:

      1) you negotiated with your bosses that your baby could come to the office

      2) your bosses are aware of what’s going on

      3) non employees are allowed on site

      4) you kept your baby in your office until they were older

      5) you didn’t disrupt the break room with constant baby talk

      6) it sounds like at OPs work the break room is where you go to take a break and unwind for most employees.
      (I’m imagining a warehouse / factory kind of set up. So some people have offices but most workers don’t. Also explains the whole “no non employees allowed”)

      Yours sounds like people have many options about where to eat so could avoid you if they wanted.

      So while I’m glad things worked out for you and sympathetic to parents (I’m about to become one myself) I get where OP is coming from and on their side.

      Babies and work can go together in some environments as you’ve proven (and I’m lucky enough to work somewhere that is flexible) but OPs clearly isn’t one.

      Reply
  39. Kate

    This would irritate me somewhat, but I couldn’t help wondering whether this new mother was breastfeeding and only pumping occasionally. Is it possible she’s using the break room because it’s the most convenient place available to feed the baby?

    Reply
  40. OG OM

    I don’t think it is weird that the mom asks the babysitter to bring by the kid. I think that is reasonably common. However, most people meet the babysitter at a local playground or coffee shop, or even just in the car.

    Reply
  41. nonymous

    I’m surprised that no one has brought up the fact that, as annoying and dirty as some of us may find experience of a baby visiting, it pales in comparison to what I imagine people struggling with fertility issues experience. OP, certainly do ask from a perspective of rules clarification, but please also pose the inquiry as one where the break room provides a respite for all workers (not just curmudgeons!).

    Perhaps there is a secondary eating space that can be designated a quiet/loud area? I bet this would be useful for other situations (e.g. birthdays, sports-madness, politicking, etc) as well.

    Reply
    1. Anon for This Post

      I can’t have children, but I realize that the vast majority of people my age ARE going to have children. I don’t think employers need to base their policies on whose feelings might be hurt. Eliminating everything that might hurt someone’s feelings does nothing to help people improve their coping skills. Your employer may ban babies, but you’re (general you, not you in particular) still going to see them in grocery stores, at the mall, at the movies, and a hundred other places. If people don’t want babies at work, or there are safety/security issues, then don’t let babies come to the office. But making a policy because someone’s feelings might be hurt is not the way to go.

      Reply
      1. cataloger

        Agreed. It’s nice that you’re thinking of us, but it probably sets a weird precedent.

        While I was still off work after a loss, I burst into tears at a Waffle House because somebody at the next table had a tiny baby. They were holding it up like that scene in The Lion King so it could look around the restaurant. I was grateful to still have another week off at that point. I much prefer having more flexibility / time off to recover than a mandated baby-free workplace.

        Reply
  42. Seriously

    Wow, some of these comments are really disappointing. The OPs issue is that having the baby in the break-room is annoying and NOT that the mother misses her baby. Parents do often times miss their babies while they are at work. It is not unusual and it doesn’t mean that the mother should stay home and not have a job. She may work because she enjoys it or she may work because she needs to put food on the table. Mothers should not be judged for working or missing their babies. If the OP really cannot handle the baby’s visits to the break-room, by all means she should speak up, but try to do it with kindness.

    Reply
    1. LBK

      I can’t see anywhere that people are judging the mother for working or suggesting she shouldn’t if she misses her baby? This seems like projecting an assumed response where it’s not actually being said.

      Reply
        1. LBK

          Okay, I see one comment like that with several responses disagreeing. Still not worthy of the indignation you’re espousing here.

          Reply
      1. LBK

        Personally, what grates me about the way this is outlined is that it doesn’t seem like the mother has any concern for the preferences of her coworkers (or for the office policies she’s violating). I’d feel different if she seemed to have acknowledged that people like the OP might not love having a baby in the office; yes, having flexibility and being accommodating is great, but it’s still polite to recognize when that flexibility might come at a cost to others.

        I also think this is an issue that occurs frequently with new parents in particular who are so enamored of their child that they just can’t fathom that others don’t want anything to do with babies, and that blindness is particularly annoying for those of us who don’t like being around children, especially because there isn’t really anything you can do about it. It’s not socially acceptable to tell a parent to their face that you don’t want to be around their kid.

        Reply
        1. AMG

          I guess it does seem unreasonable to me that 20-30 minutes once a month would be problematic for someone. The baby isn’t stabbing anyone, lighting things on fire, or hurting anyone. She’s just eating and talking to him/her. Granted, I love babies but what’s the real harm?

          Reply
          1. LBK

            Oh c’mon now, something doesn’t have to be imminently dangerous or physically harmful to be something you’d prefer wouldn’t happen. If that were the standard then half of the letters on AAM could be responded to with “get over it” – if we’re willing to take burping or nail clipping seriously as an issue to be discussed when realistically they’re also just minor annoyances, I don’t see why this should get a pass.

            Reply
          2. Ineloquent

            True. I bet lots of people are every bit as annoyed about what adult coworkers do in their lunch rooms. Comparatively, a baby once or twice a month may be way less disruptive than Tina’s leftover fish microwaving, Bob and Jerry’s political lunch time debates, the accounting department’s book club that hogs all the seats, or the fact that someone always burns popcorn or sticks an entire flat of water in the fridge leaving no room for actual lunches. People do annoying things. OP gets to decide what to do about it of course, but I bet a lot of people in her office would give her the stink eye for being so grouchy over a new mom bonding with her baby when she can squeeze in a few minutes.

            Reply
          3. AMG

            I guess it’s just personal preference then. I see a baby hanging out as way less annoying then anything mentioned in these examples. Especially naked coworker lunches.

            Reply
            1. LBK

              I think you mentioned in another comment that you have kids of your own, so I think your sense of how annoying they are is probably going to be calibrated differently – you’re probably less bothered by a lot of the behaviors that grate on other people. My ears are not yet accustomed to baby screams.

              Reply
            2. TL -

              Naked coworker lunches would bother me at about the same level as baby lunches. I’m not a fan and I really don’t like babies crying ( Doesn’t have to be incessant; they just have to cry.)

              That being said, I love toddlers, so I would be happy to entertain your screaming, hyperactive two year old during lunch. (Though they also do not belong at the workplace.)

              Reply
        2. Seriously

          Sure, it might not occur to her that someone may not care to be around her baby. However, I don’t think anyone needs to tell her that they don’t want to be around her baby. If this were one of my employees and I needed to deliver the message I would just say something like “I wanted to let you know that we are not able to allow non-employees in the break-room because (limited space, insurance liability reasons, safety concerns, to be respectful of our co-workers who are taking their breaks…etc…). So unfortunately we do need to ask you not to bring visitors back to the break-room for lunch any longer”… and then suggest an alternative if it is available such as an unused office or conference room.

          Reply
          1. PK

            However, folks don’t want to be around a baby and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. There’s no reason for a parent to take that personally.

            Reply
            1. Seriously

              Yes, you are right. People are allowed to dislike children and thatch fine, but with this particular issue, I am making the assumption here that the OP would rather not cause friction between herself and the co-worker if she doesn’t need to. Taking a softer approach would probably be best here… of course that is just my opinion. I like to try and go with the direct-yet-kind approach when possible. I don’t have any children myself, but I can imagine that being away from a baby all day can be hard for some parents and if the OP approaches this with a problem-solving attitude and some sympathy, I think that there better results. I think that some people who are making comments here are making the assumption that the mother doesn’t care that she is bothering people… but I think that it is also entirely possible that she doesn’t realize that there is a policy in place and/or doesn’t realize that having the baby there is annoying some of her co-workers. If I was doing something that bothered my co-workers, I would much rather someone just let me know in a kind way rather than sit there and stew about it for ages and never say anything.

              Reply
  43. Cristina in England

    I looooove babies but once every other week seems like an awful lot. Granted, maternity leave here is typically 6months to a year, so a really young baby would only generally be brought in with a parent during the leave period.

    I can’t imagine what it feels like to leave your tiny baby all day (those new baby hormones are serious business) so I have a lot of compassion for the mother but at the same time, seriously, she has overstepped.

    Reply
    1. Cristina in England

      I feel like I was a bit harsh. I am sure the mother isn’t thrilled to see her baby in the break room. Is there an issue about not having food in her office so she has to eat and see her baby at the same time?
      Maybe she can get a little baby mat for her office and the baby can have a little wiggle and play in there.

      Reply
      1. Seriously

        I’m not sure about having food in her office (that might be a possibility)… she may just think that her co-workers enjoy seeing her baby and some of them probably do. I imagine it just hasn’t occurred to her that it might be annoying to some of them. Someone should just kindly let her know about the rule about no non- employees being allowed in the break area and maybe suggest an alternative area for short visits. Companies do need to provide a private area for mothers to nurse so there does have to be somewhere in the building where she could hang out with her baby. I just hate some of these comments judging this mom for missing her baby and judging her for having a job.

        Reply
  44. NW Mossy

    As a new mom myself, these types of letters are why I keep a very tight lid on mentioning my kids at work. I have pictures in my cube in a mostly-out-of-sight location that I will share if someone specifically inquires, but otherwise, I try pretty hard to make sure that most people I work with aren’t aware that they exist. It’s a little tough right now because most of the people I work with could see my pregnancy and/or knew I was out on maternity leave, but over time, the intent is for my colleagues to be able to forget that happened if they so choose.

    My older child (who’s 5) has been in my office only once during working hours, and it’s because she was specifically invited to attend a social function (baby shower for the new one). The younger one has never been, and likely never will barring an absolute disaster of some kind. I have a few colleagues that seem weirdly disappointed by this, but I’m sure that many more would be horrified to see a baby at work, so I’ll defer to the majority.

    Reply
  45. Don't comment often

    I am a 31 year old married female and I too am a “baby-hating curmudgeon” or at least I have a complete intolerance to children and their traits when I do not choose to be in situations where I expect to find them. I respect them as little human beings, but if I’m at work where it’s generally understood that there will be no screaming, crying, bodily fluids, or the accompanying sounds from the parent(s), then it infuriates me.

    My question is why should OP and her coworkers have to make other arrangements or go out of their way to accommodate the one (and I assume, only) person that thinks her baby makes her special? We all can speculate about why she can or cannot have the baby in her own office, but I believe that suggesting that OP goes out to lunch or takes lunch in any other location is unreasonable. It would be different if it’s simply another coworker she can’t stand being around – since they have the same rights to be in that space.

    I agree with the posters that suggest that the new momma is the one that needs to adjust (or continue adjusting) and accept that this is her new way of life – making concessions for your children.

    Reply
    1. Ellie H.

      Same. I would be too put off to eat lunch or even spend any time in the break room with a baby there and resentful that I had to eat at my desk rather than the person who is engaging in the special circumstances having to eat at her desk (IF I were someone who regularly ate in the break room, which this OP is). It’s just not fair – all employees have a right to be in the space, guests do not. It seems like non-disruptive guests wouldn’t be a big issue and people would be welcome to be chill about it as they saw fit. But this particular guest (the baby) is disruptive to at least one coworker, and it seems like a situation many of us would find disruptive too (although many of us also wouldn’t). When it becomes disruptive, the fact of guests not having a right to be in the space should take precedence.

      I totally get that you put up with mildly disruptive, occasional behavior for the sake of harmonious relations with others and pro-social motivations, being a kind person, etc. But when one thing is disruptive, seems to be happening in a pattern, and is also against company policy, it seems completely fair to simply ask if she can spend time with her baby in her own office rather than in the common room where family/friends aren’t supposed to be anyway.

      Reply
      1. Emmbee

        Oh, for crying out loud, we get it. You hate babies. But you’re assuming an awful lot about the situation here that we really don’t know the answers to.

        Reply
        1. Aurion

          Dial it back, would you? Ellie H. didn’t assume anything that wasn’t already in the letter. The disruptiveness of the baby and their presence (accompanying babysitter, baby talk, touching things, sitting on the table, taking up space in a small break room, and against company policy) were from the OP.

          Reply
        2. MJH

          It always shocks me how many people in these threads say they hate and despise babies. Babies are human people. They are developmentally different than adults, they all have their own personalities, but they are part of society and part of humanity. Despising them?

          Reply
            1. MJH

              My original comment is in moderation because it contains a link to the comment, but you can do a CTRL+F search for the word despise and you’ll find it pretty quickly.

              Reply
            2. Faith

              Aim away from face
              October 17, 2016 at 12:06 pm
              “ I’ll freely admit that I despise babies. If people don’t like that, too bad, so sad.

              Reply
          1. Aurion

            There has been one comment saying “I despise babies” and all other mentions of the word “hate” has been from accusations along the lines of “you hate babies”, or people warning that the OP would be seen as a “baby-hater”. Stating (justified) annoyance at babies’ behaviour does not make one a hater.

            Reply
              1. Aurion

                I freely admit that I’m not a parent nor do I plan to be one so I am biased, but there are parents who are professing the same annoyance at the situation that non-parents are. Accusations of baby-hating are rather beyond the pale here.

                Reply
                1. Violet Fox

                  A lot of it feels more like a time and place issue. The break-room durning lunch is not the where the OP should be seeing her baby. If she is having her baby vist and they use the break room (even though the OP says that guests are not supposed to be there), durning when everyone is is trying to eat lunch and hold conversations should not be when.

            1. MJH

              There is more than one comment professing a strong dislike or hatred of babies and children. As there is every time this topic comes up on AAM.

              Reply
              1. MJH

                And, I should add, plenty of ridiculous talk about how babies operate. Like, it might not be “oh, I hate babies!” but a diapered baby bottom is not going to contaminate your table, a 6-month-old is not going to cry the entire time she’s visiting, etc. It’s not just text, but the “babies are gross and weird” subtext.

                Reply
                1. spinachteeth

                  A dry, diapered bottom, no. But if the baby has an explosive poo? That’s been known to happen, and I certainly wouldn’t enjoy sitting at the other end of the table eating my salad and seeing that happen. And a baby might not cry for the whole visit, but even five minutes of that scream-cry thing babies do would be enough to rattle me for the rest of the day (there are mornings I hear it on the subway before work and I am on edge for the rest of the day). These are totally normal baby things, and if I was visiting someone at their home to spend time with them and their baby, I’d be ready for it. But at work? I am not prepared to deal with it at work. Part of the reason I like my work is that there are no babies or small children here.

                2. Recruit-o-rama

                  It’s quite sad really but it is socially acceptable to dislike an entire group of human beings based on age. It’s not just here. Babies and children have some annoying characteristics for sure, I’m a parent, I could go into great detail regarding the things they do that are annoying. Can you imagine if people said “I despise all old people”. The outrage would be enormous (and justified) but it is somehow ok because it is socially acceptable when it is said about children and babies. Based on experience, you won’t get anywhere with this observation though so just know that you’re not the only one who noticed. For me personally, when someone (of any age) is annoying me, I distract myself by trying to think of something about them that I like (nice hair, nice shoes, etc..) for strangers or (always meets deadlines) for a co-worker…something along those lines.

                3. LBK

                  People may be exaggerating how annoying some babies can be, but to act as if it’s a rare occurrence for a baby to be screaming inconsolably in public is a little ridiculous – maybe you just don’t hear it anymore if you’re a parent? I’m not a fan of any person who can’t follow the direction to not scream in public, which pretty much only applies to babies and drunk people.

                4. Alienor

                  It is a little odd to me that people who dislike babies view them as bombs that are about to go off at any minute. Unless they’re actively ill or have some sort of other medical issue, babies don’t projectile vomit or have explosive diarrhea all day long. If someone doesn’t want to hold a baby, that’s fine (and tbh, when my kid was a baby, I wouldn’t have wanted someone who didn’t like babies to hold her anyway), but it’s a bit extreme to behave as if the baby is going to turn into the little girl from The Exorcist and spew bodily fluids across the room.

                5. Spargle

                  idk about babies needing to be ill to have explosive poos. Ask me about what happened at Office Depot one day with a perfectly healthy kid.

                  Some people like kids. Some don’t. Some people like the elderly. Some don’t. I personally am not super fond of college students en masse, and I am also not fond of kids between 11-13. I am a Baby Whisperer, though. Whatever. This particular child does not belong in this particular workspace per office norms.

              2. Aurion

                I see plenty of comments professing a strong dislike of babies in the office, and I count myself among them. I see very few comments stating a strong dislike of babies and children, period (and only one mention of despise). There really isn’t that many declarations of hatred as you think.

                Reply
              3. LBK

                So? People are allowed to have preferences. I don’t get why babies are one where we’re apparently supposed to unilaterally agree that they’re great. There’s been plenty of people talking about how they don’t like dogs on letters about dog-friendly offices and no one seems to feel the need to chastise and defend the dogs – what’s with the judgment about people who don’t like kids?

                Reply
              4. Ask a Manager Post author

                For what it’s worth, most people saying they don’t like kids mean “I don’t like being around kids,” not “I have malice toward children and wish them ill.”

                Reply
                1. LBK

                  That’s a good distinction. When I say I don’t like kids, I’m not saying I’m going to be nasty to one if they’re around, just that if I had the choice, I’d prefer not to be around them. It’s like saying I don’t like strawberry ice cream; I don’t want to destroy all the strawberry ice cream in the world, but if I have a choice between it and chocolate, I’m gonna go with chocolate.

              5. Lauren

                Some of us do dislike, loathe or even despise them. So sue us. I don’t like children and babies and never have. My dislike has had nothing to do with any particular experience; I simply do not like them.

                It’s not recognizing they are human as well; it’s just that we dislike those ages.

                Reply
                1. LaurenB

                  But that would be a pretty horrifying statement to make about the elderly, you must recognize.

                  How old are you? I happen to hate all people of your age, and will not tolerate them being around me when it’s not a direct requirement of the terms of my employment. So sue me.

          2. PK

            What’s wrong with not liking/despising/hating babies? I think you are exaggerating the extent of it here but I’m seriously asking. Yes, they are little people but you don’t have to like every person and nobody expects that. Why is this any different?

            Reply
            1. RJ

              Not for necessarily this discussion – but it does seem weird that to be OK the idea that disliking/hating/whatever a whole group a people is allowable because they are of a certain age.

              Reply
                1. Recruit-o-rama

                  I think it’s a histronic over reaction to the more old fashioned and sexist notion that all women should want to have children. I respect every person’s reproductive choice and I think it is totally legitimate to not want to have children or to want to have children for any reason at all. I have to admit that I don’t really respect people who lump entire groups of human beings into a group that they “despise”. It’s sort of hostile. I can understand not understanding or wanting to spend time with children or babies, I don’t understand “hating” them. It’s weird.

              1. PK

                I think it’s less about their age itself and more about their behavior at that age. If babies were just little miniature adults who didn’t scream or poop themselves randomly, folks would have less of an issue I think. For me personally, the sound of a screaming child puts me on edge for long after the scream has already ended. Doesn’t matter whether it’s public or private. In turn, I rarely want to be around babies because they inevitably (and understandably) cry. That’s just the reality of a baby. I don’t expect parents to keep their kids sequestered at home because of my issue but I do think they shouldn’t be in particular social situations either. There has to be a middle ground somewhere.

                Reply
                1. AnonEMoose

                  It’s definitely about behavior, for me. I’m actually fairly good with babies – they tend to fall asleep when handed to me. (I remember one friend, who was a new parent at the time, looking at his infant son peacefully sleeping on me, and saying to me “So, what are you doing at 3 am?”).

                  But I’m definitely a “small doses” person when it comes to small children. I don’t do well with high-pitched shrieking, and my patience for what is fairly typical behavior for toddlers is a bit limited. Although I’m ok reading stories and stuff like that. I’m just happy to go home to my nice quiet cats afterwards! Older kids, who can have a conversation, play board games, that sort of thing, it becomes much more about their personalities and behavior.

        3. Mena

          Woa, Emmbee. Ellie H. says absolutely zero about hating babies. Funny that you’re accusing Ellie H. of making assumptions …

          Reply
          1. Ellie H.

            To be fair, I did comment above that I dislike babies (as it happens, I really like kids in general – although I don’t have any of my own, but would like to – I actually worked in an after school program with kindergarteners for a while. It’s just the specific age range that I really don’t enjoy being around) and I particularly sympathize because I can imagine feeling exactly the same as the OP. But the above is just my opinion on the situation as described.

            Reply
  46. Michele

    I think it’s also the fact that the babysitter joins them in the lunch room that makes it awkward. Technically, she shouldn’t be there.

    Reply
      1. Natalie

        Which is sort of funny, because usually the complaint in these types of situations is that the parent is watching their child & not working, not watching their child and letting them get into all kind of crap, or expects their co-worker to watch their child. LW’s co-worker covered all the child-watching issues but maybe inadvertently made it worse.

        Reply
  47. sssssssss

    I haven’t read all the comments. I wouldn’t mind the baby but if the room is hard to access by the public and in principle only staff should be in the room, this will eventually open a precedent to others thinking they can bring in friends and family too.

    Instead of bringing the baby to the office, why doesn’t she meet the sitter and the baby at a nearby park (if that’s possible)?

    I understand missing the baby…but it’s the office, a professional work environment even during lunch and if the office culture is not a child-friendly one, it doesn’t belong there.

    Reply
  48. Student

    Depending on the details of your workplace, having the babysitter in an employee-only area unauthorized could be a genuine problem worth mentioning to a supervisor (and the baby may be an issue as well). Sometimes there are legal, regulatory, and/or insurance-related reasons for keeping non-employees out of restricted areas, rather than just an employer rule.

    In a retail environment, for example, there may be liability issues with having a baby in the employee area, or insurance issues (theft possibilities) with having the baby-sitter there. Frankly, having a baby taking up everyone’s attention is a great cover for the baby-sitter to go steal things, and using a baby as a prop for a theft is a common tactic – though usually it’s to stash stolen items in the baby’s stroller/blankets/etc. I don’t think that’s what’s happening here, from your description, but it is one of the reasons that stores and businesses with valuables have rules restricting access to employees only in some areas.

    Reply
  49. Mena

    Let’s set aside that this is a baby (and remember that it isn’t about the baby, it is about an employee’s choices and their impact on co-workers).

    It isn’t reasonable or acceptable if someone had her mother/boyfriend/dog/father/neighbor/niece/grandmother/hamster/parish clergyperson (pick one!) visiting in employee-only space 6 times in 3 months. It is disrupting natural team-building and employees’ break times. She may legitimately miss the child, in which case she should step out to visit during lunch time rather than assuming the visit is welcomed by all. And she may be seeking attention through the child (it is clearly making her the center of attention, one way or another, when her visitors disrupt others). Perhaps this is a combination of the two but regardless, management needs to shut this down so employees can go back to enjoying a bit of casual time with their workmates.

    Reply
  50. Faith

    I totally understand the sentiment of missing your child while adjusting to your “new normal” routine of being a working mother. And it’s totally ok for you to spend some time with your kid if your schedule allows for that. However, that time should be spent either on our kid’s or on neutral territory – i.e. swing by their daycare center or have the nanny bring the baby to the park. You do not impose your offspring on your coworkers.

    One a completely unrelated note – it’s always so shocking to me how many people use words “hate” or “despise” when it comes to babies. Makes me wonder if these people would freely admit that they “hate” or “despise” elderly people, who may have dementia or incontinence? What about people with disabilities? What makes it ok to “despise” this particular group of people with limited abilities?

    Reply
    1. Lora

      My general rule is that if they are in my family, I am allowed to say I hate them. Before my grandmother passed away, she said some truly despicable things to me and to other family members, although most of it almost certainly came from mental illness. We cried a little when she died…but not that much.

      My cousin’s baby, who learned to hit people as soon as he learned to crawl, and the little booger was FAST? I hated that kid. A lot.

      To answer your question more generally, I think a great many people do sort of hate elderly people with dementia and whatnot. Nursing homes are notorious for their loneliness and people sad that their children don’t visit, although in my grandmother’s case she complained nobody visited since yesterday. There are plenty of studies about widows who are not exactly glad that their elderly husbands died, but they aren’t sad at being able to shed the caretaker role either. For whatever reason it’s still a stronger taboo to say so. Caretaker burnout is very real, and a big part of it is not being able to talk about it to anyone without being considered a monster.

      Reply
    2. TTMB

      I wouldn’t say I despise babies, but I don’t care to be around them. I also don’t care to be around elderly people who require a lot of care. I believe it has to do with human vulnerability being on display. I don’t enjoy seeing other people’s vulnerability, and those two groups in particular have it in droves. So I’ll just be over here pretending not to realize that there are people who would die without 24/7 attention and care. It’s too overwhelming to think about for long.

      Reply
    3. Relly

      I don’t “hate” the elderly, but I certainly would not want someone’s incontinent, dementia-riddled great-uncle to come hang out in the employee break room, either. That would be uncomfortable and distracting, just like this is.

      Reply
    4. Charlotte, not NC

      Makes me wonder if these people would freely admit that they “hate” or “despise” elderly people, who may have dementia or incontinence?

      My FIL with Alzheimer’s just kicked my husband in the head and gave him a concussion and blurry vision, so yeah, I feel comfortable saying that. Enjoy your shock. I’ll be busy making sure my husband doens’t suffer permanent brain damage.

      Reply
  51. Stranger than fiction

    Having the baby present wouldn’t annoy me so much as the baby talk. Not sure what the latest/greatest advice on this is but I’ve always thought it’s generally better to speak in a regular voice so they can learn.

    Reply
    1. New Bee

      I and a few others posted comments about “motherese” upthread. Studies show babies under 6 months tend to prefer it, and the exaggerated nature of volume, pitch, and sounds may help with grammar acquisition. Overall, speaking or not speaking motherese is unlikely to significantly benefit or harm your child (especially since the majority of speech most babies hear is normal speech–adults talking to one another).

      Side note (directed generally, not at you): it’s still OK for you to find it silly or annoying! I’m going to be a parent really soon, and I notice even in casual conversations folks feel like they have to provide some “what’s best for the children” (TM) defense. Unless the topic is about significant harm coming to the baby*, I’m all about “you do you” (probably because I’m one of 7 kids and we all turned out within 1 standard deviation of normal) :-)

      *And even then options are limited unless you are one of the child’s primary caregivers, their doctor, or a mandated reporter.

      Reply
      1. AMG

        Yes, I think there’s a between saying ‘that’s right! That is your foot!’ In motherese versus ‘whose widdle footsie-wootsie is this-y wiss-y?’ But I doubt anyone ever flunked high school because they were spoken to in baby talk. That’s the funny thing. Plenty of parents obsess over the best way to do this or that, whose kid talked first, whose stood on their own first, and in the end, it doesn’t really matter nobody remembers.

        Reply
        1. New Bee

          It’s so interesting to me because so many of those milestones are a reflection of privilege. I work in urban ed, and when folks are like, “You’d let your kid go to that school?” I’m like, “Eh, she has two middle class, college-educated, multilingual parents–she’d be fine.”

          Reply
  52. Engineer Girl

    I just want to point out a concept that people are ignoring. This is the adult concept of appropriate time and place.
    There is a time and place for getting loud and rowdy. Work isn’t it.
    There’s a time and place for getting very emotional. Work usually isn’t it.
    There’s a time and place for discussing intimate things in our lives. Work isn’t it.
    And… there is a time and place for babies and kids. Work rarely is it.
    This isn’t about “hating” as much as appropriate work norms. Many AAM letters are about violating those norms.
    Time and place, folks.

    Reply
  53. Chickaletta

    I’m going in the minority here and I’m going to sympathize with the new mom. Leaving your new baby all day to go to work is very difficult thing to do. It’s an emotional problem which is why I think so many people have a hard time accepting this fact.

    Also, it’s a baby — the problem will resolve itself in a few months when the baby becomes too old to bring around and the mom doesn’t feel the need to see her in the middle of the day.

    I get that the baby talk is annoying, but it’s only happening in the break room and not the mom’s office (let’s face it, it’s better to hear it in the break room rather than at your desk when you’re on the phone). As for the baby being sat on the table, first, if you think that table was germ-free before the baby was put there then I have some bad news for you. Second, why not just politely ask the mom to set her baby somewhere else? “Oh dear, maybe we should wipe up the table before the next person who sits there sets their food down” or something like that will probably do the trick. New moms are notorious germaphobes so maybe this one will understand the sanitary issue here.

    All that said, the only other issue I see here is that visitors are not allowed in the break room. If this is just a norm, then maybe it can be forgiven in this situation. If it’s a policy, then that’s an issue and HR or a manager should be made aware because the babysitter should not be there (if you’re going to argue about the baby violating visitation policy then that’s just weird).

    Reply
    1. Engineer Girl

      The issue is forcing the other employees to deal with something that is outside of workplace norms. The new mom didn’t ask if it was OK – she just forced it on the other workers. You’ve also minimized the effect of the baby on other coworkers.
      This is so standard by boundary violaters. “Oh, it’s not THAT bad”. “Oh, it isn’t THAT loud”. “Oh, it isn’t THAT much of an annoyance”
      In short, trying to minimize the other persons legitimate concerns.

      Reply
      1. Chickaletta

        I get what you’re saying, but we’re talking about annoying baby talk in the break room. I’m not trying to minimize the concerns, I’m just trying to picture how bad it has to be that people start going to HR and management to stop it. The OP doesn’t say that the baby is screaming at the top of its lungs the whole time, she’s not leaving him with coworkers while she runs out for lunch; she said that the mom is just basically talking to him and offering for other people to hold them. So I also agree with GovWorker (below) that the employees could show a little bit of tolerance over this temporary situation.

        Reply
    2. Bwmn

      Personally – I’m with you. And while this may be out of the norm at this workplace, there are all sorts of workplaces where some things would seem very weird and others where it wouldn’t bat an eye. I used to work at a hospital that had a cafeteria – if I had decided to have lunch every day of the week in the cafeteria with someone I was dating, friends, family, infants, etc. – it would be in a space where it would go entirely unnoticed.

      That’s obviously not a break room norm – but I think it becomes easy that because in work space A something would be very out of place that also means it would equally weird in work space B. As a teenager I worked at a privately owned coffee house that had well known lulls and having a friend come by for a 20-30 minute chat, wasn’t seen as a big deal provided you weren’t ignoring customers and was seen as part of the overall atmosphere. I also worked at Starbucks, and that wasn’t really the case there.

      If a new mom were to ask me “is this ok” – my response would be that I’d never seen anyone do it – but maybe there’s a way to bring this up to a manager to test the waters about whether there’d be any room for this. I mean, maybe this new mom thinks that because it’s in the break room it’s less of a problem than in her office?

      Reply
      1. Engineer Girl

        I shouldn’t have to bring this up but I will. A cafeteria is public space, a break room is private space for the employees only. A coffee shop is public space and meeting your friend is done in the pubic space.

        Reply
        1. LawBee

          “meeting your friend is done in the pubic space.”

          You’re assuming a lot there!

          (I kid, but I am immature enough that the public/pubic typo still makes me giggle.)

          Reply
  54. LizM

    Putting myself in the mother’s shoes, she’s probably getting a lot of positive attention, so she may have no idea that some people find it disruptive. Our break room is very casual, and not a quiet environment, so before I read this letter, I would have had no problem eating lunch in there with my kid. People who want quiet generally go to the park across the street or find a few different out of the way corners in our building, or they eat at their desk. The break room is seen more as a social area.

    Honestly, as the kid gets older and more mobile, and less tolerant of sitting still, the visits will probably drop off. I know this isn’t about maternity leave, but I wasn’t ready to go back to work after 12 weeks, and at 6 months, I was still very much missing my child during the day. (Truthfully, in a perfect world, I would have had 6 months off, then gone back part time). If there is a legitimate safety or security issue, I’d bring it up with HR or management, but absent that, I’d probably file this into “things that are annoying but are part of existing with other humans in a shared office space” if it’s only happening every few weeks/once a month.

    Reply
    1. Isabel C.

      Likewise–although it depends on various factors. If it’s a standard corporate office deal in a reasonably urban area, enh, might be better just to plan to eat at your desk/bring a book and go get a bagel elsewhere/etc once or twice a month. Just one of those things: in another office, it could just as easily be the inevitable sportsball discussion.

      If we’re talking the sort of retail/manufacturing job I’ve occasionally seen, where there’s one break room and you have to eat there, that’d maybe be worth speaking up over.

      Reply
  55. Been There - Done That

    I think it would be worth OP bringing this up to his/her supervisor in the context of asking for clarification on policy. If the new mother is doing this now, is she going to take this as permission to bring her child in as he/she gets older, on days off school, etc. when it could be even more disruptive?

    Reply
  56. GovWorker

    I do think mom should visit with her baby in her office, since she has one. She can ask those who are interested in seeing the baby to come there.

    I also think coworkers can be more tolerant, this won’t go on much longer.

    Reply
  57. SuperOne

    It’s already really hard being a working mom. I just can’t imagine leaving a newborn to go to work everyday – but for many people that is a necessary thing. I empathize with the new mom in this situation, and truthfully, a workplace that wants to be seen as family-friendly should encourage things like the new mom is doing. I have the option of a full year of mat leave, but even then, going back to work and leaving my 1 year old at daycare was still difficult and I wish at the time I had more options – like visiting with my child during the day, or working part-time or reduced hours.

    OP doesn’t want her “quiet time” disrupted once a month or so…since when are break rooms dead silent and a place to “relax & unwind”. I’ve certainly never come across one that is.

    Also the sanitation/unhygienic angle is laughable. Have you ever eaten anywhere other than your home? There are worse germs around you everywhere else, including already on the break room table than from the diapered and covered bottom of a baby. If you’re eating directly off a break room table in the first place, then you have other problems my friend.

    I’m also really surprised and saddened at how so many people willingly and openly share that they dislike or hate babies and children – and people are like “that’s okay to feel that way”. I have a feeling that wouldn’t be the reaction I’d get if I said I hate old people or people with disabilities.

    Reply
    1. PK

      Can’t say I’ve ever been in a break room with a screaming adult. Infants and toddlers are obviously dirtier than the normal adult. Thinking that everyone should like to be around every infant or child is not a realistic expectation either. Then again, I don’t have kids and have little empathy for the whole ‘being a working parent is difficult’. We all have our challenges.

      Reply
      1. SuperOne

        That’s the problem – we are expected to have empathy for the coworker with social anxiety, or the one who just lost their spouse, or the one with a crappy shift/assignment/project/supervisor but nevermind about the ones who are raising the next generation along with being a productive employee :/

        I don’t think you’ve spent much time around babies or children, but they do not scream 24/7, and their bodily fluids are pretty well contained most of the time.

        And no, people should not be expected to be around babies and children all the time, but times are changing and people like me – high performers with children – are expecting our employers to accommodate more work-life balance so we can not only be a high performer at work, but also be attentive and available parents to our children.

        There are workplaces nowadays that allow employees to bring their pets to work – to achieve greater employee satisfaction. I just see allowing children when they can be, with little disruption, as no different.

        Reply
        1. Engineer Girl

          This is a false equivalency. While there are many places that accommodate pets and children, others can not. In this case the policy is supposed to be workers only.
          If the coworker really needed accommodations they could a) try to change the rules or b) work at a place as you described.
          The coworker did neither, instead forcing the issue on to the other workers.
          I’m a huge advocate of on site child care. I’d go crazy if I had to deal with babies within the work area. Many types of jobs can’t accommodate children (or pets) in the work area.

          Reply
          1. Isabel C.

            Agreed. I love dogs, and I would be *extremely* dubious about a bring-your-dog-to-work style workplace, because there will inevitably be That Person who thinks their dog is better-trained, often better-housetrained, than it actually is, and will laugh off any, er, incidents that arise and keep bringing the dog in.

            Basically, if employees get to bring in, for a significant length of time, anyone who goes to the bathroom outside the toilet and puts random things in their mouth, I want to know well in advance of accepting an offer, so it should be in the official policies.

            Reply
        2. PK

          You gave 3 examples of situations where the person has no control compared to having kids which is a choice. You shouldn’t get extra empathy for making that choice. Babies do randomly scream and poop. It happens and is completely understandable. However, not everyone wants to be around that and there are absolutely situations in work and in the world where it’s not appropriate for a child to be present.

          I think it’s great that you are finding companies that can accompany your work/parent balance. I’m all for that until it starts to negatively effect your coworkers.

          Reply
  58. SuperOne

    If I was in the new mom’s shoes I would have kept baby in my office with me. But then again I’m not a new mom anymore so I have already shed the “everybody look at my baby!!!” obsession already.

    Reply
  59. Candi

    One thing on the diaper issue:

    My son, very young, learned how to remove his diaper quickly and sneakily. Yes, even with multiple adults around. Hopefully this kid doesn’t do that.

    I say this is partially an “ask for information” issue. Ask the supervisor and/or HR what the general rules are on non-employees in the break room. Proceed, or not, from there.

    Reply
  60. AlmainCanada

    In my workplace “technically” not allowed means not covered by insurance in case of injury. (We’re a school, but not covered for children) I would be very careful of complaining about people breaking this type of rule. A person often finds there were those times *they* broke that technical rule. It was of course okay that time because no one *said* anything.

    If it’s really intolerable, talk to the person quietly, preferably in a non-confrontational way. Pick your battle. “I’m very uncomfortable with your baby being directly on the table for hygiene reasons. ”

    Taking a route that gets all visitors banned on a technicality will use up a lot of social capital. So will going to the BOSS about what people do at lunch hour.

    For the record this would drive me batty. I have no kids, don’t particularly like them, don’t find them cute. (It’s a joke in the staff room actually. I hate Christmas as well.) However, I believe in live and let live. If it doesn’t directly interfere with my job, meh.

    I find a lot of people on these boards are very intent on never being annoyed and on controlling other’s behaviours. re: all discussions on office food.

    Reply

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