letting new parents bring babies to work every day

A reader writes:

I’m planning to make a suggestion/proposal to HR to ask them to consider implementing a policy which would allow new mothers to bring their infants to work for a certain number of months after they are born. This has been done successfully at other organizations, including some government agencies and financial institutions, and I think that my office would be a good candidate.

I’d like your perspective on what kind of information you would want and need to see so that I can make a compelling argument in favor of this policy. What would be your primary concerns?

Call me an ogre, but I’m not a fan.

I’m not a fan because of the distraction and disruption it’ll create, both for the parent and for other employees. Most babies don’t sleep all day; they require attention and care and interaction. And a lot of people don’t want to try to work or conduct a conference call over the sound of a baby crying, let alone try to focus while they hear baby talk coming from the office next to them.

On the other hand, I’m sure it does build loyalty and retention among at least some employees, as well as making it easier for some parents to return to work after having a baby. (Note that I’m saying parents here, not mothers; if a company does this, they shouldn’t restrict it to women.)

But I’d rather see companies find other ways to be family-friendly — or rather, personal-life-friendly; we don’t need to restrict it to families. Flex time, reasonable hours, good health insurance, and generous time off would be a better start than babies in the office.

What do others think?

{ 1,328 comments… read them below }

  1. PEBCAK*

    I’m not clear on the proposal…is this in lieu of childcare, or is this on occasion when there is a specific reason that the regular childcare is unavailable?

    1. Just Another Techie*

      I’ll post a link in a separate comment, but bringing babies to work (typically only until they are self-mobile) is something some companies have tried. I’m curious how it actually works in practice, and not dressed up for clickbait.

      1. Michelle West*

        I work in a cubicle office and the woman next to me has brought her baby to work every day for weeks. If the baby starts crying a lot she does take it away which happens a few times a day and much of the rest of the day the baby is gurgling and squeeling off and on. It really interrupts my focus but I don’t want to be the bad guy and complain. But I find it odd that management did not fill us in or give us any options like moving to a quiet area. We can sometimes telework but I need to be in the office most days. I have headphones but they bother my ears if they stay on too long. I find myself being annoyed most of the day. I guess a gurgling, squeeling baby are happy sounds to some and maybe I am just bothered more. Do most people feel this would not be a disruption? Or do I just need to get over it and accept this is the new, modern office?

      1. fposte*

        Interesting. Though the article is just about the one workplace, I’m sure it isn’t the only one to have tried it.

        However, I cringed at the notion that work offers “a built-in support system of coworkers, willing to scoop up a baby if mom or dad needs to jump into a meeting”, and I thought that “We had to rejigger seating to create private areas that were out of the fray which benefited both parents and the rest of our staff” was a recipe for annoyance for non-parents who still had to sit and work within the “fray.”

        1. LBK*

          Oh my god, this sounds like a complete nightmare. I would love to hear the unfiltered thoughts of those in the “support system” – I’m wildly skeptical that they were as gung ho about serving as babysitters as the article claims.

          1. JulieB*

            I would be horrified if I were expected to tend to someone else’s infant at work – especially if it were sprung on me mid-way through the job and not at the time of involvement.

              1. MashaKasha*

                Me three. Try explaining to a client or end user that I’m behind on their request because I had to babysit a coworker’s infant on last-minute notice.

                And it’s a bit of a liability too, isn’t it? What if, heaven forbid, something happens, or appears to happen, to the baby on my watch?

                1. Kristine*

                  Me four! “Supportive coworkers,” meaning all of the WOMEN in the office. Men will not be expected to take up this task – I guarantee it. And the peer pressure of being “the only one who didn’t hold the baby” – no, thanks.

                2. LucyVP*

                  I’ve been “the only one who didnt hold the baby”, and its not a fun position to be in.

                3. Rose*

                  Kristine that was my first thought also. For men it will be optional for women you will be the bitch who doesn’t want to help with the baby.

                4. Davey1983*

                  Kristine, perhaps I have worked at different places, but I find your remake insulting.

                  In my prior place of employment, when a coworker brought in their new baby, it was the men in the office who lined up first to hold the baby. Every place I have worked shared the workload evenly– I was never asked to carry something heavy, for example, because I was a man.

                5. Rose*

                  But there is a huge difference between holding a baby for fun once in a while and being expected to regularly help out with childcare at work.

            1. AnonAnalyst*

              Me too. My jaw literally dropped reading that. “Nightmare” and “horrified” are my exact reactions to that proposal.

              1. Tyrannosaurus Regina*

                I would go out of my way to learn how to moonwalk specifically to moonwalk the hell out of there.

              2. Windchime*

                It’s my version of hell, not only as a coworker but as a parent. When my kids where tiny babies,there is no way I would just hand them off to some random coworker as I dashed off to a meeting. No way.

                Put me in the “no babies at work” camp. I love babies. I love it when babies come to visit at work, and I love having a chance to hold them and coo at them. But visiting time has an ending. Listening to someone’s baby crying in the office or dealing with diaper smell….no way.

                1. Working Girl*

                  My husband actually worked at T3 and his coworker had a baby (before we had kids). He LOVED it. The environment is definitely “cool ad agency” and there were more than enough people to watch the baby while she went to meetings, etc. And they were in a separate area. Of course, not everyone came around to see the baby or anything, but my husband said it was awesome. That kid is 11 now!

            2. eemmzz*

              I would also be worried about getting sued if you accidentally harm another person’a baby or they think you have

            3. aebhel*

              Also, as a parent, I don’t necessarily want whatever random coworker happens to be on hand taking care of my kid? Especially a young infant? They’re kind of fragile??

          2. Stranger than fiction*

            Right? This would be wildly distracting and can you imagine the uptick in office chat between cooing over how cute so and so’s baby is to omg janes baby does nothing but cry is she feeding it enough…

            1. LucyVP*

              I had experience with coworkers bringing babies and the cooing only lasts a day or two. The cooing/oohing/awing was not as much of an issue as I expected it to be.

          3. Brandy*

            Id soooo hate this. Im not a kid person. I can fake it when someone stops by but overall Im not into kids. I choose not to have kids don’t foist yours on me.

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              Hey, I love babies, I’m the first one to want to hold a new baby when someone shows up with one, but that only happens once a year or so. Multiple times a day?? No thank you! I need to, you know, focus, concentrate, complete complex tasks without interruption….I can’t always take a break any old time and still get work done.

          4. stellanor*

            I have never cared for a baby and have absolutely no idea what the accepted protocols are for handling a baby, so if someone handed me one and ran off to take a conference call I would probably have a panic attack and pass out.

            Or somehow accidentally kill or grievously harm the baby, either.

              1. Rebecca*

                Same! I would have no clue what to do with a baby. I’ve never baby-sat in my life. I can picture myself propping the baby up in my extra office chair. “Okay, baby, if you need something just let me know. I’m going to run out and get some coffee, need any? No?”

                1. AthenaC*

                  Hehe – I’m now picturing Samantha from Sex and the City trying to babysit Miranda’s baby – “WHAT do you WANT?!!”

                2. oldfashionedlovesong*

                  I am giggling to myself as I imagine this playing out over a day’s work.

                  “Okay, baby, can you please collate and staple these packets for me? Wait, why are you crying? It’s just stapling, it’s not a heavy lift. Jeez, baby.”

                  “Lunchtime, baby! Did you bring your lunch? No? Well did you bring cash for the cafeteria? … Baby, it is rude to expect others to buy you lunch just because you are a baby.”

        2. Chocolate lover*

          I am most definitely not comfortable (nor willing) to “scoop up a baby if needed.” Just no.

            1. cv*

              Not to mention the fact that strangers are probably not as good at soothing a fussy baby as the parent, who is more likely to be able to read the baby’s hungry/tired/whatever cues. There are definitely some people who are great with babies in general, but there’s no reason to think that Wakeen from accounts payable is one of them.

              1. Adam V*

                Nor is the baby necessarily likely to calm down if a complete stranger picks them up when they’re already crying.

              2. Stranger than fiction*

                Oh that just gave me a wild thought of the office women nursing each others babies

              1. RG*

                Well, no, when you have a daycare or babysitter, you still have one person or small group of people providing care for the child in lieu of the parents. It’s not the same as the parental bond, but it is still intentionally building a bond with the child you’re caring for.

                1. Green*

                  And if they don’t stop crying, at least at daycare they don’t have other business they need to be conducting…

              2. aebhel*

                Uh, no, because I actually vetted my daycare and have some reason to believe that they know how to take care of a child.

            2. Kelly O*

              Agreed totally. No offense to anyone, but especially with a newborn/infant, I was super-cautious about who picked her up.

          1. Ezri*

            I know enough about babies to hand them to someone else – that’s it. I’m that person in comedies who stands there holding the kid at arms length with a panicked expression.

            1. LBK*

              “Just hold him like you would hold a football.” “This IS how I would hold a football!”

              1. Ezri*

                Ha, I’d completely forgotten that episode – yes, that’s me. :D I’m sticking to cats for now.

            2. T3k*

              Same here. I won’t even hold relative’s babies because 1) I don’t like babies and 2) they immediately start to go for my hair EVERY. TIME. Ugh.

            3. Gamma*

              I’m an experienced wife/mother/aunt/great aunt/grandmother/great-grandmother and don’t ‘scoop up’ any of the babies without checking with their mother. I wouldn’t even dream of ‘scooping’ up a co-worker’s infant!

          2. GOG11*

            Yup. It’s one thing to have a baby there in the workplace (not a fan, but not terrible), but being expected, either by the parent or through company culture, to take on any responsibility, however minor, regarding an infant is not something I’m willing to do. If I wanted to work with children, I’d get a job working with children (or individuals in nursing homes or people with severe developmental disabilities or people recovering from surgery or accidents – any population of individuals who require any more care or skilled attention from me than any of my coworker’s would require). It’s just one of those things that’s too far afield of the skills many jobs require, so I really don’t really think coworkers should be expected to jump in in the spirit of “other duties as assigned.”

            I do want to say that it would be one thing if a coworker volunteered, and that could be what the person in the article was noticing, but if that’s the sort of intervention the company relies on to make the policy work…that doesn’t work so well.

            1. Green*

              I don’t mind having kids in the workplace for the purposes of introducing them to coworkers, for take your child to work day, or the occasional snow day/teacher work day/babysitter is very ill day, but if the employer is OK with parents potentially being distracted by children I would MUCH rather the employee be given the flexibility to work from home (with their kids) than bringing them into the office on the regular.

          3. MegEB*

            Right? I love babies and all (although I don’t currently have any) but when I’m at work, I’m working. I don’t want to be responsible for a baby. I already work for a bunch of doctors, so I’ve got my babysitting duties as is, thanks.

          4. april ludgate*

            I would have the opposite reaction, I adore babies and I’d probably be the first to volunteer to look after one. However, I’m also easily distracted so I would get very little of my own work done if there was a baby around.

        3. Mike C.*

          “a built-in support system of coworkers, willing to scoop up a baby if mom or dad needs to jump into a meeting”

          What in the hell are they smoking if they think it’s the responsibility of the coworkers to provide adhoc childcare?!

          Look, just about every other nation on Earth has solved this issue already – it’s called paid p/maternity leave. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel.

          1. Susan*

            Good point. This is a worrying way for employers to get more out of their employees who are parents. :/

          2. Adam V*

            + 1000000.

            My baby is less than three months old. I would jump at the chance to stay home with him for 12 weeks, instead of the two weeks I got (that I used my PTO for).

          3. Charlotte Collins*

            What do you want to bet that this falls more to employees of one gender than another?

            The ironic thing – babies kind of freak me out (I get along great with toddlers – but until they start to walk and talk, they seem like little aliens to me; also, very, very fragile), but my boyfriend totally understands babies and their needs, as he’s the oldest of a large family. But everyone tries to hand kids to me… I feel like they are handing me a rare and valuable piece of china and wait for someone to take it away…

            1. FormerEditor*

              +100
              I’m not as awkward around babies now, but in my first job after college, all the new parents for the newsroom were in my workgroup. When we had group after-work get-togethers, I felt like everyone expected me to coo and ask to hold their kids because I was the lone young, single woman, and didn’t expect that of the other interns.

          4. MashaKasha*

            Yeah but it’s so much cheaper than paid p/maternity leave! in the short term anyway, and who the hell cares about the long-term, right?

          5. Chinook*

            “Look, just about every other nation on Earth has solved this issue already – it’s called paid p/maternity leave. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel.”

            This exactly. Parental leave allows not just for caring for the child and bonding, but allowing the parent to adapt to the child’s sleep schedule (because infants do not adapt to yours). I couldn’t imagine being up all night with a crying or active infant and then having to go in and take care of my work AND my child at the same time. Isn’t there an ongoing trope about new moms feeling lucky if they can get a shower during the day with an infant?

            1. zora*

              seriously!!

              And I would add ‘on-site childcare’ to ‘paid p/maternity leave’ bc that is also a lot more common in some other countries.

          6. Kristine*

            Bravo, and it’s called “civilization.” I wish the U.S. would catch up.
            We should have as much vacation as Europeans do as well, but I know I’m dreaming here. (Good eldercare… Single payer… etc.)

          7. aebhel*

            Or on-site daycare. That would be great! My life would have been so much easier if I could have just gone and nursed instead of taking 20 minute breaks to pump!

            But ad hoc childcare from random coworkers? Hell no.

          8. S*

            Yes! Yes! Yes!

            Got to say, looking at the USA from the UK, the fact you have to paid a shit ton to give birth and then have no maternity leave unless you’re in a really well-paying job – wow! How has there not been revolution in the the streets about this? Do poor parents have to choose between starving and a sibling for their child?

            1. S*

              Pay, not paid, but in my defense, the idea of no statutory maternity leave makes me lose the ability to talk/type coherently

        4. BRR*

          With certain managers I imagine the support system falls under “additional duties as assigned.” I’m not in favor of this policy and I definitely don’t want to have to watch a coworker’s child. I don’t want the distraction and I’m terrible with children. But I can see that one manager out there who thinks that everybody in the office is a support system.

          1. Adam V*

            I wonder if that means I would need to bring in a doctor’s note so that I could say “I have a medical condition that says I can’t pick up babies” before this manager would acquiesce.

            1. Chinook*

              “I would need to bring in a doctor’s note so that I could say “I have a medical condition that says I can’t pick up babies” before this manager would acquiesce.”

              The irony is that they may end up being required because there are medical conditions that mean you shouldn’t pick up infants (ask any woman who has had a C-Section) never mind other times when you shouldn’t be near them because a mild cold to an adult would be horrible for an infant still developing their immune system.

          2. OP (Denise)*

            No one is simply assigned childcare duty. The model policies specify that the parent must have an agreement with a specific coworker who has volunteered to act in that capacity.

            1. Jeff A.*

              So my immediate question is, if that specific coworker is out unexpectedly due to illness or unforeseen circumstances (e.g., a meeting running late), and you as the parent have no specific person to watch the child but need to get yourself into a meeting you can’t miss…what happens from an operational standpoint?

              1. Merry and Bright*

                Also, all my coworkers are busy juggling their workloads without ‘volunteering’ for standby childcare.

                Also, your childcare buddy couldn’t be at the same meetings etc as the parent by the sound of it.

              2. OP (Denise)*

                You have to problem-solve. I think that most people figure out how to manage their work lives, including conflicts or unexpected situations that happen without babies. If employees don’t know how to handle such situations then bringing a baby may not be the best thing for them to do.

                1. Jeff A.*

                  I think the existence and popularity of this blog (and the letters and comments therein) are evidence enough that workplace conflicts and problems are difficult enough to manage without adding the extra dynamic of babies in the workplace!

                2. Green*

                  I would quit if there were babies in my workplace on a daily basis. I would be thrilled if people were given the flexibility to work from home/flex hours to balance their lives and/or paid family leave.

                  Not everyone likes kids. I like my much younger cousins. For a few hours. And then I like to give them back to my aunts.

                3. UK HR bod*

                  The operative phrase for me here is ‘work lives’. Babies are only part of your work life if you are a childcare professional. Thankfully this is rare to non-existent over here – except for places that provide creches.

                4. Adam V*

                  So first it was “you must have a designated backup”, now it’s “figure it out as you go along”.

                5. Kfish*

                  So what happens to the career prospects of that child-care buddy when they’re suddenly spending all that time child minding rather than doing their job or acquiring extra skills?

                6. S*

                  I don’t understand why you don’t just institute maternity leave! Sure it’s more expensive, but these workarounds you’re talking about are less economical in the long run and likely to make everyone in the office incredibly unhappy and stressed

            2. Jeff A.*

              And from a liability standpoint, what happens if something happens to the child while in the care of a coworker? (e.g., hot coffee or tea spills and burns her, she swallows a small office supply like a staple or paperclip, etc etc etc…or are you creating a specific daycare space to have the coworker go to while monitoring the child?)

                1. MashaKasha*

                  +1000. Daycare centers have on-premises accident insurance exactly for this kind of incidents (happen to know this firsthand as a mother of a very hyperactive, very careless child who became the first kid to break a bone at daycare in its 20-year history). I doubt that the office has this insurance and I’m 100% positive that the coworkers do not.

              1. Editor*

                Whose standards of child-rearing apply? Back in the antidiluvian day, my first child was switched from nursing to some formula feeds after a rough transition to full-time daycare. The formula diet was causing some problems. After switching brands a couple of times, the pediatrician recommended serving the formula chilled. Things improved.

                A couple of years later, I’m left holding the baby of a co-worker one day, along with the diaper bag and food stash, and told to feed him if he gets cranky. He winds up to cry, I grab the bottle and he starts to suck, then begins to wail. A minute later mom walks in to retrieve crying baby, takes bottle and baby, and looks at me in horror: “You didn’t warm up the bottle! How do you expect him to swallow this! It’s so cold!”

                Nobody, but nobody, believed I had fed my child cold formula on the doctor’s orders. They all thought I was some kind of secretly negligent parent.

                My first child would also not sleep when there was action anywhere near. Other people took their infants to picnics and concerts in the park and scout meetings and the library and life went on, but my child did not sleep and disliked being away from the action (and as an adult still prefers to be in the thick of things). When your child gets tired and cranky but refuses to give up, it’s no fun for anyone.

                I’d like to think babies at work would work fine, but I can see exceptions that drive everyone nuts. In my case, bringing the baby to work would not have worked and I wouldn’t have worked so hard to arrange for daycare before my unpaid month ended and would have been upset that things at work did not work out. I agree with those who endorse better leave policies for parents.

                1. simonthegrey*

                  I had colic for the first six plus months of my life. I only quieted down when I was held by my grandmother, or when put in my carseat. Strangely the sound of the vacuum soothed me, so mom would put me in my child rocker and turn on the vacuum and just let me lie there and listen. I highly doubt that a running vacuum would be conducive to work, if someone had a baby like me.

            3. Adam V*

              Can the same person volunteer to be the backup to two babies? Can two parents volunteer to be each other’s backups? In those cases, what happens when both babies cry?

              What happens if your backup is on vacation, traveling for work, calls in sick, or just goes home before the parent does? Can the parent still bring in their baby?

              I feel like this policy is rife with negative possibilities.

            4. Kate M*

              Yeah, but, I could see people being pressured into this or being taken advantage of. Not to mention, no matter if they have volunteered or not, it’s still taking up their work time to take care of someone else’s kid. I don’t really see how that’s acceptable.

                1. Cats over Kids*

                  For the child free ones, they can bring in their pets of any type. People can debate whose cat is more adorable, same way parents try to one up each other. The experiment will end when Tom’s prized Burmese Python goes after James and Lily’s son, because the kid was antagonizing the snake.

                2. Brandy*

                  Ok I have 6 pups and a couple cats. Im getting their leashes now. Ones a barker if he sees you have food he wants.

                3. Green*

                  I am very excited to hand over my pitbulls to coworkers to care for when I have a meeting. Some people like dogs but only like their dogs? Some people don’t like pitbulls? Some people like pitbulls but may not be thrilled to pick up my dogs’ poop? WHY DO YOU HATE PUPPIES? THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU.

                4. Honeybee*

                  Ooh, just wait until my dog gets the zoomies for the first time in the office. That will be fun for everyone.

            5. BRR*

              While that makes sense policy wise, my concern about this specific rule is that it could always just not be included.

            6. Dr. Johnny Fever*

              Child care workers must be trained and licensed – CPR and the works. Who will pay for training the coworkers willing to support?

              No way am I leaving a baby with a coworker, especially one with no experience or safety training.

                1. Honeybee*

                  Gooood point. Actually that would be the MMR if they didn’t have it as a child, DTaP booster, meningitis, probably varicella if they don’t have it, hep B, and flu vaccines every year…

                  Actually, most adults do need a Tdap booster every 10 years.

                2. Cactus*

                  That would be another worry, in the alternate universe where I have kids–exposure to anti-vaxxers and their kids.

            7. Tyrannosaurus Regina*

              I don’t mean to pile on, because in some ways this would be lovely if everyone were truly on the same page, but I can’t think of a single workplace *I’ve* been at where there would be true volunteers for this kind of duty. It would get guilt-trippy and even coercive almost immediately for most folks—and these weren’t even particularly dysfunctional or unfriendly workplaces.

              I mean, what if there’s no one at your level who’s eager to be your go-to baby-scooper? Do you ask a subordinate? Does that person now feel that her good relationship with you, even her long-term job security, rests more on how good a baby-minder she is?

              1. Honeybee*

                I feel like I wouldn’t mind doing it every once in a while, but I’d be afraid that if I volunteered I’d end up being the go-to person for this coworker and/or other coworkers wold start asking me and I’d never get any work done. Also I am one of those people who does not know what to do with babies anyway.

        5. Anna*

          The only time I’ve ever been party to this was when I was 20 working in a tiny architect office with a total of 7 people, including the two partners, and they let the office manager bring her new baby in. I would scoop him up when I felt like it, but it wasn’t required and it didn’t interfere with greeting people or answering phones. I can see it for small companies, but never if it’s expected.

        6. LPBB*

          Oh my god, no. I like children well enough, but I am child free for a reason and a big part of that reason is that I don’t like caring for babies/children unless I’m related to them or connected to their parents in a way that’s more meaningful than simply working together.

          I would also be concerned about cultural/social expectations and how that plays out in the office. There are a lot of people who still buy into the idea that ALL women love babies and want babies and love to take care of babies. Would women in the office be expected to do the majority of the support system work? If that’s not a concern because your office culture is egalitarian, are you going to get dinged as Not a Team Player if you don’t want to hold someone’s fussy baby while they go to a two hour meeting?

          We do a piss-poor job in the US of supporting working parents, but this is most definitely not a solution.

          1. anonanonanon*

            I really wish people would stop assuming that all women love babies. I can’t count the number of times someone has forced me into holding a baby just because I’m a woman. If I say I don’t want to hold your baby, it means I don’t want to hold it.

            1. Career Counselorette*

              Once when I was in college my parents had a clearly-indicated no-kids party, and this one woman ignored the invitation completely and brought her 4-year-old son anyway. My mom was like, “Oh, will you play with him?” and I matter of factly said, “No, I won’t.” Because no, I’m not an automatic babysitter, especially not for people who don’t listen. Plus, by the time you’re 4, you can play by yourself.

            2. Gene*

              And when they try to hand it to you, just keep your arms limp at your side.

              No one can force you to do anything but die.

                1. Saturn9*

                  Thank you for reminding me about sexual assault by clumsily inserting it into an unrelated comment thread on a blog about workplace issues.

            3. MashaKasha*

              My (now-ex) husband used to tell people, “don’t let her hold a baby, that’ll make her want another”. What? No. I’m done. I might be convinced to hold your baby, but I’m still done. And coming from a person who’s supposed to be closer to me and know me better than anybody else in the world, that assumption is a bit disturbing.

              1. folklorist*

                Maybe that’s his cutesy way of getting them to leave you alone without saying “she doesn’t want to touch your stupid sticky baby”? (And he doesn’t actually believe it?)

            4. BeenThere*

              This!!! I’ve had the same thing happen, baby shoved into my arms despite my protests while no one does the same to my husband. I’d much rather hold that glass of wine than do free child care for you. We had guests show up early once and the first thing they did was shove their child into my arms, I said hello then shoved it right back and returned to cleaning and preparing for the rest of my guests. I swear they showed up an hour early to get a break from parenting.

              Here’s the thing I’m likely to have children in the near future, holding a strangers baby is not going to make that happen sooner. I rather be able to enjoy the glasses of wine, that I’d have to give up in the near future, while I can that hold the

              1. Ad Astra*

                I have shoved a baby (well, a 15-month-old) into my husband’s arms and his reaction was pretty hilarious. He’s always convinced he’ll break a baby if he holds it, and refuses to believe my explanation that babies are surprisingly resilient.

                But yeah, I agree with your point that people assume all women want to hold babies all the time, and it’s icky.

            5. T3k*

              My female relatives probably think I’m a freak because they absolutely adore babies and can’t comprehend why I don’t like them. They’ve tried numerous times for me to hold one and I’m just “Nope” and give it back.

              1. Alison Hendrix*

                I think it’s partly cultural. Back in my homeland every single female I know loves babies. Someone brings one to work, and they all flock over, cooing at it. I’m the only one slinking as far away from it as possible.

                Same with my current office. All but two of us in my team are parents (the other person has two dog-kids and I have my cat-brats). When they stop by to bring their infant to work everyone will surround the baby while I politely stand at the edge of the circle, just so I wouldn’t look as stand-offish.

                I think I’ve only held a couple of babies in my lifetime. I just feel really uncomfortable with carrying one (especially if it’s not mine). So bringing infants in the office on a regular basis is not my thing.

                Now if someone brings a new kitty at work, I’d be squealing and running to it LOL…

            6. aebhel*

              I *have* a baby and I still don’t love all babies. I love my kid, but that doesn’t translate to every small child ever.

            7. Honeybee*

              Ugh, me too. Babies are fine, and I want to like them, but I don’t ever know what to do with them and I feel awkward and anxious holding them.

          2. K.*

            You’re totally right about cultural expectations. Many, many people still see babies as women’s work (see also: when fathers are described as “babysitting,” which I hate. You cannot babysit your own child), and I bet the expectation that someone tag in and take the baby would fall largely to women. We’ve talked about this here re: party planning, office “housework,” etc. I’d bet child-minding would fall under that umbrella too.

            I love kids but I don’t like babies, especially when they’re really little and not mobile, so I would absolutely say no, I can’t watch him while you’re on that call. And I would indeed be concerned that people would assume I’m not a team player … but that would cause me to leave, not to suck it up and take the baby.

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              Thank you for the “babysitting” comment. This drives me crazy, too! And I’ve only heard it used that way in the past few years. I thought we were supposed to be going forward, people!

          3. Excel Slayer*

            You read my mind.

            I do not want to be expected to care for other people’s children, and I don’t want people to think I’d enjoy it because of my gender.

          4. Biff*

            I’m concerned that this policy will also unfairly color a man who is gah-gah (goo-goo?) for babies. I can see the conversation going something like this:

            Manager #1: “You know, since we’ve implemented Babies At The Office, I’ve come to realize Charlotte really isn’t a team player. She never takes Paul’s kid during client calls and she’s often away from her desk when it’s time to find someone to watch the baby. She doesn’t seem to understand that we all need to pitch in to make this work!”

            Meanwhile, back at Team #1 Headquarters, Brian who just got a raise hasn’t looked after Paul’s kid either.

            Manager #2: “Well, I think it’s going pretty well on my team, except Richard always wants to watch Leticia’s new baby girl. He’s always playing with the baby and has even offered to change her. I think he might be a creep!”

            Meanwhile…. Marla practically lives in Leticia’s cube and hasn’t really been getting her work done.

        7. Clarissa*

          If I had to help out with a coworker’s childcare in the office I would find a new place to work, pronto.

          1. AndersonDarling*

            Exactly what I would do! After a week of crying babies and “Can you take her for a minute” I would be interviewing at a new company.
            I guess this is a good policy if you want to whittle your organization down to just baby lovers.

          2. ali*

            Yep, same here. In fact, I’d probably do it if babies were in the office at all, much less if I were expected to help out with them.

            There’s a reason I don’t have children. I sure don’t want to deal with anyone else’s and it definitely should not be part of my job.

            1. Stranger than fiction*

              Yes, and while we’re at it when are we going to get over the notion that everyone has to procreate? This planet is beyond that need. I had two children in my early twenties before i even knew what i was doing because, well, that’s just what my family does. And it was hard and done 80%with no financial support from the ever evasive father so looking back, i much would have rathered finished my degree and had time to make something of myself before even contemplating motherhood, but that’s just my rant today

          3. MashaKasha*

            Aaand that’s the long-term consequences I was talking about a bit upthread. Yay, we can now save on maternity leave by just letting everyone in the office watch new babies… wait, where did everybody go and why are we shortstaffed?

          4. Jeff A.*

            Even if I didn’t have to help out per se, but were subjected to baby crying, screaming, goo goo noises. Ugh, just NO. New job would be forthcoming as fast as the resumes could fly out.

            1. Cordelia Naismith*

              THIS. If there’s a baby crying anywhere withing hearing distance, it is impossible for me to concentrate on work. Even if I’m not expected to help with the kid, the noise is a major disruption.

              If paid parental leave is out of the question, why not start up a full-fledged on-site daycare facility? That would go over so much better than parents bringing babies into the office.

          5. Merry and Bright*

            Exactly. And if you wanted this you would have done childcare for a living.

            1. Brandy*

              Thanks exactly what the OP needs to hear. She apparently loves babies in the workplace. None of the rest of America does, judging by our comments.

            2. Amy UK*

              Even those who like kids enough to go into childcare probably don’t want to spend time with (unrelated) kids when it isn’t directly part of their duty.

              I’m a primary school teacher. I like all my students, but I still don’t want to be around them much the school setting. I’m not going to shun them if I see them in the supermarket, but I’m also not going to let them trail around after me for an hour while I shop. Random children I’ve never met? Even less so.

        8. MissC Melanie*

          I would probably not work for a company with this expectation. There would have to be some large pay bump over competing industries to expect me to have to deal with crying babies, constant mom-talk, and possible baby sitting. Nope. if Chocolate Teapots instituted this policy I would make a career change to Chocolate Silverware Industries stat.

        9. Heather*

          Yeah I don’t have kids because I don’t want kids nor do I want to be looking after a coworkers kids! If I wanted to look after kids I would have had my own!

          This is a terrible, terrible idea. You know what – start implementing decent parental leave after baby is born or adopted.

        10. lowercase holly*

          eek. when i was an admin asst at a law firm, once in awhile other attys (not mine!) would bring their kids in and have their assts watch them. how could you guarantee a good standard of care in that situation if it wasn’t originally part of the job description? i do not know how to childcare, i’ve never done it.

        11. Lily in NYC*

          Oh hell no! Somehow it will always be the women and admins expected to help out and the men will all be able to get away with pretending like the babies aren’t there. I was expected to babysit coworkers’ kids so often in my early days as a junior admin and I hated it. I had one job that expected it so often (it wasn’t part of my job duty; it was a “favor”) that I just started letting the kids run wild and play with pretend guns so that some of the more uptight parents wouldn’t want me around their rugrats. I’ve mentioned this here before – one woman who I didn’t like told me her precious wasn’t allowed to play with guns (they weren’t plastic ones, they would use things like rulers or their fingers to “shoot”) and I told her then she should stop dumping her kid on me and get her own damn babysitter. I put a stop to it after one of them expected me to watch her kids at her house overnight FOR FREE and was furious when I refused. She complained to my boss (the worst offender) and another boss overheard and flipped out and I never had to watch another kid there.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I had a volunteer job, it was a short term thing but there were a lot of problems. The icing on the cake was the leader of the whole group brought her kids into the area all of us were working and then she vanished. After a day of her young children running here, there and everywhere all the the volunteers (over 50 people) were complaining about these children. The leader remained oblivious to the whole matter. People were very angry.

        12. Erin*

          What about the poor co-workers that aren’t particularly fond of babies? Like me? I would be wary that it might end up reflecting badly on me if I didn’t enjoy scooping babies up (!)

      2. Muriel Heslop*

        I noticed the “graduation” for babies was when they are mobile which I translate to mean crawling. Also, a very small, privately owned company with a lot of people in the same boat. I would still find it distracting.

      3. Bwmn*

        What I’m most confused by is how this type of policy would work across an organization to ensure equitable access to the policy? Where I work some people are in cubes, some in offices. Some of those offices are large, some small. As well as a receptionist who sits at the office’s entrance.

        In addition, some staff have few to no external meetings (aka baby unfriendly) where some have a lot. So even provided that an “office friendly” area was arranged for crying/fussing – it’s hard for me to not see this as a policy that heavily favors certain teams. I imagine that whatever offices take this on perhaps don’t have such a distinction in terms of internal/external facing employees, but it’s hard for me to imagine the kind of office where this doesn’t end up appearing to favor some teams over others.

        1. OP (Denise)*

          I think it’s like any type of workplace policy–some positions will be better suited for it than others. For instance, an employer might offer flex time across the board, but the front office receptionist probably can’t take advantage of it. I don’t think policies have to suit all positions, as people can make career choices or internal transfers based on what will work best for them.

            1. OP (Denise)*

              I don’t have employees, but my understanding is that no one is assigned any type of childcare duty unless they willingly sign up for it, as specified in an agreement with their coworker. If people have the impression that the employer is assigning coworkers to babysit, I think that’s a misunderstanding.

              1. Mike C.*

                There’s still going to be pressure in the “you have to be a ~team player~” sense of the word. Why not offer paid leave instead of pissing off all of your employees?

                1. Brandy*

                  Il’ll be counted against in reviews “Brandy doesn’t watch the kids, not a team player” = lower raise.

              2. Algae*

                Why not look into on-site childcare by a licensed program with reduced costs, subsidized by the employer, for employees?

                1. Knit Pixie*

                  This I think could be a good idea. Maybe your company could consider something like this Denise?

              3. Stranger than fiction*

                What happens when the baby gets hurt while in the care of the coworker?

              4. INTP*

                This kind of thing can still be not-100%-voluntary even if it’s opt-in. See studies showing women are viewed more unfavorably for not helping out with office admin work and housework (like washing the dishes) than men. This could result in people’s reputation at work relying on their willingness to babysit so no, it’s not voluntary. If you need babysitters at work you should hire them.

              5. Honeybee*

                Are employees going to be allowed to watch babies from people who are above or below them on the chart? Because I can see that being rife for abuse.

          1. Clarissa*

            OP, can you clarify what other family/personal benefits your company provides? Is this replacing flex hours, p/maternity leave, etc.? As you said, not all positions are suited for all policies. But many of the suggestions that could replace the “bring babies to work” idea are much more broadly beneficial regardless of position.

            1. OP (Denise)*

              We have a 35 hour work week that the organization sticks to, meaning no one is expected to work more than that unless really absolutely necessary. So if you have children in daycare, that’s pretty comfortable. Other than that, there’s nothing really besides the standard maternity leave. We don’t have flex time or telecommuting.

                1. Merry and Bright*

                  Until an online meeting with a homeworker present gets messed up because a baby starts crying. Been there, done that, got the t-shirts. To be fair, same goes for barking dogs.

                  It is a challenge – to say the least – for parents but I don’t think babies in the office (or online) is the answer.

                2. lawsuited*

                  WFH policies often require you to have childcare so that your employer can be sure you can do your work while at home rather than spending your work day caring for your child(ren). The reality is that you can’t do two things at once. If you’re caring for your child and working at the same time, whether it’s at home or in the office, something’s going to give. I think m/paternity leave is the best solution so that you can focus on your child, and focus on your work, but separately.

                3. MashaKasha*

                  I didn’t say it’d be a far better solution than everything else. I said it’d be a better solution than having everyone haul their babies to work every day. Granted, I’d be hard pressed to come up with a worse solution than that one.

                  OP sounds like she doesn’t have the finances/clout/whatever to open an on-site daycare or to change the company policy to extend maternity leave. So I went with whatever seemed like the most available solution.

                4. Honeybee*

                  @lawsuited: I don’t see how WFH with a baby is possibly worse than working from the office with a baby. If OP’s company is willing to allow people to bring their babies into the office, they should be willing to allow people to WFH with baby nearby (perhaps with the stipulation they have some on-call care in case they need to run into a meeting).

                  But I think the better solution here is paid parental leave.

              1. Jeff A.*

                So why not lobby your company for additional maternity/paternity leave time, as others have suggested? It strikes me as the much cleaner, more readily-implemented solution that causes the least disruption to your employer.

                1. Stranger than fiction*

                  Yes exactly law suited and jeff work from home means just that WORK not work a bit go play with baby work a bit go take nap…

          2. fposte*

            I think that’s true, but this is a heck of a perk to be cut off from, especially because it’s likely to be the lower-paid positions that can’t make it work–and those are where women of child-bearing age are most predominant. If you’re going to implement this, I’d really encourage you to try hard to find a way to make this available to employees across the board.

            1. OP (Denise)*

              I’m not sure about that. Some of the places that have adopted the policy are credit unions with tellers who have brought their babies to work with them. This particular policy is, I think, fair in terms of what levels of seniority are able to do it. It is more a reflection of function and work environment than experience level. I’m sure there would be middle managers and executives who couldn’t make it work at all because they are in meetings or with clients all day.

              1. fposte*

                It’s your workplace, so you know it better than I do. I just think that’s something to be aware of if you’re planning implementation–this is a big thing to cut people off from. (If tellers can do it, why couldn’t a receptionist?)

                I might consider identifying a max amount of babysitting hours allowable and then letting people figure it out the workability for their own positions as long as they’re legal and safe; any time you’re implementing something like this it’s going to be fluid, with rules changing as you find out this way works and this way doesn’t, so why not start broad and see how it works?

                1. Bwmn*

                  @fposte – this was my concern. Just that it would be a significant perk to be cut off of for relatively arbitrary reasons. If you work in accounting, tax season will always be busy – if you work in reception, teleworking is likely entirely out of the question, but those are fairly concrete relations to the needs and demands of the position. The fact that accounting is better able to use “baby at work” while sales would be cut off feels far more arbitrary.

                  My organization is in a building that is semi-shut for the two weeks around Christmas/New Years. In past years, the two weeks were given off to staff with the reality that some departments would still have to come into the office for necessary tasks whereas other teams got the full extra time off as long as someone would symbolically be on call. (no one who had to work was paid anything more/less than those with the extra vacation days) New management decided that this system felt grossly disparate across teams, so this year they increased our number of vacation days by 7 and those two weeks will be treated as normal weeks with holidays.

                  I’m just saying, if it feels like it’s just certain teams that benefit (as opposed to some employees opting in and some opting out), that’s something to watch for long term.

              2. KJR*

                Maybe I’m thick as a board today…but I just don’t get this. I stayed home for 12 weeks with each of my babies, and I could barely take care of myself during the day, much less anything around the house (laundry, etc.), so I don’t understand how anyone would get any work done in the office, much less 8 hours worth. It’s not like the little darlings sleep peacefully all day! I mean seriously, how would this work? I’m not going to go into all of the possible scenarios here, but babies are messy, noisy, and highly unpredictable. They do not belong in an office, period. And this is from someone who LOVES babies.

              3. Dr. Johnny Fever*

                Do you means tellers at the window with babies with them? All the crying echoing into the customer lobby AS WELL AS the employee area?

                No. Just no. Bad idea all around.

                1. Windchime*

                  My local bank is already a nightmare when I go in there. Long lines, echo-ey, and all the tellers just lined up at a tall counter instead of each having his/her own little section. Add screaming babies and distracted parents to the mix? Ugh.

                2. anonanonanon*

                  Yeah, I’m wondering about the logistics of this as well. Plus, money is dirty. Really dirty. When I worked at a bank during college, I would wash my hands so much more because some of the money coming in was gross.

          3. Chronic Snacker*

            It’s a bit more alienating than flex time. It would be upsetting to have to transfer or change my otherwise enjoyable position because of a policy that is more imposing than answering the receptionist’s phone while they’re out.

            Please consider researching and gathering some feedback from the rest of your office before presenting this idea. Any concerns will be voiced and you might garner some ideas that would better suit the team.

        2. fposte*

          One article suggested that people in cubicles liked using Pack and Plays, and I thought that office must have the widest aisles ever. Or the most lenient fire codes.

      1. Nerdling*

        Nope, nope, nope. Pretty much my entire office encouraged me to bring my kid in after he was born, offering to hold/play with as needed, and the same was offered with the other mom in the office when hers was little. But neither of us ever took them up on the offer – we just don’t have a job that is conducive to that sort of setup, and I wasn’t going to force my colicky munchkin on anyone else. I honestly can’t imagine being able to do my job while attached at the hip to a baby, having to feed him/her every two to four hours, changing diapers, etc. There’s too much undivided attention required!

        Seriously, paid p/maternity leave makes far more sense than this!

        1. Chinook*

          “we just don’t have a job that is conducive to that sort of setup, and I wasn’t going to force my colicky munchkin on anyone else.”

          This brings up a good point – if you happen to have a colicky infant who would disrupt the work at the office, this type of perk could mean that you risk losing your job because you won’t come to work because the boss can say they have found a way for you to balance childcare. But, with paid parental leave (I noticed OP only referenced maternity leave – are there exceptions available if the mother is, for some reason, unable to care for the infant and the father needs to stay home?), the stress of a colicky child is born only by the parents and not the entire office while still guaranteeing a job at the end.

          1. LucyVP*

            I had the ‘bring your baby’ arrangement with two co-workers at my old job. One had the easiest baby ever, we almost never even knew he was there.

            The other had a more challenging baby, a lot more crying and general noise and accommodation needed.

            The personality (and health) of the baby is a big unknown in these arrangements.

  2. Anonicorn*

    Call me an ogre too. Having a baby in the office all day is a fantastic method to annoy most of your coworkers. And I can’t imagine it would be an ideal environment for the baby either.

    1. MicheleNYC*

      I am also an ogre. This is one of my biggest pet peeves in the office bringing your kids to work. It is so disruptive.

    2. Helka*

      Offices, like schools, are germ factories — I sure as heck wouldn’t want to have a baby of mine here all day!

      1. eee*

        Right? Even before “yikes, I love babies, but I would find that wildly annoying” was the thought that offices are a breeding ground for germs. Do you really want your infant in the same workplace where people might have to come in sick??

        1. Anx*

          And conversely, do you really want to expose your employees to a baby? How would you police things like letting diapered babies on desks and countertops.

      2. Ife*

        To be fair, so are daycare centers!

        But, yikes, if my office adopted this policy I would run hard and fast in the opposite direction. Even as someone who this policy would potentially benefit, no. Just. No.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          True but in my office theres also loud printers that reek of hot toner when they get hot, which brings up the issue of noise in general which also isn’t conducive to sleeping babies

      3. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

        This is what I was thinking! What if your coworkers aren’t vaccinated and baby gets exposed to something?

    3. SH*

      Call me an ogre too. I’m not a baby/kid person so I’d quit if I found out they were going to be around.

    4. Lanya (aka Camp Director Kim)*

      With respect, there’s no need to sound apologetic for not wanting a baby in the workplace, especially by calling oneself an “ogre” for having that opinion. I really hate the fact that culturally (in the United States), if you ever say anything that is anti-baby, anti-kids, or anti-motherhood, that somehow makes you a terrible person (hence, “ogre”).

      Some people love kids, some people don’t, and it’s 100% OK if you do or if you don’t.

      1. Cactus*

        Thanks for this. I’ve been pretty irritated by this type of thinking lately; the “you HATE kids clearly you are AWFUL!” sort. No. I would hate a policy like this, and I’d imagine that some parents might not even be fans. Write up a brilliant flex-time, work-remotely, PTO, maternity/paternity leave, sick leave-that-includes-kids’-sick-days policy. Pay enough so parents can reasonably afford daycare, and/or have in-house daycare!

  3. NK*

    I am ALL for family-friendly, flexible policies, but I’m not a huge fan of this idea either. Bringing in a baby very occasionally for a single day when you’re in a childcare pinch? Sure. But every day? I just don’t see how that would be feasible in most office jobs (or almost any other job). I’d also much rather see other types of family-friendly flexibility. I know some companies offer transitions back into work after maternity leave on a part-time basis, maybe that’s another idea you can offer up?

    1. Anna*

      Your suggestion makes way more sense. Or think long-term and investigate setting up an on site nursery with paid staff.

      1. Vicki*

        “an on site nursery with paid staff.”

        This is exactly what I was going to suggest. We’ve seen letters from people whose companies have this. The mother can visit the baby. The mother can feed the baby. The coworkers do not need to have a baby n their workspace. Everyone wins.

        1. Sarahnova*

          I would have some serious loyalty to a company that had a subsidised on-site creche, and I’m sure I’m not the only mother in that position. That would be a HUUUUUUGE perk. And I could skip pumping, just drop in to breastfeed – and still get my work done.

          I’m at home with an 8-month-old currently, and I can barely manage to take the occasional work call during naptimes.

    2. AVP*

      Another idea that might work better – my mother’s job has a partnership with a daycare center that is just offsite from their campus. The daycare primarily takes kids of parents who work at the site, and has licensed caretakers. If something goes wrong with your kid, it’s right outside so it’s easy to run over at lunch and check in. Perhaps the OP can try to advocate for their company to set something like that up instead?

      1. Alison Hendrix*

        Best Buy HQ has a huge day care within their building (complete with two coffee shops, dry cleaning pick-up/drop-off, and a bank branch). I think that was pretty awesome. They cart the little toddlers around the campus during lunch time, in a little train cart that could hold about eight of them. :)

    3. J.B.*

      One huge thing would be that there are a very few daycares set up to take sick kids, and some companies partner with these. Huge relief if your kid is sick to not have to take yet more time off work!

      1. majigail*

        And infect the whole office? I mean, I totally get it, kids get sick, but a sick kid (or adult) has no place in an office setting.

        1. blackcat*

          No, she’s saying exactly the opposite: have the company arrange for some place for the sick kid to be able to go so that the parent can go to work.

    4. Charlotte Collins*

      I’d be OK with it if the workplace were a daycare or some other type of baby-oriented place, where there would already be an expectation that you’d encounter babies…

    5. Mints*

      This just seems like a lose-lose to me. Coworkers wouldn’t work well (I’m young and smiley, I’m 1000% sure I would be shamed into holding the baby), parents don’t get parental leave where they can focus on the baby, parents in a professional sense can’t focus on work either (I didn’t get to the TPS reports, Baby was having a bad teething day).

      Generous p/maternity leave and flex time and working from home options all solve this.

      Specifically about working from home, I don’t think it should be in lieu of childcare, but if childcare falls apart, having the option to work a half day from home during naps is a win win too.

      Kids deserve childcare where someone is really focusing on them. I don’t like this idea from any perspective.

      1. Anx*

        Oh man.

        I’m about 30, but look a lot younger. I’m pretty sure people look at me and see “good with kids.”

        And while I’ve worked with kids of different ages in a lot of my jobs, I’m not a natural with children. They stress me out so much. I volunteered at an emergency shelter once and I’m pretty sure I just got pigeon holed into the childcare role. I didn’t mind so much because it was a short-term assignment and my professional development was the last thing on my mind. But in my actual job where my professional development mattered? I would not want to have to deal with countering any expectations to watch a baby for a few minutes.

    6. Honeybee*

      My workplace does this (the part-time transition) and is fairly flexible on how you fulfill it. We had a new mom who was on mat leave 3 months, then started coming in at noon for 3 months, and now she works 3 full-time days.

  4. Mike C.*

    So OP, how do the other employees deal with the constant disruptions a newborn is apt to cause at your other sites?

    Also, will you ensure that all of the adults working there are up to date on their vaccinations so that they don’t pass on anything dangerous to the newborn?

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      I can totally imagine some people wanting to bring their babies to work, then bugging all of their colleagues about making sure their vaccines are up-to-date. Or conversely, not vaccinating their own babies and then bringing whooping cough to the office.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Well, there’s that, but in the age window we’re talking about – newborn to 6-12 months based on other comments – there are a lot of vaccines baby flatly cannot have gotten yet, or won’t be at full effectiveness until the last booster, which baby can’t get until they’re older because of the necessary spacing. In this case, it’s very likely the baby won’t have had all sorts of vaccinations, just because they can’t – they’re very vulnerable. (And yes, if they catch anything, they’ll bring it in and share. We do say we want to teach kids to share, but this isn’t what we mean!)

          1. Anna*

            Not so much. Newborns are less of a concern with vaccinations because they are generally less susceptible to the kinds of illnesses that hit older kids. If vaccinations were that much of a concern, doctors would recommend you never take a newborn anywhere.

            1. Kyrielle*

              One of the big concerns expressed *by doctors* with several diseases that receive vaccinations is that newborns are especially vulnerable because they’re not vaccinated and their immune systems aren’t strong. Infants under 1 month of age are especially likely to die from pertussis, and 50% of those that get it will have to be hospitalized.

              I was advised (by his doctor!) to hold off on taking my 8-month-old to his first day of day care because they had RSV going around – it’s a real problem for the littlest, though there’s no vaccine for that one.

              I wish what you are saying were true, but according to my understanding and based on what my children’s doctor has told us, it’s not.

              I think doctors also understand that parents have lives and have to get things done, which is the reason they don’t recommend you not take them anywhere.

              1. Anna*

                One of the reasons is not only herd immunity but the idea there’s a lot of protection coming from mother’s breast milk. Most illnesses are not airborne, as was mentioned below. It’s about putting strange things in their mouth, which would be a concern at 8 mos and not so much at 1 month.

                1. Kyrielle*

                  I’ve heard that, and it’s great, but the fact remains that a newborn that does catch something is likelier to get quite sick from it than an older child, with most such “something”s. Pertussis is the particular bad guy here, and is airborne and can look like “just a cold” in adults, especially in its first phase. Others are also unpleasant.

                  And of course, not all infants will be breast-fed, for a variety of reasons – and while I would guess that breastfeeding mothers would be most likely to want their infant in the office with them, I wouldn’t count on it as a guarantee.

                  And relying on herd immunity is a real crapshoot. It depends on where you are, where the people around you came from, etc. Measles and pertussis outbreaks lately suggest we’re dropping below the critical threshold.

                2. Chinook*

                  “Measles and pertussis outbreaks lately suggest we’re dropping below the critical threshold.”

                  Statistics Canada confirmed Tuesday that we have dropped below the critical threshold in Canada (in a place with universal healthcare and vaccinations at no cost to infants). I can only imagine it is similar in the U.S. Link to news article in next post.

                3. Anna*

                  Yeah, I was working with some other assumptions and I can see that there would be concerns but I think I would be more concerned about possibly not knowing anyone at work well enough to want them to care for my baby. What I mean is when I’m assessing someone, my assessment might not include the specific question about vaccinations but more how would I feel about this person handling my kid, period.

            2. Mike C.*

              Uh, no. There’s a reason why new mothers are being advised to ensure all the adults visiting are up to date on their shots, especially measles and whooping cough.

              You can generally take them places that aren’t suffering from an outbreak because of herd immunity of having nearly everyone else vaccinated.

              1. Honeybee*

                And whooping cough is one of those things that most adults are NOT up to date on. You need a booster every 10 years and most adults are not aware of this.

            3. LBD*

              They do! Until they’re two months old, if a newborn spikes a fever they get a spinal tap to rule out meningitis so our daughter’s pediatrician recommended limiting her outings where she might encounter crowded conditions until she was 8 weeks old.

            4. Natalie*

              I’m not sure where you’re getting the idea that newborns are less susceptible to disease than older kids? Infants are absolutely just as susceptible to many illnesses, and actually more at risk for some (Hib and whooping cough come to mind in particular). One of the purposes of high vaccination coverage is preventing the spread of illnesses to populations that can’t be vaccinated, including infants.

              1. J.B.*

                IME the littlest ones get more of the airborne diseases. The ones passed around on surfaces come later, when they’re all drooling and chewing on things.

      2. Jeff A.*

        I previously worked at a large university coordinating clinical placements for nursing students. All our clinical sites required that they receive verification that every student they placed on one of their floors was UTD on all vaccinations and immunizations…let’s just say you would be amazed and/or horrified at the number of adults (American adults!) who are not up-to-date on their vaccinations.

        1. Anx*

          I don’t think it’s that surprising. If you think about it, most people get up to date on the vaccines for school, work, or volunteering. Older adults who aren’t students or are employed by hospitals/schools etc don’t have that system in check anymore.

          It’s very common for adults to go years, even decades, without going to the doctor.

        2. Honeybee*

          Not surprised…I had to get 6 vaccinations when I started college in 2004 because I was moving into the residence halls and was behind on a whole bunch of them. We weren’t even aware that adults had to get vaccines.

    2. MicheleNYC*

      The vaccination thing would be a big one for a lot of people. It would mean the entire office would have to go get I think it is the whopping cough vaccine to accommodate a small percentage of parents.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        Whooping cough (pertussis) is part of a combined booster with tetanus & diptheria. You should be getting a booster every 10 years so that your arm doesn’t fall off if you cut yourself with a dirty knife (or so my mother always told me).

        1. Kyrielle*

          Yes, though often you get tetanous-only, rather than the TDaP (which is the one you’re thinking of). It’s entirely possible to renew your tetanous every ten years and not get the other two, which I learned when told that *I* wasn’t protected against it when I was pregnant with my first. I had to get that one specifically.

          Given the anti-vaccination movement, I’d argue that every adult who needs that booster to have immunity should get it, though. Yes, pertussis can be deadly for babies and is usually not for adults, but that doesn’t mean it’s fun either.

          1. ExceptionToTheRule*

            Really? It’s not even an option at my clinic – they only give the cocktail.

            1. Honeybee*

              Yes, there is one version of the tetanus vaccine that is tetanus-only. But it seems most clinics don’t have access to it, or simply don’t order it because the vast majority of people want/need the combination vaccine. (there are also versions with just tetanus and diphtheria.)

        1. Biff*

          More people than you might think get advice to not get certain vaccinations. While I’m up-to-date on a lot of them, I can’t get a flu vaccine. So please — don’t be down on adults who don’t get vaccines. I’m not in the habit of explaining my medical issues and I doubt they are either.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Ditto from me. A communicable disease specialist told me that getting some shots would be too dangerous for me. Fine by me, I can just stay out of certain situations. Likewise, I do not explain the details to people.

          2. Knit Pixie*

            Yup and people can be jerks about it. A flu shot could hospitalize my husband, yet he had a boss (of all people) who was trying to require him to get one, when the company had a nurse come to the office to administer them as a courtesy. This boss got nasty and was ready to suspend my husband, write him up for insubordination etc. So my husband went in, told the nurse his contraindication and she agreed it was not in his best interest to have this shot. Still boss ranted and raved and retaliated until HR was forced to step in and told him he could not mandate this.

            The fact that my husband was allergic made no matter; looking back it is comedic to remember it snowballing from a “lame excuse” to a “conspiracy” (since the nurse chimed in) and the fact that a medical professional said it wasn’t a good idea, “still not a good enough reason to skip it.”

            Like really. I have no idea where some people get off.

      2. ineloquent*

        And even if you were to check the vaccination status of your entire office, you might still miss something important. My very good friend’s mother was a nurse, and she falsified his immunization records so that he could go to school without being vaccinated (she bought into the autism/vaccine hysteria). He didn’t find out until he was an adult.

    3. Kyrielle*

      The vaccinations thing would deeply worry me, as a parent. If the idea were tenable in all other ways – IMO it’s not – that alone would cause me not to use it for any child of mine.

    4. OP (Denise)*

      Companies that have done it have found that the newborns aren’t actually as disruptive as people think given that their needs can be immediately addressed. Model policies written on the issue state that if after taking the infant to a separate area designated for such, the infant cannot be calmed within a half hour, the employee must take the infant home and use personal/sick/unpaid time to do so.

      1. OP (Denise)*

        Also, on the vaccinations issue, I’m pretty sure most all adults in the workplace would have been vaccinated already. I can’t recall the last time I actually had a vaccination (college maybe?) I guess there will be some who aren’t but given that schools require vaccinations, the great majority of adults who have attended high school will have been vaccinated. So I don’t see that really being an issue.

        I will say that I worked in a company that had onsite daycare integrated with office space and I did feel somewhat pressured to get the flu shots they offered. I’m sure it was out of concern for the kids. I didn’t get one, though, and no one said anything to me about it.

        1. jhhj*

          There are huge anti-vaccination groups and you can in many places opt out of vaccinations for your children to go to school, so I would not assume that any given adult is vaccinated or that, if they were, they have kept up to date.

            1. TL -*

              Yes, but vaccinations aren’t always effective as time goes on. If they haven’t gotten boosters and if your office is in a hotspot for non-compliant vaccinations (affluent west coast neighborhoods, for example), they could easily be bringing in whooping cough or measles via contact with a largely unvaccinated population of children + lack of vaccine boosters in adults.

              Many adults don’t get boosters because it’s generally only pushed if you’re in a high-risk area/population. That being said, you should get your TDaP every 10 years.

            2. HB*

              How would you possibly know that, though, as that is private health information? There are many exemptions to the vaccine requirements for public schooling and perhaps your coworkers got those and were never vaccinated.

              It’s also very common for adults to forget about boosters (tetanus, people!).

            3. Ezri*

              The majority isn’t all, and you have no way of knowing who has and who hasn’t. It’s not something you can make assumptions about when establishing a policy.

            4. zora*

              but weirdly, keeping vaccines current is just not really common here. Even among adults who have had consistent health insurance. I know that I was surprised at what I was behind on when I checked on my immunizations when planning an out of the country trip. It’s just not something most doctor’s offices talk to you about on a regular basis when you are an otherwise healthy 20/30 something adult.

              1. zora*

                and if you haven’t had a vaccine since college then you are probably not up to date on everything you should be.

            5. Green*

              Most adults don’t have whooping cough vaccinations. And probably the majority of adults haven’t kept up with boosters. You’re kind of making stuff up here now…

              1. UK Nerd*

                I didn’t realise that the whooping cough vaccine requires boosters until three years ago, when I caught whooping cough. I had no idea what was wrong with me and probably coughed bacteria all over a lot of people before the antibiotics did their job.

              2. Cactus*

                Yep. The only reason I’m up on mine is because my doctor was so freaking awesome and proactive about reminding me (and now I know to get TDaP every time I have a birthday ending in a “5”). It was a lifesaver when my husband ended up with pertussis this past fall.

        2. LBK*

          There are immuno-compromised or allergic adults who can’t be vaccinated. I think those cases are pretty rare, but I still would hesitate to assume that all adults are fully vaccinated.

            1. Fuzzyfuzz*

              You’re making some big assumptions here; honestly, you never know what’s going on in your coworkers’ private lives. Plus, it’s a lot more common than you think. I am currently pregnant and it was discovered at my first pre-natal that I lost my immunity to measles during a chemo regimen for leukemia in my mid 20s (a whole other kettle of immuno-compromised fish). I cannot be vaccinated until the baby is born. They test for immunity now during prenatal appointments, so I certainly cannot be the only one.

              1. HB*

                Yep! Also pregnant and had to be tested to make sure I was sill immune to rubella and chicken pox. These things wear off for some people.

              2. Judy*

                I lost my measles immunity sometime between my last booster and becoming pregnant. I didn’t even have chemo. My younger sister was still in college in the early 90s when measles was happening on campus, but I was just old enough that I didn’t get the additional booster.

                I even had gone in to my previous doctor the year before we were going to start trying, and asked if there was anything I needed to do, and besides the prenatal vitamins, nothing about this testing was mentioned.

            2. UtahEditor*

              It’s not as rare as you think. Anyone with an immune disorder or a transplant has a compromised immune system and there are a LOT of both these days. Also, anyone who has such a person at home (I do) has to also take efforts to avoid diseases.

              1. Kara*

                Anyone who takes a medication like Humira for arthritis (like my ex) or who is or has undergone chemo or radiation has compromised immunity. I guarantee you none of my ex’s co-workers know he takes Humira (it just doesn’t come up in every day conversation) but he is immuno-suppressed because of it. He has to take a TB test every 3 months and be careful about being exposed to communicable conditions (including colds and flu). He looks the picture of health and in fact competes in kickboxing, so there’s no way to tell that he is vulnerable.

                People who say “it’s rare, don’t worry about it” are the people who scare me the most, because they’re making all kinds of assumptions about other people’s health from a position of complete and utter ignorance.

            3. Green*

              People with compromised immune systems are rare? They’re not the majority, but it’s not a rarity.

        3. sam*

          Contrary to what most people believe, many vaccines actually aren’t “permanent”. Most adults are protected by herd immunity, but the full protection requires boosters periodically, and adults are also able to fight off or deal with many illnesses that are simply more dangerous to children – but when I went to India a few years ago, I actually had to get boosters of a whole host of vaccines that I had gotten as a kid. I think polio is permanent, but I had to get an MMR booster, a tetanus booster (thats 10 years as stated above, and I got the full TDaP), as well as some other fun vaccines for things like hepatitis A and typhoid.

          By the way, did you know the typhoid vaccine is only good for 2 years? I didn’t, and neither did my brother, who found out the hard way while he was living in Afghanistan.

          1. Mike C.*

            I have a friend who had to get the smallpox vaccination due to the work she does her lab. She thought it was the coolest thing ever.

            1. BananaPants*

              My brother’s smallpox vaccination scar is very cool looking. (He’s active duty military and was vaccinated during the time period when all service members were vaccinated.)

              1. zora*

                my parents have the smallpox scars, they are old enough to have had to get it when they were kids.

                1. Jessica (tc)*

                  My parents have them, too. I asked what it was when I was a little kid, and my mom tried to explain why she had the scar, but I probably wouldn’t have to have it. I didn’t get the concept fully until I was older, but I was glad she assured me, because I was terrified of needles and that was a scary thought considering the size of the scar!

          2. Natalie*

            Just a clarification, for many people Hep A & B vaccines appear to be lifelong. However, they are fairly new vaccines (compared to measles or whatever) so some adults may have never been vaccinated as children. I didn’t get a Hep B vaccine until college.

            1. blackcat*

              Or the Hep B sequence was an old type.

              I’m pretty young (27) and my grad school institution made me do the entire Hep B cycle again, given that I had only gotten 2 vaccines as a kid and the standard is now 3. They also insisted on a new TDAP–the tetanus only boosters I had been getting weren’t acceptable to them.

              1. blackcat*

                Oh, and I fought them on the chickenpox vaccine. I had the chicken pox when I was 3, but kids just 1-2 years younger than me got vaccinated in most places.

                I also wasn’t horridly ill, so my mom didn’t take me to the doctor when I had it. I went back and forth with the health center saying “But I HAD the chickenpox! I remember having the chickenpox! I was miserable!” Eventually, they accepted a signed letter from my mom, swearing that I had had the chickenpox. If there wasn’t a not insignificant chance of the chickenpox vaccine causing shingles in me (it happens in my age bracket), I would have just accepted the additional shot.

              2. Jessica (tc)*

                I was a little mad I had to get an updated tetanus (the TDAP) at my last checkup. I have a nasty reaction after the tetanus shots that affects me for several weeks, and I just had the regular booster a couple of years before and thought I was good for my 10 years. Grrrr on them for realizing that the whooping cough from my last childhood booster wasn’t working any longer! (Not really, but I was really hoping I was set for at least 8 more years, so it was a nasty surprise that my doctor sprung on me.)

          3. OP (Denise)*

            No, they aren’t all permanent, but the necessity of updates also relates to their general prevalence in the populace or, as you shared, your particular geographic area. So I think it would be easy to talk about the permanence or impermanence of a vaccine without putting it into context.

          4. Cath in Canada*

            Ugh, and the typhoid shot is really painful. They told me “you will experience soreness in your arm” and I assumed it would be like a flu shot. It was not. I felt like my left arm was about 20 times its usual weight, and it ached so much I could barely move it.

        4. cv*

          If you haven’t had a vaccine since college, then your immunity for some things has likely diminished over time and you’d pose a risk to babies in your office. You should have a TDAP booster every 10 years, and you can typically graduate from high school without getting the meningitis vaccine (it’s recommended for students in dorms, people in the military, and that sort of thing).

          Also, the flu is no joke for infants. If the fact that you want infants in your office but are unwilling to get a flu shot is representative of your overall approach, then I can’t imagine the program is going to go smoothly.

          1. Ezri*

            Having the children in a separate daycare area isn’t the same as having them in the office, as well… you are much more likely to spread germs to a baby in the next office than you are to one on the other side of the building.

          2. OP (Denise)*

            I didn’t work with the children nor did I get the flu. To my knowledge companies that provide onsite daycare do not require their employees to be vaccinated or get flu shots, so I don’t think your implying that this is somehow negligent on my part is at all on point.

            1. Poppy*

              Pretty much anybody who works in a medical capacity with infants, babies, or children is strongly encouraged to get an annual flu shot, in addition to complying to the CDC’s vaccination schedule. By strongly encouraged, I mean they can either be up-to-date with their vaccines or they are fired/forced to take leave until they are fully vaccinated. I imagine the same policy is in place for many daycares. I’m also thinking of the recent measles outbreak at the daycare in Palatine, IL — it’s risky not to require up to date vaccines of all individuals working so closely with young children, no matter the environment.

            2. SystemsLady*

              The fact that you didn’t get the flu shot has nothing to do with the fact that you didn’t get or have never gotten the flu.

              If a close contact of yours had contracted the flu, you’d have been wishing you had gotten the vaccination, that’s for sure.

              And it surprises me that daycare employees are not required to get a flu shot, though I guess I don’t know how young the children at the facility you’re attached to average.

              Those who will be in close contact with infants at least are basically required to get the shot, to the maximum extent that you can be required to do so in your circumstance.

              I wouldn’t call you negligent per se in your situation, but I find this common blase attitude towards flu vaccines frustrating.

              1. Ezri*

                I commonly hear people who never get sick say they don’t need boosters or vaccines… my Dad is one of them. The problem is, me and my sisters and my stepmom DO get sick. So my Dad would pick up something nasty and carry it around infecting people while claiming he ‘never gets sick’. After a couple of months of passing strep around my house my Stepmom forced everyone, including him, to get vaccines. That put a stop to it, it’s been years since we had a household outbreak.

                My husband is the same way – he never gets sick, but he still gets a flu shot because I catch everything he brings home.

              2. Tyrannosaurus Regina*

                Forgive me if I’m misunderstanding how the flu shot works, but I was under the impression that although it protects many people from contracting influenza at all, for others it’s still possible to get it—but you get a much *milder* form of it. …which, to my mind, would still make you a risk for spreading it to babies or anybody else. (Isn’t that how the bordatella vx works in dogs? Reduces their chances of getting kennel cough but not to 0%, but if a vaccinated dog does get it, it’s a less severe case?)

                I should probably look this up instead of assuming…

        5. Ezri*

          “Also, on the vaccinations issue, I’m pretty sure most all adults in the workplace would have been vaccinated already.”

          That’s a big assumption, depending on the size of your organization. It needs to be considered.

          1. OP (Denise)*

            It’s really not an assumption. You can calculate the probability given the vaccination requirements for US public and private schools.

            1. Jeff A.*

              Actually, you might be surprised at how frequently this is not the case, even in the US. I used to work in higher education for an American university (dealing with students who were ALREADY admitted and enrolled in a post-baccalaureate program), and I can tell you that you’d be astounded by the number of American adults who are not up-to-date on their immunizations and vaccinations.

              I had to screen all our nursing students and verify their vaccination records prior to their being accepted at affiliate clinical sites for rotations, and there were MANY of them who had immunizations lapsed…and these are adults who are dialed-into the healthcare world.

            2. Kat M*

              Yes-but the point everyone is making is that people let their vaccines slide as adults (from forgetfulness or thinking the ones they received as a kid would last forever). So, even if you get the vaccines as a kid, your immunity might have worn off. A lot of healthy adults-particularly young adults-don’t always get a physical every year so their doctors might not have the opportunity to remind them and, even if they do, you get so little time with the doctors when you go in that you might not think to ask if it’s not on your radar and they might not think to ask if they’re trying to juggle a day full of patients.

              Vaccines do wear off and even pro-vax folks don’t think to get things updated. It happens. And people travel to developing countries or might come into contact with people who choose not to or could not be vaccinated. Not a liability anyone should have, no matter how small.

              1. Colleen*

                I’m in my mid-40s and none–not one–of my routine-care doctors has ever mentioned vaccine boosters to me, or asked when my last vaccinations occurred. Since my teens, the only times I’ve been asked about my vaccinations are: 1) when I was pregnant and 2) when I went to urgent care after I accidentally cut myself.

                1. Andrea*

                  It’s possible that this is changing. I’m in my mid-30s and my doctor asked me about tetanus; I remembered that I’d had one in 2005 and so I got another earlier this year (the one with the pertussis booster, too). She’s my primary care doctor, and she knows that I spend a lot of free time working in the garden, digging in the dirt, growing veggies, etc., so that is possibly why she asked. But she also mentioned to me that there’s been a push recently to make sure adults are up to date on these things.

            3. GigglyPuff*

              But aren’t you really referring to the vaccination requirements for now? What about ten, twenty years ago?

              I have a friend who never got vaccinations, went to public school and college, and her parents certainly didn’t opt out for religious reasons. Now in her early thirties.

            4. Xay*

              Also, depending on the ages of your staff and when they were in school, they may not be current on all recommended vaccinations. I wasn’t vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B until I was an adult. Similarly, many adults don’t bother to get the flu vaccine every year – I didn’t until a flu outbreak at my son’s school.

            5. Ezri*

              It IS an assumption. Probability does not constitute fact on any given sample size in the real world. Other commenters have already provided circumstances where an adult may not be vaccinated, and unless you see the medical records of everyone you meet you can’t tell who is and who isn’t.

            6. Biff*

              For someone who came here looking for straight talk, you seem oddly adversarial when you got what you came for. Is there a reason for that? Clearly before this topic came up you thought we were all reasonable, somewhat well-informed workers. Now we’re all wrong somehow? I think you need to realize that we actually represent a reasonable slice of the working world and if all of us are telling you this is a bad idea, in a myriad of different ways then the best response is to not try to write the policy with a bunch of caveats and assumptions in it, but to not have this policy.

        6. BananaPants*

          Nope, not in the US. While vaccines are required for school and college attendance, in most states it’s extremely easy to be exempted on “religious” or philosophical grounds. The parent or student fills out a one page form, and they don’t have to be vaccinated for ANYTHING to go to school.

          We can only hope that other states follow suit with California’s recent passage of a strict new law that closes the loophole on most non-medical vaccine exemptions.

            1. fposte*

              But also when they want to school and college, because requirements change and, as noted above, immunity fades.

          1. OP (Denise)*

            The fact that someone “can” be exempted actually doesn’t address the probabilty of any given adult having been vaccinated or not. The fact of the matter is that the percentage of individuals whose parents chose to file an exemption is small.

            1. TychaBrahe*

              That depends on where you live. I don’t have any information on vaccination rates in adults, but in “crunchy” areas of California like West LA and Marin County, there are schools where vaccination rates have dipped into the low 30% range. Fortunately California has recently passed a law eliminating the personal belief exemption.

            2. TL -*

              That is extremely, and I mean extremely, region-dependent.
              If your company is in state with a high percentage of low-income adults, that is very likely to be true (Mississippi, for example, has great compliance rates). If you’re in a state with a lot of high-income adults, it’s very region-specific and some counties have compliance rates that are between 50-80% at various ages.

              1. Algae*

                Wow; I didn’t ever hear about income levels and vaccination rates, but it makes a ton of sense. Private insurance means you can doctor-shop more than Medicaid patients are able to.

            3. Ezri*

              Even if it’s small, it’s still a possible risk. If someone isn’t vaccinated and a baby in your office gets really sick, how will this policy handle that?

              1. Cactus*

                Seriously. Very young kids have died from catching communicable, vaccine-preventable diseases. Do you want to risk this?

            4. ineloquent*

              But really, do you want to put a bunch of delicate infants at risk because your perception is that most office workers are vaccinated (regardless of whether that is the case)? It just takes one person to pass on something deadly, and the paerents don’t and can’t know enought about their coworkers to make a truely informed choice. Kids are safer at home with a limited number of people who interact with them until they get a bit older.

              1. Kyrielle*

                Or at a child care provider, where the workers *do* have to certify that they have the immunizations, etc. Though there, they are exposed to other children, of course. (So are babies who stay home but have siblings in school, though.)

        7. Kyrielle*

          That’s a potentially dangerous assumption, actually. The effects of some vaccinations can attenuate over time, and the list of “standard” vaccinations has changed over the years. I had to get 6-8 vaccinations, to protect my newborn, when I had my first. I had all the regular childhood vaccinations – some of the now-regular ones weren’t when I was little, while others wear off over time.

        8. Kiryn*

          What if they didn’t go to high school in the US? Most of the tech offices I’ve worked in have had plenty of people who moved to this country as adults after attending school elsewhere, and I have no idea what the vaccination laws are in their various countries of origin.

          1. Cassie*

            I just checked – there are vaccination requirements for people coming to the US as a permanent resident (or getting PR from a different visa type). You can apply for exemptions, e.g. for religious reasons. I was going to say that I’m not sure my parents are vaccinated (they moved to the US in their mid-30s) but apparently they would have had to be in order to get PR status.

            I was a toddler when we moved to the US – I had the necessary vaccines for my age and then got additional vaccines before entering the 1st grade (or maybe it was kindergarten?). I also got some booster in high school (don’t remember for what), but I have not had a booster since. Oops. I have not had a chicken pox vaccine. Didn’t get a Hep B vaccine (my college started requiring them just as I was about to graduate).

        9. Engineer Girl*

          No, adults may not be vaccinated, especially the older ones. A lot of vaccines didn’t exist when older adults were children. Polio for those over the age of 65, Measles and Chicken Pox for those over the age of 55.
          It could actually be risky to ask an older adult to be vaccinated, so you’re in a sticky situation. It would be wrong to ask someone to endure a medical risk for your convenience. Note that I said convenience, not need.

          1. Honeybee*

            Not even that for chicken pox. The varicella vaccine was developed in 1995, and it didn’t become part of the recommended cocktail of childhood vaccinations until 2006. I’m only 29 and I wasn’t vaccinated for varicella – I got my immunity the hard way. I’m betting that the majority of working adults never got a varicella vaccination; most of them probably had chicken pox, but some of them might not have.

            Not to mention that even if you did have varicella as a child, it can reactivate as shingles as an adult. You’re supposed to get a shingles vaccination if you’re over around 55, but not everyone knows that, and I do believe that an adult with shingles can pass it in the form of chicken pox to a child (although admittedly you’re only contagious when the blisters are oozing, and people are unlikely to be at work then).

        10. Adam V*

          > Also, on the vaccinations issue, I’m pretty sure most all adults in the workplace would have been vaccinated already.

          Do you want to be in the business of verifying everyone’s vaccination records? Would you be on the hook (legally) if you don’t?

        11. snuck*

          There actually is a genuine concern around vaccination.

          Newborns can’t have the full pertussis (whooping cough) amongst others…

          and that’s the one that most people need re-immunising every 10yrs on. Quick poll of your office… how many people have had a DTP in the last 10yrs? You’ll find it’s very very few. They won’t be up to date. And in adults whooping cough presents differently – a very nasty “100 day” cough. Without the whoop.

        12. Sarah in Boston*

          A ton of people at work had to get vaccinated against measles last year when we had an exposure at one of our buildings. We had people who couldn’t confirm vaccination because who knows where the paperwork is and we had people who got checked and were no longer immune (older version of the vaccine). So even if you have been vaccinated, you might not a) be able to prove it or b) still be immune in some cases.

          1. Kyrielle*

            As an aside, for many of these, your doctor can run titers to measure if you’re immune, if your vaccination status is unknown. (Which I had done when I was pregnant with my first, since my records from before about age 22-23 are long gone into the annals of history…and thus we found out I needed a bunch of shots. Whee. And I’m pro-vaccination, but like many adults, I didn’t know anything other than tetanus needed renewing, and *doctors didn’t really discuss that with me*. Until I was pregnant…well, now I know, at least!)

            1. Loose Seal*

              I actually asked my doctor about this and he said the titer is a very expensive test and insurance is unlikely to cover it unless you have a good reason (like pregnancy). (This was before the ACA kicked in; it might be different now.) If my office implemented this idea of bringing babies to the office, I certainly would not want to shell out a lot of money to see if I could pass something on to someone else’s baby.

              And OP, since you are so sure that all adults are vaccinated, I’ll tell you that I’m in my mid-forties and I’ve never had the chicken pox vaccine (although I had the disease in kindergarten) or any of the hepatitis vaccines or the meningitis vaccine (no personal exemption, they just weren’t required when I was in school and I’ve never been in a situation where they were required). I did have the TDaP this year because I keep up with that but the nurse said that most people get their tetanus shots in the ER after being stitched up and the local ER only gives tetanus, not the combination. If that’s true in your area, those adults might think they are up-to-date on their tetanus and not be aware they should be getting the pertussis too.

        13. Honeybee*

          If you can’t remember the last time you had a vaccination, then you’re already probably out of compliance…you’re supposed to get booster vaccinations at different points. And being around children makes the flu shot of heightened importance, but I know a lot of people are not going to want that every year.

      2. Laurel Gray*

        ” Model policies written on the issue state that if after taking the infant to a separate area designated for such, the infant cannot be calmed within a half hour, the employee must take the infant home and use personal/sick/unpaid time to do so.”

        This is something they wouldn’t have to do if they had child care outside of work. Small babies are usually pretty good when they are healthy and their needs are met but even the healthiest “good” baby has her bad day and wants to fuss and scream. This policy creates a disruption as it attempts to solve another.

        1. ToxicNudibranch*

          Also, subjecting the office to a half-hour “calm down” period (even if the child is taken to another room!) before the employee is allowed/encouraged/forced to go home sounds mighty disruptive.

          Not only because of the noise factor, but because the employee is now out of work for the rest of the day. They may or may not be able to telecommute once they leave the office, but their schedule (and that of the coworkers or clients they were going to be working with) is now changed in a very real way.

      3. Sadsack*

        Unless there is soundproofing or the designated screaming baby area is a separate single unit building, it seems really unfair to subject other employees to have to overhear a baby cry for even a few minutes, never mind a half hour. I am curious why this is being proposed over onsite day care or better paternity/maternity leave.

        1. Moss*

          I say no to the babies, but yes to the designated screaming area. I personally could use a room like that!

      4. sittingduck*

        I was going to comment the same thing – I think people have this idea that babies are very disruptive – but in my experience, newborn babies are not remotely disruptive.

        I had 3 months of Grad school left when my son was born, and I took him to classes with me – all he did was sleep in the carrier I had him in – because 90% of what newborns do is sleep, which they do much better right next to Mom. I gave presentations, and fully participated in m y 3 hour long Grad School classes with my son strapped to me. My professors were nervous that he would be a disruption, but after seeing that all he did was sleep, they had no problem with me bringing him to class.

        1. Mike C.*

          That’s great for you, but there are a ton of mothers in this very thread talking about how disruptive it would be had they done the very same thing. We can’t make policy based on the very best possible outcome, it needs to be judged on what is likely to happen.

          1. Tyrannosaurus Regina*

            Also, graduate school (while taxing and potentially exhausting and a lot of hard work) is a very different environment from a typical office setting.

            1. Honeybee*

              Not the least because you’re usually in class intermittently. Most babies probably could sleep through a 2-3 hour graduate class, but an 8-10 hour workday?

        2. cv*

          I agree with you about newborns, but the sample policies allow babies until they’re mobile, which is often in the 6 or 7 month range. I’d hope that any company that wants to be family friendly would start with parental leave policies that cover those first couple of months and that this is being proposed for months 4-6, but maybe that’s too optimistic.

        3. LBK*

          The problem is that even if 99 out of 100 babies are dead silent and sleep through the day, there are some babies that are loud and I think you’re getting into a pretty sensitive area when you start judging whose baby is too noisy to stay in the office.

        4. Myrin*

          I feel like that shows that you’ve been blessed with a very quiet and calm child rather than that children generally are said to be more disruptive than they really are.

          A few semesters ago, a young mother attended one of my lectures and brought her baby with her. The child started crying and fussing almost every single lesson and the young woman had to leave halfway through the lesson all the time. I later heard friends of hers say they copied their own notes for her as she didn’t come to the lecture anymore because it was too stressful with the child.

          1. edj3*

            I feel like that shows that you’ve been blessed with a very quiet and calm child rather than that children generally are said to be more disruptive than they really are.

            + infinity

            My older son did not sleep more than two hours straight the first six months of his life. He was loud, interactive and not at all quiet. So that’s great if your baby was a quiet baby but be grateful for that rather than assume all babies are that way.

          2. einahpets*

            Amen! My daughter was not a quiet nor calm baby. She was never to the point I’d call colicky, but I can’t imagine having to manage a regular working day when she was young. I took 3 months off for maternity leave and then she was in daycare — even on the days where I worked from home (I was allowed to work from home 3 days a week at first, now it is 2). Even 1 hour of church on the weekends was a struggle, no matter if it was supposed to be at a regular nap time when we went, etc. The kid liked to mix it up and stretch out her lungs at a moment’s notice.

            I am in my second trimester with my second now and I am hoping that we might be blessed with one of these mythical quiet, calm babies. Hoping, hoping, hoping…

            1. Alma*

              There was a new Mom who brought her baby to class with her. The baby was not quiet, had croup most of the time, was often nursing, Mom was walking around the back of the room cooing and trying to soothe the baby, and ummmm, besides the normal baby output odor, Mom was probably opting to sleep rather than shower. The rooms were heated by radiators, and over-hot. It was an unbearable semester.

              I can tune out a lot of sounds, but babies who wail, spit up, and cry while I’m trying to concentrate … can’t do it.

          3. katamia*

            Yeah, I apparently cried non-stop even as a newborn (no colic or anything, I was just easily ticked off, apparently). There’s no way my mother could have brought me to work like this.

        5. Ad Astra*

          Some newborns really aren’t very disruptive, but but others are, and I wouldn’t want to be in charge of deciding which babies could come to the office. (FWIW, I did attend many college classes with my mom when I was a toddler and only caused trouble once, when someone mentioned Plato and I exclaimed “Play-Doh?! Where?”)

          Bringing a baby to classes feels different from bringing a baby to a typical office. Most classes are three hours or less (often only an hour or 90 minutes), and many schedules would allow you several breaks between classes to handle feeding, changing, and entertaining the baby. It’s also easier to walk out of a lecture hall when the baby gets fussy (or smelly) than it is to leave most offices. Every college campus I’ve been on was more baby-friendly than any office I ever worked in, but YMMV.

          1. Lillie Lane*

            “only caused trouble once, when someone mentioned Plato and I exclaimed “Play-Doh?! Where?”

            That is hilarious.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Too cute for words. I would have laughed out loud if I had overheard that comment.

        6. Snowglobe*

          Every baby is different; my first baby could go anywhere and never cried or fussed. He was happy to go down for a nap and woke up without crying. I was a very smug parent who thought it was because I was so good about keeping him on a schedule. Karma got me with Baby #2, who proved that I was just lucky the first time.

          1. Ezri*

            I was my parents’ first, and apparently I was a nightmare marathon crier of epic proportions. On top of having colic and ear infections, I was a grump – nothing made me happy. It’s a wonder they had three more kids (who were all much quieter, apparently).

        7. Charlotte Collins*

          When I’ve taken classes, I’ve never been bothered by people bringing in babies (or even young, well-behaved children), as they’ve always been good about taking the kids out if they get fussy, and that’s no different to any other public place (like church or a museum), but a class only lasts for about an hour or two a few times a week, so it’s not that same as bringing a baby into an office. Also, I figure that in that case, the adult leaving with the baby might be missing something but is not necessarily vital to the working of the class (I’ve never seen a professor/instructor bring a kid to class).

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            My dad took me to class when he was a professor. I would have been 2 or 3, although he might have done it when I was younger too. I think it was a fairly regular event, and I have vague memories of sitting in a college classroom. But I was also a quiet and still child.

          2. Excel Slayer*

            One of my lecturers brought her daughter in once when I was at uni (it was half term and I figure her child care must have fell through). She was this angelic little six/seven year old who sat at the front of the class and alternated between reading and drawing.

            1. Honeybee*

              One of my professors brought her child to class a few times, too. She was 5. I was sitting behind her, and noticed that she was taking notes on what her mom was lecturing on (with some supplemental drawings and creative spellings). This was a biology class.

        8. Clever Name*

          I am so happy that your newborn was able to sleep soundly in a carrier while you attended to other things. I think you’ll find that your experience is not universal. I have friends whose babies had awful awful colic/reflux and would scream for hours, even while being carried or worn. My son, who didn’t have either, would sometimes fuss for no discernible reason. So, some babies are quiet. Some aren’t. They’re all different. Just like adults.

      5. LBK*

        I find it really, really hard to believe that the babies aren’t as disruptive as people expect. Are those studies based on what the parents say or what their coworkers say?

        1. Anlyn*

          I had colic for the first six weeks of my life. I was not at all a calm baby, because I was miserable, and mom was miserable. It would have been a disaster to bring me to an office.

          1. Charlotte Collins*

            Me, too! And I apparently was an early presenting introvert. My mother discovered that taking me out in the buggy for a walk was NOT what I needed to calm down. Too many people!

          2. MashaKasha*

            I was thinking that! My youngest had colic for the first three or four months. He screamed 24×7. My husband and other son were on edge from all the non-stop crying, and they were that kid’s blood relatives. Can you imagine how coworkers might react?

            1. Ezri*

              Yep, I was a colic baby. My Dad tells me that he and my Mom called my Grandmother in a panic because I had cried for twenty-four hours straight at one point and they thought I was never going to sleep again OMG.

              It’s kind of fun to picture my parents at my age freaking out about things I could see myself freaking out about. I feel bad about them never getting any sleep during my first years, though. XD

        2. zora*

          Yeah, it really depends on the baby. My mom had a daycare in our house when I was younger, so I saw more babies than most adults my age. And they really vary. Some babies are so calm and easy, and others are crazy amounts of disruptive, poor little things.

        3. fposte*

          I think there’s a fair amount of self-selection, in that people with quiet babies are likelier to be doing this. I also noted that the organization’s statistics didn’t say anything about co-workers.

      6. Clarissa*

        Doesn’t this favor “good” babies (ie babies who sleep regularly, don’t cry, don’t fuss)? Some babies are just fussier than others. If a parent is unlucky and has a fussy baby they won’t even be able to take advantage of this and will end up using personal/sick/unpaid leave, which defeats the entire purpose.

        1. jmkenrick*

          Apparently I was the easiest child in the world…slept for hours, would make this face prior to crying to people could expect it, easily calmed down by rocking.

          My sister would cry and cry and cry if people didn’t constantly hold her. Babies have personalities, just like everybody else…

        2. OP (Denise)*

          Well, this doesn’t take the place of maternity leave. If it works it works, and if it doesn’t it doesn’t. If the baby is crying all day so you have to continually go home, then per the policy, continuing to bring the baby to work would not be a viable option. I don’t think that anything about this suggests that people *must* bring their babies to work. But if it *can* work, it is permissible.

          1. zora*

            I get what you are saying and I feel bad that there’s a bit of a pile on happening here, but I want to point out another thing you would have to take into account based on what you said here. So, who would make the decision that this particular baby is not a viable option to be in the workplace? Where would you draw the line and who would have to enforce it?

            If you think it would work for your workplace, then that’s great, you should do it. But really make sure you are thinking through all the possible angles and problems, and figuring out ahead of time what the solution would be so that everyone knows before getting started.

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, that part worries me. We already have people who don’t want to tell their staff unpleasant things; “Your baby isn’t welcome here” is going to be a horrible message to deliver on its own, even before you get into the implications for leave and/or day care.

              1. afiendishthingy*

                Yeah, I feel awkward telling my coworkers their MUSIC is bothering me, let alone their children.

              1. fposte*

                I think she is listening–she’s responding, after all. She’s not agreeing, but surely she doesn’t have to?

                I don’t think the response is out of line either, as it happens; it’s just that a lot of people have opinions and it’s a high-impact subject.

                1. Green*

                  There’s a difference between hearing and listening. (Or whatever the internet analogues are.)

                  OP asked what people’s primary concerns would be. Her response throughout has been to respond to and easily dismiss other people’s concerns (even to the point of wildly unfounded assumptions about vaccinations, willingness of colleagues to jump in, “just set boundaries”, people rarely drop babies so no liability!, but dogs are more distracting than kids, telecommuting isn’t an option because she personally would give in to distraction from home???) rather than internalize those and thoughtfully consider them. This is one of the OP questions where she’s certainly not required to agree, but to get what she wanted out of the original questions, she needs more than flippant kneejerk dismissals of valid concerns.

                  And she has yet to respond to any one of the numerous people who flat stated they’d quit their jobs if this happened, while touting productivity and employee retention as benefits.

                2. fposte*

                  I think you’re treating this as if it were more a courtroom-like exchange, though (IIRC, you’re a lawyer, so that would make sense). She didn’t write in to hash the issue out with the commenters and come to conclusion here; she wrote in to find out what people thought and share what she did. It’s a read of the landscape, not a work toward a verdict.

                3. zora*

                  I agree with fposte, I also think she is listening. Her responses don’t mean she’s ignoring everyone, she is trying to provide more info and context.

                4. Green*

                  I think you’re making a big assumption based on the lawyer thing from other threads. People love to cast lawyers as argumentative and always expecting things to be like “a courtroom.” I have not been in a “courtroom” in my entire professional career because that’s not what I do. I wasn’t expecting OP to “hash it out” but to be more along the lines of “Interesting; I hadn’t considered that” not “Oh, that’s not a problem because X!” And that has nothing to do with me being a lawyer but is based on the question OP asked.

                5. Kira*

                  Green, we could view all the counter arguments as practice for OP. If the boss says X, would Y be a suitable counter to sway the decision? Can I come up with solutions and plans for the various opposing points to show that I’ve thought it through and comprehensively?

              2. OP (Denise)*

                I’m not sure what you expect. There are already dozens of companies where this has been happening, so the fact that it can work is fact. I appreciate fposte’s point in that just because you or 1000 people would hate the policy does not mean that I have to hate it and you seem to feel that I am supposed to based on that. What would work for you is not necessarily what would work for someone else. Understanding people’s concerns is just that. I said I was thinking of making a proposal/suggestion for consideration, not unilaterally implementing this policy. I have listened and if you read through you might see that a bit more, but some people read with the intention of finding fault and I am sensing that here.

                1. Green*

                  You absolutely don’t need to hate the policy you want to implement. You do need to consider that the vast majority of people very strongly opposed the policy, and you need to try to seriously address their concerns in order for your proposal to have any chance of success. If you were interested in doing that, a better approach might be to ask people whether your arguments are addressing their specific concerns and seek more feedback rather than dismissing their concerns or assuming that your arguments address the concern.

                  (And the “dozens” of companies aren’t evidence it’s working.)

                2. OP (Denise)*

                  Green, the many companies that implemented the policy and continue to follow it are definitely evidence that it *can* work. Now you’re simply dismissing what doesn’t affirm your POV. What many seem to forget is that just because it would be unworkable in their context does not mean it would be unworkable in another.

                  I made where I was coming from clear in the op. I asked for peoples concerns. I don’t have to convince anyone here, nor do I intend to do so, and no one here has insight into my particular employment situation, which means you could not adequately address my arguments. The comment above about you expecting a more adversarial courtroom style exchange was correct. But that only reflects what you want to see, not why I’m here.

                3. nona*

                  There are more than dozens of companies with open office plans. And we can all agree they are terrible.

                  The number of companies doing this doesn’t make it a good idea.

                4. OP (Denise)*

                  nona, you might feel that an open office plan is terrible, but you know what, there are others who would disagree with you.

                  I am starting to become a bit bothered by people’s narrow-mindedness in terms of being totally unable to accept that there is even *somewhere* that this has been a good thing. All the op asked was for your particular concerns, not to try and prove that no one should ever do this. You don’t have the information necessary to make that judgment.

                5. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  To be fair, though, studies consistently show that the majority of people hate open office plans and find them distracting. You can find some people who will like everything, but that fact doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea overall.

                  It’s possible that you have one of the very rare offices where this will work and everyone will like it, including future hires who you don’t currently know. It’s possible that your company will decide it values the ability to do this over objections anyone might have, and that’s their prerogative. But I think you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t really take in the overwhelming dislike for this idea that you’re seeing here!

                6. Anna*

                  OP, not even in countries like Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, do they have wide-spread company policies like this. Your suggestion is not the norm nor the majority, and I think for good reason. People have brought up a lot of concerns, such as feeling pressured to look after the baby, distractions, quality of work ect. To me, you seem to be the narrow minded party. Particularly in regards to what actually supports new mothers and fathers, which is more paid time off, flexible work schedules, and better daycare options.

                  Why does it HAVE to be bring your baby into work? Why is this the only solution?

                  The way you’re being dismissive of how many of us dislike the program, also worries me. Of course I don’t know you or your company and how your work culture functions, but this seems oddly personal to you.

                7. OP (Denise)*

                  Anna, I said I was going to submit a suggestion. I didn’t say it *had* to be this. But I asked a question about this specific idea, not about a different one.

                  To AAM, I wrote because I wanted perspectives and I’ve said multiple times that I would take them into consideration. And I mentioned narrow-mindedness because many have responded as if even discussing the idea is a threat to them and their workplace sanity and it is not.

          2. Mae North*

            “Continuing to bring the baby to work would not be a viable option”

            Daycares have long wait times. Like months-long, reserve a place while you’re pregnant. If you didn’t arrange daycare because you were able to bring your infant to work, or if you have a spot for when the baby is too old for the policy but the daycare can’t take them earlier, the parent is pretty much screwed.

            What options or solutions would the company offer in these situations?

      7. ali*

        Disruptive or not, I just don’t want to be around babies, if I did I would have some.

        And I don’t want to work with coworkers who feel it’s okay to “immediately address” a baby’s needs if there is something I need from them or if they are under deadline. If the parent feels they need to take care of the baby, they need to not be at work. If they need to be at work, the baby needs to be in alternate care. This is the same reason working from home while also taking care of a baby doesn’t work. You cannot do both without one suffering. When you’re working, you need to be focused on working.

        1. Andrea*

          Agreed. I would quit if my workplace was going to do this. I’m not interested in being around babies at work, and I’m especially not interested in dealing with their noise.

      8. Anna*

        OP, is there a reason why you seem to be very attached to this idea? I think there’s multitude of different ways to help new parents transition back into the workplace, much of which is listed by my fellow commenters.

        Personally for me, if I was interviewing at your company and found out that this policy was in place, I’d immediately cross the company off my list. It doesn’t seem fair to subject other people to your child. If that makes me a monster, then so be it.

        1. eplawyer*

          I agree. OP seems to just want to hear why this will work, not why it will be a problem.

          Personally, my view is work is for work. home is for home. If I am a manager, I expect my team to be able to do the work I have assigned. Not go take care of a baby. Babies don’t care about the deadline. And expecting co-workers to not only pick up your slack because you are half parent/half team member while also caring for your child is just not fair to the co-workers.

          Sure, the parents may love this policy. Not all of them though. And some co-workers will love the policy but a lot more will hate it. You have to think about all the employees not just the ones with babies.

      9. Stranger than fiction*

        So if they have a weeks long bout with collick or teething there goes all your sick and vacation time

    5. Engineer Girl*

      This goes with a common theme I’m starting to see. That is asking others to share and support the normal adult burdens of life.
      I’m a big fan of helping out and bearing each others burdens. Burdens are big things that are out of normal life – your family member is seriously injured in an auto accident, someone has cancer, Someone’s family member dies. These are the big crippling things of adulthood. Raising kids is hard, but it is not a burden. Transportation to work is hard, but not a burden. A managed medical condition is hard, but not a burden. As an adult, we are expected to handle our own adult stuff. Do not make them other people’s business. It’s OK to ask for the occasional favor, but you have no right to expect me to help out.
      If you want to get the perks of adulthood, you need to put up with the crud that comes with it. If you signed up for children you signed up for the crud parts too. Do not fob those off on others.

      1. einahpets*

        But is that really how society should be? I personally don’t want to spend most of my adult waking hours at a workplace that doesn’t appreciate and support me for all the adult things. Because, by supporting employees when one of those normal burdens do arise, my workplace has actually helped to retain quality employees that they have already spent the time and $$ to train.

        Frankly, I think this will be an increasingly more common theme in our workplaces now because people are waiting to start their careers now before having children, vs delaying starting a career until those children are school aged.

        Great for you if you never have a day where your car breaks down and you can’t make it into the office for a meeting on time/don’t have reliable public transit to use until the car gets fixed or replaced. Or get diagnosed with a chronic medical condition that requires you take a few months of sick leave or reduced hours to learn how to manage. Or have children that, remarkably, don’t always not get sick on workdays. We should all be so lucky.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          Those are all part of adult living. You should always have a plan B, because that is what responsible adults have. Of course it’s OK to ask for occasional help. But you need to be responsible for your stuff. Life crud is normal and you should expect it. If you want society to help you out on the whole, you need to do your part too.
          Again, I’m making the distinction between burdens and normal life crud. Burdens happen – someone loses their job at the same time they discover they have cancer. That’s when the community swarms around them to support them. But people need to realize that they need to be responsible for their life crud.

          1. einahpets*

            I just think it is a little weird to respond with a comment along the lines of “society nowadays with its’ parents obviously out to ask for more accommodations ” when this post was from a NON PARENT / EMPLOYER thinking of new ways to support a portion of their workforce that they’ve already spent time/money training.

            I am also glad that you always have a Plan B for everything. Not everyone has that luxury.

            1. fposte*

              She says she doesn’t have any employees, so I don’t think she’s an employer.

              I could be wrong, but my impression is that she is indeed thinking of what would be good for her, if she had a baby. Which is fine–she gets to advocate for herself, and I don’t think she’d get a different amount of points if she were never thinking of having kids.

              1. einahpets*

                Ack, I guess I kind of misread the original letter, thinking the OP was a manager going to her HR with a proposal. I still don’t think it matters, as all she is doing is proposing something to her employer to decided on.

                And making the leap that one person planning on asking her workplace about this says something about parents these days is a little overboard to me…

        2. Mike C.*

          Perhaps, but I think there’s a wide berth between supporting things like paid leave, flex time, a solid safety net, worker protections and having to directly deal with someone else’s screaming newborn at work.

          The former I’ll support and champion any time of the day, but that doesn’t mean I should have to regularly put up with a screaming newborn in the workplace. The occasional emergency? Sure, I won’t like it, but I’ll suck it up because shit happens. But not every day.

          1. einahpets*

            … my comment was in relation to what the previous commenter’s said here: ‘As an adult, we are expected to handle our own adult stuff. Do not make them other people’s business. It’s OK to ask for the occasional favor, but you have no right to expect me to help out.’

            I am not saying I agree with this idea in particular of young babies at work. I am just saying that it isn’t a sign that society is messed up for an employer to be coming up with a way of supporting employees that are handling these situations.

            I don’t think we disagree at all, to be honest.

      2. RG*

        Do you think that we as a society (here in the US) tend to be more individualistic in terms of how we expect people to handle their responsibilities?

        1. einahpets*

          Also, to add to RG’s question — do you really think that parents are the only ones that will get a ‘perk’ (and therefore should bear the ‘burden’ of raising) from supporting quality raising of children within our society? Not to get all “children are our future!” on the group, but that is pretty much NOT how society is built now.

          But I do witness that attitude A LOT nowadays, and worry sometimes that it is going to spill into our support for education and healthcare for minors in the coming years…

          1. Engineer Girl*

            I am the director for a children’s program. I pay my school taxes even though I have no children in the school system. I look out for the neighbors kids and get to know them.
            I think I see the blurring of boundaries on what is required to raise a child. Every child should get a hot meal at least once a day. They should get vaccinated and have access to health care. They should get a free education.
            It isn’t my job to babysit or watch your kid.

            1. einahpets*

              I have already commented in other threads to say that I don’t think this policy would work everywhere. It definitely wouldn’t work in my office, and I am pregnant with #2 at the moment.

              But I also dont know how smart it is to have a policy of judging every adult for not always having a Plan B for everything you listed. Sure, if you are the manager / employer you can make that call. But as an employee, a company that doesn’t understand that worker-bees have lives / troubles outside on the office ever is not going to be an employer I want to work for.

              My employer would have had to pay to replace me and/or train someone new if they weren’t supportive when I had my daughter. Sure, that might have been OK with a department the size that I am in. But the year I had my daughter 7 other women also had kids (including our department’s director and associate director). So yeah, they looked for ways to accommodate new moms / dads, and all 7 parents are still here 3 years later.

          2. Mike C.*

            It’s one thing to fulfill the Societal Contract, but it’s quite another to have to change diapers.

            1. einahpets*

              UGH. I never said that I supported this idea of babies in the workplace. Did I? I, in fact, don’t plan on asking anyone other than my fellow parent and other caregivers to change my daughter(s) diapers.

          3. fposte*

            I think, at least in the US, there’s a tendency to want it both ways right now. We are more than ever frantically opposed to anybody other than parents disciplining or even coming near our children (and no, crime isn’t worse now, so that’s not a justification), and we are also desperately in need of assistance with the challenges of caretaking (and not just for the young).

            And sure, we’re not all the same “we” up there. But it doesn’t have to be your viewpoint to shape the narrative, and the narrative matters.

              1. OP (Denise)*

                “Listen,” she said at one point. “Let’s put aside for the moment that by far, the most dangerous thing you did to your child that day was put him in a car and drive someplace with him. About 300 children are injured in traffic accidents every day — and about two die. That’s a real risk. So if you truly wanted to protect your kid, you’d never drive anywhere with him. But let’s put that aside. Now, people will say you committed a crime because you put your kid ‘at risk.’ But the truth is, there’s some risk to either decision you make.”

                “The problem is,” she goes on, “there’s some risk to every choice you make. So, say you take the kid inside with you. There’s some risk you’ll both be hit by a crazy driver in the parking lot. There’s some risk someone in the store will go on a shooting spree and shoot your kid. There’s some risk he’ll slip on the ice on the sidewalk outside the store and fracture his skull. There’s some risk no matter what you do. “

          4. Alma*

            …and healthcare for our elders, too? If my parent’s caregiver can’t show up for a day or two, and I am unable to make other arrangements immediately, I have no option but to stay with my parent and care for them at home/in their home.

            1. einahpets*

              But as an ADULT you should obviously have one or two back-up caregivers that are definitely able to take care of your parent on a moment’s notice. Right?

              When people make comments about how ‘responsible adults should always have a plan B’, I wonder if they are either hyper-planners or just lead more simplified lives than others. I try, for my part, to realize that my coworkers are adults with plenty of non-work responsibilities that can’t always reasonably have a plan B.

              If absences become a work performance issue, they should be approached as a performance issue with one’s manager. Otherwise — we all have things happen and saying that they should never be an issue that affects work seems naive to me.

  5. Colette*

    That sounds really disruptive to me, too., as well as neglectful Either the parent is spending their day looking after the child, or they are focusing on work at the expense of the child. Babies need age-appropriate stimulation – just because they can’t move independently doesn’t mean they’d like to spend their day in an office.

    And I’m trying to figure out where the child spends her day. Do parents bring in a playpen? Leave the baby in the car seat? What happens when the parent has a meeting or needs to go to the bathroom? Where do diaper changes happen?

    1. Sadsack*

      Yes, unless there is onsite day care, I can’t understand how this works well for anyone, parent or coworkers.

    2. OP (Denise)*

      Do parents bring a playpen? –> What I have seen is that the mothers (or fathers) practice baby wearing. The policies state that once the child is crawling he/she can no longer come to the office.

      Willing co-workers volunteer to cover for the parent in meetings or other times, which to me is the trickiest part.

      Diaper changes would probably happen in the same place breastfeeding does.

      1. cv*

        If you’re babywearing, breastfeeding may well happen at the person’s desk – I can imagine that this policy would appeal to mothers who would enjoy the opportunity to breastfeed on demand once they go back to work. If they’re in an open area, that’s really not where you want diapers being changed. And where do the diapers get disposed of? Wet diapers aren’t a big deal, but dirty ones can be pretty awful to have in an open trash can.

        1. OP (Denise)*

          So, I think that people are jumping to a lot of conclusions, which I think is due to the fact that details were not given.

          One, there’s no reason to think that diapers would be out in the open. They would be separately disposed of in specific containers. Breastfeeding would also happen in designated breastfeeding areas.

          Again, there are rules to establish boundaries.

          1. Engineer Girl*

            You need to establish all of the rules and boundaries before you present this to management. People are giving you lots of scenarios and you need to address every last one of them if you want this to work. Details are critical – absolutely critical – if you want success in this idea.
            The concerns raised by others deserve more than a “oh, it will all work out” attitude. You are messing with people’s livelihoods. When you say that things will “all work out” you are essentially saying that you are pushing the responsibility for solving the problem off on others.

      2. Dot Warner*

        “Willing co-workers volunteer to cover for the parent in meetings or other times, which to me is the trickiest part.”

        Tricky doesn’t even begin to cover it. I like kids but if I wanted to work at a daycare, I’d work at a daycare.

        Also, what if the parents are not willing or able to wear their babies?

        1. OP (Denise)*

          Not willing or able to wear their babies? I’m not sure what you mean. If a parent is unable or doesn’t want to comply with some aspect the policy, then that parent doesn’t bring the baby to work. I mean, that part is not really at all difficult.

          Coworkers decide whether they want to participate or not. No one is conscripted into service.

          1. Mike C.*

            There are tons of examples of “v0lentary” work tasks that are in reality mandatory if someone doesn’t want to suffer consequences.

          2. Chinook*

            ” If a parent is unable or doesn’t want to comply with some aspect the policy, then that parent doesn’t bring the baby to work. I mean, that part is not really at all difficult. ”

            Actually it is because you are penalizing the parents of difficult children by costing them their leave time. What if the parent doesn’t have leave time to cover 3 months off? Obviously, they will be unpaid for that time but will this cost them their job?

            1. Chinook*

              I should add that one of the important aspects of parental leave is the guarantee of a job when you return.

            2. JPV*

              And what if a high percentage of the difficult children or their parents *just happen* to be part of a minority group? Would you be concerned that it may appear you’re discriminating against Hispanic people/LGBT people/people with disabilities/whatever?

              1. oldfashionedlovesong*

                The “people with disabilities” group is important here. The vast majority of parents whose infants are born with disabilities would likely, per this concept, be excluded from bringing their children into the office after one or two difficult days. So in practice, what this would turn into is healthy babies and their parents happily inhabiting the workplace, while parents of infants with disabilities have to figure out their own costly, time-consuming strategy for home care for their child. Even putting aside the obvious discriminatory aspects, the optics on this would be pretty terrible.

          3. Windchime*

            If someone’s baby is crying or making noise all day long, then I am indeed conscripted into service. I might not be handling the baby, but I would be dealing with the disruption that the baby is causing.

            Many companies have requirements which state that parents must have daycare if they are working from home; in other words, working at home is not to be used as a substitute for childcare. So it seems weird to me that most companies understand that caring for babies mean that work isn’t getting done, but other companies are encouraging people to bring their babies to work.

          4. Honeybee*

            But then you get into some sticky and potentially discriminatory aspects here. For example, what if the reason a parent doesn’t baby wear is because he or she is disabled and can’t physically do it?

      3. CaliCali*

        So I was someone whose newborn really did NOT like babywearing. He was happiest sprawled out on the floor, where he could (try to) roll around. He also didn’t like sleeping very much either, so there’s that. And let’s be real, babywearing is very much part of attachment parenting, which puts a big emphasis on breastfeeding and physical togetherness with the infant, and ALSO puts a big emphasis on being immediately attentive to the child’s needs — which is very hard to reconcile with a work environment.

        My newborn would have been a poor candidate for this policy, and it has the implications that only non-disruptive babies would be allowed in. It could create a lot of strife between parents.

        The best way to support parents in a work environment is to give them adequate parental leave, flexible schedules to accommodate the needs of their family, child care stipends or discounts to local care centers, and sick leave to accommodate the child’s illnesses (or their own, as a result of being exposed to all those new germs).

      4. LawBee*

        “Willing co-workers volunteer to cover for the parent in meetings or other times, which to me is the trickiest part.”

        That’s the thing right there – did you hire these coworkers to do their jobs, or to babysit? And if there’s more than one baby, will Coworker Q who loves babies be always volunteering at the expense of working, or will Coworker A be “volunteered” because someone has to do it, etc..

        It just seems like a really bad idea unless it’s exactly the right environment for it. It’s not even office size – there are <10 people in my office, and adding babies would be the WORST. I'm not even a fan of when the older kids come in, although they at least can be plopped in the conference room with a PSVita or a book.

        1. ali*

          This. Unless “babysitter” is in the job description, I’m not doing it. And I’m pretty sure the parent wouldn’t want me to anyway, assuming they want their baby’s diaper changed. This goes far beyond “other duties as needed”.

        2. StarHopper*

          Also, would babysitting fall mostly to the women of the office? We don’t need yet another reason to be held back professionally.

      5. Hlyssande*

        Would the coworkers truly be willing, though? There may be a lot of pressure to just take a turn and do it along with everyone else for fear of not being a team player.

        I loooove the idea of on site childcare, or a partnered childcare that is cost effective (maybe grants/subsidies from the company as an incentive to return after leave?). I just could not deal with babies in the office on a frequent basis.

        1. Marcela*

          +1 to your first paragraph. I’d add it the pressure of the coworker who asked you and you know will get offended if you refuse.

      6. fposte*

        I think the idea discussed above, where you gather a list of volunteers privately, is probably the best way, but I also think you have to be ready for the possibility that the volunteers aren’t available and the parent has to skip the meeting or bring the baby. Which may not be the end of the world (I might have an imaginary baby if it gets me out of meetings), but I think it’s worth expecting.

        1. RG*

          Oh, I can’t make it to the meeting, I have to watch my baby

          …Didn’t you say the other day that you never want to have kids?

          1. fposte*

            “And that’s why! My baby is horrible!” (Let other people’s imaginary kids be perfect; mine will be a terror.)

          2. afiendishthingy*

            I used to take non-smoking breaks when I worked at a restaurant and everyone got to take cigarette breaks all the time. I WANT TO GO OUTSIDE TOO

        2. Today's Satan*

          I have promised myself that at my next job, I will bring photos of other people’s kids and put them on my desk and pass them off as my own. Then I will have lots of soccer practices, sick children, parent-teacher conferences, etc. so I can get out of boring meetings, or having to pull all-nighters to complete an important project, or just to leave work early whenever I want to. With the added bonus of everyone feeling sorry for me instead of getting miffed.

          1. Ginger ale for all*

            YES! I was actually told that I should do extra things ‘because it’s not like you have anyone in your life or anyone cares about you”.

          2. Loose Seal*

            There was a CSI:Miami episode where a guy in the office did exactly this and it came out during the murder investigation. He would bring in framed pictures of a kid torn from a catalog and even had a “world’s greatest dad” mug with the kid’s picture on it. He would take off from work occasionally to “chaperone a field trip” or go to a “parent-teacher conference.” That part of the episode where he’s explaining that he’s always born the brunt of being the only person without kids in every office he’s every worked was right on the nose. It was a great episode. Another office worker was saving on rent by living in the space in the suspended ceiling.

      7. Stranger than fiction*

        You cant wear your kid all day they get hot in those things and it’s hard on your back

      8. eplawyer*

        Babywearing? So the kid is strapped to the parent all day? Yeah, have fun typing, copying, etc. while that is going on. And I really don’t want to discuss the teapot delivery schedule to someone with a baby hanging off them. I need the person to concentrate on the schedule, not what the kid is doing.

        1. aebhel*

          Also, lots of newborns have reflux. My desk, chair, floor, and work clothes would have been covered in spit-up by 10 AM. Not such a big deal at home, where I could sit around in ratty pajamas and just toss them in the laundry. Kind of a big deal at work, unless I’m also keeping a full wardrobe on-site.

      9. Cath in Canada*

        So are the “volunteer” caretakers also expected to wear their colleague’s baby when colleague is busy?!

        I like smiling and waving at babies every once in a while. I’ll even hold one, if I’m close to the parents, or if there’s some kind of emergency. But I aint wearing anyone else’s baby unless it’s literally a life-or-death situation.

    3. Natalie*

      I would assume diaper changes would happen in the bathroom. Seems like the logical place for it, plus they usually have those baby holders on the wall.

        1. Natalie*

          I guess I’ve mostly worked in multi-tenant buildings, so the bathrooms are basically public and have all the usual public restroom accouterments. But you’re right, buildings that are strictly office usually don’t have them.

          1. Charlotte Collins*

            I just had a horrible thought. Our bathrooms don’t have changing tables, but they do have little vanity-type areas where people can put their bags/papers/coffee mugs/what have you while using the facilities then get out of the way to fix hair and makeup in that mirror so they aren’t crowding the sinks. I can see that becoming the de facto changing area. Eww…

        2. afiendishthingy*

          I work for an organization that serves children with special needs; my building is primarily office space but we do have programs for clients held there at times. Our bathrooms have changing tables. That wouldn’t be my primary concern with this plan. My primary concern is that for the few hours a week there are multiple small children on the other side of the building the screaming can be as annoying and distracting as hell. It’s acceptable for those few hours a week, since they’re actually our clients, but no way would I want them there all the time.

    4. Natalie*

      I’m not really pro-baby-at-work, but I think calling it neglectful is a bit of a stretch. Infants don’t need non-stop attention. They’re usually pretty happy figuring out how to focus their eyeballs or move their hands without hitting themselves in the face, while adults bustle around them. Women have been working with infants strapped to them or laying down nearby for millenia.

      1. Colette*

        I’m inclined to think that the job would get neglected more often than the baby. But I could also see a parent leaving the child to run to get a cup of coffee or go to the bathroom. (If they’re baby wearing, they wouldn’t, I realize.) you can do that at home, of course, but that’s usually a shorter
        distance with fewer people who will be annoyed if the child starts screaming.

      2. SR*

        Neglectful is a strong word, but I don’t think it’s ridiculous to bring neglect up as a concern (which is in my opinion prohibitive) – in fact, I think it’s necessary to bring it up. This is a really bad idea for the wellbeing of the babies, in addition to the very important points Alison made about it being a big problem for other coworkers.

        It’s true women have been working with infants strapped to their chest for millennia, but women also drank alcohol through pregnancy for millennia. Clearly the human race survived, but still – we know way more about child development now, so we can take steps to implement that knowledge.

        1. Natalie*

          I’m not sure what information on child development suggests infants need to be the focus of attention at all times? Even SAH parents are generally doing things besides coo over their infant.

          1. SR*

            It’s true that they don’t need constant attention (and most infants do sleep a lot) but at the same time, there’s a reason childcare is a job you can get paid for. They do need a lot of attention and age-appropriate stimulation and learning, and there’s simply no way to give 100% of the attention your job needs and 100% of the attention a baby needs at the same time.

      3. LPBB*

        Women have been working in small scale sustainable farming, family cooking, and cottage industries with infants strapped to them or laying down nearby for millenia, not in modern office jobs. Plus, most of those women had extended family members – sisters, grandmothers, older children, other wives – to help care for the children. I totally get your point that people are a bit over the top and modern parenting has made something that wasn’t very complicated into a very complicated thing, but the two situations really are not comparable.

        1. Natalie*

          Of course, as I said I’m not pro-babies-at-work. Just pointing out that’s not neglectful to focus on something other than your baby. (I’d actually argue the opposite is harmful, but that’s a personal opinion and beyond the scope of this blog. :) )

      4. OP (Denise)*

        “Women have been working with infants strapped to them or laying down nearby for millenia.”

        Thank you for this. It’s really a mark of modern luxury to believe that once a woman has a child, all other work stops and she does nothing but coo at the baby all day. There are millions of women around the world that have never experienced such.

        1. Colette*

          I don’t think anyone is saying that. What I am saying is that you’re on a conference call or working towards a tight deadline and the baby starts fussing, something’s got to give.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yeah, but come on, they’re not in office jobs. It’s really a different context with different cultural expectations (from coworkers and clients, among others).

          1. OP (Denise)*

            I think this particular point was speaking to the question of whether proper mothering requires undivided attention to be given to the infant. Historically and globally that has not really been the case on the whole. Our expectations that childcare and work happen completely separately is a relatively novel idea on the global scale.

      5. EmmBee*

        Thank you.

        Clearly a lot of commenters here saying that aren’t parents! (Which is fine, it’s just that it means they don’t really know what they’re talking about when it comes to how infants act.)

        1. Mike C.*

          No, I’m quite sure I know what I’m talking about when I say I don’t want to work somewhere that regularly has newborns floating around. I don’t need to knock someone up to verify this.

        2. Engineer Girl*

          Oh, please. Most of us have been around babies. We’ve been around babies enough to know that their actions are random. There are good days and bad days. Easy babies and colic babies. We know that some solutions are better than others.

        3. Windchime*

          I’ve been around babies plenty, including two of my own. Some babies sleep alot and spend their days quietly looking at their mobiles. Others scream with colic (mine did) or have fussy personalities, or don’t like being around strangers. Just because we don’t feel like being around babies at work doesn’t mean that we aren’t parents or we don’t know what we’re talking about with regards to infants.

          There is a reason that many workplaces state that working at home is not a substitute for childcare, and require parents to have childcare if they work at home. It’s because babies and children are distracting, and can make a person way less productive.

        4. Knit Pixie*

          Yeah my husband and I get the “How would you know you are not are not parents” bit, All. The. Time. With all due respect EmmBee, you don’t have to be a parent to know that babies affect everything. Frankly it’s because I know how babies are that I don’t have any.

        5. S*

          Weirdly, all commenters here have BEEN babies, and some of us have heard the stories about our colic/24 hour screaming etc etc, even if the non-parents among us have have miraculously got to our 40s (eg) with not a single friend/family member/colleague/neighbour having had a baby, or seen one out in public anywhere at all.

      6. Chinook*

        ” Women have been working with infants strapped to them or laying down nearby for millenia.”

        I agree but those women were probably not expected to do the same workload as everyone else when their child was an infant. Or there would have been others who were designated watch over the children (maybe even those with infants?) It would also have been task dependent as it wouldn’t have been effective to have one of the hunters wear his infant son while stalking a deer, after all.

        What the OP is suggesting may work in certain work environments but also seems to imply that the parent’s work output should be at the same level it was pre-child, which just isn’t going to happen unless the parent is blessed with a quiet baby.

        1. Amy UK*

          Those mothers also tend to work “for themselves” more – or rather, they weren’t employed by people outside their family. If your role is working the family land then you obviously have a fair amount of independence in deciding to pause to tend to a baby. And of course, in non-rural areas the women were employed in the home doing washing, seamstressing or such- which again, allows them to manage their own time around the baby if necessary.

          Outside of slavery or poverty, I can’t think of any situations where women were routinely doing hard labour for an employer with a baby strapped to their back. And I can’t think of a modern society where women routinely work within the “modern” workplace of an office, and boss-employee hierarchy with babies in the vicinity, nevermind strapped to them.

  6. Melissa*

    Oh… I would hate this… to the point of looking for another job! The last thing I want to deal with at work is my coworkers’ children. I’m a firm believer that my coworkers’ personal life choices, including the decision to have children, should not affect my work life (i.e., I should not have to take on less desirable assignments, travel more, work a disproportionate amount of holidays/off hours just because someone else has children). I’m all for personal-life-friendly offices. I think that’s great. But, leave the kids at home.

    1. OP (Denise)*

      ” I’m a firm believer that my coworkers’ personal life choices, including the decision to have children, should not affect my work life ”

      I understand where you’re coming from but also feel that we have overly compartmentalized lives. So much is said about “balance” but perhaps what a lot of people are seeking is some sort of integration.

      1. Sadsack*

        Unless the employee works from home, you’d be forcing fellow employees to participate in integration. That is very burdensome.

      2. DBA Girl*

        How many folks are really seeking integration with their coworkers’ child-raising sphere?

        I suspect not that many.

      3. LBK*

        I’m interested in integrating my personal life with my work life. I’m not interested in integrating my coworker’s personal life with any part of my life.

      4. Ezri*

        I really disagree with this. Work-life balance (to me) means that I’m given the tools I need to manage my professional and personal lives, separately. I don’t consider compartmentalizing home and office a bad thing.

        1. ToxicNudibranch*

          Agreed. I would further state that maintaining healthy boundaries between your Home Life and Work Life is an essential part of maintaining that Work/Life balance. Employers should (within reason) be compassionate and supportive of their employees’ varying needs by offering flex time, telecommuting, generous vacation and leave policies, good benefits, etc, but it is a very reasonable expectation that Work Time should be focused on actual Work.

      5. SevenSixOne*

        Maybe, but a lot of other people AREN’T seeking anything like that! To me, work-life balance means keeping my personal life and work life as separate as possible.

      6. Marcela*

        Eh, no. For me, balance is not about mixing my work and live spheres, but being able to have a life around work (as opposed to working too many hours and being dead tired to do anything else but work). And really, if for my coworker balance means “I want to bring my baby to the office”, I would be very pissed and I’d start looking for another job. After all, why can’t I take my cat to the office, then, and ask my coworkers to clean his litter box? (Yea, I’m being obtuse with the comparison).

            1. Sparky*

              I would also like to bring my cat to work, but my cat wouldn’t really enjoy that, and my cat is mobile. So maybe I wear a plush stuffed cat and insist all of my coworkers treat my cat like they treat the babies in the office? That couldn’t be any more distracting than having babies in the office. And I’d wear that thing until I retired, not for 6-7 months.

        1. Windchime*

          Yes. I want to bring my cat, too. I don’t really care if anyone is allergic or otherwise objects to cats; my cat is an important part of my life and I want to integrate it. And yeah, if he uses his litterbox while I’m in a meeting, I’m sure someone will come and “scoop it up”.

        2. Anx*

          I have a cat. I love kitties. I might even enjoy going to a retail store that has a cat or 3 hanging out. I don’t mind cleaning out all manner of animal cages.

          But no way in hell do I want to work with cats in an office. Trying to type with cat butt in my face? Litterbox toes on my desk? Gross.

      7. OfficePrincess*

        No, we need more compartmentalization. My work and personal lives are far too integrated as it is.

      8. kozinskey*

        I love compartmentalizing. It keeps the stress of my job from interfering with things I do outside work, and vice versa. It is really freeing to be able to leave my work problems at work, and my outside problems outside work. That way, I can do a good job wherever I am, without interference. I would hate a workplace that discouraged this.

      9. fposte*

        I understand what you’re saying, but I would say that more broadly they’re looking not to be savagely torn between the two; it’s not so much that they’re craving integration (workplaces that offer the perk of sleeping there are really integrated, but I don’t think that’s anything to cheer about) as the ability to transition smoothly between the spheres, to go see Billy at his school play mid-morning and come back to work, or to rearrange schedules to pick the kids up. (And the people who aren’t seeking integration need to be considered too, if only from the standpoint of how much it would cost to replace them if they leave.)

        That doesn’t mean I think you can’t make the decision–of course you can, and some organizations have. Same as dog-friendly workplaces, there will be people who like working that way and people who don’t, and you’ll probably be able to stock your workplace with the former category. And I’m glad you seem willing to think through the considerations that are being offered here.

        1. OP (Denise)*

          You mentioned dog-friendly workplaces. I worked in one. Dogs everywhere. Running, playing, barking. I can guarantee you infants would be less distracting than the dogs were. And you know what, you’d be surprised what simply becomes background noise or commotion. I would bring babies into the office waaay sooner than dogs. That experience is a part of why I feel like this is not such a huge deal.

            1. OP (Denise)*

              Yes, the dog situation was just a big deal that I found surprisingly easy to adjust to, as all. Some days were pure craziness, and looking back on those, I think it is highly unlikely–based on my experience with babies in general–that infants would ever cause such a ruckus. At least babies wear diapers!

              1. Anonicorn*

                Unless your previous job was related to dogs or pets in some capacity, it sounds like you’ve been working under some outlandish circumstances.

                1. fposte*

                  Start-up land is full of dog-friendly workplaces these days; it’s a hip thing to do.

                2. Windchime*

                  We have the occasional canine visitor here at work. On days following holidays, we usually have a very small crew and one or two people will bring their dogs. Dogs are expected to be contained, quiet and well-behaved. People put up baby gates for the smaller dogs and big dogs are expected to lay quietly next to their owners. It happens maybe 3 or 4 days a year and I think most people enjoy seeing dogs when they visit, but if they were running and barking and playing and growling, I’m sure the practice would be ended. Because once people are distracted or having to step over dog crap, then the inconvenience to others outweighs the convenience to the owner.

                3. Anony-turtle in a half shell!*

                  I work at a school, and we regularly have dogs running around. Teachers and other employees bring them in on a regular basis. (I’m not sure why this is so common at this place of employ, given students may have allergies, but it happens at least weekly and some weeks daily.)

                4. Honeybee*

                  @fposte – yep, my husband works at a dog-friendly start-up. It is nothing like what the OP describes, though; the stipulation is that dogs need to be well-behaved. There are only a few at a time and they mostly just sit around and chill. In fact, we joked about him taking our dog to work once, but it was only a joke because our dog is fairly hyper and wouldn’t do well in an office with lots of people 8 hours a day (she’d think they were all there to pet and play with her).

              2. Sunny*

                Actually, dogs are way easier than babies. You can tune out a dog barking but science has shown that people literally cannot tune out babies cry. Millions of years of a survival mechanism don’t vanish for a new trend.

          1. BRR*

            I think that’s debatable and subjective about dogs vs. babies (totally agreeing though that dogs can be disruptive).

            I think there will also be far from a minority who will just be accustomed to the noise. I tend to notice noises more the more I’m exposed to them.

            About feeling like this is not such a huge deal, it IS a huge deal. It’s not a coincidence most offices don’t do this (same as how most offices don’t allow non-service animals).

          2. Clever Name*

            I work in a dog-friendly office, and we have a policy in place to prevent this kind of distracting behavior. Dogs are kept in their owner’s offices (everyone has shared offices) behind baby gates. Dogs are not allowed to play/bark/run inside. At least half of my office brings in their dogs. There are currently two dogs down the hall, and I only know they are here because I saw their owners walk in with them. I haven’t heard a peep from either.

      10. Nerdling*

        I work in a field where it is absolutely necessary to compartmentalize work from home life. It’s how we stay sane. Work is work, home is home, and I would prefer that never the twain shall meet. For me, a healthy work/life balance is one that allows me to take leave as necessary without judgment, work that I don’t have to subject my family to, family that I don’t have to subject my work to, and a decent salary that allows me to do those things. That’s why I work here. It’s been incredibly healthy and supportive from the perspective of work/life balance.

        Nowhere in my equation is “working with my or my coworkers’ babies”. I’m another who would have had to forgo this “benefit” because I had a baby with colic who once cried for six out of eight hours. Just give me leave that I can use to take care of my child without having to sacrifice my work quality or my parenting quality.

      11. Engineer Girl*

        Expecting me to share in your child rearing is entitlement. If I chose to help you then fine. But it is not yours to expect.
        You’ve crossed boundaries when your choices become mine to resolve.

      12. Jeff A.*

        If you think that what I want is to be integrated with my coworkers’ personal lives, you do NOT understand where I’m coming from

      13. EmmBee*

        I LOVE your final sentence here.

        I have a 9 month old. I am an executive. I had above-average maternity leave for the US. I would have loved to be able to bring my baby into the office with me — it would have made nursing much easier (and I would have last longer — all of which is for the baby’s benefit, of course), to say nothing of the increased mother-child bonding. And I work at a company that publishes children’s books so it would really support our mission.

        I think many people forget that raising healthy, happy infants is in literally EVERYONE’S best interests. Everyone. Full stop. Whether you have/want/like kids or not, having the next generation be well-raised and bonded to their parents is for everyone’s benefit.

        1. Anon, Nurse, Anon*

          What would be in literally everyone’s best interest from a global perspective on overcrowding and resource depletion would be for a significant portion of parents to not have had their children in the first place.

        2. Engineer Girl*

          And we do that by supporting schools, children’s vaccines, education program, volunteering on kids programs, health initiatives.
          In short, I’m already supporting your kid. Expecting help in day-to-day child rearing is entitled.

        3. Mike C.*

          Why should I have to directly care for your children? Why isn’t it enough that I support a Scandinavian-style social safety net to support the next generation? I don’t even grumble about “my taxes” or any of that garbage, I happily do it and advocate for more!

          I don’t want to have kids, raise kids, care for kids or have to be bothered at my workplace by a constant parade of screaming newborns. Why are you so insistent on directly forcing this on people who clearly want no direct part in it?

          Why should I have to deal directly with your screaming kid? Why can’t I just go to work in peace?

        4. Today's Satan*

          That is an incredibly entitled viewpoint.

          “Whether you have/want/like cats or not, having them raised well and spayed/neutered is for everyone’s benefit, so I expect you to go with me into flea- and tick-infested areas, during all kinds of weather, to trap feral cats and take them to go get fixed, then pick them up and drive them back and release them. I also expect you to contribute your own personal funds for this. Because it’s for the good of the *planet*, you selfish, narrow-minded person. Don’t you all know that you’re required to support me in all of my life choices? Because planetary benefit.”

        5. Green*

          I am NOT saying that parents need to choose between work and raising healthy, happy children that are bonded to their parents.

          I *AM* saying that if you believe that raising healthy, happy children that are bonded to their parents requires constant contact during the workday, then you may need to choose between work and raising your ideal children. Or you should find a job where you can work from help. Freelance. Start your own business. There are lots of other options that keep the “burdens” of this decision concentrated where the “benefits” are: with you and your family.

        6. nona*

          No. I like kids just fine, but I’m not very good with them. I wouldn’t apply for a job that involved childcare. Please, please don’t try to dump that on someone like me FOR THE GOOD OF HUMANITY or something. It’s really not a good idea for anyone involved.

        7. Honeybee*

          Maybe, but you don’t have to bring your children to work to bond to them and raise them to be healthy and happy. Let’s be frank; proposals around bringing children to work isn’t about the health and happiness of the infant (who would probably do just as well or better at a day care with attentive adults and lots of stimulation). It’s about convenience for the parent.

      14. BananaPants*

        My coworkers were basically picked for me/assigned with me – they aren’t my friends, they aren’t my “village”, or whatever you want to call it. Be careful not to take this to the extent of thinking that workplaces are a big happy family (i.e. Michael Scott of “The Office” fame).

        As a working parent I want actual balance; not a crazy number of work hours in the week, some flexibility to deal with a sick kid or school holidays, decent medical insurance for my family, and a dependent care spending account so I can get a little tax break on the high cost of quality child care. I don’t want or need Jane from accounting to feel like she has to babysit at the office when she’s just trying to get her work done, too.

      15. zora*

        I understand where you’re coming from but also feel that we have overly compartmentalized lives. So much is said about “balance” but perhaps what a lot of people are seeking is some sort of integration.

        I get what you’re saying about integration, OP, and I kind of agree. But I would think that onsite childcare would be just as good integration, don’t you think? It would work for a longer period of time (not just till the baby is crawling) and parents can still take breaks to see the kid whenever they want, easy access for breastfeeding, etc. For a small businesss that can’t support it’s own childcare, I’ve always thought it should be possible for all the tenants of an office building to be able to come together to fund a childcare for the building. Is that an option?

      16. Justin*

        This is ridiculous. Work/life balance means I am allowed to balance the two and NOT impose one on the other.

    2. Anon Accountant*

      I’d look for another job too. I’d be so ticked if I was on a call with a client or important conference call and had to hear Jill from down the hall baby talking to the baby or cooing at the baby. Or a coworker that wanted to give you a “play-by-play” of what the baby was doing. “Oh, he yanked his sock off! He just did threw his rattler at George. What a smart baby”. Sorry yes I have a coworker or 2 that would do this.

      I like kids and all but don’t think an office is appropriate for them. When you are in a bind and it’s unusual? Completely understand. A daily occurrence? No way

    3. sam*

      Also, I know plenty of parents who hate parting with their kids, but I also have several friends (not being a parent myself), who greatly enjoyed the respite that going back to work provided – being able to have actual grownup conversations and basically getting a break from 24/7 motherhood. I could see this policy (even if voluntary) leading to either (a) peer pressure to bring their own kids in even if they don’t actually want to because god forbid they not get judged on what kind of mother they are for wanting to spend some time away from their precious snowflakes and (b) a lot of people getting seriously annoyed at the fact that they now have to deal with other peoples’ children when they’ve either got their own or chosen (or not chosen!) not to have their own.

      Also, what happens if a child gets injured at a worksite? workers’ comp isn’t going to cover that and it opens up all sorts of insurance/liability issues.

        1. sam*

          That was what my poorly worded “or not chosen” was trying to get at.

          When I was in college, I worked in a university administrative office (office of the dean of the graduate school) with several women. One woman could not have children but desperately wanted them. Another woman was married and happily child-free. The amount of rancor that the woman who could not have children exhibited toward the happily child-free woman for choosing not to have children when she was physically capable of it was kind of unbelievable – and explicit. To the point where the Dean had to get involved and tell the first woman to cut it out or she was in danger of losing her job.

          I can’t even imagine what that office would have been like had other women been able/expected to regularly bring actual babies into the environment on a daily basis.

          (The woman was also an unbelievably unpleasant, bullying person in all sorts of other ways – my personal favorite was the time she assumed a tenured professor was a grad student and so told him to sit down and just wait his turn while she talked loudly on an obviously personal phone call with her sister).

          1. Marcela*

            That is very strange: we don’t know we are physically capable to conceive until we do it successfully. I was supposed to be child-free by choice until I underwent a surgery to remove a cyst. Suddenly there wasn’t a choice anymore.

            1. RG*

              But nobody ever thinks about that. We all just act like women can get pregnant any time they want to and that unprotected sex automatically leads to a baby. But the odds of getting pregnant and then successfully carrying the baby to term are actually pretty low. We’re all technically miracles, we just seen commonplace because people like having sex.

            2. sam*

              Well, it was more of a “you’re a horribly selfish, self-indulgent person for choosing to not even try to have children and live your hedonistic lifestyle (by working in a state university office and living in your condo with your nice husband?) while there are people in the world who can’t have children”.

              Every time this poor woman (the target of the vitriol) would plan a vacation, or buy something even halfway nice for herself, or make plans to go out on a Friday night, it was all about how she was making the wrong “choices”. Seriously. I know several people who can’t have kids or who have had a lot of trouble conceiving, and none of them are like this. She was really a piece of work.

              It was gross. The target finally got out of there and got a job in a different part of the university.

    4. Not everyone likes kids*

      This sounds like my personal idea of hell. I only welcome children I am related to. On the whole, I’m not a fan, and I despise the fact that as a woman, I am expected to be warm and welcoming. So, there’s stress of having to conform to gender roles, and the added pressure to conform to be seen as a team player. I chose not to have kids and I chose not to work in a daycare center. If I chose to work for an office, and that office suddenly thrust this horrible policy upon its workers, I’d quit. Kids are a deal-breaker. Kids make noise. More or less noise is irrelevant- there will be noise. There will be germs. There will be bodily fluids and smells. Not everyone is up for that, and some people would pretend to be rather than lose their source of income. Power imbalance is a thing, and this policy basically says, “if you don’t like it, tough cookies”. So, quit, and lose your income, or fake it, and feel completely drained at the end of the day.

      1. Mike C.*

        Yeah, at least I have social room to be somewhat distant and still I feel the pressure. I can’t imagine what women have to go through.

        1. Hlyssande*

          I had to specifically tell my parents that I was not okay with them pushing my brand new nephew into my arms with no notice the first time I was in town after he was born.

          All girls like to hold babies, don’t you know???

  7. Sandy*

    My initial inclination (as the parent of an infant!) is to say that this is completely bonkers. Then again, I think the fact that most employees in the U.S. don’t have access to paid leave is shocking.

    To me, the solution isn’t to let women bring their babies to work, it’s to let them stay home with their babies and come back to their original jobs.

    1. NYC Redhead*

      And to provide generous paid leave to all parents and to allow them to take it when they need. My company gives 3 mos paid leave but only immediately after the baby is born/adopted. So the baby gets two parents for three months and then none, as opposed to one parent for six months.

      1. Ad Astra*

        Oh, man, three months sounds luxurious (though I realize, compared to most European countries, it’s nothing). I’m not planning to have a baby any time soon, but I often worry about having a surprise baby when I don’t have enough sick and vacation leave to tide me over until short-term disability kicks in. Not to mention the fact that I’d be returning to work with absolutely no PTO left to use for normal sick days or a cousin’s wedding or whatever.

      2. the_scientist*

        I have to agree. I think this is a nice idea in the abstract, but in practice it’s likely to be a nightmare. It also doesn’t strike me as being particularly well thought out- the heart of the issue here is that most parents only get a few weeks off after they bring a baby home. Offer generous paid mat leave, flexible working hours, generous benefits and sick days. Even better? Have an onsite daycare centre or offer childcare subsidies to affiliated daycare centres.

        Literally every other industrialized country has mandated paid maternity leave at this point, so it’s not like it can’t be done.

    2. Lizzy May*

      This! The best work-life balance measure I can think of for new parents is not paid parental leave. I’d quit a job if there was a baby there day in day out. I could never be productive in an environment with a crying baby and every baby cries sometimes.

      1. JMegan*

        Or if the baby was colicky and cried ALL the time, as some babies do. In which case, not only is the parent not getting any work done while they tend to the baby, but nobody else is getting any work done either due to the crying.

        1. OfficePrincess*

          And then, while the parent is desperately trying to calm their baby, Betty in accounting is glaring at the parent’s “ineptitude” because her baby never cried.

    3. kozinskey*

      +1. This smacks of the same line of thinking that says on-site gyms/restaurants/sleeping rooms is a perk, or including egg-freezing in the health plan should attract women. Both of those are red flags to me that the company believes work always should come first, at the expense of an employee’s personal life. If the office allows new parents to bring babies in, wouldn’t that create pressure for parents to not take any parental leave? As someone who’s a firm believer in a healthy separation between work life and home life, I’d hate to be penalized in my career for wanting to take some time off to be with a new baby.

      1. Ad Astra*

        Bingo. I don’t want on-site perks (except maybe a cafeteria and a daycare center). Instead, I want my employer to expect me to leave the property at a reasonable hour to tend to my working out/sleeping/shopping/reproducing/ping-pong playing/beer drinking. If you really want to make sure I’m doing one or more of those things in my downtime, offer a discount to a local gym or something. I don’t want to live my life at work.

      2. Excel Slayer*

        Tbh, I’d like an on-site gym simply because I can’t drive (and I’m lazy). But I totally agree with your comment.

        1. Ad Astra*

          If my company had a really nice on-site gym that also wasn’t too crowded, and I worked for a large enough company that not every person in the gym would be my coworker, then I’d at least consider the office gym. But I live in an area where you pretty much have to drive to get anywhere.

      3. Here, here*

        Well put! I like having home at home and work at work. Just like I wouldn’t want my boss hearing my gushy love talk, I wouldn’t want kids or my family in general to be part of that sphere, either. I absolutely need that down-time to function, and someone forcing me to “integrate” because they think it’s a good idea… Hell to the no.

      4. aebhel*

        Yeah. This is the kind of ‘integration’ that more or less says ‘what do you mean, maternity leave? just bring the kid in and do all your regular work with a baby strapped to you!’

        It forces the workplace to be the absolute center of employees’ lives. That sounds like hell to me.

    4. Random Canadian*

      The US is the only country in the world where someone can seriously suggest babies at work with a straight face. I’m glad that I live in a country where 1 year of government paid leave is the norm.

      1. MP*

        I agree. I laughed so hard when I moved to the US and they described a “generous maternity/paternity leave policy”. The recruiter honestly couldn’t fathom that I considered it a horrible downgrade.

    5. Anon Accountant*

      I’d love to see more companies make it easier to work part-time or flex time and return to their original jobs too.

      1. Cat*

        Yes, but . . . I want to push back a little there that while this is a great thing, it doesn’t actually help women (mostly) who want to work full time and want to maintain their careers at their prior level after having children. It kind of bothers me when all the solutions are “oh, we’ll make it easier for you to step back from your career.” We should also be looking at solutions that make it possible for women (again, mostly) to keep working if they want to.

    6. Worker Bee (Germany)*

      In theory it is great to have paid leaves and being able to return to your job. We do have this perks here in Germany. But the reality is: Because of these perks, women of a certain age are not hired/men are prefered for promotions ect. (Certain age equale to “becoming pragnent, leave the job”) Which translates to the employer to having to find a temporary replacement, keep the job available for the mother. If you employ more then 15 people you also have to agree if the mom wants to return not full time but parttime ect.. Just saying it isnt peachy either..

  8. NYC Redhead*

    I worked for a small business where the owner brought in her baby for about a year. I do not think the firm did any work for the entire year between the cooing and passing the baby around. Babies are a magnet for distraction.

      1. Liane*

        Baby feet! Made for tickling! But I still don’t see this plan working out very well, so I am on Team Ogre much as it pains me. I would be cycling between cooing over baby & complaining about All. The. Distraction. Which means that even if the babies were quiet I’d be making some sort of fuss.

        @Adonday Veeah – been wanting to tell you for longest time how much I love the username. Been a fan since high school, at least.

    1. Accountant*

      I totally agree, and on top of the distraction… how do I say this delicately… In some industries women have a hard enough time being taken seriously by their male bosses (who conveniently had SAHM wives), especially once they have kids. I see this type of policy being harmful to women. I don’t want my bosses to see my with my kid because I don’t want them to think of me primarily as a mother. I want them to think of me primarily as an accountant who is focused and professional and doing good work. I cant comprehend having my daughter at work with me and being able to do work in a competent manner let alone be taken seriously when I’m overheard smooching her cute little face and singing silly songs to her.

    2. Num Lock*

      I can totally see it. Our office is open to the public, which means children sometimes come in. Whenever there’s a baby I swear there’s some secret subliminal message that goes out and my coworkers come flocking! Even if the baby is sleeping silently and NOT causing a ruckus*, now the office is disturbed by the crowd of people cooing and gurgling at the infant.

      *Maybe it’s the wall color or lack of windows, I don’t know, but something about our office causes 90% of children to go absolutely insane and start wailing their heads off/running about/destroying property the second they enter the building. This is so frequent that it’s really contributing to my decision to get sterilized. Even the best parents can’t quite seem to keep them in line.

  9. Muriel Heslop*

    I have two small children and I hate this idea. I cannot imagine any scenario in which my children’s presence wouldn’t have been a distraction for me, personally, and I really don’t want to have to plan my workday around other people’s children’s needs. (I taught school for years – it’s not like I’m incapable of that; I just don’t want to do it in my current role) Plus, who wants to be the ogre who has to tell the new mom that her baby’s crying or fussing is a work distraction? I don’t. A mom in my office started bringing her baby without approval and it was quickly nipped in the bud (she thought because she had her own office, it wouldn’t matter.) Just too distracting for everyone. The only person I know who brings her baby to work is employed at a day care.

    If people really want to have their children at work, then I think lobbying for onsite childcare or longer maternity leaves are better avenues.

    Plus: germs. In general.

    1. Witty Nickname*

      Seriously. I mean, I love my children, but I come to work to get away from them. ;) I’m in CA, so I got a very generous (compared to the rest of the country not the rest of the world) 12 weeks maternity leave, paid through the state short term disability fund. I would have loved to have more time, but I also wasn’t too sad to go back to work either.

      But I work for an employer who really understands work-life balance and is very flexible (working from home if my kids are sick, taking time off for dr. appointments/school plays/etc). If I didn’t have that, I may have felt stronger about having more time off.

  10. fposte*

    I’d like to hear more about the places that do this–is it only mothers, or can fathers bring babies in too? Is this a perk only for parents with offices?

    Ultimately, I think onsite daycare is brilliant but this isn’t that. We allow parents to bring in babies/kids sometimes, but I wouldn’t authorize it as a daily plan; I just don’t think it’s tenable.

    1. esra*

      Agreed about onsite daycare. I think there are just so many better options than this. I mean, speaking as a Canadian, I’d think mat/pat leave would just be better, then combined with free/cheap onsite daycare would be the best solution.

    2. OP (Denise)*

      There is an organization dedicated to this that lists dozens of companies and government agencies that have done this successfully. I’m not at all affiliated with the organization, just appreciative of what they are trying to do. It’s called Parenting in the Workplace.

      1. esra*

        Do they also support better mat/pat leave, or just consider this an alternative? It just seems really needlessly complicated.

        1. ScotlandLove*

          That was what I was wondering too. I don’t WANT to be at work when I have a newborn. I need that time off for my family and I would be furious if I was told “come to work or nothing”.

        2. some1*

          I just read the website for the org that promotes this and their second heading is that women will return from mat leave earlier. Nothing is mentioned about paternity leave.

          1. Nerdling*

            And there we have it: They just want to push mothers to get back to work so they can get their pound of flesh in lieu of providing actually beneficial benefits.

            1. fposte*

              Unless it’s really good astroturf, I don’t think that’s what the org is about; I think they’re considering this a genuine benefit for parents and babies. If they are the advocacy group they appear to be (and they’ve been around for a while), they don’t have a financial incentive.

            2. Marzipan*

              Yeah, as someone from somewhere (the UK) where maternity leave isn’t blink-and-you-miss-it, the idea of ‘bring your new baby to work!’ is pretty grotesque. It just sounds like a smokescreen for not providing decent parental leave and other family-friendly policies.

          2. Avocado*

            So in an org that treats mothers and only mothers as the primary caretakers of children, anyone want to guess which co-workers are going to get drafted into taking care of the babies?

            I’m betting it’s going to be the female coworkers. More unpaid, undervalued housekeeping work for women! Yay!

      2. MK*

        OP, you realise that an organization that is trying to promote this might not be offering impartial information, don’t you? A list of companies that have supposedly implemented this “successfully” is meaningless, unless a) this has been in practise for a number of years, b) it has actually been a widespread practise, not just the occasional employee doing this, c) there has been no reduction in productivity, d) there is impartial data that not only the employees, but the customers have not been inconvenienced by this. Try to get both sides of the story before implementing something like this. And be realistic about whether your own work environment is suited to it.

        1. some1*

          Yeah, I googled the org and didn’t see any tangible success stories. Also if you click on the “ROI for Business” it clearly states that women will return from mat leave sooner.

        2. OP (Denise)*

          Well, here are some numbers for you: http://www.babiesatwork.org/baby-inclusive

          One woman who is a credit union teller was actually more productive than her non-parenting co-workers. I think that we have to step away from what we assume must have happened in order to see what has actually happened in these companies.

            1. OP (Denise)*

              I provided a link to the organizations with the numbers associated with it. In addition to objective, quantified info, I also added an anecdote. Some people like them.

              1. Mike C.*

                Quantified info from an advocacy organization. Come on now, you can’t expect us to ignore the obvious conflict of interest here.

              2. Honeybee*

                OP, with all respect, those numbers are essentially meaningless.

                It’s just a listing of companies that have babies in the workplace and how many babies they have. There’s no indication of the success of the program – worker productivity, money saved, that kind of thing. There’s also no indication whether the organization removes the names of companies who have discontinued their program because it doesn’t work. We don’t even know how long any of these companies have been doing it.

                Numbers in and of themselves don’t provide any information – the data have to make sense in context.

          1. MK*

            Eh, the numbers show how many employees these companies have and how many of them brought their babies to work so far. Whether it has worked well or not is purely anecdotal.

            OP, my point was that this organization won’t be publishing testimonials about disgruntled coworkers who resent the inclusion of babies in their workspace and leave, or annoyed customers and clients. You need to dig into that yourself.

            1. Green*

              Yup. I would be disgruntled and quit soon as I had another job. What’s the “increased productivity value” of training my replacement?

          2. Stranger than fiction*

            Oh gawd she’s probably one of those superwomen that has tons of nervous energy and has no problem working full time, going to school, rearing children, keeping an impeccably clean house, cooking dinner, and all while operating on 3 hours of sleep…most of us just cannot

            1. Lillie Lane*

              Or she was more productive than the coworkers because the coworkers were busy providing childcare?

      3. Marcela*

        I don’t think they are as successful as they claim. For starters, there is this group of people, to which I belong, who is too polite to say that they don’t want to interact with the babies. We are often forced to take them, mostly because we are female, and we know from experience we have to endure a few seconds or the parents would get offended and the relationship damaged. But I can assure you, after being forced once, we tried as hard as we can to avoid that person/situation. Probably that means we are looking for another job, so these companies are selecting employees with a very specific mindset. Probably that’s not bad, but I don’t think it’s good either, for different people create a richer environment that just people with the same characteristic.

        1. Marcela*

          Bah, I forgot to say: People like me rarely would talk about the inconvenience of such an arrangement. Parents would get offended, how can I think their precious snowflake can be disruptive or a distraction? So how would a parenting organization know about my level of satisfaction at work? Or, since I’m not a parent, I don’t count?

      4. BananaPants*

        Yeah, they give away their motivations by saying in their “Benefits for Employers” section that it encourages new mothers to return to work from maternity leave much earlier, resulting in cost savings for the company.

        “Companies with baby programs report that mothers are more dedicated to their jobs when
        they can bring their babies to work. This results from gratitude toward the organization as well
        as from mothers being able to avoid the emotional and hormonal trauma of being separated from
        their babies at very young ages and incurring exorbitant day care costs.”

        This organization are a bunch of greedy employers not wanting to pay for parental leave and thinking that women should be “grateful” to their employer for “encouraging” them to come back to work early with a newborn in tow. If they actually gave decent parental leave in the first place they wouldn’t need to make the offer for employees to bring newborns into the workplace!

        Also, there is nothing traumatic to either parent or infant from being in a high quality child care setting (or with a grandparent or nanny, or even with the other parent). Daycare has been great for our kids.

        1. Chinook*

          “as well as from mothers being able to avoid the emotional and hormonal trauma of being separated from
          their babies at very young ages and incurring exorbitant day care costs.”

          Ummm….wouldn’t longer parental leave do the same thing?

        2. Honeybee*

          At the very least, this organization seems that it’s run in part by a woman named Carla Moquin. At least, she’s written both of the books referenced in the “research and resources” section, and most of the testimonials are praise for her book. And in the testimonials to their service, 3 out of 4 of them referenced a single person (Carla, specifically). The “we” in the organization might actually just be her. And also, a little bit of sleuthing hasn’t turned up that she has any particular credentials to perform the research necessary to write those books, particularly with the outcomes she claims. She/they seem to rely primarily on testimonials from businesses, which are of course selective (and seem to emphasize how happy employers are that their new mothers are only taking 6-8 weeks off instead of their full 12).

      5. Honeybee*

        The website is long on platitudes and short on evidence.

        This is a new concept so I’m sure there hasn’t been extensive research, and they can be forgiven for not having huge amounts of evidence. But the organization is making claims that they can’t support. For example, they have a document that talks about the return on investment, and the first point is that mothers who are allowed to bring their babies to work are less likely to quit. I’m skeptical of that claim, and they offer nothing to back it up – their only citation in that paragraph is for the costs to replace the employee. They also talk extensively about the lost work that might happen if a mother stays out longer on maternity leave but are very dismissive of the potential distractions and lost work from a baby being in the workplace (again, without any concrete evidence showing that babies are not a distraction).

    3. aebhel*

      Yeah, having the flexibility to allow it once in a while in desperate circumstances is one thing, but this is a bad, bad idea.

  11. Jennifer*

    I know of a place that does this. I’ll give it a go at what kind of things need to be figured out, based on what I kow about the employer who offers this benefit:

    Both men’s and women’s restrooms need to be equipped with changing tables
    In order to get approval, the parent must find 2 fellow employees who do not typically work on the same projects (and therefore not on the same conference calls and in the same meetings, etc.) who will agree to keep the baby in their office while the parent attends any conference calls or meetings
    There must be an office or other workspace available with a door that can be closed, where the parent can work on the days baby is in the office (or the appointed babysitter, if the parent is attending a meeting or call)
    Determine how long this benefit can be offered (at the place I know of, it’s until baby is 6 months old)
    The parent must provide the employer with up to date medical history for both the parent and the child, as well as multiple emergency contacts
    There may be other rules, but that’s the ones I can remember.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, those are really interesting, thanks.

      I know there are lots of adoring office babysitter types, so I could just be speaking from personal curmudgeonhood, but I think #2 has a high problem potential.

      1. Kara*

        My problem with the “adoring office babysitter types” is that I do know women in my own workplace who would likely spend the ENTIRE DAY holding and fussing over the baby and handing it back and forth and none of their work would get done. These are the same women who spend a half a day each month putting together the office “birthday party” and just expect their work and deliverables to be put on hold because they’re contributing to office goodwill.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I was thinking that; it might level out if the babies become a regular thing, but then again it might not.

        2. Office Babysitter*

          Right. And then, what happens when it’s time for their yearly review and promotions?
          It just seems like a lose-lose. If you say no, you are the “bad guy” socially, but you get a lot done work-wise. If you say yes, you get the social kudos, but your productivity drops.

          1. Cat*

            And guess who’s going to be asked more and more socially penalized for saying no? Probably the women in the office.

        3. Engineer Girl*

          And these women get really offended when you won’t help them because your audit has a hard deadline that you must meet. Surely you can do both!! Well, no, I can’t. Not if I want work/life balance.

        4. aebhel*

          Yeah, I actually think most of my coworkers would be happy to babysit my kid while I worked, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.

      2. Ama*

        Yeah, I see a potential for entry level employees to be “voluntold” for this role by their superiors or because they feel they need to volunteer to be seen as a team player.

    2. jhhj*

      Those seem like reasonable rules. I don’t think the idea is great, but absent a national policy on parental leave, this seems like as good a stopgap as you can get.

      But are there rules about productivity? What happens when you need more breaks or get less done?

      1. Chinook*

        “Those seem like reasonable rules. I don’t think the idea is great, but absent a national policy on parental leave, this seems like as good a stopgap as you can get.

        But are there rules about productivity? What happens when you need more breaks or get less done?”

        I agree with the rules being good but also concerned about the consequences for the loss in the productivity (which will probably happen) of both the parent (which will be obvious) and the babysitters (which may be forgotten come review time). Plus, there is no guarantee of job security for those who choose to stay home for the same period of time (without pay) because they have child who they know is disruptive (i.e. colicky) or has a medical condition not conducive to being out in public.

    3. Ezri*

      It’s good that they would try to preempt the meetings problem by having a backup, but… at that point you are basically asking your coworkers to babysit your kid for free. Which can’t be good for productivity – what if the kid pitches a fit while the parent is in the meeting and the backup can’t calm him or her down? I know nothing about babies and I generally have nothing against babies, but I’m pretty sure crying and noise are part of the newborn package.

      Also, isn’t liability a concern? What if coworkers are watching / handling the baby and it gets mishandled or dropped? Or made sick by coworkers who won’t keep germs at home? I mean, I think we assume people will be cautious with babies, but it’s an added risk that has no reason to be in the workplace.

      1. Ezri*

        Erm… I just realized that I referred to said imaginary baby as ‘it’ several time. I meant no offense to him or her, it was just the simplest pronoun my brain came up with. Like I said, I don’t have kids so babies are somewhat like aliens according to my subconscious. :)

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          I think that’s fairly common in English. Babies aren’t seen as gendered until they’re about a year old. Now, if you called a 5YO “it,” I’d wonder about you, but an infant can be “he,” “she,” or “it.”

      2. Cat*

        Yeah, I don’t like the idea of asking coworkers to babysit. A lot of people are going to feel awkward about saying no while still not wanting to do it. I legitimately don’t mind watching coworkers’ children for a few minutes when they’re in a bind, but we had someone who was doing it too regularly for a while and it gets weird and disruptive really quickly. A semi-official arrangement like this would lead to pressure and hard feelings, I think.

        1. Ezri*

          Especially since it allows a personal life choice to impact people who might not have made that choice. I don’t have kids, and I don’t think it’s appropriate to place an expectation on me to care for nearby children.
          If an employer wants to provide an incentive benefit for parents, give them leave.

          Also – don’t daycare providers have specific credentials authorizing them to watch other people’s kids? I thought that was the case. Does anyone know if that could be a problem?

          1. fposte*

            I don’t think that would extend to somebody watching a baby for a short time without receiving extra pay for it. (But *I*’d want extra pay for it.)

          2. Mike C.*

            I asked my brother since his wife runs an in-home daycare. A situation like that would simply be treated as temporary babysitting.

          3. Chinook*

            ” don’t daycare providers have specific credentials authorizing them to watch other people’s kids?”

            Since infants essentially need supervision to make sure they are still breathing and to intervene when they cry (and they don’t move on their own) and nothing else, I think the only thing that would be good for a coworker is some type of infant first aid (because CPR on infants is different from on adults).

            But that thought process makes me wonder about what would happen if a case of SIDS happened in the office. Who would be liable? If it is while in the care of a babysitting coworker, what type of support would there be for them as well as the parent?

      3. Jerzy*

        I definitely thought about the liability issue. Most parents really scrutinize any childcare they consider paying for to make sure everyone is licensed, etc., but sure, let’s let Barry from the mailroom watch the newborn and trust him not to sneeze on her face or rest his coffee cup on the soft spot on her head! Great idea!

        1. Jeff A.*

          You bring up a good point. Many workplaces do not conduct criminal background checks on their employees, but this is standard for childcare providers.

        2. Chinook*

          Silly Barry – doesn’t he know that the perfect place to keep your coffee warm is on the belly of an infant, not their head, atleast until they learn to roll over.

        3. Honeybee*

          In my case I’d be liable to leave a pill or a sharp object or something else out where baby can easily grab it. My mind is just not wired to be mindful of children, lol.

    4. Meg Murry*

      I have a friend who was allowed to bring her babies to work when newborns. It was a very small non-profit, so the rules weren’t quite so formal, the logistics above are basically what was worked out.

      In her case, it was basically understood that since she was going to be taking care of the baby, she wouldn’t be working at 100% capacity, so it was effectively like her coming back part-time. By allowing her to do so, she came back sooner than she otherwise would have (somewhere in the 8-10 weeks timeframe) rather than taking her full 3 months maternity leave plus all her accrued sick and vacation time to take 4-5 months off total, or potentially even quitting altogether to be a SAHM.

      I think a huge part of this is what if the kid turns out to be really high needs? Some babies need a lot more hands on attention than others, and if the employee’s baby turns out to be one of those, what is the company supposed to do? It’s not like the employee can just say “ok, this isn’t working, I’ll take baby to daycare next week” – many daycares have months long waiting lists.

      1. Boboccio*

        “effectively like her coming back part-time”… but being paid full-time presumably?

        1. OfficePrincess*

          But in the company’s eyes it’s more productive than paying her to be out on maternity leave.

    5. littlemoose*

      I don’t really like the idea of relying on coworkers to take care of baby while the parent is in a meeting or whatever. I don’t want to babysit while I’m at work, but I would feel so rude telling a coworker no if they asked me to do it in the scenario you gave above. I think there would be some pressure, conscious or unconscious, for people to agree to watch baby even if they didn’t want to or didn’t feel comfortable doing so. And what if the coworker does something wrong or the baby gets hurt? What’s the company’s liability there? And more practically speaking, will the relationship between those coworkers be strained for that reason? I just think the whole idea is fraught with pitfalls. I would never allow it, and I would not want to work anywhere that did.

      1. Anna*

        I understand entirely where you’re coming from, but I think it’s important to make the distinction that no one could FORCE you to babysit. I think that what it hinges on is people who are willing to partner with their coworker. That doesn’t make it a great idea, but it would be a really different conversation if people would have to watch the kid while parents were in meetings rather than someone volunteering to be that person.

          1. littlemoose*

            Exactly. And even if the request is made between peers, there’s still the feeling of being put on the spot when asked. Most people want to help their coworkers, and cooperation is an essential part of almost all types of work. But when you throw in something external and possibly emotional like caring for someone’s child, I think it’s easy to see how relationships could get strained or dissolve. And with respect to the “list of the willing” for people who are OK with watching somebody else’s baby during a meeting or conference call, as somebody mentioned below, that’s just more work to do to implement a policy that really seems to have far more drawbacks than advantages. And if only a few people are willing to do it, and they’re spending a decent chunk of their workdays on childcare, will their reduced productivity be tolerated? There are just so, so many ways, big and small, for this to go wrong.

            I completely agree that dedicated on-site daycare or childcare contributions, flexible scheduling, decent paid parental leave, etc. are much more viable options for assisting in accommodating workers’ childcare needs and retaining new parents.

        1. LBK*

          I’d worry that you wouldn’t get genuine agreement from people because they’d feel pressured to say yes, though. I think it would have to be as purely on a volunteer basis as possible – eg there’s a list people sign up for that you have to choose from, so you can’t go up to your coworker and ask if they’d be okay with covering you. I suspect a lot of people aren’t comfortable saying to someone’s face “No, I don’t want to take care of your kid for you”.

          1. fposte*

            Oh, that would be a good way of doing it; I had the same concerns you did about the pressure to say yes when asked.

            This might also help minimize the likelihood that it would be low-level staffers tackling this extra obligation.

            1. Hlyssande*

              I feel like there would still be pressure if it was a list that everyone could access, though. IE, Jane (not the parent) doesn’t see Susan’s name on the list and asks Susan why she’s not on it.

              1. Anna*

                At that point you’re dealing with a crappy person (Jane) and there’s really nothing you can do. You can’t plan for every contingency, you can only plan for what’s most likely.

              2. fposte*

                I’d have a private list kept by the Baby Wrangler. Parents would get it, of course, but there’d be less chance to mill around it and exclaim about who’s on it and who’s not.

          2. OP (Denise)*

            This is a really good point. I believe this is more workable that many think, but just requires really good enforcement of boundaries.

            1. RG*

              OP, I don’t know how much you read AAM, but so many questions devolve into a lack of boundaries on someone’s part. The fact that this would rely heavily on people enforcing their boundaries is wiring because of that.

        2. Ezri*

          But this isn’t a request related to some inanimate object, it’s a request to watch a child. It’s a lot harder to blow off someone’s pet rock than a living creature that requires attention.

        3. Engineer Girl*

          If there are penalties for saying “no” then you could argue there is forcing.

      2. Malissa*

        Imagine this:
        Coworker–“Please watch my baby for a few minutes.”
        Me–“Why? Does he do tricks?”

        That’s how I inadvertently got out of baby watching at work.

        1. LBK*

          That is absolutely hilarious and I’m going to keep it in my back pocket in case I ever need it.

    6. JMegan*

      Ad Astra’s comment below at 11:13 made me think of naptime (for the baby, not for me!).

      In addition to the above, I would also add the requirement for a dark, quiet place available for the baby to sleep. My office is lit by fluorescents, which are either on or they’re off. So it’s either dark enough for the baby to sleep but too dark for me to work, or bright enough to for me to work but too bright for the baby to sleep.

      Also, a sanitary way of disposing of diapers so they’re not just getting tossed in the bathroom garbage.

    7. BRR*

      It’s very reminiscent of establishing a good telecommuting policy. If you’re going to do it this is the way to do it.