should my office allow parents to bring babies to work?

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes:

My company has recently proposed implementing a program that would allow new parents to bring their child to work until they are six months old. The proposed policy includes rules that would be put in place to mitigate any disruptions in the office. Even with those, my immediate reaction is an emphatic no.

Before placing my vote, I’m turning to you and your readers for advice. I know this is a trend that has been picking up steam in recent years and I’d love to hear some real life stories from your readers in workplaces that have a similar policy. Are the perceived downsides really that much of a disruption in practice? Do coworkers end up picking up more work to accommodate the times parents are tending to feeding and dirty diapers?

Because this person wants a reality check, I’m going to restrict opining on this to people who have actual experience with babies in the workplace. If you have real, lived experience with this, please weigh in below! (That means no “it sounds nightmarish” or “it sounds heavenly” — let’s hear from people who can share how they’ve actually seen it go. Genuine questions from others are fine.)

{ 643 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A heads-up that I’m going to remove comments that don’t follow the rules at the top. I’m putting that warning up here since I won’t leave individual notes with each one. Thank you!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      And wow, it is fascinating to see how those rules change the tenor of the discussion. Typically when kids/babies at work come up, the comment section is overwhelmingly negative and convinced it can’t work. Today, restricting opinions to those with real lived experience, it’s much more balanced (and if anything, more on the side of it being able to work). Really interesting, and something to keep in mind going forward.

      1. Lucette Kensack*

        I’m not sure how much deleting you’re having to do on the back end, but I’ve been super pleasantly surprised by the tone of this conversation (and interested to observe way more positivity about the idea than we’d normally see).

          1. Violet Fox*

            I submitted a comment about my own experience, but don’t see it up. Are things just going through or is everything being checked first?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Same process as always — most stuff should show up immediately. I don’t see it in the filter, so if it’s not below, try submitting it again.

            2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              Pro Tip about moderated comments. If you put in your email address when you comment, not just the Name that’s required, which isn’t accessible to anyone here, it will then let you see when something is in waiting for moderation. Instead of making you wonder WTF is going on!.

      2. MOAS*

        “I’m going to restrict opining on this to people who have actual experience with babies in the workplace.” >> can I comment about my coworkers who have brought it in and how it’s gone over? or is it restricted only for those who have brought their own children in? Btw, I really like the restriction here. I usually skip most parenting discussions b/c I feel they get very negative very fast.

        1. ACDC*

          I think she is saying you can comment as long as you have some personal experience on that matter I.e. you brought an infant to work, your workplace allowed this, or you worked with people who did this. I think you talking about a coworker who brought their children to work would be appropriate within the guidelines.

      3. Parenthetically*

        I clicked on the comments button with GREAT trepidation and was pleasantly surprised by how moderate it all is in here today!

      4. The Rat-Catcher*

        I am so excited by this. As a parent, I have proceeded with extreme caution in the comments when this topic comes up. It’s really nice to see an honest consideration of the issue.

      5. Old Millenial*

        As a statistician, I want to caution against selection bias. On the surface it can seem like restricting responses to people with experience = unbiased honest evaluation it can also mean that opinions are limited to mainly small offices and mission based non profits that is not a great representation of how this would work well in other settings.

        I know your not going for statistically random samples, but one of the values I find in your site is that the comment section is full of geologically and industry diverse responses.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s not a study that needs to be statistically significant. The OP asked for real-life stories, and that’s what we’re doing. I’m finding they’re a lot easier to hear without the overwhelming negative noise of “I’ve never experienced it but I would hate that” that this topic normally invites.

        2. Important Moi*

          There has been a noticeable trend in comments leaning one way, i.e. a lack of diverse responses, on certain topics. This has been happening so much so that Alison commented on it. It is/was affecting the “personality” of the site.

          Opinions in the minority (on certain topics) were absent to the point that, at least I wondered, were those posters just not bothering to participate in the discussion. I feel comfortable saying there are others who feel the same way.

          1. Ornery*

            Dissenting opinions being routinely censored would have nothing to do with that, of course.

              1. Important Moi*

                I think my comment was misinterpreted. Let me try again. On the days I see a one-sided discussion , I often choose not to post. I wonder if others do the same because this is the internet. There are lots of places to post and not post comments. I don’t think you censor comments.

                1. Widdershins*

                  I agree, and I often don’t reply on days when the hive-mind veers so far from my own experiences. In fact, it’s been bad enough lately that I pick and choose which posts to read.

        3. JSPA*

          Not to mention, if people had a vote or say on it being instituted, offices where the majority of people were, a priori, in favor (and would pitch in to make it work, and were predisposed towards ignoring any minor issues, and de-escalating moderate ones) will be represented, and offices where the majority of people were, a priori, against (and would not have pitched in to make it work, or been predisposed towards not ignoring minor issues, and escalating moderate ones) will not be represented.

          That still makes the stories valuable. But they should be seen through the lens of, “possibly more representative of places where the majority of people wanted to see it succeed, than of any random workplace.”

          1. Allya*

            Daisy, this comment seems pretty unkind.

            Old Millennial, I do think that the particular kind of selection bias you mention isn’t a huge concern in this context. If the places that more frequently implement this policy are places where it more frequently works, that’s valuable information! “This worked well for me, here are the factors in my office that allowed it to work” is part of the point of the question. Also, I think “my company was at one point considering this but it never eventuated/had to be walked back because of X and Y” would be within the bounds of Allison’s rules?

            It would be more concerning if people who had either positive or negative experiences were disinclined to post for whatever reason.

          2. Baru Cormorant*

            This is unnecessarily aggressive.
            If OP wanted to ask, “what would most people think?” it makes sense to allow comments even from people who have not experienced it.
            But OP wants to know “tell me about your actual experience with this” then it’s OK to limit comments. That’s the distinction being pointed out.

      6. New AAM reader*

        Hmm, I just read through all the comments, and I don’t get the sense that the “pro-babies at work” faction is winning out. It seems fairly balanced, but I have to admit that the folks who have suffered from having babies at work influence my feelings more than those who were ok with it, just because we’re talking about a perk, not something any employee should expect. Yes, daycare is expensive, but children are expensive, which is why one needs to think carefully before having them. I don’t see that it’s an employer’s issue when someone chooses to procreate, just as it’s not their issue when someone decides to provide caregiving for a relative with dementia or foster kittens or train a seeing-eye dog (yes, I’ve done all of these, and all were comparable to caring for my 2 kids!) Just my 2 cents, FWIW.

  2. Annastasia von Beaverhausen*

    I have a former colleague who brought both her babies to work with her when they were wee (they are now teenagers, so it was a while ago).

    Honestly, it was totally fine. She had a private office and kept the babies in there with her while she worked, and they slept a good deal of the time. I was a colleague, not a supervisor, so I can’t say if it impacted her work directly, but there was never any negative gossip or anything about her not being productive.

    I think in an open plan office, it would be much more disruptive, and my colleague’s work was more individual, as opposed to team driven, so that could make a difference as well.

    1. Felix*

      Yeah, office set up definitely matters.
      My sister had experience with this (so I may be breaking the rules here), and at the time I felt it would be a nightmare, but she explained that it actually worked out fine.

      The main point she made was that (like LW’s office) it was limited to kids up to six months. When you think about it, not many people in any given office will have a child of that specific age. At most, two – usually, none. It is encouraging that your office has already made policies that acknowledge this could be a disruption disruption (which is very proactive – think of all the dog friendly office stories we’ve heard where everyone just assumes it will work out).

      All that being said, the cynic in me thinks this is just a way to keep people working when they should rightfully be on parental leave. I bet even with disruptions, they’ve decided that this will save them more money than giving someone six months off.

      1. Bostonian*

        That was actually my first thought: a better benefit would be the option of more generous paid leave time.

        1. Kendra*

          I wonder, though, if giving people more paid parental leave would be enough on its own, given the recent discussion on taking leave in general. Having it written down is one thing; feeling like you can actually take it, without penalties to your standing with your employer, is something else, and in my experience even harder to get.

        2. Director of Alpaca Exams*

          That works for some people, but other parents are DESPERATE to get back to work. By the end of ten weeks of leave, my partner (our child’s birth parent) was climbing the walls. They would have been very happy to go back to work with baby in tow had that been an option, probably would have preferred it over putting our kid in daycare (which is what we ended up doing), and definitely would have preferred it over extended leave.

            1. JSPA*

              Especially in reverse sequence. If you can bring the kid in from 6 weeks to 6 months, then take 4 months parental leave (or even, daycare for 6 months, and then 4 months parental leave) you get home-and-wandering-time with a child that’s starting to be far more aware and interactive and mobile.

          1. Tin Cormorant*

            My husband’s workplace gave rather generous parental leave, and he was originally planning to stay home to help me with our newborn, but I ended up having a really easy birth and our daughter slept so much that I really had it handled on my own and he was getting really bored staying home so much. He ended up heading back to work after 2 weeks and saving the rest of his parental leave for later since they said he could use it any time within the first year. She was such a well-behaved infant 95% of the time that if it would have been okay to take her to work with him, he very well might have done it.

      2. beepboopin*

        So I don’t have experience with this policy per se, but my office just went through a baby boom (10 born in a 15 month period- me being one of them) and we’ve had multiple conversations with my boss about making our department more family friendly and have spoken with some collaborators who had this policy and shared some of their rules around it. While I think its well intentioned, I do worry that companies are trying to use this as a way to limit the amount of actual leave they give new moms (and dads). Beyond the actual need for care, I think often times people forget about the physical recovery new moms and dads need in the postpartum months. Being able to bring your baby to work doesn’t help address the physical healing and sleep deprivation. So negating whether the presence of a baby is good or bad for the workplace, I think these policies are disingenuous to the idea that a company is “family-friendly”

    2. SamSoo*

      We had an attorney that did this. Private office; usually about half days initially. We barely knew the child was there. Environment matters though, I’m sure.

      1. Bipedal Chaos*

        I agree with the “under six months” limitation — mobile babies require a lot more attention, and under six months they mostly sleep and eat. We had our health and safety committee raise issues with crawling/toddling babies being a liability in the office because they might chew on cords, bang their wee heads on the sharp corners of desks, pull hot coffee cups down on themselves, etc.

        (I also agree that it would be nicer to provide actual leave!)

        1. Harriet Vane*

          I had this situation at a former job. Very small staff and the offices are in a former residence. Coworker was allowed to bring in her child starting around 2 months old. I left when the baby was about 6 months old. Over the last couple of months the baby became very distracting – while we had separate offices, they were across the hall and the doors were always open (Former bedrooms). He began fussing when she wasn’t paying attention to him, and she would have to hold him on her lap while working on her computer. Her productivity dropped. They ended up telling her she couldn’t have him in the office during working hours shortly after I left.

          1. Dawn*

            First of all, and off topic – I love your user name. I love Dorothy Sayers.

            Second, I brought my baby (actually husband brought baby – we worked opposite shifts) to me and then I went home with baby after shift end. So baby was typically only on site for 30-40 minutes. It worked for the short term but once baby got more vocal and agile, it didn’t work (4-6 months or so of age) because they wanted more attention and weren’t in the eat and sleep stage any more.

          2. Another Harriet*

            I had to do a double take at first because I usually do internet things as Harriet Vane too! I don’t think I’ve ever used the name here before, though. Kudos on your good taste in literature. :)

            I used to work as a research assistant in academia and my boss was a professor. Her husband was also a professor at the same university. She had an infant the first year I worked for her and would bring the baby to class with her when she taught. She would sometimes teach with the baby in a sling or with the baby sleeping in a carseat next to the podium at the front of the classroom. This was a religious and very baby-friendly university so it was generally seen as fine. (My impression is that academia is usually somewhat hostile to women with children.) My boss was rarely on campus outside of her classes and scheduled office hours, however, and worked from home most of the rest of the time. She had a lot of trouble finishing projects, but I would attribute that more to her tendency to overcommit herself and the university’s lack of emphasis on publishing rather than her children.

    3. Kittymommy*

      Agree. I worked in one place that allowed this. It was infinitely more successful for those who had a private office. The I’ve it two that did not only ended up bringing their children a few times. It wasn’t great for them, the children or the other staff.
      I worry that if the office is set up where not everyone had their own private office it might end up being a perk only the higher up got to utilize.

      1. High score*

        I work in cubeville and it’s not practical to wear earbuds. Babies in cubeville are a distraction bc it breaks everyone’s concentration when they cry, there’s always tons of oblivious people who will come by and speak baby talk and the parents don’t notice the baby noise. I’m mom and grandma and I would not want to try to work with babies or kids of any age in the office. Too distracting. A private office would address my concerns, so it depends on your environment. Giving parents more leave or the ability to work from home would be better.

        1. staceyizme*

          Babies at work (and children, too) worked out in preschools where I was employed back in the day. I can’t say that I have seen it work more generally in offices, plants or stores, however, though I’ve seen it tried in offices and plants as an employee and in store as a customer. The environment is too inflexible and only privileged parties (pastor, head of department and supervisor with a private office) bothered to try.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Hmm. I have seen this in small independent stores. But the context was always that at least two grown family members were there, so one could ring up sales while one prevented the baby from eating your purchase. The baby was passed to whichever family member didn’t currently need two hands.

            1. Clisby*

              I remember seeing this in my small hometown. A couple ran a business (bookstore? gift store? can’t remember) but the baby was always there. When the kid got a little older, he/she often was in a playpen near the big window, and people passing by got used to waving. Of course, in this case, the only people who possibly could have been distracted were the parents and the customers.

              1. Dahlia*

                I gotta say, a bookstore with a baby to talk to/make faces at would be like. My kryptonite XD

                I wasn’t going to add anything to this but I realized – my manager brings in her six year old sometimes. Usually just for like 30 minutes to an hour. She plays in the toy room by herself, sometimes has a little snack. It’s fine.

                For some reason the first few times I met her, she was terrified of me, though.

          2. JJ Bittenbinder*

            I had the opposite experience at a preschool, but that was likely due to management not setting clear expectations that employees bringing their own children in must follow the same sick child policy as parents of our students. Several instances of employees bringing in kids who were too sick to attend their regularly-scheduled activity (school or daycare), which introduced a lot of germs into the environment and distracted the employees, as they were attending to their sick kids rather than their work kids.

    4. CupcakeCounter*

      Yes – this really only works when the office has either very high walls or private offices with doors that can be closed.
      A coworker also did this (special permission because of some medical needs of the child) and they temporarily moved her to a private office when the baby started getting a bit more alert and active during the day (about the 3-4 month mark). She had to come back to work after 8-weeks because of some additional time off she would need later on for specialists and surgery. He was a great baby but people close to that office still heard a lot of baby noises and if she had still been at her normal cube, it wold have been very distracting. She was also an amazing coworker so we were happy the company allowed this (it was her hill to die on).
      After a couple surgeries and a lot of PT, baby is doing really well as a carefully active 6 year old.

    5. Delta Delta*

      I also worked with a woman who brought her children when they were tiny. They basically slept much the time and when they were awake it was to eat or be changed, or sometimes for some tummy time on the floor. They were generally not fussy babies, and most of the time you didn’t know they were there.

      1. green*

        I think the baby’s temperament is a crucial ingredient. When I was pregnant, my boss offered to let me bring the baby in to work for the first few months after my leave. I was hesitant even before he was born, but then he turned out to be an incredibly fussy and needy baby who had to be held pretty much 24/7 for the first 3-4 months, and bringing him to work would not have worked at all. I’ve heard tell that there are babies out there who just sleep for the first 3 months, and maybe with a baby like that it could work.

        1. Kc*

          This. My first, no way. My second, I brought on a work trip (he was 8 months) and I did some WFH 1/2 days when he was in the under 6 months stage and was able to be productive so feel justified in commenting.

        2. Helena*

          Yep, I tried to write up my PhD during my maternity leave, and even though I could work from home (from my bed even!) on my laptop, I couldn’t get anything done because my son needed something every thirty minutes or so and that would break my concentration. Food, diaper, cuddle, pick up, something. I ended up going out to work in the library at weekends when my husband was around to watch him instead.

          I couldn’t get through a 45min Mum and Baby Pilates class without him needing something either, so perhaps it was just him. But at 6mo especially, he was pretty perky and needed a lot of songs, playing etc. You couldn’t just park him in a bouncy chair and get on with your day’s work.

    6. Harvey 6-3.5*

      When my youngest (now 20) was 3 months old and my wife was returning to work after maternity leave, I was starting part-time law school as an older student (during the day) and had a month of paternity leave prior to returning to work (when our son entered daycare). For the last week of my leave, school had started and I took him with me to three hours of class a day. He was a pretty sleepy baby, and mostly slept (or occasionally ate) during class. My professors were actually quite cool about it and my young classmates didn’t complain (at least to me). But by five months, he was crawling and it would have been a nightmare.

    7. I'm that person*

      This is what my ex-wife did with our first child. She took 3 months of maternity leave and then I took 1 month of paternity leave and for months 5 and 6 ex-wife did a mixture of working from home and putting the baby (now a college student) under the desk in her office. Once she reached 6 months we put in in daycare. It worked but only because she had an office, it was only 2-3 days a week, and it was only for 2 months, and she was a quiet, well-behaved baby.

      1. Marthooh*

        “…ex-wife did a mixture of working from home and putting the baby (now a college student) under the desk in her office.”

        I mistook your meaning at first. Thanks for the laugh!

        1. Robbenmel*

          I could see folding up a 6′ tall college student and tucking him carefully under the desk…

    8. Spero*

      I agree. I worked in an open plan office with this policy 2 years ago, and personally brought it my daughter to my private office 1 day a week until she was 7 mo this year. In the open plan office it was very hard to get work done and distracting (especially because we were all constantly on the phone so you couldn’t have headphones to tune the babies out). In addition, I was going through a series of miscarriages at the time and we had baby showers, one baby in my workspace within 10 feet several days a week, 2 other babies in the building sporadically. It made it very hard for me to stay composed and professional while being constantly triggered. I ended up talking to HR about how having a baby in my office the day after a miscarriage was traumatic and requesting formal accommodations (which thankfully they were able to provide).
      When my daughter was with me in my private office, most coworkers commented they didn’t even know till they saw us leave in the evening!

      1. PennilynnLott*

        This would be my fear. I’ve had several pregnancy losses recently, including a stillbirth at full term, and being around babies while retaining any semblance of professionalism is currently impossible. My partner and I had hoped to try to alternate our work from home days to avoid daycare, but given all that’s happened in the last year I would never want to routinely bring a baby into work. I’m aware now that many people may have reasons they can’t work around babies that go beyond noise concerns…

      2. Meredith*

        Yes, I’ve had 3 miscarriages. A coworker’s wife gave birth right around the time I would have given birth if I hadn’t had a miscarriage with my first pregnancy, and when coworker announces milestones with that baby (who is now 15 months) it’s still hard. Thankfully I was on vacation when my office threw them a shower because there was no other way I would have been able to bow out. I was seriously considering pleading sick and working from home until it got moved to a day I had already scheduled off. Also thankfully, my office if small so we rarely have someone with an infant. I’m so sorry for your losses.

    9. Babymomma*

      My workplace allows this and I brought my child. It worked fine. I have a private office and the baby mostly would sleep. I used white noise apps a lot. I also got sitters or left the baby with my spouse if I had meetings. Other coworkers offered to watch the baby, though, if I had just a quick meeting.

      The whole time, I was very anxious about disturbing anyone and I didn’t get that much work done. Toward the end of the time frame I was getting a sitter a lot of the time. But coworkers who knew I was worries about it, told me it was no big deal and the baby didn’t bother anyone.

      I would say this can work fine depending on the office setup (ie offices with doors), the culture/ camaraderie of the employees (be nice people, it’s hard enough already), and the baby! Mine is chill but if she wasn’t, I would have felt too uncomfortable.

  3. Foreign Octopus*

    At my last office, this happened with two women I worked with. We were a small office of about five or six, and both were coming back off maternity leave. The policy was flexible that they could bring their babies in if they needed to, but they were older babies as in the UK maternity leave is more generous than the US. I suppose the babies were a little over a year old in practice.

    It more or less worked because we were a small office and the babies slept for most of it. The issue was that we were a recruiting firm and since most of us were on the phone all day, a single cry could be quite disruptive.

    The biggest issue was the distraction factor. Babies are cute. Sleeping babies are especially cute. If something like this does happen in your office, the distraction factor of cute babies need to be taken into account. Most people think they’ll be sensible about it until they see said baby and it then becomes trying to do you work whilst also pulling faces at babies.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I should also comment that this was an open office set up. I think private offices it would be fine because you can shut the door on crying babies (obviously with mum/dad inside with them, I’m not a monster).

    2. Nom the Plumage*

      I second the distraction factor–when babies come in to my office, there is immediately a huge group of people crowding around the baby. Eventually the people will drift back to their desks, only to be replaced by others who were trying to get a glimpse of the baby from the outskirts of the crowd. Not only are these people not getting any work done, but if I had a question for one of the gawkers, I would then have to wait to get my work done because it would take an airhorn to get their attention away from the tiny human.

      1. C*

        Well, yeah, but that sounds more like bringing the baby in to meet the office at a couple months old, staying for an hour or two and leaving. That’s a very different than having babies in the office for the whole day while the parent works. The situation above is infrequent and short-lived, so while it is disruptive it’s not forever and it’s more akin to a retirement party or something that will pull people away for a bit but doesn’t happen often enough to be a big deal or cause problems with people being able to work day-to-day.

        1. nonymous*

          I work remotely as do several of my coworkers. Our former supervisor (a 65yo guy hankering for grandkids) would always ask to see my coworker’s young children over video conferencing, she would oblige by inviting them to wave at the camera and he would make crazy faces and noises to get their attention. It was a happy way to end meetings, but after observing this behavior for a couple years I’d argue that the amount of interruption really depends on the adults involve.

          1. C*

            Yeah, that’s a little weird, especially as a daily thing. Occasionally we’ll have kids make a cameo appearance on video conferences (intended or otherwise), and it’s cute and not a big deal, but on a regular basis for years? That might get a little old.

            1. Mama Bear*

              I used to work remotely and on the rare occasion that we had teleconferences there was usually someone’s kid in the background. Having your kids home was a perk of that particular job, but you still had to be online when scheduled, had to keep up your productivity, etc. My job did not involve phone calls to clients and obviously I didn’t have them with other people around. The only times I brought my baby to the office were to introduce her and to do a few tasks for my return to the office FT. She was a distraction in that everyone wanted to say hi, though I did keep her in my private office to minimize that.

              So that said I wonder, OP, if flexible telecommuting options would be a perk the entire office might be able to enjoy, not just new parents.

            2. nonymous*

              From my seat the strange part of it was that he didn’t seem especially interested in other coworkers’ children (about the same age). The local staff didn’t bring their kids into work for visits, but they would telework once a week and if the weather prevented driving in and there was certainly opportunity for him to express interest. My cynical side says she caught his attention because of the SES of her family network, which skewed more aspirational-professional than the rest of us (think professors and lawyers instead of teachers/engineers/fortune100 execs).

          2. Quill*

            Kinda cute. Of course, I always ask about my mentor’s kid at the end of our calls briefly. “How’s Little Mentorlet?” “Fussing, I think she’s in a growth spurt,” because I’m being mentored remotely.

      2. Observer*

        The thing with this, though, is the novelty wears off. I did this and I can tell you that after the first day people didn’t spend that much time around my kids.

        But, I agree, set up matters, a LOT.

      3. pleaset*

        The first time a particular baby is in the office this is normal and to be expected – it happens where I work.

        I would hope it would be repeated in a big way if the baby is being brought in regularly while the parent works. I sure wouldn’t do it.

    3. Jack Be Nimble*

      The cute factor would be a tremendous concern for me. I absolutely love babies, but I don’t think I could work in a baby-friendly office, just because I doubt that I could get any work done knowing that there were chubby cheeks and fat li’l hands somewhere nearby!

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        I worried about the same thing for my baby-loving self, but the novelty does wear off when it’s a regular thing and not a special visit. I worked somewhere that allowed someone to bring her baby in, because they specifically asked her to return early from maternity leave (unusual circumstance—her boss died very suddenly and they needed her to take over), and by the 3rd day, it was just “Susie’s baby in her office” rather than “OMG! Baby!! Must see!” At least for most of us.

        I also worked somewhere that allowed me to bring MY baby in for onsite meetings and hours spent doing paperwork in-office (I mostly did field work) and it was very helpful. I didn’t have to worry about arranging childcare for just a few hours, and it made those office visits easier to schedule and less overwhelming as a result.

      2. Dog is my co-pilot*

        When it came to a puppy two weeks ago, the Hive Mind consensus was that “the office isn’t a petting zoo” and that coworkers had no business seeking out their dog fix at work.

        If you buy that (I don’t) then this should not be an issue with human babies.

    4. Mary*

      UK, and you’ve just reminded me— I brought my daughter into work for a day when she was about 4-5 months as a Keeping In Touch day. I had a really productive day—basically 7 hours of meetings, with the team, my manager, a couple of people I’d been working with on projects, my immediate colleagues—which was super helpful. I couldn’t have done any work at the desk, but having conversations with people whilst holding/ feeding / pushing a 4mo around was absotely fine.

      But my employer said that because I’d brought my daughter it couldn’t count as a real KIT day so I couldn’t be paid for it. Particularly galling when it cost me £16 just to get to work! That kind of inflexibility was why I took a new job rather than go back there.

  4. Shawna*

    I don’t have experience with this but I do have a follow up question: What are the company’s maternity/paternity leave policies and would this affect those at all?

    1. Arielle*

      That would be my concern. Is the policy offering this in lieu of standard maternity leave, or shortening the current allowed leave in any way?

      1. lilisonna*

        This would also be a worry for me.

        My current workplace has (for the US) a very generous leave policy for maternity/paternity time. No one needs to bring in a small infant because they are allowed to be home for at least the first four month. I would rather see policies put in place to support more time off than I would allowing infants in the office.

        That said, my company also allows for people to bring children of any age into offices, but not into manufacturing facilities. Everyone understands that it is incumbent upon the parent to make sure there is no disruption, and it works fairly smoothly.

    2. bookworm914*

      Seconded. (thirded, nth-ed, whatever)
      Is there an ethical dimension to this, and honestly, which way does it cut?
      Even if satisfactory parental leave policy already exists and would be maintained, or will also be implemented, in some workplaces this would lead to unfair pressure on people to keep working / come back super quickly. OP, would that be a problem at your worksite?

    3. seller of teapots*

      I posted below, because I currently am in the throes of bringing-my-baby-to-work. Our maternity leave is the same as Last Job: 10 weeks, partial pay.

    4. hbc*

      If we’re talking US, there’s no requirement for paid parental leave, and I think most employers who do offer it give 6-12 weeks. So unless the company is trying to switch things up for no reason, most likely they’re adding a third option on to the two that were already there:

      1) Stay home without a paycheck for weeks 6-26.
      2) Go to work for weeks 6-26 and put a huge chunk of your paycheck into infant care.
      3) Bring your baby to work for weeks 6-26, keeping your paycheck and being about 80% effective at your job.

      1. Anna*

        If anyone has actually SEEN a six week old, only then do you understand how fucking ridiculous it is that (even if money isn’t an issue, which it almost always is) we are expected to leave them in daycare at that age. This isn’t a judgement of parents who need to make that decision–I get that. But it is SO hard.

        1. CupcakeCounter*

          Most of the daycare facilities in my area wouldn’t take an infant under 8 week old and the one I ended up choosing required them to be 12 weeks old. Luckily I had decent leave from my employer and got the full 12 weeks FMLA (partially paid) without having to dip into my PTO.
          I’m not sure what I would have done if I had to return to work after 6 weeks. Both my parents and husband have FT jobs and my in-laws lived several hours away.

        2. Working Mom Having It All*

          Or, for that matter, if anyone has ever actually been a woman who gave birth, the idea that you’re fully healed and good to resume your regular duties after 6 weeks is laughable. Like… at 6 weeks I was maybe just barely not in physical pain anymore. I get that it’s a requirement for a lot of women, but it’s embarrassing that in a developed country, this is happening. And I think it’s only happening because traditionally men have set company policies for things like this. (And still to a large extent set workplace norms and priorities.)

          1. Anon for this*

            Actually, I feel like I got way more pushback from women in general around my maternity leave. I had to return at 6 weeks and it was up there with worst experiences of my life (I had a very difficult birth and I wasn’t really in the right headspace to demand accommodations). Even after that, there was chatter from management (not in my department) that I had used more of my leave than allotted 6 months after I returned and it was all women managers. I’m still pretty resentful (and really don’t know how it let it go – I was such a wreck when I came back to work and thinking about it just puts me back in that frame of mind) and it gives me a lot of anxiety about having another child.

        3. Director of Alpaca Exams*

          Our kid did really well in daycare from 10 weeks old, but it’s so individual—some babies and parents will thrive with that setup, others will be miserable. The ones who would be miserable should definitely have other options.

        4. Sleve McDichael*

          In my country, we have a federally mandated 18 weeks for mothers and two weeks for partners, and if you’re self-employed the government will pay you a certain amount for that time. Most employers offer six months. As such, most child care centres will refuse to take a baby under 6 months, and some won’t take under a year; these younger children are seen as too difficult. My mother runs her own child care business and is one of the rare ones who will take down to four months and she is almost filled with the younger ones. She always has a waiting list. I can’t imagine sending out a six week old, the care would be extremely difficult for ones so young. I hope your country pays your carers well.

        5. TardyTardis*

          I agree. I was very happy that my husband finished teaching for the summer break right when my first was six weeks old, that worked out very well. But with my second, I had to find daycare in less than a month because of other factors (going to school more or less full time courtesy of the GI bill, and we really, really needed that stipend). Fortunately, we found a private situation that was marvelous and reasonable, but not our total choice at the time.

      2. Skeeder Jones*

        This may vary based on what state they are in. I know the laws in California differ from what is above.

    5. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      They don’t impact ours at all at my US based workplace. The kids can come until they are 6 months old. How much parental leave is taken prior to that is up to the parents and what they can afford (it is unpaid )

    6. Liz*

      And I have a follow up to your follow up! What exactly are they proposing to mitigate any disruptions? As someone else pointed out, it MAY only work if people have private offices, which depending on the work environment, like where I work, only higher ups have. How would that be handled if someone who works in cube farm or an open plan office wants to take advantage of this policy?

  5. Erin*

    I’ve never had a colleague bring their baby in, but when I was in an open, shared office space there were women who worked for other organizations near us who would bring their babies while easing back into work from maternity leave. These were very small babies who were honestly way less distracting than the adults I had to listen to in a large, open, shared office space.

    1. Puggles*

      My question is, if coworkers knew there was a sleeping baby in the next cubicle, would they speak in lower tones or whisper? What if they were on the telephone or what if someone cracked a joke? Would the baby stifle regular talk and laughter?

      1. Alienor*

        It’s surprisingly hard to wake up a sleeping baby with normal conversation and noise levels (at least it was with mine, and I remember my mother’s old childcare books recommended running the vacuum and doing chores while the baby was napping so s/he would get used to sleeping through it) so I think you could just explain that there’s no need to whisper and people would adjust pretty quickly.

        1. Booksnbooks*

          Yeah, that wasn’t the case with either of my two babies. They were reasonable sleepers, but like most adults, a loud conversation taking place 3-4 feet away would walk them up.

          1. Botanist*

            And my baby, by about 4 weeks, was so tuned in to sound that he wouldn’t go to sleep if he heard anything new at all. Also a very light sleeper. He wouldn’t have been a good candidate to bring to work regularly.

      2. Chinookwind*

        Gym’s owner had his child with them while his wife worked out. the child slept in her car carrier while the gym’s heavy metal workout music went full blast. We joked that this could backfire and they will end up raising a child who will only be able to sleep the thumps of a deep base while the music plays at a level 10!

        1. GrunkleAl*

          It me! I would fall asleep to classic rock as a baby, and these days, any time I have sleep issues, my go-to trick is any music with heavy bass/drum combos and a raspy vocal. It still works.

          To the point of this post, I once worked with a vet tech who would bring her infant son with her and lock him in an empty cage in the treatment area. While that sounds kind of cringe, he was under 6 months at the time and it was the best ditch for her because her hubby was working at the time and it was a Sunday. I thought it was pretty hilarious, as he slept thru the 2 hours or so he was in there.
          Surprisingly (lol not at all) the boy is very interested in animal husbandry now. He’s 14.

  6. Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet!)*

    My biggest concern about a program like this is that new parents who don’t WANT to return to work and would rather take parental leave would face pressure to return because they could bring their baby to work.

        1. Shark Whisperer*

          I want to second the giving people a choice comment. I know women who have chosen to return to work earlier because staying at home alone with a baby all day can be really lonely and isolating. There may be people who WANT to bring their young baby to work rather than stay home with them.

          1. Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet!)*

            I agree with giving new parents a choice, as long as it’s a real choice, not a “you technically have options but we really want you to make a certain choice and you will face consequences if you don’t pick the right one” kind of choice. I didn’t realize those were so prevalent until I started to read AAM regularly.

            1. Detective Amy Santiago*

              Agreed. Especially since these types of situations are far more prevalent with women.

              Which – follow up question – would this benefit be open to new dads/adoptive parents too?

              1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                Unless this is pitched as a benefit for nursing mothers exclusively, I think it really must be offered to any parent of a tiny baby regardless of how that baby joined the family.

                1. Liz*

                  VERY good point and i agree. One of my very close friends and her DH just brought home their son, who they adopted, last week. I don’t know details but she gets the same amount of maternity leave as someone who gave birth to a baby

                2. Chinookwind*

                  And not just “baby” It should be in place for anyone who has a new CHILD join their family. I can imagine that adopting someone at age 5 or 13 could use the same amount of time to cope with the transition, especially since sometimes this is a surprise event. Ex: sibling and significant other dies, leaving a parent-less child. If you take on the full-time parenting role for the niece/nephew, time off would be just as needed.

                  I believe that Canadian parental leave law was updated to take circumstances like that into account.

                3. Baru Cormorant*

                  Sure but that’s parental leave, I don’t think anyone is arguing that parents of 5-13 year olds should take them to the office.

          2. Working Mom Having It All*

            I was that person choosing to go back to work sooner than expected, because it did feel isolating, and also… I’m just not the stay at home mom type. And once you get into months 4-6, that’s basically what you are. Your body has healed, sleep starts to be more under control, and you probably have things like feeding and diapers down pat by this point. (Before 3 months there was a solid chance that I had someone’s bodily fluids on my clothes at any given moment.) I was very much ready to go back to just being a normal person at that point.

            That said, what I really would have loved would be some kind of childcare benefit, not the ability to bring my baby to work.

            1. Mama Bear*

              ^^ This. While I would have preferred to be home longer, I think that places that are considering allowing infants might also want to look into nearby or on-site childcare options, especially if they are a bigger company.

              1. Tom & Johnny*

                As a parent who drives 1-1/2 hours to work, and 1-1/2 hours home *because of childcare pickup and drop off* I really want to understand why more workplaces don’t have on-site childcare options.

                Without dropoff and pickup, my commute is 30 minutes each direction.

                I work in legal so I understand the big bad buggaboo of dreaded liability. Almost all of that can be solved by sub-leasing the space to a licensed and qualified child care provider who takes on the liability of operating. The employer doesn’t need to pay for the childcare. Just providing the option in the same building would be life changing.

                It flummoxes me that my employer, and many employers, would rather I and other employees have a stressed schedule, lower productivity, and the need to drop everything and fly out the door at a certain-time-o’clock sharp. More than once I’ve had to keep walking past people trying to talk to me and tell them I’d see them tomorrow, which they take as rude and costs me political capital at my job, rather than miss pickup and be charged both money and have to submit to written write-ups at the preschool.

                To keep this on topic: I don’t need to bring my child to my desk with me. But can I bring him to the same building? Is that too much to ask? I understand much of this would be dependent on a company’s size. Mine provides an on-site gym, on-site fitness classes, and an on-site Starbucks for crying out loud. They could sub-lease space to a licensed child care entity.

                1. YetAnotherFed*

                  My work campus has on-site childcare in one of the buildings, a gym in one of the other buildings, and restaurants and coffee shops spread among the other buildings of the campus. Then there’s another daycare two blocks away from my work complex. I’d estimate that we have at least 6 thousand people on my work campus on any given day. I have no children so I don’t know what the pickup rules are for either child care facility.

                2. YetAnotherFed*

                  And to add to my comments, I do see the child care workers taking the babies and older kids around my work campus in the public/common areas, and there’s a playground for each child care facility.

                3. Elizabeth*

                  My employer, a hospital, looked at doing an on-site daycare. The regulatory requirements for starting a daycare center are immense. In our case, they directly conflicted with many of the regulatory requirements of our core business. And it wasn’t just if we ran it. It was if there was a daycare center in the same building. The regulatory requirements around gyms, fitness centers & coffee shops aren’t nearly as significant. The only other type of business that comes close is a nursing home. It is why there are so many home-based, only semi-legal, daycare providers.

                4. JustaTech*

                  My best friend has worked at two daycare facilities that were affiliated with hospitals. They weren’t in the same building (one was across the street and the other is about 3 blocks away), which I think eases the liability issues. Also, neither was run by the hospital. The one she works at now is only for hospital employees, and provides sliding-scale costs so all the non-doctors can afford to have their kids go there too. They also have a much wider range of hours to accommodate hospital schedules.

                  As for pickup rules: those are set by both the facility and the state. In my state, unless there is a serious emergency (you’ve been in an accident or something), you can’t leave your kids at daycare for more than 10 hours or they have to call CPS. But that’s one of those things that will vary widely by state/city/country.

            2. Althea*

              Right there with you on preferring to work over staying at home. Would mostly be interested in this baby at work thing because it would save 3-4 months of child care costs.

        2. AnotherAlison*

          Definitely would like the choice option for people. Some positions and babies are more favorable to this than others.

      1. Eillah*

        Can we second this even if we don’t fall on either team? Team stronger social support for new parents!

      2. BethRA*

        Or, X months, but give people a year (?) to take it. So in this someone could bring the baby in for the first few months, then take leave – although it would also help where the parents don’t want to, or can’t, take leave at the same time: so one take the first 6 months, and the other takes their leave after that.

        1. Lies, damn lies and...*

          Yes! I work from home and would have loved to go back earlier and then take time later when he was more engaged and active and fun.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      This. I’m very curious what the leave policies are like at this place. Is there a decent work/life balance? Are they proposing this policy in response to requests from employees or are they trying to pressure new parents to return to work sooner?

      1. OP*

        The current leave policy is the “normal” up to 12 weeks with FMLA. They also started offering paid short term disability recently. I’d say overall the culture is good with the work/life balance. In talking with coworkers after the news came out it doesn’t seem that there is overwhelming interest from employees for this type of program so I can’t imagine this is in response to employee requests.

        1. TiffanyAching*

          FMLA provides unpaid protected leave; is your leave policy just the FMLA 12 unpaid weeks that parents can supplement with their PTO, or does your company actually provide partial/full pay during the 12 week leave?

          1. Mama Bear*

            My experience was my short term disability kicked in after 2 weeks of my own PTO, and then I could take 6 weeks (8 for cesarean births) at partial pay (via the disability insurance) and then if you wanted the full 12, you could take the rest as unpaid leave. FMLA doesn’t have to be taken all at once, if that benefits anyone. FMLA was basically holding my job, not paying for the time.

            1. E*

              FMLA hold my job, short term disability kicked in after 2 weeks (paid 60% of regular salary) but since I didn’t have a c-section it ended at 8 weeks after childbirth, so I had negotiated up front to work from home the 3rd month and come in 1 day per week while my neighbor watched my son. Not everyone has options available that will keep income to pay the bills. The money I’d saved up ended up being just enough to pay the delivery costs after insurance because I hadn’t met my deductible even close before then.

        2. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I’d probably ask people who either had babies recently or are expecting if this is something they want or not.

        3. Carlie*

          So none, then. FMLA is unpaid, which most people can’t afford.

          I was allowed to take both of my children to work after they were born. It was an academic environment. It worked only in that everyone around me was very kind. For the first 2 months it sort of was ok – I worked longer hours total to make up for time spent during the day actively in care (feeding, soothing, changing diapers). They (the babies) mostly slept or were happy with a mobile and me narrating my work to them.

          But it was far from ideal for anyone involved or adjacent, including me, and was only temporary until a spot opened up at daycare. When I would have to take them in when they were a bit older, due to illness or daycare closed, it was really tough. Once you hit the 3 month mark they start to need more attention and stimulation, and by 6 months forget about it.

          What I saw work much better for other parents was flex time. Moving work schedules so there could always be a parent home, allowing for making up hours more easily if the baby was sick, etc.

          What would be perfect is on-site daycare, of course.

          I wouldn’t say it can’t be done, but they should proceed cautiously. They need to have plans for all the ways it is disruptive before jumping in.

        4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Oh, that’s awful (although common). I would much much rather receive paid parental leave than the chance to bring my baby into work, especially for the under 6 weeks period when they haven’t even been vaccinated.

        5. anonarama*

          FMLA is unpaid and only kicks in after about a year of employment so you have no leave really. That’s bad. Allowing babies in the office in place of having actual leave isn’t cool but considering there is no leave, its better than nothing really.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      This was going to be my recommendation—invest in longer paid parental leave instead of bringing the babies to work.

      I’ve worked in offices with babies and toddlers before, and I’m generally supportive of child-friendly workplaces. That said, I had one colleague with lovely children (including a baby, toddler, and kid) who were not in any way distracting when they were in the office. And I had a colleague with an incredibly loud and distracting toddler (he was loud and distracting as a baby, as well). Sometimes her husband would come to provide childcare at the office while she was in meetings, and although he helped distract his child, the kid was still adorable and irritatingly disruptive.

      Which is all to say that the disruptiveness of a baby in the office seems entirely baby-dependent to me. Every parent who’s brought their child with them has been attentive and conscientious, but sometimes babies are gonna baby.

      If there are ways to encourage folks to take longer paid parental leave (e.g., by providing longer paid parental leave), or to allow greater work-from-home flexibility, I would have preferred that option. Or if there’s a way to partner with a very nearby (like in the same building or within 1-2 blocks) childcare facility, that might achieve similar goals. Then, when kids come in because of extenuating circumstances, there’s much more office goodwill built up. But it became hard to be gracious with a child literally screaming as he ran through the office every. single. day.

      1. seller of teapots*

        I have a 4.5 month old baby and a 2.5 year old toddler. Both are awesome. I bring the baby to work. It’s awesome and easy. I would never, ever, ever bring my toddler to work. I mean, I suppose if I’d taken the day off and wanted to come say hi and show him off??? But dear god, making dinner at home is hard when he’s around. I cannot, for the life of me, imagine bringing a toddler to work and thinking that’s a good idea.

        1. VictorianCowgirl*

          Absolutely. They need to play! I worked from home with a 2 year old. Or, actually, I should say I worked for 30 min in the afternoon if she took a nap and from about 9 pm to 1 am because there is just no way with a toddler without someone else there. And my girl was even a bit calm and pretty self-engaging for a 2 yo!

        2. Director of Alpaca Exams*

          On Tuesdays and Wednesdays I take my kid (3.5, sweet and adorable and VERY ENERGETIC) to afternoon appointments, and then we go by my partner’s office to pick up my partner and all commute home together. The last time my partner said “It’s fine to come by early”, I took them at their word. This was a mistake. When we arrived, an emergency task had just landed on my partner’s desk, and the toddler was full of beans. It’s a dotcom open plan office with a ping pong table and some giant bean bag chairs and a kitchen all right next to the cubicles, so having an exuberant child running around demanding bananas and jumping on the bean bags and throwing ping pong balls at the glass-walled conference rooms was a nightmare. I informed my partner that from now on we would meet at the pizzeria down the street.

          Same kid would have been no problem at six months old. In a few years they might be happy to sit in a corner with a tablet and headphones or a book. But toddlers in offices, noooooo.

          1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

            Yes, there’s absolutely a window where there’s just no good way to mix kid + work, and that’s (in my estimation) from about 8 months up until at least 3.5. Once they can get their own snacks and use indoor voices and toilets more reliably, things get better.

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I agree with this, as my experiences in offices where babies were allowed have been similar. Babies are like every other age group of human, they’re all different from each other and some will be easier to deal with in an office than others.

        I think allowing people to bring their baby to work would be one good strategy that should be employed as a range of options. If they office is using six months as the cutoff age, allow new parents the flexibility of either taking longer parental leave, more work from home flexibility until six months, or the option to bring baby to work. Since all babies are different, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy, so I think companies who are interested in trying this should consider providing multiple options for new parents in case this one doesn’t work for everyone.

        1. Vicky Austin*

          Rather than six months, I’d propose that the cutoff be when the baby learns to crawl, which is different for every child. My parents have a home movie of me learning to crawl in the house while there was a blizzard outside. It was a blizzard of historic proportions that still gets mentioned by the meteorologists every year on the anniversary of the storm , so I can say with enough confidence that it was definitely in February. Since I was born in May, I had to have been nine months old at the time.

      3. Morning Flowers*

        It *would* so depend on the baby.

        Yeah, I have to wonder (and I hope this falls under the ask-a-question proviso) — what happens if the baby’s sick or colicky and screams constantly, and I mean constantly? What happens if, God forbid, the baby has developmental problems of any kind? There’s a potential nasty surprise hiding in here if the policy doesn’t have explicit provisions for these difficult situations, so in practice the policy is “bring in your baby, unless your baby is having problems, in which case don’t and figure something else out right now which you may not have budgeted for, on top of the likely higher medical expenses associated with said problems.”

        1. Manders*

          Yes! I don’t have an answer for you but I think that’s a valid question to ask. I can see babies in the office working in some circumstances as a best case scenario, but if you’re setting an office-wide policy, you’re going to have to plan for the worst case scenario too.

        2. CMart*

          I would assume the parents would exercise their judgement and not bring in a colicky or high-needs infant.

          It’s these “what ifs” and assumptions that I think often derail less moderated “babies in the workplace” discussions, because people worry about the worst case scenarios. But it’s kind of looking like (judging from many of the comments today) that in practice people who do bring their babies to work self-select as the people with more agreeable babies.

          You can’t make rules accounting for everything. It’s okay to have open-ended policies and then rule on things on a case by case basis. Or perhaps if people with less agreeable infants still want to exercise the perk, the company can let them WFH instead.

          1. Jen2*

            But the problem is that you can’t know in advance which kind of baby you’ll get, and in most areas, you need to secure your daycare slot several months before the baby starts attending. So if you’re planning on taking your baby to work with you for the first 6 months, by the time you realize that won’t be a good option for your scenario, it will likely be difficult to find a daycare that can fit you in as soon as you need.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I looked down here specifically to make sure colicky kids were excluded: My daughter was colicky for months. She would wail piteously for hours at a time unless being actively bounced by an adult or sleeping. When I worked at home, I still took her to the babysitter. *Sometimes* the babysitter’s 4yo could quiet her in the swingy chair.
          I would never EVER have been able to have her at work.
          But my friend’s daughter would watch her on the computer and be perfectly content.

          1. goducks*

            I had a baby like this. Some days the harried daycare workers would proudly announce at pick up “If you hold her exactly like this, while bouncing on your toes and singing the Star Spangled Banner and wearing a tiara, she stops crying”. Then, the next day they’d dejectedly say, “It doesn’t work anymore”.

            I did try to work with that baby occasionally out of necessity, and it was brutal.

            Frankly, even my quiet baby made working next to impossible in an office or at home. So many distractions. So hard to focus.

      4. Dust Bunny*

        A former coworker here brought her baby–we have offices and the workplace in general is very quiet and low-traffic–and it worked perfectly until the baby hit about four months old and discovered she could make noises. It wasn’t crying–it was experimental . . . yelping? I’m not sure how to describe it. Anyway, the coworker found other accommodations at that point because obviously you can’t prevent a baby from making noises, and the baby was doing it a lot, and it just wasn’t compatible with the rest of us working *or* with the environment our patrons needed. The coworker made the decision herself, though, before anyone else said anything.

        My nephew is a well-behaved and incredibly charming twenty-six-month old but there is simply no way he could come here for more than a short visit. He’s far too high-energy and mobile and there are far too many things he could get into. (My other concern for older little ones would be sufficiently childproofing while still being able to perform as a workplace. I’m not sure we could do that without majorly inconveniencing our employees and patrons.)

        1. Manders*

          Yes, that’s a completely normal stage babies go through that would be absolute agony to listen to while trying to work! I’ve heard young kids do it, it’s not a sign of distress but it’s incredibly distracting.

          I think that’s the tricky thing about giving a firm yes or no–a kid who might be very quiet and perfect for an office environment at a certain point in time might be on their way to a louder or fussier stage of development.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            Additionally, we’re a library. It might have been fine in a less noise-sensitive workplace. It wasn’t a whole lot of noise overall, but it didn’t work in our specific situation.

            1. Specialist*

              Aarrrggghhh! Someone brought a baby into the library when I was in med school. I was up on the second floor studying, but you could hear the happy yips from the child in the stroller on the first floor. There was no way that baby wasn’t going to disturb everyone in the library with even a little noise. The parent really shouldn’t have brought them in to the library to begin with, and the staff really should have had the parent remove the baby much faster than what actually occurred Libraries are not good choices for babies.

              1. JustaTech*

                When I worked in a university research library a grad student came in with her toddler to pick up a book. We’d just implemented a “student only” policy (after someone’s spouse had been stealing books), so we couldn’t let the toddler in. It was a bit of an impasse (she couldn’t take the kid in, we couldn’t hold the kid for her) so I just ran off to collect her book (technically not something we were supposed to do, but better than watching a kid).

                But it was super clear she wasn’t going to stay and didn’t want to have brought the kid in the first place.

        2. Al*

          Yes! I work in an office with my boss and her 4 month old, and he recently hit that phase. Personally, I’m able to detach from the baby noise pretty well because I know that his care isn’t my job. But I can see many, many people being very distracted and frustrated by the loud screeching that the baby is currently enjoying.

        3. Vicky Austin*

          Oh, yeah, kids of that age would be inappropriate to bring to work, unless you work at a daycare.

        4. Nora E*

          This was exactly my experience. I could work just fine (1/2 time) from 6 weeks until my son started crawling/scooting at about 4 months. Between the mobility and louder cries, that arrangement no longer worked.

      5. Sarabeth*

        Yes. This, exactly. I brought my babies into the office on rare occasions during my maternity leaves (I’m a college professor, so while I have generous leave, in practice I do have to meet with graduate students occasionally and check in with research colleagues). It was…barely ok. If they slept, I was golden – but if they were awake, I had to be nursing/holding/bouncing them more or less nonstop. More than one meeting ended on short notice when a baby woke up angry. Would not have worked at all if I’d been expecting to work full time, rather than hold an hour long meeting once a week or so.

        However, another of my colleagues has her baby in the office all the time. That kid has a very different temperament from mine, and will spend much longer stretches of time looking around happily, with minimal parental intervention.

        In short, I think that the policy would need some way to communicate that babies are ok as long as they aren’t being too disruptive, and that seems really hard to implement in practice. Because telling a new parent who is banking on this as their childcare arrangement that actually, they can’t bring their baby in after all, is going to be difficult. You might be asking someone to find childcare on extremely short notice, which is stressful and maybe even impossible to do.

        1. blackcat*

          Yep, academic with a baby and this was really true.
          It was fine weeks 2-6. Baby nursed under a blanket and slept. A lot.
          Weeks 6-10, it was sometimes okay.
          After that, no freaking way.

          The real problem was a situation where I was still working 10 hours a week with a 2 week old.

          1. Academic Addie*

            > The real problem was a situation where I was still working 10 hours a week with a 2 week old.

            Ain’t that the truth?

            My personnel were great about keeping the lab running, but I still felt pressured to handle work stuff, probably to the tune of 4-6 hours most days of leave.

            1. blackcat*

              It was much less than that for me, but even what I was doing was SO HARD because I had a baby who screamed and didn’t sleep :/

        2. Vicky Austin*

          The problem with that is that sometimes people has a different idea of what constitutes “too disruptive.” I think can all agree that a toddler running through the office, screaming, and throwing things at people is too disruptive. However, some people have a higher tolerance for unwanted noise than others. I have ADHD, so any baby noises at all are too disruptive for me when I’m trying to work. The only way such a plan would be acceptable to me is if everyone had a private office with the door shut.
          No, I don’t have kids of my own, and no, I don’t hate kids either. I just have a medical condition that makes it impossible for me to tune out unexpected noises when I’m working.

    3. Rosy Glasses*

      Popping in from learning on this thread… Can I just say that I love your nom de plume – one of my favorite shows!

      1. Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet!)*

        Why thank you! I used to watch it with my sisters and grandmother growing up. My sisters tease me that the older I get the more I act like Mrs. Bucket.

    4. Emmy*

      Not really advice but a weigh-in concern: since these babies will be so young disease spread could be a big issue. Is there something saying they need vaccines or need to be above a certain age? I’m not trying to start a vaccinate or not thing, but infants can get sick super easily. Especially if this is an open floor plan!

      1. Dahlia*

        You can’t vaccinate fully before a certain point, so you… super can’t have that policy.

        But also like… if the alternative is daycare, it’s not like that has less disease than your typical office.

  7. Culture Specific*

    I think this is really dependent on company culture. Previous employer was a small (around 100 employees) company that produced natural health care products and had a very family-friendly / organic / holistic culture. Babies under 6 month old were allowed at work; it was a wonderful, nurturing environment, and a very natural addition to our workplace. However, it only worked (IMO) because of the holistic atmosphere and company’s commitment to employees overall happiness. It was also a benefit from the start, so people who joined the company were aware that babies in the workplace was going to be a given most of the time.

    1. hi neighbor*


      I am pretty sure I know where you are talking about, and it sounds likely we used to be co-workers! And yes, I agree 100% about how well it works there, and how culture specific it is.

  8. tallteapot*

    Disclaimer-at the time I brought my babies to work, I was in a faculty role in higher ed. But rather than cancel class if the baby had a fever, I brought him to my office and class. Was that the best class I ever taught? No. But it was fodder for discussion in class (which was great–it was a womens studies course, so even better). And as for having the baby in my office. I shut the door if he fussed or needed to sleep and got done what I needed to get done. No disruption. That would be harder in an open-plan office, but many babies that small are actually pretty low-maintenance. Once they get mobile, all bets are off.
    However, my gripe on this policy is that if this is a substitute for actually providing paid parental leave–that stinks. Like really, really stinks. But if this in the US, it’s better than the sorry state of most parental leave.

    1. Name Required*

      Question: Did anyone ever have an issue with you bringing a sick baby in? I’m assuming that if baby has fever, baby is sick, though that might be wrong.

      1. Lyys*

        Babies that small are far more likely to be in danger from others than they are to be a disease vector to people around them. Those brand new immune systems are learning to deal with stuff that just bounces off a healthy adult.

        1. Curious*

          I think it would be appropriate to at least give the students the option of leaving with no penalty if they were concerned about the germs.

  9. Jamie*

    I worked in an office where this was allowed and happened frequently, but not daily.

    Young infants like this were not an issue for the rest of us. They slept most of the time. The issue was meetings needed to be rescheduled and I work in manufacturing so if the parent had to run out into the plant to check something they needed someone to watch the baby for a few minutes, which some people definitely resented.

    The babies however were a HUGE distraction for one employee who was always going to check on them, even though they were with their parents, and made her whole day about the babies but that could have been fixed with proper management (of which she had none.)

    (I am limiting my comment to experience with infants per the OP. My experience with toddlers and school age kids in the office left me with vastly different feelings on that and would run far and fast before working where that was a thing again.)

    1. Observer*

      I’m going to say that the employee who kept on “checking” on the babies is the problem, not the policy of allowing babies. As you said, good management would have nipped this in the bud.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        But needing somebody to watch the baby so you can perform normal job duties *is* a baby problem, not an other-employee problem.

          1. motherofdragons*

            I think Dust Bunny was referring to this part of the comment: “I work in manufacturing so if the parent had to run out into the plant to check something they needed someone to watch the baby for a few minutes”

      2. Kelsi*

        Might be a useful data point though? OP knows their workplace, and can make a judgment call on whether management will be able to handle it or not. I don’t think we can assume OP’s workplace will have perfect management.

    2. another scientist*

      you make a good point with the type of work (meetings, site visits) that would be more difficult to handle. In academica, I’ve seen it work for stuff you do at your desk. Many university libraries now have parent-child rooms (with a door), where parents can bring their little one and work on their writing project.

    3. Just Elle*

      Thanks for bringing this up.
      I am genuinely curious about how people who bring their babies to work handle meetings and other work duties that required them to be away from their desk?
      It seems like any job that doesn’t actually require in-person meetings (or generally walking around away from your desk) could just as easily be done via telecommuting, which would be a much less distracting solution for mom and baby? Am I missing something?

      1. Jamie*

        My experience was with parents in HR, engineering, and accounting who were mostly at their desks most of the day.

        When they had to run into the plant to check something they’d ask someone to watch the baby for a few minutes. Some co-workers had a fear response such that you’d think the baby was in danger of exploding if the mom walked away (in my experience it was the mother’s who brought their infants in.) so they didn’t ask those people.

        I totally get not being comfortable with that, I wasn’t mocking, just saying they knew who they could ask for a few minutes and it would be no big deal.

        In that office because it wasn’t a daily thing they’d reschedule meetings.

        The one person in the office that was excessively interested in the babies was the last resort to watch them because she couldn’t let a sleeping baby lie. She would wake them and then if the mother was nursing she was called back asap and then lectured about how if she gave a bottle she wouldn’t have bothered her….it was weird, she was not stable, and it was easier to bring them by me (had my own office) where they could sleep to the hum of the servers for a few minutes.

  10. Commentor*

    We did have someone that would bring her baby in intermittently (mostly on short days) and it was like 50% fine, 50% not. The baby, while adorable, was really, really distracting during meetings or when people came into the office, since literally everyone had to comment on her or coo over her-making interactions take significantly longer. I feel bad even being a downer on it, but I honestly would have much preferred covering her work and allowing her to have extended maternity leave or even a part time schedule. But, in the interest of full disclosure, I am not a baby person. I also felt bad coming in if I even felt REMOTELY like I was getting sick, since I was terrified I would get the baby sick. (I usually have no problem calling in when I am sick, but I am talking even like one sneeze or a scratchy throat). My sister also brought her baby to work, but I guess that is a very different situation, since it was a family business and almost everyone working is a member of the family.

    1. Lucette Kensack*

      That’s an interesting point! If there are going to be young babies in the office, the organization also needs to provide generous and actually-usable sick leave (and/or flexibility to work from home).

    2. Flower*

      This, honestly. And babies aren’t fully vaccinated yet – they can’t be. As part of this policy is the office going to ask that everyone be sure to get a Tdap booster? Or be up to date on their other vaccines? I know a lot of parents won’t let unvaccinated people around their babies, and if I recall correctly, anyone expecting to spend a lot of time around infants is supposed to get Tdap because of the danger of pertussis to infants and the fact that that particular immunity wanes faster. If it isn’t a job where vaccination history is already relevant, how will the transition go to having it be that?

      1. Scully*

        This is a factor I haven’t even considered. As someone who is immuno-compromised, I’m not allowed to even get a flu shot, let alone other boosters. I wonder how that would work.

        1. Just Elle*

          I’m a little concerned about potential conflicts that could come out of this though. Sure, a parent can decide they are willing to take on the risk of having a child inhabit an environment where germs exist, but there’s a huge difference between that and bringing them somewhere unvaccinated people regularly conspire to touch the baby. I cannot get over how many strangers think they have a right to touch my baby cousin when we are out in public.
          I imagine with coworkers who feel some level of familiarity it would be worse. I personally would feel the need to hide my baby behind glass to ward off unwelcome contact, or constantly be in conflict with my coworkers about how they are not welcome to touch the baby.

      2. Teacher's wife*

        That is something the individual parent has to make. During flu season I wouldn’t take my unimmunized children out to even a store because i wasn’t willing to risk it.

    3. pleaset*

      AAM feel free to delete this, but related to the comment above I can’t help but wonder about control and expectations.

      The first time a specific baby comes into the office it’s normal to coo and dote around them. We do that where I work, when a parent might bring the baby by at the end or leave, or even before to show them around.

      But if the baby is in the office for extended periods of time people need to exercise some self-control and manage their time. We had an adorable 6 year old in my office yesterday and the day before. We all said hi to him nicely the first time we saw him, but didnt’ hover around him as much as we we wanted to later on.

    4. Manders*

      When I’ve been sick in the office and someone brought a baby in, I told the parent I was sick and stood well back or left the room. Those were on days when the baby was only around for an hour or two, though.

      I’m not a parent myself, but parents do bring babies on public transit/into crowded spaces all the time, so I’m assuming there’s a level of risk they’re willing to accept. Offices can get germy but they’re not inherently more dangerous than a bus.

      (That said, I’m not a baby person either, so I totally understand that “Oh no this extremely fragile human being is in my space, what if I accidentally hurt them?” panicky feeling)

      1. Jamie*

        Masks need to be more of a thing in the US. And not just to protect babies.

        I worked briefly for a Japanese owned company and I looooved the matter of fact way masks were provided and worn so people weren’t sneezing and coughing on everything.

  11. Molly*

    When my baby was under three months, I brought her to work with me sometimes, and it was so easy. I just wore her all the time, she mostly slept, and I never had to stop what I was doing to nurse. I lost less time and stress to babycare than I would have to the goddamn pump (would have been half an hour out of every two hours at that stage. She aged out of the chill portability between 3 and 6 months. After 6 months, forget it.

    But it depends a LOT on both the kid and the parent in question.

    1. Tragic The Gathering*

      What an absolute bummer that you had to go back to work before 3 months.

      But I completely agree. It depends so much on the kid. Mine would’ve been fine to about 4/4.5 months. Now she has a habit of what we call “The Shrieking Hour” which is just shrieking at the top of her lungs at a tone and decibel level designed to scare dogs, and no one wants that in an office.

        1. Feather*

          Yeah I nannied for a family where the mother went back before three months and she had been just about going *bonkers* in the two months she did take off for pure physical recovery.

          She was a great mom and loved her children: she just 100% was not suited to Being The Stay At Home Mom and being At Home With The Baby (or even only socializing in Mommy Mode) made her really unhappy.

          1. Just Elle*

            Yep. My mom often talks how she planned to be a stay at home mom, but was on the phone with her boss within 3 weeks begging for her job back.
            When I was about 10, my little brother was going through some health issues and she took 3 months off work to care for him full time. I still remember how grumpy/exhausted she was.
            Trust me, she was a GREAT mom, but the entire family was much better off when she had Grown Up Job Time, and then would spend a few hours after work with us having Happy Family Time.

        2. Jules the 3rd*

          amen. Love my kid, but by week 4 I was sneaking on to my work laptop at home, clearing unimportant emails and running reports while they napped. SO BORED. SO ready to be back at work full time in week 6.

          My experience has been that kids under 6mo sleep a lot and are usually pretty happy sitting around and watching people the rest of the time (once food / diaper have been handled). I wouldn’t do it regularly in a large open office setting, but kid was fine on occasional days in a shared (2 person) office.

      1. Molly*

        Yeah, for me it was a bummer. I would MUCH rather have just spent the first six months home. After that six month mark, though, I was REALLY happy to be at work with baby at daycare. I can imagine plenty of other parents would hit that point well before then.

    2. M. Albertine*

      This was my experience. Under 6 months, baby-wearing most of the time worked since all they wanted was to be held anyway. I could nurse while I worked and just had to take time for diaper changes. I did have a private office, or could work from home. Both my babies were pretty chill, no colic or anything so crying was not much of a factor.

      But once they start being awake more, and start getting mobile, no way. It is impossible to get anything done. (They are 4 and 2 now, and if I work from home, I have to lock the office door to keep them from bugging me. My SAHD husband has a hard time keeping them away from me if they know they have access!)

    3. Small Business Owner and Parent*

      I agree wholeheartedly with Molly. I also chose to go back early. It was a better trade to go to work 2 days a week and ensure that payroll and other accounting functions were run correctly. I couldn’t imaging coming back after a month or so to piles and piles of work.
      I had one child with me for almost six months, and the other almost four months. After that point until they became a complete disruption.

      Note that I was working with only 1 or 2 other people at that time. The baby fawning was done by day 1.
      Also note that I had significantly less responsibilities and only accomplished enough to keep my head above water until the children went into daycare.
      I think that as long as the expectations for work output is reduced it can be a win, but it needs careful consideration by all parties.

    4. CoveredInBees*

      Yeah, the extent to which it can vary by kid or even week to week with the same kid worries me. If the child needs more attention than the parent can give while doing their job, what are their options? Parental leave until daycare can be secured? Where I live, if you want daycare for an infant under 2 years old, you basically have to sign up a year in advance of when you’d need to start. If a parent has planned for their child to start at 6 months, the daycare might not have space for them to start earlier. It could also be tricky to make that change in a few days if the parent is a nursing mother who hasn’t build up a reserve of frozen milk yet (using formula should be a choice not forced not the parents and also making a sudden switch to formula doesn’t work well for some breastfed babies).

  12. Kiki*

    I’ve seen it work really well for coworkers who had offices. You can shut the door and coo and let the baby do its thing. But if you work in an environment where some people have offices and others don’t, I could see that introducing a whole new set of issues.

    1. EddieSherbert*

      This was my follow up question – is this an open office plan? I can really only see this working somewhere where everyone has offices.

      For open office/partially open office…
      Do people with babies get priority for offices (which would make sense but might annoy people who “lose” their office to accommodate the babies?
      Is there a “no babies” room/space or something people can request to be moved to if they don’t want to be around babies?

      1. WellRed*

        Please no, do not displace people from their offices for this. I like the idea of space in general though, both for the parent and baby to hang without worrying about disturbing others as well as a baby free zone.

        1. valentine*

          a baby free zone
          There shouldn’t be a baby-free zone if there’s no coworker-free zone.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        Oh, no, do not prioritize parents over non-parents for offices. Offices are for working; they’re not playpens. This is in the same category as expecting non-parents to work later or on holidays because “they don’t have families”.

  13. VegetableLasagna*

    It’s a nightmare depending on the child. If it were up to me, I would just say no.
    My boss used to let people bring in their kids (and brought in her own kid) and some of them were quiet and others were fussy and loud. And due to the nature of our work, people often had to leave their children with other colleagues temporarily for privacy reasons and that was another problem.

      1. VegetableLasagna*

        The boss’s kid was the oldest at 4 years old. The other three were a newborn and a 4 month old and a 2 year old. The newborn was fine, the 4 month old made noise constantly if she wasn’t sleeping. The 2 year old was destructive beyond belief if his mom ever left him alone for even a second.

    1. FancyNancy*

      It sounds like you’re talking about kids older than 6 months though. That’s a whole other ball of wax.

      1. DataGirl*

        Not necessarily. Some babies are born screamers. Mine screamed constantly from pretty much day 1 unless she was nursing, which would go on for hours. She also didn’t sleep unless I spent hours rocking/bouncing her, then would only sleep for 45 minutes or so at a stretch. I could not have taken her to work, regardless of how young she was. I could barely leave the couch.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Privacy reasons? I’m stretching my mind to try to think what kind of things, healthcare probably? that would require you to not even speak about it on the phone with a small child in the room.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Holy moly! Thank you, this makes absolute sense why they wouldn’t be in the room!

          This is a bad setup for a retail establishment hands down, especially one who is doing such intimate services.

  14. Sunny-dee*

    I don’t know if this counts because I work remotely / from home, but my company requires childcare for remote employees for kids under the age of 5. I simply could not work while taking care of an I fant – it’s pretty much either or. A couple of days, my nanny was sick or late and my son happened to nap well and I worked a pretty normal day. Other times…. I couldn’t even check email and had to take PTO. It’s a terrible longterm idea. (And this doesn’t apply, but it gets even worse as the baby gets older and more mobile and the naps get shorter.)

    If they hire a daycare worker to be onsite, that’s totally different.

    1. EddieSherbert*

      I used to work at a small daycare that was onsite at a large corporate office; it was a great arrangement! Many employees would visit their kids over lunch and few moms would come down to breastfeed their babies during the day (which we had specific rooms for – otherwise, I’d also let a mom hang out in our cozy quiet nap room to feed her baby).

    2. Lurker*

      This was my question/thought too. Everything I read on this site emphasizes that people who work from home/remotely should have separate childcare – and that most companies require it. So wouldn’t bringing the baby/child to work be the other side of the same coin, so to speak? If you need childcare to work at home, wouldn’t you need it to work at … work?

      1. Meredith*

        It depends on how productive a person usually is in the office vs. at home, and honestly what kind of productivity the office expects out of someone with a sub-6 month old regardless.

  15. The German Chick*

    When I worked at the Foreign office, one of my colleagues was a single mother of a 1-year old. When her nanny ditched her without any advance notice, she had no choice but bring her baby to work or take unpaid leave.
    It made me very fond of our boss that he allowed her to bring her baby in, and see the kid crawl around the office floor while we were discussing world politics all dressed up in suits and ties. To see our boss help her out like that during the 6 weeks she needed to find a daycare center was wonderful. It also helped that she had a single office, that the kid was generally quiet and happy, and that she would take the baby outside as soon as it became disruptive.
    My colleagues could not attend any external meetings during that time, but I guess we all took pride in making someone’s life a little easier. So yes, if the work allows for it, I would definitely try to help out again (and secretly hope that my colleagues at my current job will allow me to bring in my newborn 1 day a week).

    1. Bostonian*

      I have to say I really appreciate your perspective on this. I work with some people who would be bitter to see that someone who was going through a hard time was getting “special treatment” or “extra perks”… but for me, I see it as a positive sign that if I ever had an emergency in my personal life that affected work, I would be supported, too.

    2. Ace in the Hole*

      I agree. I have limited experience with coworkers bringing their children to work because my industry means it is unsafe to have children of any age in most of our facility. The times it’s happened here have been a one day at a time thing, where child care unexpectedly fell through and the person worked in one of the few areas that wouldn’t be dangerous for a child. In those cases it went fine – the biggest “issue” was customers taking extra time to gush over the kid.

      When it’s possible to accommodate I believe it’s worth the (slight!) inconvenience to make someone’s life better. Just like I appreciate my employer being generous when it comes to schedule flexibility or leaves of absence – it’s not always possible, but when it can be done it’s a great thing.

  16. MuseumChick*

    I’ve worked at places that have been flexible about bringing kids in. I honestly found it to be a big distraction when the parents did not have a private office. In a cube farm the normal noises that a kids make would be really distracting for me.

  17. BookWitch*

    We have almost the exact policy as stated above in my work place. I’ve been 8 years and have seen many babies come through, including very cheerful and “chatty” babies, as well as a couple of ones that have cried a good deal of the time. Personally I am not fond of babies or young children, but seeing the relief it brings to my new-parent coworkers is actually pretty awesome. While we all know that a new parent is not going to get as much done with an infant present, it beats not having the new parent back at all. I’ve been surprised at how it’s really brought the whole office together. We usually have a “retirement” party for the baby once they reach 6-months. Another really nice support that the company offers is that for parents who chose to not bring their baby in, they get some kind of stipend to help pay for child care. I think that even applies to babies that have aged out of the program, but it’s a perk I’ll never use so haven’t looked into very closely. One thing that really helps keep the peace is that it’s completely fine to wear ear-buds or headphones, so if a baby is fussy I just blare some music. Most of the parents have been really good about taking their baby out of common areas if they get too noisy, too. It’s something I never thought I’d like as much as I do, but it’s wonderful to know I work somewhere that really does put family first.

    1. BookWitch*

      I should add that we still have all our regular meetings, and the babies just attend those with their parents. Usually there is a bit of passing the baby around, but we are all adults and know we need to get things accomplished so the content of the meetings are never really derailed. We do have an open office plan, but the babies are still less distracting than the adults who walk through, loudly proclaiming “Why is it so quiet in here?!” and other nonsense. (Um, because we’re all working. Why are people compelled to say such inane things?)
      I think implemented correctly, babies at work can be a really great program.

    2. SJ*

      I would just like to say that a “retirement party” at 6 months is sweet and a nice way to draw a line in the sand at what age it is no longer generally permitted.

        1. BookWitch*

          It’s really a nice touch and participation is completely voluntary, which makes it even better. We have 3 babies in the office right now with a couple more due back soon. I’ve heard distant crying maybe twice this whole week. One thing that really makes it work is that we have a couple of designated “quiet” rooms where parents can take the babies when they need a minute.
          Five babies is more than we usually have, but the office is made up of about 70 people so percentage-wise isn’t really that many. And we do have both moms and dads that bring babies in, which is awesome! (I’m all about gender-equality.) We’ve had many months in a row without babies, too. It seems like they come in waves and there are many jokes about not drinking the water during certain times of year, lol.

  18. CeeKee*

    I don’t know about the structure/hierarchy of your office, but the risk with this is that some people tend to start taking advantage of support staff (i.e., their assistants) to provide babysitting. It’s generally not ill-intentioned, but just–“oh, I have this meeting, can I just leave the baby with you for an hour?” and then it starts to become a habit. And then sometimes it is ill-intentioned…there was one exec at our old company who outright left her toddler with her assistant for eight hours every day. So I’d be VERY careful to put in protections against this, if you’re going to allow this perk.

    1. Ros*

      I’ve worked in an office that allowed parents to bring in older kids, in a pinch (Quebec, so we get leave for 50 weeks, which eliminates the discussion for babies under 6 months…)

      In my experience, yes, that happened a few times, when a colleage in a pinch NEEDED to go to a meeting and the 3-year-old was there (because of an unexpected daycare closure or something), and yeah, I (at the time a childless mid-20s person) offered to keep the kid in my office. Overall: they were delightful, well-behaved, fairly fun, and happy to play on a tablet/eat a snack while I got nominal work done and gained eternal parental gratitude.

      So, I mean: if it’s constant, then it’s an issue. But intermittent help is part of being part of a community, and it wouldn’t have occured to me to mind an hour every 2 months, y’know?

      1. Elenia*

        I would mind, definitely. What happens if the baby gets hurt? I had a volunteer who always brought her kids in and I was forced/expected to take care of them. I don’t like kids much to start with and definitely not my job. One of them got hurt – nothing serious, a ball bounced off her face. I got in trouble! And if she had been seriously hurt – who’s getting sued? The company? Am I liable?

        1. seller of teapots*

          But I think *always brings her kid in* and *in a pinch* are really different things. An occasional request vs a frequent obligation are very different!

        2. Tink*

          In my office, Small Pharma, we had a policy, babies could be brought in until 6 months. Unfortunately admins were volintold to watch babies while VPs were in meetings, including diaper changes. Needless to say it wasn’t popular with the administrative staff.

    2. starsaphire*

      Oh, I knew someone like this, too. She was a midlevel manager with a team under her, and whenever she had a daycare failure, she would bring in one or more of her kids and just kind of… hand them off to her team. So instead of analyzing teapots, they’d be chasing toddlers. She was not a single mom, so I’m not sure what the family dynamic was there that required her direct reports to be her primary backup for childcare.

      So yes, definitely outlining a policy for supervision would be a good idea, IMHO.

      1. Essess*

        Absolutely! I had the CFO walk in carrying his toddler and he needed to go into a meeting with the CEO. He looked around the room and marched over and plopped his child in my lap and walked out without a word to me. I intensely dislike children. I am childless by choice and all my coworkers are aware of my dislike of children. They found it funny, I found it insulting and rude to do that to me in the office and I lost all respect for the CFO that day. If it had happened to me a second time, I would have been complaining to HR. There must be a plan for supervision that does not rope coworkers in against their will.

    3. pope suburban*

      This. I have a colleague currently who goes through periods of bringing her children, 7 and just about 1 year, into the office. The thing is, neither she nor her husband (who is a stay-at-home parent, and who is always there with the kids) watches the older kid when he’s here, and while he’s a sweet-natured little boy, he’s also rambunctious. It’s hard for me to do my job and keep an eye on/pay attention to/entertain him, and honestly I don’t feel like that’s something I should be expected to do. But I don’t want to let him riot around unsupervised either, so… I doubt very much it’s ill-meant, but it’s still a moderate pain, especially when I am trying to wrap up at the end of my day.

    4. HugsAreNotTolerated*

      THIS. SO. MUCH. I’ve two points to make here on this:
      – Not only would this impact the productivity of the parent with the child in the office, but also their support staff
      -This would overwhelmingly impact female co-workers/subordinates. Like Essess below I’m not a kid person, and it’s fairly well-known within my office, but that didn’t stop my male grand-boss from handing me his kid while he had a ‘quick’ meeting on ‘Bring your kid to work day’. Please note: HE HAD TO WALK PAST TWO OF MY MALE CO-WORKERS TO GET TO MY DESK.
      While I realize an hour during one day a year is not comparable to a daily infant, it’s still INCREDIBLY likely that the ‘burden’ of substitute care (parent bathroom breaks, meetings, going to the mail room, anything that’s easier to do without hauling a baby with you) will fall to female co-workers rather than males.
      *Caveat: I realize women are more likely to volunteer to hold/watch a baby, but what if you’re not volunteering?

      1. Junior Employee*

        It doesn’t even have to be people in the same department or on the same team. Some people end up dumping their kids on junior staff or admin regardless!
        This happened to me several times in my previous workplace. I was the lowest person on the totem pole one department (as well as young and female), and the director of a different department (who happened to have the office right across from my cubicle) would occasionally bring one or both of her young children to the office (1-2x per month). Inevitably, she would need to handle some sensitive phone calls or meetings with clients and would bring her child(ren) to my cubicle, saying: “They’re just here for a visit for a few minutes, I’ll be back super quick!” Sometimes it would take up to three hours for her to return to retrieve her boy(s). If I told her I was in the middle of something or that I wasn’t able to, she would cite that her duties were much more important than mine, accuse me of not being a team player, or find something else to pick on to bully me into watching her children.
        I ended up completely unproductive during this time I was watching them, because: a) I didn’t have any warning or supplies that I might have needed in case the child needed food/changing/entertainment, which I then ended up scrambling to sort out (she didn’t drop the children off with a diaper bag or anything); b) I never really knew when she was going to return, so I was constantly looking up or listening out for signs that she was coming back; and c) I was in a cubicle, so I felt that I needed to keep them quiet for the sake of my other coworkers.
        I ended up taking this to my department manager who was unhappy that I was getting sidled with this gig, and they tried to work this out with the other department head, but she just started doing this same thing to another young female employee also not in her department. The CEO apparently had a personal relationship with the department head and didn’t manage her the same way she did others, so she was able to get away with this kind of behavior for years.

    5. CoveredInBees*

      Oh, yes, this!

      I worked somewhere in which most of my department was all early 20s and single, no kids except our boss and one person, late 30s and had a child. She did work relating to ours but we did not report to her. When her kid was too sick for daycare, she’d bring the kid to work and plop him on the most junior people’s laps so she could do her own work. Although working remotely was an option, she didn’t want to do it.

      The plopee felt uncomfortable complaining until they’d gotten the baby’s illness twice and basically used up their sick time because of this behavior.

  19. Elizabeth*

    I have three kids and did bring various ones to work with me at points, although it’s always on a casual basis. When my middle was tiny, I came in to the office with him in a sling to work for a few hours each week, to stretch my maternity leave. It was great – he slept or I fed him, he was quiet, I got an extra couple weeks at home and kept some projects afloat in my absence. My daughter now comes to the office once in a while, but she’s 6 and we put her to work coloring our whiteboards.

    Babies, even tiny ones who sleep, are distracting and unpredictable. To have my baby with me all day every day, I’d be half as productive. It’s totally unfair to push that onto my team who don’t have kids. I love the concept of an on-site daycare or an office nanny-share, but this seems like a terrible idea as an institutional policy without some serious considerations for managing it by over-staffing and providing space/quiet for those who need it.

  20. Codergirl*

    My former workplace had this policy. I don’t think that it was that bad, but it could be distracting at times. Most employees came back when baby was 3 months old and only brought their baby until a daycare spot was available. In my area you need to be on a daycare wait list before you are pregnant. It was distracting when a baby would cry, but it was never to long. Most babies that young just eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom. There was never more than two babies there at the same time and a lot of the parents just wore the baby in a carrier.

  21. Just Commenting*

    It’s one of those things that is fine up until it isn’t.

    I work in an office that allows this. And sometimes it’s no problem. But we do have an open layout, and when it becomes a problem, it becomes a real problem.

    It’s also especially bad if the parent has to bring their child to a meeting to supervise them. In a situation like that, it is incredibly distracting and more often than not derails the meeting.

    On the whole, I would rather this didn’t happen. In the interest of trying to be empathetic to the trials of being a parent (been there), I tolerate it without comment. But it is really distracting and bad for productivity.

    1. Silicon Valley Girl*

      This. My company doesn’t have a stated policy, but many employees bring in babies/toddlers during school holidays for a week. It’s particularly hard during meetings because the parent can’t just leave the kid at their desk (& our company culture has a lot of meetings).

    2. pope suburban*

      This is basically how I feel about it. I worked in one office where everyone had private offices, my colleagues were good at anticipating their kids’ needs, and their kids just happened to be temperamentally suited to being in an office. They would be quiet and entertained if their school had a snow day or a teacher inservice, and I’d forget they were there. The colleague who brought in his infant was very diligent about keeping her content, and would step outside if she was crying a lot (to the point that it would impact others being able to work). So that was fine, but also largely down to luck and the building layout. The people across from our suite, on the other hand, acted like the place was a daycare (It was not, in any way). Kids of all ages running riot, screaming, crying, making a wreck of the restrooms. It was very distracting even in other suites, and finding a totally unaccompanied toddler wandering around (Several times! Aah!) was always distressing. So, yeah, it’s a perk that’s great until it goes terribly wrong in my experience.

    3. Academic Addie*

      This is my feeling, too.

      I did a fair amount of work on my maternity leave, with both kids. But the work I do requires long periods of concentration. I got things done while the kids slept.

      In their rooms.

      If they were napping in my same room, and I was hearing every twitch and snore, I could not concentrate. I could do some light work, like replying to emails. But editing an article, or writing out equations or software? No. I greatly prefer not having my kids at work, even in my private office. And I’m in sort of a best case scenario: My work is typically self-directed, and I seldom have non self-imposed deadlines. I went back to work within two months with both. I love my job. I love my kids. And it works for me to be Professor Academic Addie at work, and Mom at home. Those two things stay mostly separate for me, or else I fail at both.

      I think something for the OP to consider is how they can say, fairly and equitably, “This isn’t working.” How would you evaluate “This isn’t working for you/this role/whatever”? It is easy to give a perk. It’s harder to take one back.

  22. Happy Pineapple*

    I’ve worked in a few places where it was perfectly acceptable for parents to bring in their children of any age, including babies. While sometimes it worked just fine, other times it was an enormous distraction. In an open floorplan there’s no way to block out the noise, and having to take a phone call or hold a meeting with screaming in the background is both a literal and figurative headache. Even when they were angels, the cute factor is still a distraction. Of course we’d much rather be fussing over an adorable baby than a spreadsheet!

  23. Future Homesteader*

    Apologies if this isn’t close enough experience, but a good friend (who has a baby about the age of mine) did this for the first few months of her baby’s life. What made it work was: a small office where everyone was on board, a very informal environment, a very calm baby, and it was only part of the time. The rest of the time had to be used for doing things that were hard to do with baby around, like making phone calls. And I know it got progressively more difficult as baby got older (past 6 months) and needed more attention and was less content in the exersaucer, etc.

  24. darlecalor*

    Based on what I’ve seen, I think it definitely depends on the specifics of your office.
    Do people have their own offices or is it an open plan?
    Is there a butts-in-seats culture or more of an you’re-adults-who-can-manage-your-own-butts culture?
    Is there anywhere where upset babies could be soothed without disrupting everyone else (like a courtyard, nearby park, cafeteria, etc)?
    Also, do you work on a lot of time sensitive stuff? Will the presence of distracting babies cause resentment?

  25. Baby baby baby, oh...*

    I have a very relaxed work environment, and over the years coworkers have brought their kids into the office only occasionally when there’s a childcare snafu. However, one younger associate (who is a workaholic and has very blurred lines between work and personal life) recently had her first child and was clearly testing the waters to see if she could bring baby in more regularly. Thankfully, our boss shut it down and bringing kids into the office remains a last resort.

    The few times she has brought the baby in because of extenuating circumstances, it’s…. mostly been fine. I love babies, but as a younger woman in an administrative support role, I’ve noticed that it’s assumed I can drop whatever I’m doing to hold and fawn over the baby (i.e., watch the baby while the parent does work). NOPE. This is my one major issue with babies in the office. Inevitably the parent wants to get work done and assumes that someone else will be chomping at the bit to take over, and it’s just not the case.

  26. Minnesota Anon*

    I don’t have experience with this myself, but wanted to share this article about the experience some local nonprofits have had:

    The ED of one of these organizations is a friend, and she posted more on twitter or Facebook about the experience, saying something like “The days that the baby is in the office aren’t as productive as other days, but ‘productivity’ isn’t the be-all and end-all of what we are here together to do.”

  27. BossLady*

    We have someone bringing in a baby for a short time each morning. She starts before her daycare, which is just on another floor of our building, is open. The baby is quiet and not really disruptive. I do think it’s been problematic for staff to stay focused. She sits on the other side of a cube wall for me and for that hour or so the baby is here, it’s a constant stream of people stopping by having LONG personal conversations and ohhing&ahhing over the baby. I hate it being next door because that first hour of the day used to be the quiet time when I could count on less interruptions/no meeting to focus on challenging work.

    But I also want to be the kind of woman who supports women working, so I haven’t complained. But if it was all day, not just that hour, I think I would probably need to speak up.

    1. OP*

      This is one of the top concerns. The environment is open and it’s not unusual for visitors to be given a tour. I can see the office just getting used to things and then a visitor comes and the oohh and awws start all over again.

      1. CynicallySweet*

        This is definately something to concider then. In general when a new bby came in at my work it would be ohhs and awws for the first day n then everyone would get over it. But if u have strangers coming through a lot that dynamic could be upset

        1. valentine*

          BossLady, if she’s not working or if her work is portable, maybe she can go to a break room during that hour. You can certainly say something because it’s daily and not wanting disrupting visitors isn’t a failure to support.

          OP, what are some of the rules your employer’s going to have for this scheme?

    2. Mannheim Steamroller*

      Would you be able to shift your hours to start after the baby goes to daycare and then leave an hour later than you do now?

      1. BossLady*

        Yes, it is possible. But my early schedule is one of the perks that I agreed to when hired. I don’t think it’s a good solution to say non-parents need to give up their scheduling perks to allow parents to have child care perks.

        1. Liz*

          Yes, as a non parent, I agree. Because while I’m all for perks that will benefit all employees, even if not every one offered benefits every employee, I’m definitely opposed to someone losing a perk so someone else can enjoy one.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      It’s not unsupportive to say “the baby is welcome, but I’d appreciate it if you could ask your visitors to keep it down.” In a nicer way, obviously.

    1. YetAnotherUsername*

      There is also a channel 4 documentary on this topic. They interviewed people in a US office which allowed babies up to crawling age (which seemed to work fine) and also a UK company which was trying it with toddlers (which was a hilarious disaster).
      Ill see if I can find the link but it might not work for US computers.

  28. starsaphire*

    I worked at a small mom-and-pop office for a few years, and the office manager/bookkeeper was allowed to have her toddler in her office full-time. It was a private office with a closed door, and we were a very small (like, ten people small) firm. Also, I was the only employee who wasn’t either related to, dating, or a classmate of a family member. (Red flag city, but that’s another story.)

    On the whole, it was not disruptive, although we probably lost a lot of productivity because the owner would take over when a focused task came along (like payroll) and she also spent a lot of time in the office playing with the baby, then come out and make pointed remarks to her kids about wanting grandchildren.

    Family dynamics aside, some of the other building tenants complained. Specifically the downstairs tenant who would write angry letters whenever said toddler would get a case of the zoomies and run around the floor, right above that tenant’s head. The carpet did nothing to help.

    I’ve also worked in situations where people in shared office space/cube farms have brought their small children in, and that was far less successful, but generally those were visits or day-care-closed-for-holiday situations. I think it depends on the office setup far more than anything else — not bad for someone in a private office, absolute hard no for a hotdesking/open space environment.

    My demographic: Childfree, female, middle-aged, decades of time spent working in offices.

    1. Working Mom Having It All*

      As the mom of a toddler, I’m shocked that this wasn’t a massive disruption. I brought my toddler to visit the office recently, for like 20 minutes, and not only was I not able to get even the simplest work task done, but yeah, kiddo got the zoomies and ran laps around the place. And then wanted to sit in my chair and type on my keyboard. And then had a tantrum when it was time to move away from my cubicle to attend the activity he was visiting the office to take part in.

      I think this could only work in a small family business where there are people who are only really employed because “well, they’re family” and not really doing much productive work during the day. Or, like, a semi-retired owner marking time at the office but not actually doing vital tasks, who likes young children and enjoys the chance to play fill-in grandma.

      At which point they could probably just hire an office nanny.

  29. Ann Perkins*

    I brought my first to work occasionally when he was under a year – it really wasn’t ideal, but I had little backup at work at that time, a deployed husband, and I’d used up all my PTO on maternity leave, so if daycare was closed, he came with me. It’s a client-facing office so it was unusual.

    It went well, but he was an easy baby. As long as he was fed and changed he was generally content, and he napped well. You never know until they’re born if you’re going to have a colicky baby or an easy one. I didn’t find that I spent the majority of the day tending to his needs but YMMV on that. It also did not seem to distract coworkers after the initial cooing.

    I have my own office so if he got very chatty or I needed to nurse, I could shut my door. I imagine it would be much more difficult in a cubicle. I also think it would vary greatly depending on what type of work you do. I have meetings here and there but I could schedule around those. If your day to day is frequently meetings, it would be hard to keep that up with a baby in tow since their needs can be so unpredictable (growth spurt and needs to feed often, diaper mishaps, etc.).

    I’m wary, as other posters mentioned, that it’s a way around offering paid parental leave. “You don’t need to stay home, you can just bring the baby in!”

  30. SaffyTaffy*

    I worked in an office that allowed a special case for a mom to have her infant at work three days a week.
    She had to have firm boundaries that people weren’t to interact with the baby, and she had a cubicle in the corner that gave her some privacy. There was some snarkiness that a project she was working on had the deadline pushed back two weeks “because of the baby” but deadlines also get pushed back 2 weeks for non-baby reasons.
    I found it difficult not to interact with the baby, and not to be emotionally affected when he cried. But I got used to it.

  31. anonarama*

    I was able to work with my son without real disruption until he was about 13 mos old. After that, it was straight up chaos. But he was also a relaxed and sleep baby. If he was colicky or just more intense, it would not have worked at all. In general, I think better parental leave is a far superior solution to allowing babies in the office.

  32. Paralegal Part Deux*

    I think it depends on the child, IME. I will say that it was toddlers and older age children in my office. The toddler was fine – barely knew she was here. Her mom kept her occupied l, and she never made a peep. An associate attorney, however, has been bringing his 8 and 13 year old son up here (rotating basis), because he’s decided to homeschool. It’s been more disruptive since the 8 year old runs around, literally, the entire office to see how fast he is. Cute kid but still annoying. The partners are annoyed by it but hate confrontation, so it makes for some pretty stressed days when the partners are annoyed and the kid is running around the place. The 13 year old is so quiet that I barely know he’s here.

      1. Paralegal Part Deux*

        You’d think people that make a living by being confrontational would be better at managing things, but it’s a surprising “no” on that front.

  33. Stitch*

    I have the experience of trying to work from home with a baby when I was transitioning back from maternity leave (to try to save some leave). If this doesn’t qualify, please delete.

    If my son was asleep, I could get work done. Any other time, no way. That only worked for a couple hours. My office allows babies to visit, and we generally end up playing with the babies. My office does have an onsite daycare and that is night and day different from me watching him while trying to work.

  34. Adereterial*

    I’d vote an emphatic hell no.

    I found it an absolute nightmare from a management perspective working in an office where this was allowed, for several reasons.

    1, the parent’s focus was NOT on their work, and they were easily distracted, would only commit to meetings etc that met the babies schedule, and just overall not as productive as others, and coworkers had to pick up the slack. It was nigh on impossible to manage performance effectively and caused a lot of resentment on both sides.

    2, I had two other members of staff who had rather distressing fertility issues (long-standing, prior to the change in policy) who, not unreasonably in my view, had an expectation that their (non-child focused) workspace would be largely free from something they found extremely upsetting – one quit over the change as she couldn’t cope with constant and vocal reminders of something that was taken from her in very distressing circumstances. I concede this will be uncommon given the circumstances, but I do think that it’s not unreasonable to expect your workplace to be largely free of small children unless you’ve chosen to work with them.

    3, We had to pay extra for insurance – basic insurance for things like accidental damage to property as well as public and employers liability insurance.

    4, our policy extended to pre-school children and there were several instances where employees property was damaged or, in several cases, taken by a child – mostly just snacks pilfered from the communal fridge, or something scribbled on, but there was a tablet taken from a handbag and dropped down the stairwell… The parents refused to make good and thus the company had to reimburse the other employees. Less likely with babies but still – they do vomit and poop, sometimes at great velocity

    Work is for work – occasional emergencies aside, they’re not places for children.

    1. Lucette Kensack*

      I obviously can’t speak for all people who are struggling with infertility, but I would be pretty angry if I found out that my organization was using my infertility as a reason to deny benefits to parents.

      I’m probably not going to be able to become a parent, but I’m not made of glass because of it.

      1. Goya de la Mancha*

        If someone is quitting because of it (whether or not that was her true reason we just have to accept as fact) it’s not just an “excuse”.

        1. Lucette Kensack*

          But it doesn’t mean that the organization should build its policies around that person’s choices. I think that’s a mistake a lot of people/teams/organizations make (in general, not about this topic) — overreacting to one person or incident. (We’ve all been in meetings where there seemed to be general agreement about something until one person expresses disagreement or concern and suddenly the whole conversation becomes about that person’s statement.)

          1. Not Me*

            That’s generally because everyone else hasn’t thought about the concern until it’s brought up. Kinda like here, with Adereterial’s post.

          2. Adereterial*

            I’ve no reason to doubt her explanation – she tried, for some time, and I tried everything I could to make it easier for her (moving her desks, a private office, changing her hours, changing her work, asking the parent to be mindful) to keep her, but she opted to leave with no job to go to due to her distress. I found her in some distress in the bathroom on more than one occasion, which was totally out of character for her. I suspect – given the circumstances – there was some unprocessed trauma given the strength of her reaction (Occupational Health suggested possibly PTSD was a factor, so definitely not an ‘overreaction’), but I still believe that her expectation of a largely child free workspace when her job had precisely nothing to do with children wasn’t unreasonable.

            The other individual also left sometime afterwards – he didn’t cite the issue as a reason for leaving but I suspect the change did prompt him to start looking elsewhere too. Again, not an overreaction in my view – some people find it hard to deal with and you know what, that’s OK. If they find some relief and a safe space at work, that’s a good thing.

      2. Infertility Person*

        I have infertility issues and I would not want kids in the workplace. It is one place I can focus and not be reminded over and over of our struggle. Unless the workplace deals with children, then I am glad to have a child free space to work.

        1. M. Albertine*

          This. When I was experiencing infertility, I had a hard enough time concentrating on my work and being productive. Being at work was often a distraction from my personal issues. If I had had to be reminded of my struggle constantly like that, I don’t think I would have lasted long in the job.

      3. Heart of Dtone*

        Perhaps you could find some sensitivity and not resort to describing people experiencing psychologically distress due to infertility in disparaging terms.

        Would you be ok with people describing you as made of stone because you don’t feel that way?

        1. Lucette Kensack*

          Thank you for the reprimand (sincerely!). I didn’t mean to imply the others are “made of glass” — just to express my irritation at how people make that assumption about me. I got this wrong, and I’m glad you called me out.

          My point in posting on this sub-thread was to counter the overwhelming narrative that I see here (and in the wider culture) that people experience infertility need to be protected from the existence of babies. Perhaps some people do, and will make choices based on that, but it is not as universal as it is made out to be and absolutely shouldn’t drive employer policy. (Just as any given employee’s preferences or frustrations or annoyances shouldn’t drive policy.)

    2. I Take a Whole Donut*

      Thanks for your comment re fertility issues. I am on the other side of it (and do NOT intend to bring my impending child to work next year), but I have taken PTO more than once to get away from the adorableness of a baby in my workplace when they have shown up when I was struggling. And the struggle went on for years; I think it is less rare than most people think- like dealing with alcoholics in your personal life, you never hear how miserable people are about fertility/miscarriage until you are in the trenches and all of the sudden you hear the stories. I have to say it was a bummer to waste my vacation time to avoid tears in my office. I would have been miserable if they were allowed every day.

      My office allows it in emergency situations, which is appreciated and part of our culture. But every day would be hard even with most of us having solo offices, with thin walls and everyone’s job being to concentrate (40 gov’t lawyers). As a mom, do you think I can’t hear an infant cry (or coo) from 40 feet through a closed door? I can.

    3. hbc*

      Related to #1, I can only imagine this not being an issue in an environment where you’ve basically got no coverage for the person who is out. I had my kids when I was the only person in my department, so my company would probably have taken me plus baby at 25% efficiency if I said I couldn’t leave my kids until they were 6 months old. Realistically, it would have been about 90% for my sleepy, easygoing baby and 2% for my kid who screamed if you dared to sit down while holding her and crawled at 5 months.

    4. CupcakeCounter*

      Wow…the parent in item #4 needs to have this perk taken away. If your child damages something you make restitution. End of story!

        1. Adereterial*

          Unfortunately HR advised that I couldn’t remove that perk and I didn’t have more senior support to ignore that advice so they kept the perk.

          However, it was close to annual review time and behaviour and conduct – including things like working relationships – were really important in that assessment. This was my call – I gave them ‘must improve’ end of year ranking which meant no bonus, no annual pay increase, and the offer of a rather nice temporary internal promotion was withdrawn. They appealed, and lost.

    5. Observer*

      Banning infants because you had a problem with toddlers makes no sense.

      And, with ANY age children, as with most of these things, there need to be some clear cut and APPLIED policies around what’s acceptable and what is not.

      1. Adereterial*

        We didn’t ‘ban infants’. They were permitted. As far as I know, they still are.

        One, I now recall, learned to crawl early and managed to yank several phones off the desk by pulling at the cords underneath in the 10 seconds it took her mum to find something in the desk next to her. No injury to the phones (or her) but the coffee cup that went down with it all didn’t survive.

        Infants can cause damage, too, you realise?

        1. YetAnotherUsername*

          I think a policy that allows babies to crawl around on the floor unrestrained and allows toddlers access to a communal fridge is quite a different type of policy to allowing young immobile infants.

          OP I think some valid questions to ask before casting your vote include: will there be a cutoff age, will there be a cutoff stage (eg some offices allow that babies can only come until they start crawling), where will the babies be placed – will the parents be allowed to put up eg a small playpen like a pack n play which can be used for both sleeping and tummytime/ playing, and would keep a child safely enclosed well past Walking age, will there be any exceptions made eg for a a child who screams constantly will the parents be asked not to bring them.

          A 7 month old crawling around on the floor pulling cups of hot coffee on top of themselves is very different from a 3 month old who is awake and in a sling for 2 hours and naps for 6 hours in a Moses basket during the workday.

          1. Dancing Otter*

            This! Some babies are quiet, relatively. Some babies just will not stop screaming, for no discernible reason — diapered, fed, burped, not too hot or cold, no tight clothing, not teething, who knows? Colic or ear infection or ???? Given a sufficient sample size, there *will* be one of those eventually.

            Humans are hard-wired to respond to the sound of a crying infant: it’s a survival trait. (Admittedly, there are outliers.) Especially if you’ve ever had to care for a baby, that sound carries and prompts an involuntary reaction. It just cannot be completely ignored. Even knowing the unhappy small human has someone to care for him/her, I tense up – baby in distress! Must do something now!

            So, how does the office deal with the disruptive infant fairly? If this is a perk for all parents, how do you frame it that only quiet babies are allowed? (And who defines “quiet enough”?) Or does Mama’s right to an employment benefit outweigh the office’s collective need to get some f’ing work done?

  35. Ella*

    I’ve worked in a co-working location where multiple people had infants with them. So the parents in question weren’t my coworkers, but were in the same building and pretty visible. All three cases I remember were women who wore their babies in a sling, which seemed like a super convenient and low-impact option.

    I never experienced any issue with babies in the opffice, and in fact can’t really remember ever hearing the babies at all. There were rooms available for nursing (and I presume for ducking into if the babies got fussy) but at that age infants tend to sleep a lot during the day, and it wasn’t a disruption at all. I could see it getting bothersome if a baby was colicky, if the parent wasn’t quick to move them to a quiet room if they got fussy, or if the baby was old enough to be mobile, but as long as the kid us under six months and there’s someone in the office with the authority and willingness to speak up if things are getting too disturbing, it seems like a fantastic way to allow new mothers some much needed flexibility.

  36. Celestial being in the mountains*

    I’ve seen it work-I was at a nonprofit that wasn’t known for good pay, but the perks were many (SL payoff, personal technology grants, flex work arrangements), and Babies at Work was among them. I couldn’t take advantage of it–my kids were too fussy and liked their beds at home–but I had several coworkers use the benefit. It usually worked until 4 months or so, depending on whether the child was sitting up quickly or wanted to move around. Each mom would have a designated and volunteer helper or two who could be a surrogate caregiver if there was an important meeting. This was in an open office with high walled cubes. The employees skewed older–not sure if that made a difference.

    Sure, mom wasn’t usually as productive, but the program sure helped with retention! And most folks enjoyed having the babies around. There were a few dads who tried to use the program, and in the two cases I know of, it just didn’t work as well. I can’t remember why in one case, but in the other, the baby cried way too much. That experiment didn’t last long. (and FYI: if baby was deemed too much of a distraction, the employee would be advised it wasn’t working out)

    1. WellRed*

      I’m curious if the volunteers were both male and female and whether they were also mostly admin staff.

      1. Celestial being in the mountains*

        Nope, the volunteers were colleagues with similar titles, and in one case, someone’s manager! I’m an admin, so I’m pretty sensitive to being assigned such tasks and never noticed it. Mostly women, though. Perhaps all women.

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        At my work people generally volunteer for the role and the 2 most frequent volunteers are two older guys who have grandkids and spend a lot of time running database queries at work. Lots of “click” “run” “play with baby until sad, ancient database yields gold”. I think they like it because they can hand the kids back to their parents

        1. CupcakeCounter*

          My old boss would have been the first to volunteer – had 9 grandchildren and he and his wife tried to have at least a couple over every weekend. He wanted all 9 but his wife put her foot down as they ranged in age from 0-15. And no, he didn’t shove all the work over on his wife. Her objection was more about the noise of that many people since she had frequent migraines. With 2 or 3 kids, boss could take the kids out of the house for a few hours while she took her meds and slept it off.
          He nagged me for weeks until I brought my son in after he was born. Loved kids and babies.

  37. acallidryas*

    This is 100% office dependent. I brought my first child to work three days a week for his first 10 months, and there was another mom who brought her young kids to work. But this was a very warm office, a local nonprofit where we were regularly working with volunteers. She and I had our own ‘section’ of the office, no one minded if one of us was nursing during a staff meeting, and it wasn’t particularly deadline driven work so if someone was having a melt down and we needed to go for a walk it didn’t disrupt the workflow. I scheduled external meetings the days my son was in daycare, and I’ve had other jobs that were more focused on deadlines where having a 5 month old would have been really challenging for my work. And agreed that if this is an open office space it would be terrible. Parents with newborns need a semi-private space to set down a sleeping child, put all the baby stuff, etc.

  38. NeenieLane*

    I work for a large nonprofit museum and I have a toddler.
    I’ve watched this happen for a couple of mid-level back office staff who had private offices. Since they spent most of the day in their own offices, it has worked fine. Infants sleep most of the day and the moms were pumping/ breastfeeding so infant care didn’t take up that much more time.
    Since I didn’t have my own office, I was allowed to work half the week from home for my first 8 weeks back from maternity leave.
    The problem occurs when not everyone can take advantage of the policy. The majority of our staff don’t work in an office all day or have the flexibility to work from home, so they aren’t able to bring their new babies to work with them.

  39. Cordoba*

    I have direct experience with a colleague intermittently bringing their child to work when the child was between the ages of 0 and ~3. Environment was a R&D site with ~100 people. The child was present at work maybe 20% of the time during these ~3 years.

    I did not observe any real disruptions created by the child, as the parent did a good job of either managing the kid’s noise and activity level or taking them outside/away until they calmed down again.

    However, on days when they brought their child to the office I did notice a precipitous dropping off of the quality/quantity of this colleague’s work and general availability for work-related conversation/tasks. It was often an issue for the rest of the team.

    Colleague was typically dependable, motivated, and competent; their lower performance was absolutely a direct result of having their child at work.

    I’m sure there are some super-capable folks out there who could successfully manage in-office parenting with no real impact to their work, but I’m equally sure that these people are such a vanishingly small portion of the population that they’re not relevant when writing general policies intended to be used by an entire organization.

    If employers are going to implement policies like this I think it is best that everybody involved be honest about the foreseeable impacts that taking care of a kid will have on an employee’s available time and performance at work.

    If a parent tells me that they will be just as available and productive when watching their kid as when they are not I will be very skeptical. I will also expect worse results from them than from a parent who admits that they probably won’t be 100% engaged on days when they’re also taking care of a kid.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      The thing to keep in mind here is that yes, their work quality diminished but what impacts the work place more? Their lower speed and quality of work or if they’re gone for days on end? It’s a trade off because I’d rather someone be somewhat available and able to somewhat work, than not at all. Kind of like when people work from home when they’re sick, despite being also not working at top speed and response time because you know, they’re sick!

      1. Don*

        And also the quality result from lack of retention. I specifically left my previous job to take one where I would be able to work from home with flexible hours so I could keep my son home for his first year. That lost productivity from those workers isn’t zero-sum. Some quantity of those people bringing in kids would have left work temporarily (via FMLA unpaid, perhaps) or possibly left that job/company for good. So the question becomes not how much lost productivity there is when the child is in the office but whether that is more or less time than is lost when you have to put someone new in a position and wait for them to ramp up.

      2. CMart*

        My company has unlimited sick days, and in all of the groups I’ve worked in, your point has been the philosophy behind appropriate use of that. We can use it for ourselves or in caregiving situations.

        My colleagues would much prefer if I have to stay home with a sick kid that I still feel free to answer e-mails, do some work when I can etc… instead of going dark for the day. Since the sick days are unlimited, taking one feels less like “I am using this precious resource and must eke out all value from it – if I’m taking the day off I’m OFF” and more like simple flexibility. Of course it’s also totally okay to not-work on genuine sick days (that’s why they’re “sick days” and not just a really flexible culture), but it really does help to have someone at 30% productivity rather than 0%.

  40. Ros*

    1) If this is because the company doesn’t want to offer leave, it’s BS, and should be fixed.

    2) I PERSONALLY don’t have experience with this (Quebec – 50 weeks paid maternity leave). However, my mom had my brother when I was 11, and there was no paid maternity leave for her at the time, so she brought him (to the company she managed) in until he was about 7 months old. Per her, it worked because she had a closed office, because the people around her were sensible about not being distracted, and because he wasn’t colicky/fussy. And once he started the army-crawl, FORGET IT. Babies who aren’t mobile and sleep most of the day are pretty unexpectedly chill.

  41. Legal Rugby*

    Two weeks ago, my wife and I got our first foster placement – a newborn, straight from the hospital. We are lucky that we work for the same employer, on the same campus, and they were very supportive. We were told we could bring him in, my wife was given an alternate work schedule to allow her to work from home 2 days a week (T/TH), and we usually split the day up – I had him in the morning two days a week, at lunch i walked him over, and she took him in those afternoons, and I usually kept him all day friday. My wife is great at this and really didn’t feel her productivity slipped. I felt that mine did, but by not having him 5 days a week, I was able to keep up. That said, he went home today and I told my wife I’m not sure about being able to split like that again – while her boss thinks she was amazing during this (to be clear, we are both women, as are our bosses) I think the important thing is that the policy recognizes that not all employees and not all babies are the same. An easily distracted worker (me), or someone who isnt productive normally, isn’t going to fare as well, and management needs to have a built in mechanism (which they train people on to ensure that it doesnt become a mechanism of discrimination) for addressing performance issues during this time, in addition to the disruption factor.

  42. AthenaC*

    One of my former audit clients had just such a policy. It seemed to work for them because:

    – The company as a whole was very family-friendly and people were generally positively disposed towards the parents / babies
    – Nobody’s work seemed to be very urgent or, frankly, difficult at all. So no one was neck-deep in, say, time-sensitive system conversion testing or a multi-leveled consolidation project and a reporting deadline. Being interrupted for feeding / diaper changes didn’t seem to be that disruptive.
    – From a selfish standpoint as an auditor working long hours, it was pretty awesome to hit 3:30 pm or so and say, “I need a break – I’m going to go hold the baby.”

    So those are the elements that I think made it successful for that company!

  43. seller of teapots*

    Oh! I am living this right now. I have an almost 5 month old baby. I went back to work when she was 10-weeks, and my bosses have been very open and encouraging of me bringing my baby into the office.

    Context: I lead a remote team of 25, and work out of the smallish main office, along with the rest of our management team. I have my own office, with a door that closes. I have wfh flexibility as well. I have a 2.5 year old son and we have an amazing nanny.

    Experience: It has been incredible to be able to bring my daughter into work. Like, privately moves me to tears incredible. The transition back to work is really difficult for most mothers, and I had pretty serious postpartum anxiety after my son was born (different job at the time). It’s been better this time for many reasons, but being able to be both mother and leader at the same time has been incredibly helpful, on a psychological level. I feel deeply, deeply grateful to my bosses for normalizing this and being so supportive, and I’ve absolutely found myself feeling even more committed to this job as a result.

    Also, tbh, it really has not been a distraction. It helps that she’s a super chill baby, but it’s kind of been a non-issue. When I first bring her into the office in the morning, there’s some “oooh baby!” conversation, but it doesn’t take up any more time than the normal “how was your weekend” morning chit chat. I attend *a lot* of meetings for my job, and I have only had to leave one because she was crying and wouldn’t settle down. I walked into an empty conference room for 5 minutes, helped her settle down, and walked back into the meeting. Everyone had carried on without me while I was gone. 99.9% of the time she’s happily rolling on the floor or I’m holding her and we carry on with our meeting. The first few times I had to nurse her in a meeting were slightly awkward but really only for me. (Once my boss cracked a joke about what a noisey eater she was, and that was pretty hilarious and helped break the ice.) I’m also pretty chill about nursing in public, so that helps.

    I have childcare in the form of an incredible nanny for my toddler at home, so I’ve had the option to leave her if it didn’t work any day, (i.e. I didn’t *have* to take her because daycare didn’t start for another month or something), and I think that was helpful.

    Business Perspective: When all you want to do is cry because you are so overwhelmed to be away from your tiny baby, you don’t get sh!t done at work. This time, I’ve been incredibly productive since I returned (and recently received a big raise to support that, so I’m not just making it up.)

    Also, pumping is a huge pain and takes up a lot of time. I have to sit by myself in an empty conference room pumping for 20 mins multiple times a day. Normally I don’t even take lunch, so this actually hugely cuts down on my productivity. When I have the baby, I can just roll from meeting to my office to more meetings, and generally get more done.

    10-12 weeks , when a lot of women go back to work, a baby is soo tiny. Your baby is so dependent on you, and really all they want to do at that age is eat look around for a few minutes and then go back to sleep. Hormonally, emotionally, physically you are just not ready most of the time to be away 40+hours a week. Lately I’ve started bringing her into the office less because emotionally I’m ready for that and we’re approaching our busy season, so there’s a natural transition to these sorts of things, imo.

    When I eventually run my own company, I 100% plan on allowing women to do what I’ve been able to do.

    1. seller of teapots*

      Commenting to add: I consciously do a few things: I keep the oohing & ahhing to a minimum, and I don’t make a big deal that “baby’s at the meeting!”I just treat it as pretty normal, and that helps, I think, keep us all focused on work.

    2. Lemon Water*

      Out of curiosity as a part of your job does it require you interacting face to face with people, holding meetings, going different places? I am wondering if the roles in the job are really what would make or break being able to have the baby in the office, obviously a factory line job would not work.

      1. seller of teapots*

        I occasionally travel on face-to-face meetings, where I’ll be backing up one of the sales reps in a big presentation, for example, and in that case I’d leave baby at home. I’m there to help them close the sale, and wouldn’t want to add any additional (potential) friction! My meetings are largely internal, though, and those are the ones where I bring baby. I think if you had lots of external-facing meetings, especially where you were trying to sell yourself/services, it’s not a good fit in our current culture re: babies and work.

      1. seller of teapots*

        Absolutely! As my daughter is breastfed and my husband’s office doesn’t have this policy, it wasn’t an option in our family, but I don’t see why men shouldn’t have this same option.

    3. Interplanet Janet*

      I think this comment, which is a little bit buried, is a very real benefit that could easily be overlooked:

      “being able to be both mother and leader at the same time has been incredibly helpful, on a psychological level”

      I don’t know what the reasoning is for OP’s employer to think about offering this option, but there are definitely benefits beyond just “people will like it” (and possibly “so we can pay them less”).

      1. seller of teapots*

        Honestly, that’s been the single biggest piece for me. Early on, when brining her in, I realized how much I felt that my mother-self and work-self needed to occupy two different places. But that messes you up, man! Especially as someone who takes work as seriously as I do. It’s like splitting yourself in two.

        I think my bosses/the owners (both men fwiw) feel *shoulder shrug* babies aren’t a problem in the office, and we want seller of teapots to be happy about coming back to work.

    4. remizidae*

      >10-12 weeks , when a lot of women go back to work, a baby is soo tiny. Your baby is so dependent on you, and really all they want to do at that age is eat look around for a few minutes and then go back to sleep. Hormonally, emotionally, physically you are just not ready most of the time to be away 40+hours a week.

      Please don’t try to speak for all mothers. Many mothers are happy to be back at work, and the baby will be perfectly happy with its father or another caregiver.

      1. Baru Cormorant*

        Clearly she was not trying to speak for all mothers, that’s why she said “most of the time.” Plus it’s pretty clear that she was speaking about her own experience with this perk and would like to allow other parents the opportunity, not force mothers to do anything or tell them how to feel about it. Let’s give others the benefit of the doubt.

  44. e.*

    I had a co-worker at a hotel front desk who asked to come back early from maternity leave if she could bring her baby– this was in New Zealand where the business/employee relationship is based on pretty different expectations, and a fairly cheap hotel (a holiday park), so overall a really low-key environment. It was occasionally inconvenient because we were front-facing and she would have to leave with a crying or messy baby, but a huge benefit to her and her kid and a good way for us to retain her and her expertise– she was the office manager and often the one maintaining relationships with the schools and businesses who were our regulars. It meant staffing a little more heavily than we would have, because she couldn’t take shifts alone, and it meant that I or the other desk clerks sometimes ended up doing her non-urgent chores, but I never found it to be a burden and I was happy to help her. I live in America now, and I would never have a baby here! People are so unsupportive/borderline hostile to babies and moms and it feels like the workplace is designed to be as stressful as possible!

  45. CynicallySweet*

    I think it mostly depends on the parents. I used to work in a satalite office that was very relaxed and people brought their kids in all the time.

    Since ur asking about infants I’ll keep this related to that age group. And luckily bc they’re so young you don’t really have to depend on the parents to make them behave. The babies were mostly fine. Slept a ton, when a new one would come in everyone would get a little starry eyed for a day or so but that was about it.

    We did run into an issue where a manager had to go to a big meeting and I ended up watching the baby. I didn’t mind, I have a lot of exp in child care, and she was absolutely mortified (she’d mixed up the day of the meeting and had planned to ha mve a sitter stay home w/ the bby the next day). The reason I bring this up is that if y’all have a heavy meeting culture, esp if they’re spontaneous, that could be an issue.

    We had a services dept that voluntarily moved bc the constantly ringing of the phones would wake the babies up and they felt bad, so that’s another factor to concider.

    I can’t really say whether work flow was affected bc I wasn’t in a position to judge.

    Changing tables in the bathrooms are a must have if ur going to do this tho!! I saw way too many dirt diapers bc the men’s room didn’t have one. Which meant my Co workers options were the bathroom floor, the conference room, kitchen table, or his cube. The conference room was usually in use, so I guess I’m glad he chose his cube rather than the kitchen table… Also this should be available to men too, based on my exp less of them will take u up on it, but some might, and the option would probably be appreciated.

    I will say though that the parents really loved and appreciated it tho. A couple of them were legitimately devestated when we moved to into the main office and couldn’t bring them in anymore and I do think that should be a pretty big factor. Good luck on the decision!

    1. valentine*

      my Co workers options were the bathroom floor, the conference room, kitchen table, or his cube.
      They should’ve supported him using the one in the ladies’ room. Prop the door open and go, just like during cleaning.

      1. CynicallySweet*

        Unfortunately that wasn’t an option. We worked next to / shared the bathroom w/ an eye doctor that was open to the public. We would have had to get permission from them to do that, which was not going to happen (they were literally awful)

  46. July*

    I work in academia. There’s really no policy forbidding kids and there are a lot of people with strong opinions about work/life balance, women’s second shift, attachment parenting, etc., so we see a lot of kids. There’s a professor who wears her baby through all her classes, for instance. There’re really gendered assumptions that I, a junior employee and a woman, will be happy to hold your baby or briefly watch your toddler or want to meet or coo over your baby. I’m glad that this option works for these folks and their families. I’m not morally or practically opposed to kids in the workplace in general, or mine in particular. But I am personally super uncomfortable. I don’t have good rapport with kids, and I find it fairly embarrassing to hold a baby or chat with an older kid with such obvious ineptitude. If I had a choice between working at an office where I hold a baby once a week and one where I do not, I would move to the other role in a heartbeat.

  47. Rose's angel*

    As a new parent wouldnt you want time away from baby? When my nephew was born my sister enjoyed the few hours away. She said she got to feel like herself. In my office several parents have had to bring little ones on when daycare fell through. Ive distracted said little ones several times so their parent could get work done. In almost every case the parent came in to do something that HAD to be done then ended up leaving early due to baby either being fussy or just not wanting to be with anyone other than their parent so no work could get done.

    1. seller of teapots*

      As a new parent wouldn’t you want time away from baby?

      How are we defining new parents? Because when your kid is 12-weeks, it’s typically very, very difficult for a mother to be away from her kids all day, 5 days a week. It was heartbreaking for myself and a number of close friends.

      By the time your kid is 6 months, hormones are in a different place and physically it’s easier (how often they need to nurse, for example, has reduced) and it’s generally much easier.

      1. Booksnbooks*

        All kids/moms/parents are different. I appreciated getting time away and to myself after 3 months.

      2. Clisby*

        People are different. I was glad to go back to work 8 weeks after my first child was born. However, my husband quit his job and stayed home with her for the next 5 months while he job-searched, so I never had any doubts she was well cared for.

    2. Jay*

      Some parents do, some don’t. I did want time away from my baby after she was a month or so old. I have friends who found it wrenching to leave their infants at six or nine months. Not everyone is the same.

    3. Natalie*

      It doesn’t sound like anyone will be required to bring their baby in? If they are wanting time away, they’ll use daycare or a babysitter or whatever and go to work solo.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It drastically depends on the parent.

      My best friend has many children, I’ll just say that. Like enough that people try to guess her religion and it’s neither of the ones you would guess! She hates being away from her kids when they’re infants. Even for a few hours. Unless her husband is watching them. So yeah, it’s nice to go to dinner with me and get away from a baby but that’s because the spouse is at home and in charge of everything. However yeah no, she is a massive hurricane of stress to be away from an infant for a few hours if they’re in the care of anyone else that’s not specifically her spouse.

    5. Orphan Brown*

      Yes, I do enjoy time away from my kids. My kid had bottle aversion for a few months though, so it’s not so black and white.

    6. Parenthetically*

      *shrug* Everyone’s different, man. Early motherhood can be hella isolating but not everyone wants to jump right back into work, and certainly not everyone wants to suddenly be away from their newborn for 8-10 hours a day, which some people have to be because they don’t get parental leave. Some people are fine with it, and more power to them, but even now with a 2-year-old, the 4 hours 2x a week he spends at preschool are plenty for me.

      1. atalanta0jess*

        Yeah – “some time away” is a dream….eight to ten to twelve hours a day is not “some time away.” Sometimes that long away = “I don’t see my kid at all today.”

        So let’s all not speculate about what moms do or should want.

        1. CMart*

          Agreed. I honestly really don’t see my 9 month old during the week, and because he’s a chill and happy little dude that’s a huge bummer. He’s usually still asleep when I leave in the mornings, and he goes to bed 45 minutes after we get home from daycare. That is not “some” time away.

          I am a person who likes being at work and would not like to be watching my kids 24/7, but I am also the only person in any position to comment upon whether or not I value my “time away” from them, you know?

    7. molly*

      I think there’s a big difference between a few hours and 40+ hours. Everyone takes to parenthood differently, and for some, a break away is refreshing, and for others, it is anxiety inducing. I had to go back to work when my son was 10 weeks old, and being away from him for a full day at that point was brutal for me (as was trying to navigate pumping multiple times a day). I would have much rather been able to bring him with me and let him sleep/chill next to me while I got work done, and quickly feed him when needed. I felt like myself when we were together, and felt out of sorts when he was not with me. That feeling certainly faded over time, and now there are days when I gleefully drop him off at daycare with dreams of coffee and solitude, but it was intense when he was an infant.

      He’s now 2, I’m at a different job, and I’ve had to bring him into the office on random days here and there when daycare closes unexpectedly. At this age, yes, he is a total distraction and I barely get anything done when he’s around. But, it’s temporary and rare, and I very much appreciate that my employer allows this in a pinch. Having the flexibility to attend to family needs is a huge perk for me, and one that will keep me at this employer.

      I would also caution against assuming how a person in a certain situation will/should feel, especially if you yourself have not had the same experience. Being a new parent is different for everyone, and almost impossible to predict until you’re there. Everyone will have different needs, and it would be fantastic if employers (and the U.S. in general) recognized this and offered a variety of options to support new parents.

    8. YetAnotherUsername*

      I would take a guess that the majority of mothers want a small bit of time away from baby by 12 weeks, but do not want 40+ hours a week away from baby at that stage.

      I think you only have to look at other countries to see this borne out. When women have the option to take more than 12 weeks maternity leave, the overwhelming majority of them choose to do so, even when the leave is unpaid or part paid.

  48. LuckyClover*

    I worked in an open floor-plan, and a manager in my department would bring her infant to work, and even did so occasionally while he was an older toddler. I hardly noticed he was there. She would walk around our floor wearing him and he would be asleep most of the time. If he was ever fussy, she would go into the designated nursing room with her laptop so he wouldn’t be disruptive. Other people have brought babies in for the day or week when they hit childcare issues, and again, they never really seemed to be a big distraction like people think they would be.

    Maternity leave is so bad in the US, and that policy isn’t going to change overnight. It seems like your office has the power to at least temporarily mitigate the challenges of having children and working for women who don’t want to be edged out of the workforce. It’s not like your office is going to have a dozen babies at once.

    Does anyone else think it’s kind of messed up that bringing dogs to work is this amazing perk, yet when it comes to a real human baby…

    1. Close Bracket*

      When you compare similarly behaved dogs and children, the level of acceptance is comparable. Quite, well behaved dogs who stay by their owners and quiet, well behaved children who stay by their parents are both generally accepted. Noisy or disruptive dogs who get in the way of work being done and noisy or disruptive babies who get in the way of work being done are both generally disliked.

      1. Elizabeth Proctor*

        Mmm, generally accepted? I’d wager there are far more dog-friendly offices than baby-friendly ones.

        1. Close Bracket*

          That’s because the population of babies includes a far greater proportion of noisy or otherwise disruptive members than the population of dogs does.

  49. RemotePT*

    My baby just “retired” from my employer’s infant at work program. It was fantastic. My work’s policy is almost identical to the OP’s (age out at six months). I work for state government and there is no paid parental leave. We can use PTO and annual leave for as much as we have, usually 10-12 weeks. So babies are usually in the office for about three months before they age out. I was a new employee and had no leave built up, so I returned when my baby was 4.5 weeks old. So my baby was in the office for five months.

    My team was very supportive of the policy. My boss loves babies. My co-workers were very welcoming and helpful (saving a seat near the door, cooing at baby while I was on the phone, etc.)

    Until my baby was 3.5 months or so, usually people didn’t even hear the baby. The baby slept most of the time or ate quietly. I could wear my baby in a wrap to any meeting.

    After 3.5 months, though, my baby was much more fussy and a loud eater. My work has a dedicated room for lactation so I could take my baby in there. I also stopped attending conference calls in meeting rooms and instead called in from my desk or from the lactation room. I was very aware of anyone around me on the phone and would take her out quickly. And I would let her fuss for just a few minutes before taking her out.

    I work part time (30 hrs per week) and am in a cubicle. Frankly, I am a very efficient worker and even with baby am probably more efficient than others working full time without a baby! I am task driven and move fast when working.

    That said, having a baby at work is not for everyone. I would not recommend it after six months (and even sooner for some babies/parents). Babies sleep a lot and you can get a lot done even when they are happy and awake. Mothers have been doing just that in our homes for eons.

    1. seller of teapots*

      Babies sleep a lot and you can get a lot done even when they are happy and awake. Mothers have been doing just that in our homes for eons.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        With the caveat that that’s true of *many but not all* babies and you don’t know what kind you’re going to get … I generally agree.

        1. CMart*

          Haha yes. I’ve had one of each kind of baby, and had the misfortune that studying for the CPA exams coincided with the never-sleeping baby who did not allow for things to get done while she was not-happy and awake.

  50. frinn*

    I brought my baby to work with me 15 years ago. He was a newborn and I had a private office where I set up a playpen. He was a wonderful baby who didn’t cry much and was content to just be held or sleep most of the day away. By the time he was able sit up, he would play in the playpen or on the floor. When he was around a year old, I was leaving the job anyway so…

    This was a very small business and clients who came in thought it was quite novel to have a baby in the office. I was VERY lucky to be able to do this, because I could not have afforded care for him otherwise.

    1. frinn*

      I want to add that years later, I had to go back to work and send my third child to daycare at 8 weeks old. It was heart-wrenching. I had to pump in a bleak little room in a far corner of the building, and I spent a lot of time missing him and just plain wishing I could tuck him into a carrier and bring him to work with me.

      The more we can do to help parents survive the first few months with a new baby, the better.

  51. Anna*

    I’m typing this while my six month old is sleeping on me in her carrier. I really do get why people don’t like it, but that said, it is a huge boon in offices where it is workable. I have a private office, and I don’t think I’d be able to manage bringing her in. Please also remember that non-child friendly policies (which I do get–babies can certainly be distracting) mostly disadvantage women and that is something worth thinking about. Much of the distraction also comes not from the baby per se, but from adults cooing over them–and that is something they are responsible for, not the kid. The real answer is longer, paid parental leave, and bosses who are understanding about the occasional need to take a day off to attend to days when day care isn’t in session. But until then, offices that allow children are the only way some of us (again, mostly women) can continue to work.

  52. km*

    The experience I had was unpleasant and I’m glad I’m not in that environment any longer:
    -A receptionist trying to answer phones while her baby was crying
    -People not focusing on a meeting because a baby was in the room
    -Walking by someone’s desk or office and smelling baby poo
    -There are few things more distracting than a crying baby (which is inevitable) and it made staying on task extremely difficult

  53. Chaotic Neutral*

    It would be so much better for your company just to have a generous parental leave policy than this. When our special needs child was much younger both my husband and I took him to work with us frequently because getting a sitter for him wasn’t really an option. Neither of us worked in office settings at the time (husband worked on site and I drove a truck) but it was still kind of a nightmare. Babies/young kids are disruptive. I’ll never forget my son throwing up in my boss’s office… That was a truly special experience…

  54. Anonymous Editor*

    I did bring my son to work sometimes when I was easing back into work after my maternity leave. I had a private office, which was nice because I just closed the door when he needed to nurse, but frankly, he slept most of the time and was a super calm baby, so it wasn’t a distraction to anyone else. If he had been a fussy baby, it probably wouldn’t have worked for anyone, though, so I think it’s very dependent on the baby/parent. It wasn’t a long-term solution by any means, but it was super helpful as I was transitioning back to work.

  55. That Girl From Quinn's House*

    I worked for a boss was really flexible about babies/kids in the office, because she knew how hard it was being a woman in STEM and raising small kids, she’d been extended help herself early in her career, and she wanted to pay it forward. Which was great!

    However, when I worked with her, the woman who was bringing a baby to work was not being considerate of others. This was a healthcare-adjacent field, so there was patient ethics in play, and my coworker would be running cognitive assessments on a patient in one room while her baby screamed their head off in the next, distracting the patient. Or she’d be running the cognitive assessment and open her shirt and feed the baby, exposing herself to the patient.

    She’d bring the baby to meetings, lectures, and conferences and let the baby scream their head off instead of getting up and leaving, because she might miss something. She’d change dirty diapers during meetings where meals were served. She’d whip out a boob during meetings with coworkers/patients/students “because the law says I can nurse anywhere.” As the baby got older, baby just ran around unsupervised while she did work and everyone else in the area had to stop and make sure Baby didn’t stick fingers in an electric outlet or eat a staple Baby found on the floor.

    Everyone was afraid to look like they were discriminating against a new mother, so no one said anything, and it was a huge problem to work around. And had any of those patients or students reported the nursing exposure, it would have been a regulatory disaster and probably shut us down.

    There were other mothers in the group who didn’t take advantage of the policy, where it worked well, but having seen it abused, I’d be leery.

    1. valentine*

      She’d whip out a boob during meetings with coworkers/patients/students “because the law says I can nurse anywhere.”
      I hope by whip you mean she was aggressive about it and not that you find public nursing itself to be aggressive, as she was right to do it.

      1. Grapey*

        I support public breastfeeding when the public has the option to look/walk away. I’d be super uncomfortable if a healthcare worker fed her child in front of me as I’m trying to maintain eye contact or concentrate during an appointment. Babies breastfeeding is also a disgusting sound for me and if I couldn’t walk away from it in a medical setting or a meeting I’d be pretty upset.

        It’s ‘right’ to breastfeed in public or at a workplace, but that doesn’t make it socially acceptable to do in front of other people that can’t just look away when they’re there for medical reasons or work.

        1. Close Bracket*

          The beauty of eye contact is that if you maintain it, you don’t have to see the breastfeeding happening.

          1. Grapey*

            Babies move and make noise when they’re feeding. Of course you’d still see and hear it.

        2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          There are ethics rules regarding exposing yourself to students and patients, regardless of the reason, that make nursing inappropriate in this particular workplace.

    2. atalanta0jess*

      Yeah, I don’t see what the problem is with nursing at work.

      Oh wait, I do…it’s other people being uncomfortable. That seems like a them-problem.

      1. Alice*

        You don’t see the problem with nursing at work? Look, there are some jobs and tasks where nursing is fine and some where it’s not. During patient appointments the patient deserves to feel like the provider’s attention is on them — not on the computer screen and not on the baby.

        1. atalanta0jess*

          Sorry, you’re right, you shouldn’t feed your baby (in any way) during a patient appointment. I think during meetings with colleagues it is totally fine. Students, I’d need more context about.

  56. Camp Staff*

    My situation is abnormal, but I brought my infant to work and I think it went great.

    At the time,y husband and I were both residential staff at a camp that operated year ‘round. When I had a baby, I got a year of maternity leave – but I was bored out of my mind and invested in the mission of the camp (it’s religious, and we were deeply committed to our work there on a personal level). So I chose to cut my leave short and start going into the camp office part-time to help out.

    Childcare was non-existent in the remote area where we lived, so having my baby in the office was truly the only option. I was lucky to have an infant who fell asleep easily in noisy environments. I tucked a bassinet under my desk (a bit dark) and she’d sleep for an hour or two while I got stuff done.

    I never tried to make this work for more than a few hours at a time, and once she became mobile all bets were off. I think it worked out well though – my kid was truly unobtrusive, and it helped tons with my need for human interaction postpartum.

    I now work at a church, and one of my male colleagues brings his 9mo daughter to work with him two times a week. Our offices are spread out enough that I don’t see or hear the child unless I want to, and his work quality remains excellent. So I’m happy for him to continue to bring his kid too! I know he enjoys his time with her, and it saves their family $$$ on childcare costs.

  57. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

    Every office I have worked at since grad school (so 20ish years) has allowed babies up to 6 months old to come to work with their parent, so my viewpoint is probably a little skewed because it is so familiar to me, but I’m someone who is child-free by choice and never have been to fond of kids and even I think it is not disruptive. First of all, most of the babies who end up staying for more than a day tend to be chill 99.99% of the time. The fussy ones drive their parents nuts and make it so they can’t work (and the parents are expected to work while the baby is there). Right now I on my floor there are 4 babies ranging from 6 weeks to 5 months and I don’t think I heard one cry once this week. For the parents, it seems like a program that makes the transition from parental leave to work easier and the dads who work here say that it is really helpful to the moms if they can have 1-2 weeks without a baby for 9-10 hours a day (including commute) and makes getting fully back up to speed at work easier. And there is something about inviting someone pushing a stroller to what might be a fraught meeting to diffuse tension. No one wants the baby to wake up. My workplace is also super supportive of pumping/breastfeeding with a locking room with its own sink, refrigerator, comfy chair, changing table, etc. and total acceptance of breast feeding in the open if you so choose, including during meetings.

    tl;dr Not a benefit I will ever use, but it definitely seems to make my coworkers happier and doesn’t noticeably impact our work. Requires good policies, though

    1. Emi.*

      Can I ask what industry you’re in where this is common? Low-key considering a career change over this :)

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        It has been all over the country (east coast, west coast, intermountain) and I am in social services research/evaluation (think efficacy of head start, prison re-entry programs, different education initiatives for ESL learners). My work has generally been with some flavor of government or non-profit. Our salaries are middling, but I absolutely adore the culture

  58. Syfygeek*

    I had coworkers who would bring in babies for short visits and then leave. But one would bring in their child in the infant and older stage to “stay in the office” with the parent. And it was great until the parent had to go to a meeting, or to another area. I was the office manager and was the only person that was usually at my desk. I became the de-facto babysitter. The parent was the employee who could do no wrong in the eyes of our boss, so I couldn’t even complain.

    I don’t object to babies in the office in general, but I need to know I’m not your back up plan while at work.

    1. OP*

      Thankfully in this proposed plan the parent has to designate 2 alternate care providers in the office to take over in case of unexpected meetings and what not.

      1. fposte*

        That worries me more than the baby being in the office in the first place; it’s really important to ensure that people volunteer for doing that and they’re not reporting to the parents organizationally.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            Yeah – it really, really sucks becoming that babysitter unwillingly just because you’re there and junior to them, and especially when your position really didn’t allow to do both child-minding and actual job work at once. Speaking from experience.

            Also, what’s the liability from the employer’s point of view for that kind of policy requirement? What if something happens to baby under the care of the volunteer child-minders? Is the employer liable, since the policy requires the designation of the alternates? Do they have to be CPR/first aid/babysitter certified?

            1. Where them babies at?*

              We had an employee volunteer to watch a baby that could not sit up much yet when parent had a meeting. The baby fell over and hit her head on the wall on their watch. Screams ensued and parent rushing from another part of the office. Baby was okay at the end, but the parent was not happy. They could not really say anything since they chose to leave the baby in coworker’s care. I can definitely see a liability and/or drama…

              The other issue that I find challenging is sick people coming to the office and getting babies sick and vice versa. Ugh, however, that might be just my office culture [When you can work remotely or take a day off, why in the world are you spreading germs? Yeah, you know I am looking at you, Fergus!]

              1. valentine*

                the parent has to designate 2 alternate care providers in the office
                I’d like to see how this plays out when one or both are away or have to stop doing it. Do the relationships sour, especially if no one else will replace them? Does the parent think everyone hates their baby? How does the childcare affects everyone’s performance reviews?

          2. Violet Fox*

            Also that it isn’t the women in the office, whatever their job actually is, whatever their childcare experience that they end up being pushed into baby-minding.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          It also feels like it would open up a lot of potential legal/liability issues.

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        We have something similar in where I work and at the beginning of the year people sign up for the “baby bouncer” list (with supervisor approval) and indicate how often they are up for it, any restrictions (e.g. only on same floor, only in my unit) and a rotation is set up. It keeps it equitable and ensures that only people who want it get it.

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I don’t like this part of the procedure. This puts a lot of stress then on other people in the office.

        If you’re actively out of your office and have meetings, then you really shouldn’t be bringing your child to work. That puts an imposition on other colleagues. In that case they should just think about on-site daycare and then have times during the day when you can go get your baby for nursing and bonding throughout the day. So there’s not someone else in the office who has to be designated to care for the kiddo when you need to go have that meeting about the project you’re working on. Or you just need to allow babies to go into meetings and the parent can pop out if the baby is fussy or whatever. If you’re going to have babies in the office, you need workarounds that don’t involve “Just make sure you have Jane and John ready to grab the kiddo if a visitor pops in.”

      4. Parenthetically*

        As a parent who has brought a baby to work, I would personally push back on this. I don’t like the liability aspect, and I don’t like the potential for pressure.

      5. Betty*

        I would be most comfortable with this if it were mandated that they be at the same level or higher on the org chart. OR that there is NO reporting relationship between them.

      6. M*

        Omgosh. Hard no! This will create issues as I am sure more junior people will be out in these lists and feel like they can’t do no. Don’t do this!

      7. RemotePT*

        My work specifies the baby must be with the parent at all times. I think that is smart.

  59. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I’ve always had child friendly offices and it’s worked well. It’s just that management has to have the mindset and willingness to step up if something goes sideways [a kid becomes disruptive to the entire team, not just the parent.] Everyone I’ve seen bring their babies and children to work are programmed to not want them to be a hindrance on their coworkers. [Aside from people who simply don’t even like the presence of children of course, this means they’re kept in a closed office usually and with as much entertainment as possible, when they’re old enough to need more stimulation.]

    If it’s an open office or cube farm, this would not be doable and would be miserable for so many people, including the baby.

  60. Alice's Tree*

    I returned to work at 8 weeks postpartum and was allowed to bring my infant for an additional four weeks. After that, I had to pump twice a day and go home at lunch, which was a nightmare. I only ended up full-time nursing for six months because of it, where I would have much preferred to do so for a year. For the first few days, it was a disruption in the workplace to bring the baby, because everyone wanted to see him. But once I set my boundaries about it, I was able to work quite successfully and I don’t think he disturbed anyone else. But I did have a private office. I can’t see that working in a cubicle situation.

  61. TechWriter*

    My previous job had a similar policy. The rules were as follows:
    1) Child could be in the office only until 6 months old.
    2) Person with child was temporarily given an office with a closing door. (We had a mostly open-plan office. The offices were about five feet by three feet. Not exactly a space you wanted.)
    3) Person with child was remoted into all meetings, even if the customers / other employees were in the office. This allowed the person with child to mute if the baby needed attention / started chatting / cried.
    4) Maternity room doubled as a changing room. (Our office only had 30 people – having a maternity room was a really kind move on our employer’s part, as we didn’t fit the official requirements for one, and it had its own fridge and a comfortable chair and good changing station.)
    5) Person with child (and all of us) had clear metrics that they had to meet. Sometimes this meant a longer day for parent with child, if the child was particularly fussy.
    6) If the child was ill / fussy / too distracting, the privilege was revisited.

    In practice, most women or men brought the child in starting when maternity leave ended (12 weeks / 3 months) until daycare became available. A few fathers brought kids in starting at 3 weeks old, because paternity leave sucks and both parents were men. Generally speaking we only had one baby at a time, due to the number of employees. Most of the babies just slept, ate, and used the bathroom. Some were chatty. Some were fussy. From my knowledge, no parents’ productivity shrank, and one particularly fussy baby was only at the office for a week before the parent made other arrangements.

    I’m not a baby person, but I found the policy kind to new parents, workable for the rest of us, and it drastically reduced our turnover for new parents. Plus it was kind of neat to be able to witness a “first” for one of my coworkers – I was speaking to him about a document update when his son rolled onto his stomach for the first time.

    1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      ^ 100% my experience up to and including not being a baby person. I also learned how much this time meant to the new parents and have seen how it helps with retention

    2. Parenthetically*

      Love this. Crystal-clear guidelines like this are the only way to make it work in a “normal” office environment IMO.

    3. Grapey*

      “Most of the babies just slept, ate, and used the bathroom.”

      I’m laughing at the image in my head of a 4 month old excusing themselves to use the bathroom.

    4. Baru Cormorant*

      That sounds very kind to new parents. My question would be at #3, what is the difference between bringing the kid to the office vs. WFH?

      1. TechWriter*

        Our industry (which I did not include in the original post) involved military contracts, so, depending on your position, there were certain pieces of equipment you could only access by being physically present in the office.

        More generally, it meant the parent was still a part of day-to-day office interactions (quick hello-and-oh-I-just-remembered-this-thing-you-might-want-to-know, face-to-face clarifications of certain information, etc.).

  62. Cranky Neighbot*

    It looks like my comment was deleted. I did have experience with this.

    The tl;dr is that it was pretty unpleasant. I didn’t think anyone benefited from it, including the parents and babies.

  63. Kipper*

    I worked with a woman who brought her daughter to client sites semi-regularly without telling our employer because the work had an erratic schedule and her husband worked long shifts. Clients did not like that her attention was split between entertaining/caring for her child and performing the service they requested.
    When she brought her into the office all work would stop while everyone cooed over the baby.

  64. smoke tree*

    I’ve worked with a baby before and I think it worked out pretty well. The baby’s parent had a private office so most of us just saw the baby occasionally. That being said, this was an unusually cheerful and quiet baby.

    My concern with the policy would be that people are likely to be reluctant to consider their own baby a nuisance, particularly considering the significant incentive of being able to bring their baby to work. Who is going to be the one to tell Fred that his baby is too loud for the office? There’s tons of drama potential.

    I also imagine it’s not compatible with a lot of jobs or office layouts–for instance, if you’re hot-desking, or have lots of meetings. But I suspect people will want to try to make it work even when they probably shouldn’t because they want to spend more time with the baby and reduce childcare costs.

  65. cactus lady*

    I want to be supportive of this, because I think it’s great in principle. However, as someone who works in an open office with tons of noise/distractions without babies involved, I feel like it would be one more thing that would make those of us who struggle in an open office less productive. One of my good friends brought her baby to work, and it worked out great, but she has her own office. I agree that office set up is something you really need to consider in this case.

    Also, employers, open offices suck. Stop remodeling functional space to become less functional.

  66. Lexi Kate*

    For our office it didn’t work out having babies in the office. For us most people in our office could not keep from coming and seeing the new baby even after the first few weeks and the new mom wasn’t able to get any work done, nor was anyone near her office. Also keep in mind when allowing this that babies this age eat, sleep, and poo all day long and before 6 months there is no schedule for this, and not getting the baby what they need immediately doesn’t work. Meetings where the mom had to speak or give any type of presentation didn’t work. We had a several employees complain that they could smell the babies poo and were sickened by the smell even though mom brought in a diaper genie(most people forget or have never had the experience of a milk diet BM). The biggest issue was the baby at this age also is woken up easily and in our usually quiet office the phones ringing, and doors shutting constantly woke the baby and the office door is no match for new baby screams. Our job involves a lot of consulting by leading meetings and presenting either in person or via the web (usually at least 1-2x’s a day) so this job hasn’t worked out for having a baby or small child in the room while this happens, I really think it depends on the office and the job if works for other people.

  67. Jen Cranston*

    I had a college prof who brought her baby to work. She had a nanny for actual class times, and maybe for office hours, and it worked very well. Which makes me wonder how people could do certain jobs without the nanny “backup”. Most babies get on a general “rhythm” rather than a rigid “schedule”, which could make meetings, conference calls difficult to schedule.

  68. Overseer Vimes of the Look*

    I used to work at a non-profit arts org that allowed this for the higher-paid, creative types that worked in the back but wouldn’t allow it for front office staff.

    And logically, this totally makes sense! 3/4 of their staff saved a bunch of money on childcare and got to see their kids all day. The environment meant having kids around wasn’t generally disruptive. Of course, if you’re in the patron-facing front office, kids are often a distraction or disruption, and for patrons trying to do business…I can see why you wouldn’t want that.

    However. It was incredibly demoralizing for the people who were paid thousands of dollars less to have to shell out thousands of dollars more for childcare when other people in the building didn’t have to. They tried letting one of the front office workers bring her baby, and yeah, it didn’t work. But it still rankled for the folks that couldn’t participate. So, if your office does this, can it apply equally to all staff? If not, I think this goes well beyond a “well, not everyone can access every benefit!” issue. It can lead to a serious inequality of benefits, and that’s a problem.

    I also vote advocating for better paid leave policies. Apply them to everyone who has a child, by whatever means they have that child, and make them as flexible as possible. For instance, 6 months to use during the first year is better than 6 months starting immediately, at least for some people.

    1. Goya de la Mancha*

      “However. It was incredibly demoralizing for the people who were paid thousands of dollars less to have to shell out thousands of dollars more for childcare when other people in the building didn’t have to.”

      This would have been one of my concerns. Overall (based on the comments) that if the offices are private, the system works. This doesn’t allow for those who are generally lower on the pay scale (ie: receptionists) to take advantage of the same perk. Good/Bad/Indifferent – it’s something to be aware of before making decisions.

  69. JD*

    As a child I went to work with my grandfather with some regularity. He took care of me as an infant in his office while my mother was in school and later would take me to work with him when I visited in the summers – usually a few weeks to a month.
    It helped that he was the boss and therefore set the policy, and also that he had a large private office.
    As an adult now, I am unaware of any trouble I caused early on – by all accounts I was a fairly easy baby – but once I was old enough to roam around the building, I know I definitely bothered people sometimes. One funny story he likes to tell is one of changing and then feeding me during a business meeting – a business partner remarked to him “Mr, you’re some kind of different”.

  70. Where them babies at?*

    Boss went to a company meeting across the country with a 3 month old. Mostly worked, although I still slightly cringe when I recall a piano being used as a changing table (!) The baby was only a bit of distraction from what I saw, but boss was also sensible about asking for help or stepping out when needed.
    Another staff had a crib and tons of paraphernalia in private office and it looked like nursery, and definitely that and her behavior gave the vibes of not producing work (but that was an issue with her before having baby at work anyway). Others felt resentful.
    Many preschoolers from different staff present at monthly meetings, but occupying themselves and just popping in occasionally – not bad.

  71. MistOrMister*

    Apologies if someone has already asked this, but LW can you elaborate on the rules that would be put in place to minimize distractions? I’ve never worked in a place that allows this (although one coworker does bring his young son who’s maybe 3 or 4 in once in a while. He has an office and I don’t know how long the boy is here for when he’s here as his office is around the hall and the child isn’t disruptive. I’ve always assumed they were just in between times to go to day care or something.) so I’m curious as to what kinds of rules are normal for this type of thing.

    1. OP*

      There would be a designated area for feeding and changing. If there is any prolonged fussing the infant has to go home and parents are charged for their time away from work. (No clarification on what exactly that means) The parent designates 2 alternate caregivers in the office the case of unexpected meetings, calls and the like. If work circumstances require parents full attention the parent must make alternate chile care arrangements. (The use of the phase “full attention” in the policy is interesting…) The employee must maintain acceptable work performance and ensure the presence of the infant doesn’t create any disturbances.

      1. Violet Fox*

        How would these alternative care givers be chosen, and what would happen if someone works in a smaller section where they are either new or don’t know enough people to be able to care take?

        Also the business should really check what their insurance liability would be for this.

        1. valentine*

          ensure the presence of the infant doesn’t create any disturbances.
          So they’d have to report colleagues making a fuss over the baby?

          These sound kind of impossible, especially without definition of terms and when taken together.

        2. Liz*

          Or, and I have to ask because I’m that annoying person who needs to have EVERY scenario covered, what if the person with the baby is one who isn’t particularly well liked, and we all have some of those, and can’t find anyone to be their alternate caregiver?

          1. MistOrMister*

            I wondered about that too. Although that could happen even with people who are like but just don’t socialize much and thus don’t really have any work friends. I’ve had coworkers like that, they’re perfectly pleasant but for whatever reason (shyness, naturally not talkative, desire to keep work and personal life separate, etc), they don’t speak much. One in particular is well liked but just doesn’t have work friends and I think people don’t want to be intrusive. Even with someone like that, they could have trouble finding people to agree to cover their baby duties. Maybe there could be a pool of,volunteer and if someone can’t find helpers management could draw from the volunteers? I’m not sure how feasible that,is buy I have no idea how you handle that otherwise.

      2. MistOrMister*

        Thank you for clarifying!!! I can see how ideally those rules would solve a lot of issues. I guess the potential problems would come in if they weren’t enforced. Or if they were not enforced across the board. This is an interesting issue that I can see both side of. Hopefully the comments are helpful to you and whatever decison your office comes to works out!

      3. Chatterby*

        Is there anything in place to address the age-out limit? Like, do they have to register their baby, and then in six months they get a notice they can’t bring the child in anymore? Or is it honor system based?

  72. Regina Phalange*

    At OldJob, my boss / the owner brought in her 3 month old baby because her husband (who didn’t work) didn’t like staying home with him (there’s a lot to unpack there, but let’s move on).

    It was an absolute disaster. The baby would be in the bouncer while on a call, and then the baby would start crying. I’d dash into her office, pick up the baby, and bring him back to my desk until she was finished with her call. This was a theme that went on for a month or so.

    While I love babies and had a great time with him, I got zero work done for that month. My boss was fine with it, as I was essentially a well paid babysitter (my actual job was in operations), but this was a unique situation that will not translate to most (any?) situations.

    Babies — even / especially — six month old babies make noise. They cry. They squeak. They gurgle. There is no “proposed policy includes rules that would be put in place to mitigate any disruptions in the office” that will actually mitigate disruptions because babies are tiny humans!

    I’d be interested to hear situations where this DID work, because as a manager and also a mother, I cannot envision it.

  73. Greymalk*

    I have seen it work well in academia, and considered it a perk to be around the kids and around the parents before I knew whether I wanted to have kids myself (it is reassuring to see lots of dads as well as moms use the perk in our department). There are some strict rules (no babies in labs, just in office areas), and it works well, I think because it’s already an environment with an above-average amount of noise/conversation/movement. When you are used to a large live reptile being brought through to an anatomy or physiology lesson in another class, and on another day recruiting people to help lead/herd the ducks who came in through the sliding door back out to the lake, a baby does not make for an out-of-the-ordinary distraction. Also, when it’s happening on the regular, the first time it happens people stop in to see the kiddo… after that it’s a smile and greeting just as it is with other colleagues, and the kiddo doesn’t stay a distraction. I think it’s very context specific in terms of what your environment is like, and how much you can trust employees to follow rules for the safety and comfort of everyone. One bad apple who doesn’t follow safety rules can ruin it for everyone, as always. Parents have pretty good systems set up so kiddo is in a bassinet when infant, small pack n play after a few months, so everyone is safe and happy. Also, while our offices are very small most people don’t share, so neither babies nor coworkers are at heightened risk of sharing germs (more risk of exposure in the college classrooms; seems like college students are always passing something around). Our work is very independent so I don’t think the time changing diapers is ever any more time than a bathroom trip or break room break is for anyone else. As for feeding, most of us work through those with reading or organizing thoughts and projects (I find I really miss that time!). I got pretty good at typing one-handed. Overall I wish we as a society had paid parental leave plans that worked, so a parent wouldn’t have to consider it at all. But I think part of the journey to a rational and supportive parental leave system (and to paying teachers what their labor is actually worth to society) is to stop acting like the actual work of taking care of babies/kids is some kind of negative thing to be done out of sight of everyone else. The biggest benefit to our employer and our department is this shared mini-society, with the babies keeping it real; as a department we have our ups and downs and our quirks and personality battles. Even more toxic stuff, sometimes. But this shared feeling of community between everyone, parents and non-parents, keeps morale positive better than all the tacky holiday parties and semi-offensive team-building games out there.

  74. Environmental Compliance*

    A prior company didn’t have a policy, but we had a couple people bring in babies. Since there wasn’t really a policy, just no one told them no, it was….weird. We were all in the squished together shoulder height cubes, so while not technically an open office, it’s not like there was any actual privacy from noise. One person’s baby I honestly didn’t know existed until I walked over to ask a quick question and was surprised by a sleeping baby. Another’s we all knew immediately the baby was there, as it was rarely napping and was usually chattering quite loudly. I wasn’t super fond of the person either who latched onto the couple of us that were significantly younger as possible “please watch her for a second thaaaank you I have a meeting” baby watchers. We were all field staff, none of us were more than saying hi in passing type friendly (we were rarely in the office itself for more than an hour), and most of us weren’t incredibly comfortable in taking care of someone’s child for them. We also didn’t have baby changing tables on that floor, so you would get surprised by coming over to drop off paperwork and suddenly bare butt baby (on a good day, poop explosion on a bad day). From a personal standpoint, I wasn’t super fond of having *everyone* need to go see the baby when there was one closer to me, because there then was a very often gaggle of people cooing at the baby and then feeling the need to tell me to come hold the baby, why don’t I want to hold the baby, where’s YOUR baby EC, yadda yadda. No, I’m carrying a bucket full of invasive snails, it’s smelly and heavy, could you please move out of the aisle so I can go to the lab to preserve for shipping, now is not the time, thanks.

    Having a policy that is proactive to address common disruption possibilities would have mitigated all the above. When it wasn’t disruptive, it was really business as usual and the coworkers that used it were very happy about it (which was great!). When it was disruptive, it was disruptive with a capital D.

    It worked a lot better in the office I was in after that, which did have an onsite daycare, and a lot more frank discussion & general social norms about what’s okay and what’s not. People tried not to disturb the babies, there were more like informal visiting hours than a constant stream of baby visitors, and I think a lot of parents were more comfortable because of that daycare – they’d go down and have lunch with the kiddos, but then back to work. If there was an emergency, they were 5 minutes walk away. That was pretty darn awesome.

  75. NotForMe*

    I did have a colleague in an open air office situation that would frequently bring her baby and elementary school aged children in when they were sick. I sat in the same four desk unit as her and found it to be quite distracting. I never knew why she choose to bring her sick children in when we had a generous work from home policy. Her boss was never in the office and was very lenient with her requests.

    I can see where if she had an office with a door, maybe I would think differently of it.

    1. Michelle*

      If your child is too sick to be at school or with a sitter/at daycare, they probably should not be at the parent’s office. I know we should have better sick leave policies or the ability to WFH on occasion when your child is sick but unfortunately that’s not the case for many parents. The fact that your coworker could WFH and choose not to just boggles the mind.

      At my last employer, I ended up sick for about a week because a lady brought her child with strep in to the office. That child was really sick- you could tell- but she refused to go home because she didn’t have many sick days left and it was I think October. She stashed the child in the break room, on a sleeping bag in the corner, but I must catch strep really easy because 2 days later I woke up sick with a fever and painful throat. I think 2 other people also ended up with strep.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Some schools and daycares send kids home for things that really aren’t that big of a deal or are simply a paperwork issue in the end. This operates on the idea that there are reasonable rules in all daycare and school facilities. A lot of their policies are overkill and parents have to accept them, they aren’t given a choice otherwise.

  76. C-Hawk*

    In my experience, the most important thing is that parents who bring their kids into work understand that they cannot also demand a change in office culture just because their child is there. I’ve worked in multiple shared office spaces and had parents bring their children (from babies to early teens) and expected that the whole space would suddenly change to accommodate what they considered an acceptable environment. I’m not going to stop calling across the room to colleagues (which was normal in this office, as we were all working together on the same projects) just because it’s the baby’s nap time. Nor are we not going to discuss going for a beer as we all pack-up just because you don’t want your teenager to think that responsible adults drink alcohol (yes, I legitimately got reamed out by a colleague for this…)

  77. Violet Fox*

    Where I work people bring young kids in sometimes when school is out, but these are kids that are quiet enough to amuse themselves on their own, and the only people who do this are people who have their own offices (which is actually most of our employees). I have seen people bring in babies now and then but it has been in more in the context of working a bit while on parental leave, and not in the context of all day.

    Even for a few hours, and even with their own offices, babies can be disruptive since sounds still carry, and we lack things like baby changing areas and places to dispose of dirty diapers, because office, not to mention practical issues like strollers blocking the hallways when they don’t easily fit into the offices, which is a problem for us both with firecodes and accessibility.

    A lot of the non-parents also avoid going into the offices of people who have babies and very small kids around, preventing a lot of working from getting done.

  78. G. Lefoux*

    Context: I work in a nonprofit who main audience is children and families, we have an open-plan office but most of my duties are not done at my desk but out on the floor with said families, and employees typically bring in their infants in not for a whole day but for a few hours in the morning or afternoon while they wrap up a project (or bring in toddlers to teens if they need to grab something off their desk real quick before playing next door).

    It seems to work pretty great! There is definitely some clustering and cooing around the babies, but they tend to be pretty quiet since the baby is often sleeping. There is also some chatting and playing with toddlers and older, but if they’re going to be there more than five minutes the parent will have reserved them a meeting room and given them some toys to play with. As I said, our nonprofit’s main audience is children and families, so we tend to attract employees who don’t mind being distracted by a cute kid for a few minutes. Parents are good about moving the kid along so they don’t become too big of a distraction. People chat and bond and then get back to work.

  79. OP*

    The second point was high on my list of concerns as well. Why bring the now distracted probably lower performing employee in while pushing out the non-distracted higher performer.

      1. OP*

        This ended up in the wrong spot, it was in response to another comment mentioning a specific experience. Yes I agree huge assumption but in context of the correct spot, a less upsetting comment.

      2. Cranky Neighbot*

        It’s an assumption that distraction causes lower performance.

        Which it does, in my experience with this thing.

        1. Arctic*

          My experience is the exact opposite. And everyone gets distracted during the workday. We are hyperaware and judgmental when it is a parent.

  80. AKchic*

    When my 3rd son was born, I was working in a vocational school that had on-site daycare. All three of my kids were able to attend the daycare (in the evenings, only the youngest attended during the day because he was too young for the regular sitter at that point).
    By law, under 6 weeks, he was considered “too young” to go to a “real sitter”, but being “on site”, we were able to work around that. My regular provider didn’t have room for him until he was 3 months old anyway.
    A lot of the time, we’d end up with a well-meaning, but boundary-stomping woman who would bring me my infant to say “he wants his mummy” and leave me with my own son while I was in the middle of a call, or talking with a student about their career search, or how they planned to translate their new education into their career goals. I know they didn’t do it with the students who also were utilizing the daycare.

    When I had my youngest, I ended up bringing him to work a few times as “daycare emergencies”. It… didn’t go over too well. Everyone loved having him, don’t get me wrong. It was *me* that didn’t like it. Everyone kept coming around to get their Baby Fix, as I call it. It was a disruption to my workflow, and between their interruptions, and natural baby interruptions, I feel like I never got anything done on those days.

  81. Important Moi*

    At my office, there is no official policy, however, people do bring in babies from time to time because life happens. I’ve not found babies to be a distraction.

    I’ve been surprised to hear co-workers say (days later and not having been disrupted) “I don’t think they should have bought the child. The child COULD have been disruptive.”

    Take an honest look at your companies culture – just because this is being put up to a vote, doesn’t mean the culture will support the result of the vote.

  82. Arctic*

    My office allows it informally, so no rules in place. I hated the idea and still get vaguely annoyed (internally) when kids are brought in. But, honestly, it’s fine. I don’t know if we are just lucky but the kids are always fine. They mostly just want to be left alone to their screens (which is an unusual treat for them to be able to do during the day or for any long period of time) or their coloring or whatever. But the distracting part is usually adults wanting to interact with the kids.

    This is only occasional though. Not an every day alternative to daycare. Just when plans fall through or school/daycare/grandparents are closed for a day or something. So, there are times when there is an uptick of kids in the office like the summer or winter (snow days, vacations.) And times where we go months without any. Even the uptick times are only a few times a month.

    I think having set rules would make the whole process smoother.

    1. Arctic*

      And, no, I’ve seen no difference in my co-workers work production when they bring kids in. If anything they are more efficient trying to get everything done to get out at a reasonable time.

  83. BossBaby*

    My husband works for govt & has a baby at work plan. They have offices with doors. I believe they have 3 months parental leave (regardless of gender), and then baby can come in until 9 months or until they get mobile, whichever is first. His boss had a baby last year. She brought the kid in 3 days a week, scheduling most meetings on the other two. I believe her husband’s office also had a baby policy, so he brought the kid in to his office the other two days a week. My husband’s office is next to his boss’s, at the end of a quiet hallway. He said there was a minor uptick in people visiting for the first week or two (which was nice, he thought – it’s a much quieter office than other places he’s worked). After that, he basically forgot the kid was there. Someone else on his floor (but not someone he works with directly) had a baby this year and he says that seemed similar.

    I was talking to his boss about her experience at an event a few months back and she said she was pretty sure she spent more time assembling/disassembling/cleaning pump parts on days baby wasn’t there than she spent tending to the kid when he was present.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I think an age limit is more sensible than a mobility limit because it’s far easier to plan for – childcare typically needs weeks or months of notice, whereas an infant can go from sitting to ‘holy heck where did he go’ pretty much overnight. If you know it’s six months then you know the nanny/childminder/day care kicks in at six months and you can book that from the delivery suite if necessary!

  84. Anya the Demon*

    This policy worked well at my former job, but I think it was partially due to some unique circumstances and some luck! I was in elementary school teacher at a small family oriented school. The building was full of people who were moms and grandmas and/or who loved kids and babies. We had several people with their babies in the building at the same time, and it worked great! Everybody was desperate to hold and snuggle the babies when they had a free moment, so that was basically built in childcare. All the people who had their babies with them happened to have job description and that allowed them to be flexible with their schedules to some degree. All the babies that were brought in happens to be delightful, fairly easy babies. There was a great sense of camaraderie around the babies and moms because we all knew it meant that these women could continue working while caring for their infants and not having to put them in daycare etc. It wasn’t at all disruptive, and we loved having the babies around. Even if we hadn’t had a building full of people who were dying for baby time, it probably would have worked just fine. Little babies sleep a lot, and are happy to lie in their playpens and coo. The only way it really wouldn’t have worked is if somebody had a baby who was particularly fussy which is of course fairly common! If someone has a baby with colic or reflux and cries all the time and that would be problematic.

  85. Orphan Brown*

    I’m in a creative profession (don’t work in office) and sometimes bring my baby to client meetings where I know he is welcomed. I also once had a long grueling day and was breastfeeding, and they let me bring him and offered to pay for a babysitter who could bring him to me for feeding but otherwise kept him out of the way. The age where I think he’s is least disruptive is 0-3 months, but during that time I firmly believe parents need to recover and bond and not work. After that age they become much more active and it’s harder to bring them in and not have to cater to their needs all the time. I would feel relieved in an office where I could bring baby with me in case of emergency/daycare falling through, but regularly I’d be a lot less productive. I’d rather have a work from home policy in place.

    1. Orphan Brown*

      Wanted to follow up that I’m allergic to and scared of dogs and am very anti dogs in the office. So I’d understand and think it’s fair that babies also be kept out of the office.

  86. mindovermoneychick*

    My company had a pretty liberal policy on letting people bring kids to work in situations where childcare fell through. This was not a full time thing, but for a day or two here and there. Usually this was for toddlers/young children and they were often set up in the conference room if it was empty with markers, flip charts and sometimes video games. It was generally ok.

    Although I do remember one time we were all meeting in the conference room and I colleague had her toddler running around the reception area. Which would have been ok, except there were some very steep stairs there and the toddler kept coming dangerously close in my mind and the mom (who was in the meeting with me) wasn’t watching him. So I felt I needed to watch him, which was distracting. That toddler is a teenager now and I’m still annoyed when I think about it.

  87. Flower*

    Ive only experienced this in a summer camp environment, and the babies were nearly always older than six months. The staff had nannies hired, and depending on the summer and age of kids it went well or poorly.

    But I do have a genuine question. OP said it was becoming more common. I had never heard of this – is it regional, or by industry? How common is it really?

  88. carrots and celery*

    My current office has “child” floors. We have 600 people in the building and 12 floors, so it actually works out well. So two of the floors allow people to bring their children in, but there’s a rigorous approval process. By approval, the parents have to sit through a half day training on what is and isn’t acceptable if they’re bringing their kids to the office (basically, don’t let them bother other coworkers, kids CANNOT use their parents security badge to go to other floors, parents cannot bring their kids to client meetings, you cannot expect other coworkers to watch your kids, etc.). We have a few company employees who were hired primarily to run a daycare for younger kids who need to be kept occupied.

    Not to use a comparison that sometimes ruffles people, but my office does the same for dog friendly floors. There are two dedicated floors, the dogs are seen by a animal behavioral specialist before they’re approved to come in, and dog owners have to go through a half day training. Dogs can only be kept on their specific floors, can be dropped off at the daycare during meetings times, etc.

    This set up works partially because we have 12 floors. Each floor has different teams (the floors are set up by clients, so Client A might be on floor 11), but it’s a hot desking situation so you can really sit anywhere you want on any floor. We’re an open office so there are no private offices. It means people who want to bring their kids (or dogs) in can as long as they follow the rules. People who want to avoid kids (or dogs) can stay on a child free floor. They have a “three strikes, you’re out” rule for bad behavior.

    I think it’s a great way to make it work because it gives an option to parents, but also gives an easy option for people to avoid kids if they don’t want them in the workplace.

  89. JW3*

    Every summer we had colleagues bring in their children or grandchildren or nieces/nephews, etc. Many of us feel it’s disruptive, particularly in the office. The children are just being children, but it’s hard to assist customers on the phone when you have a baby crying, a small energetic child running about or a teenager talking to their friend on their cell phone squealing “OMG, reeeaaallllyyy?” in our open office plan. Or the teenager wants to “help” and helping to them means running a register and handling cash or credit cards, which they can’t do legally and shouldn’t be doing since they are not employees . Also, if it is a baby many people want to hold it and/or talk to it. The new parent doesn’t want to just hand over their baby so they hover waiting for everyone to get their fix and that can take awhile.

    Many of the things I mentioned above are normal things babies, children or teenagers do, but that doesn’t mean they are appropriate in an office/store setting. Sure, the adults try to keep them quiet but 8 hours a day is a long time for babies, children and teenagers. By noon I’m more than ready to head out for a bit, so I imagine it’s not any easier for them.

  90. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

    I don’t have children, but I did work in an law school clinic (basically a practice law firm for students to get training before they have jobs) for a year, and in each semester, one of the students in the given class had a child (a toddler for one and a newborn for the other). Keep in mind that there’s no such thing as parental leave from law school, and lots of students can’t afford childcare. We compensated as classmates by being each other’s childcare.

    The newborn was more disruptive than the toddler in that the toddler could quietly color or play with toys, and knew what whispering was. The baby, of course, could only cry. But while the baby was sleeping or quietly watching his mobile or whatever, it was fine.

    If your workplace really does have some kind of plan to prevent disruptions, then I don’t see a problem, but it would have to really work. We didn’t have a dedicated crying room or anything, which meant sound carried. At least one time, baby’s dad had to make an important call while the baby was crying, so I took the baby out of the room, which I’m sure was upsetting to the baby.

  91. AnonForThis*

    I work for a state government agency that has a “Babies at Work” program. Babies between 6 weeks and 6 months are eligible (though they are considering extending it to 9 months). I think this program actually works pretty well — and far better than I thought it would.

    Key factors that affect success IMO: physical environment factors (stuff like cubes vs offices, ‘population density’ of workspace), schedule flexibility and workload, and other supports in place for parents.

    Our office is a typical cube farm, with few walls to buffer/absorb noise. Having a close-by, enclosed space for parent & baby when needed is super helpful: for example, if baby is fussy, going to the quiet space means parent can calm baby more quickly, and others aren’t disrupted by fussy baby sounds. A dedicated room is ideal, but a small conference room or office works fine too.

    This is something I would change about how my workplace handles it. We’re pretty densely ‘packed’ at my office, so it can challenging to find an available conference room when needed. There’s only one “mother’s room” in a building with multiple floors — I think we need at least one “parent’s room” per floor. In the interim, our workaround is that several of the section managers who do have offices let parents+babies use them as needed. Since the section managers spend so much time in meetings anyway, it usually works out OK.

    Honestly, I’m not really a “baby person”, and I don’t think it’s that distracting. (For context, I’m a woman in my late 30s, no kids and not planning on any.) Is it a potential distraction for co-workers who are “baby people”? Yeah, of course, but so are a lot of things…cell phones, other coworkers, my neighbor’s adorable service dog that I have to constantly remind myself NOT to pet (I am far more interested in dogs than babies, lol).

  92. Feline*

    I worked in a casual environment where babies at work was a thing. No, never again. I would quit if this policy was enacted.

    Even when the baby slept, everything in the office took longer. The UPS delivery took longer because cute sleeping baby. Trying to get answers to work-related questions took longer because coworkers were distracted by sleeping baby.

    But the worst was I have misophonia, and baby noises set me off. My brain doesn’t discriminate between happy baby noises and angry baby noises. It just vibrates in my head and screams silently at me WHAT IS THAT SOUND? MAKE IT STOP!

    Doors and soundproofed offices would have made a big difference. The offices in this situation were walls that met the drop ceilings, but sound leaked over like crazy.

  93. Observer*

    I just want to point something out – there is little reason to think that nursing / diaper changes will take more time than pumping. Especially if a mom doesn’t have a private office where she can just do her thing, pumping is a bit disruptive and that’s just the way it is.

    1. Ophelia*

      Frankly, in my experience, pumping takes at least twice as long as nursing, because it’s simply not as effective for some women. It was a solid half-hour away from my desk whenever I had to be physically in the office, whereas nursing would probably take 10 minutes (and if done discreetly, could probably do it while working or while in a meeting, but that would VERY MUCH depend on individual comfort and organizational culture). Diapers are quick, but also some need to be dealt with Right Now, and I’d find that more disruptive.

    2. B*

      Depends on each persons circumstances. In my personal parenting journey pumping was actually much less time consuming than nursing.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Absolutely. My anecdata would suggest pumping is more likely to take longer (particularly if you factor in the cleaning of the parts and the storage/defrosting of stored milk for feeds) but it definitely depends on the mother/baby dyad!

      2. Ophelia*

        Oh, yes, totally a YMMV sort of thing! Maybe the upshot is that BABIES are time-consuming, no matter what you do with them, hah!

  94. Ciara*

    I worked for a little over a year in an environment that permitted parents to bring in their under-ones. In that time we had three babies in the building. There was rarely a time you didn’t hear crying. From my perspective, it was pretty disruptive. The parents were frequently away from their desks to deal with baby-related issues. There was a constant smell of poop from diaper changes. Meetings and phone calls were often interrupted by a crying baby. Parents of the babies routinely came in late, left early, and didn’t do a full week, meaning additional tasks got dropped on the rest of us (staff of around 18 people, 3 of them the parents). On two occasions I was unexpectedly landed with looking after a baby because the parent was in a meeting and they just assumed I, a young woman, would be a good carer or something. I don’t particularly like babies, definitely don’t want babies, and certainly didn’t want to look after anyone else’s. I was too taken aback by the expectation the first time to say anything, but the second time I said “I can do it this time, if you really need me to, but after this you should find soneone else as I’m really not comfortable with it.” And then the next time they tried, I refused. They were not happy with me for that.

    It’s not the only reason I left that job so quickly, but it was a significant one. I wouldn’t opt to work anywhere that did it again. The disruption was too much to handle.

  95. cube worker*

    The woman who sits next to me brings her daughter in occasionally. She’s two or two and a half now, but she has come in occasionally ever since she was born. It really hasn’t been a problem for me. We have larger and more private cubes than some places (8’x8′ with 60″ walls), which I think helps, although I can still hear any conversation or activity going on near me. My coworker keeps her kid quiet and entertained, and there’s never been an issue of her little girl running around wild or being too loud. If she gets fussy she takes her to the break room. The most disruptive part is when other coworkers want to come and see the baby. She generally doesn’t stay for too long, or come in terribly often (less than once a month), which helps to ensure that it’s fine when it does happen. I think my coworker and her husband manage childcare mostly by working opposite shifts, so being able to bring her daughter in for a few hours when her husband has to work a partial day shift gives her flexibility that her family really needs.

  96. Kristine*

    I have a 4 month old baby who “comes” to work with me; I’m an event planner so I work from home unless I’m on-site at an event. My baby can be a distraction sometimes but usually is fine. I get most of my work done when she’s napping or nursing but I can also let her entertain herself on the play mat for a few minutes if need be. She sometimes comes with me to events, but only if they’re family friendly and small enough that I’d be able to keep tabs on her at all times.

  97. Ophelia*

    I work from home, and so my situation was of course a bit different – but I will say that on the (few) days that I needed to have my infant with me while working (due to a childcare snafu or whathaveyou), it was totally doable…with the first baby. With my second, there was simply no way to make it work, even when she was tiny. So I think the office would need to have really clear guidelines in place re: what is workable, and when the baby can’t stay if said baby requires–for instance–being vigorously walked around the office constantly to avoid hours of screaming. I think the challenge would be finding a way to give all parents the same level of flexibility within the context of the wide variety of baby temperaments that exist, so I’d be more in favor of making this one of a few different options (like WFH or flex hours), rather than the only one.

    1. Parenthetically*

      “So I think the office would need to have really clear guidelines in place re: what is workable”

      Yep. As someone who’s brought a baby to work, absolutely. My kid’s temperament was a huge part of the reason it mostly worked for him to come with me. A fussy kid who needed aggressive shushing/walking/rocking and a 30-minute naptime routine for 4 naps a day wouldn’t be a good fit.

  98. Quinoa*

    I think the parent’s role is also an important consideration. I worked with a project manager on a highly collaborative team who brought their sweet, adorable toddler to work (no sarcasm, she really was!!). But team productivity slowed considerably on those days the kid was present because she was the parent’s primary focus every time she came to work. It was really frustrating to have to stop meetings or workgroups so the kid could be soothed or fed or distracted. I really think a generous leave policy is the stronger choice.

  99. Amy*

    I volunteered a number of years ago at a non profit that allowed it. There are only two rules I remember: those bringing in babies had to work during certain hours, so others could arrange their schedules if they wanted to ensure quiet time for various tasks, and crying children had to immediately be taken to the “parents’ room,” where there were spare work spaces. By the time the kids were walking and talking, they weren’t allowed. As far as I know, it worked well. Or, at least the complainers didn’t complain about that.

  100. C Average*

    Years ago–decades ago, really!–my father’s small Forest Service ranger station allowed their admin to bring her baby to work and keep it in a swing in the area behind her desk.

    I remember going there to meet with my dad after school and seeing the baby just chilling in its swing–definitely an unusual thing to see in an office at the time! It didn’t seem like a huge distraction. People (other than its mom, obviously) kind of treated it like a potted plant. I’m sure it sometimes cried, stunk, etc., at times, but never when I was around.

    My father complained about the situation a lot at home, saying it was unprofessional, inappropriate for the office, etc. He was, however, very anti-affirmative action and didn’t really like having to work with women at all (and yes, he straight-up said so to his two daughters, but that’s for me and my therapist to unpack), so I tend to take his feedback with a Costco-size sack of salt.

    Upshot: I’m not personally a fan of babies, but as long as I’m not expected to make goo-goo noises at them or otherwise deal with them personally, I think I would be okay with having them around.

  101. HR in the City*

    With my second child I was able to bring him to work at old job as long as I wanted- which in this case was nine months. I was also able to ease back into work with part time hours to begin with. He was a very calm baby and didn’t really cry that often so he wasn’t much of a disruption when it came to noise. I also didn’t spend more time feeding him or changing him than it would be for a normal 15-20 minute break. I worked in an office so it was a much more controlled environment. That being said I think whether kids should come to work is very dependent on what type of environment it is (not sure babies would respond well to a fast paced retail environment) and the baby. If a baby has calic or something like that where they cry all the time that isn’t going to work in any workplace. A parents natural instinct is to comfort the baby so even the best employee will be more focused on the baby not the work. I don’t think that a workplace should automatically ban babies from the workplace given that the US doesn’t have paid parental leave but also do what makes the best sense for the company. Also, I would caution a workplace from allowing certain groups of employees to being their babies but yet saying no to others- like office people get to but warehouse workers don’t. I say this because yes they are different job but a business doesn’t want to be seen as providing a perk to one group of employees that other don’t get.

  102. weaver*

    (TL;DR) I’ve done it, and it can work -but in my experience it’s a combination of the child’s and mother’s personalities and I do not recommend it. And doesn’t necessarily lead to a good work/life balance. And the actual solution already exists – no need to get creative! PAID LEAVE!

    I have brought two of my children to work with mixed results and I do not recommend it. For context, I managed a team of 3-4 direct reports and shared a semi-open office space with the group. Power dynamics clearly make it a challenge to get completely direct/honest feedback about their experience, but between my direct reports, supervisor, VP, and HR (I work in a mid-size religious non-prof) there were no complaints or problems reported. Our organization is incredibly family friendly – we have the discretion to work from home, work flex hours, and take the necessary time away for family needs with the understanding that goals will be met and expectations for performance will not be reduced. We have a small crew of working moms in our organization and it’s welcomed and expected that you’ll find a gaggle of toddlers roaming between offices with markers/crayons during school and daycare holidays. I’ve ergo’d both my kids in meetings with department heads and VP’s without anyone batting an eye. I’ve also received promotions on/around the time of announcing my first pregnancy and during leave with my second. I know – this is NOT normal. I want to give the context to reiterate that with ALL this support – I don’t recommend it.

    My daughter’s regular attendance my first few months back from leave was an exception. She slept under my desk two days a week, where I was in a semi-private office that I could close curtains to nurse. She was a breeze and it worked wonderfully. I would have otherwise spent the time pumping that I spent attending to her, so it really balanced well because of her temperament. It didn’t disrupt our workflow any differently than pumping would have, and usually people weren’t aware she was there because she wasn’t visible in her chair under my desk.

    I tried with my second in a fully private office and we lasted about half a day – he wanted to be held, wouldn’t sleep, and was much more distracted by the new environment. Although I had no complaints or issues reported it was clear very quickly that I couldn’t get my work done and he wasn’t happy with the arrangement.

    I work in the most family friendly environment and I don’t like how this looks – like a “creative” attempt at being family friendly when the company is the real beneficiary in getting parents back at their desks quickly. This problem already has a clear solution: better (paid) leave policies. Just give your parents six months at home to recover and bond and return to you better rested and ready to be back.

  103. kelly white*

    I worked in a company that was owned by a couple. They had a baby. The baby came to the office a lot, and it wasn’t an issue. They hired one of the workers as a defacto nanny, so she mostly took care of the baby all day. We had plenty of opportunity to go in and see/play with the baby if we so chose.
    It was a long time ago, but I don’t remember any significant issues.

    The baby was put in daycare at some point, and I don’t remember how old she was then, but she wasn’t walking yet so I’d guess she was under a year old.

  104. Penny Parker*

    Back in 1974 I worked in a telemarketing place where I was allowed to bring my newborn to work because I was nursing, and I was also one of their top sales people. I lasted about a week before I quit. It was unworkable as my child cried while I was on the phone, and others were on the phone. I couldn’t keep him from crying — it turned out he had a medical problem (possibly low level autism; this was, after all, 1974 and not so much was known then) and even at home I had to hold him ALL the time or else he would cry. My situation may be unusual due to the constant crying, but I regret even the one week I tried.

    On the other hand, I had an office job when my youngest was born (1980) and I took him there a few times (after hours, when work was needed done but the office was closed to the public). I was able to get my work done and the child simply played on a blanket place on the floor. That worked.

  105. Parenthetically*

    I brought my son to work from the time he was three weeks old until he was just shy of 9 months old (I taught mostly junior high kids, part time, at a tiny private school). I can say unequivocally that the first few months were the easiest — he wasn’t mobile, could sleep anywhere and any time, and only needed a snuggle or a feed to quiet him if he was fussy. The older he got, the more disruptive he was, because he wasn’t content to just lie on a blanket by my desk.

    Up to six months is a good restriction, IMO — gets kids through the first couple rounds of vaccines and to a place where their immune systems aren’t as fragile before they have to go to daycare, but most kids aren’t super mobile at six months so they’re more content to just be, say, upright in a little play-yard or activity station. I had a classroom of my own, plenty of private space to nurse (this arrangement made it so I never had to pump), and a car to escape to if my son had a total meltdown. I can’t really see this working in Cubicle Land, but with private space and very small babes? Maybe.

  106. BigRedGum*

    We have private offices at my work, and it’s a good thing. It allows dads and moms to be able to work successfully without the incredible burden of paying for childcare. It has never bothered me, although I am more prone to go peek at cute babies from time to time (with parental permission, of course). A no vote could break some employees. A yes vote could really increase your company’s productive time and help employee morale.

    1. EG*

      Came to suggest this myself! What was really interesting about this episode was they explained why this can work for little tiny babies in a way that it doesn’t for even slightly older children. There are big distinctions between parenting a 3-month old and parenting a 7-month old. As the parent to a one-year old, those would have been lost on me 12 months ago, but having lived it, I think it’s really relevant. Allowing babies under 6 months at work IS NOT the same as a general policy of allowing children in the office. Babies that little sleep a lot, aren’t mobile, and — unless they have colic (which is often an evening problem anyways…) — don’t cry a lot.

      Basically, you can’t work effectively and parent a 7 month old. But a 4 month old sleeping in a sling? You kind of can. And if you are pumping at work, it’s actually faster to just nurse.

  107. boredatwork*

    My office does not have a formal policy on children, every day at work, but it’s perfectly allowable to bring in children as a back-up for regular childcare. We all have office’s where everyone can shut their door to drown out noise and honestly, it’s been a non-issue.

    As a current real-live pregnant person, I couldn’t imagine bringing my child to work everyday. I feel like this is a full time job in and of itself and would be horribly distracting to my personal work flow. The perk of being able to bring my baby in will be extremely helpful but I just couldn’t imagine making it a full time option.

    This is a sentiment shared by everyone in my office who has tried to work and childcare at the same time.

  108. I'm A Little Teapot*

    I was volunteering for an organization in the office. The full time staff person had a baby and when she came back from leave she brought the baby most days. The times that I was there it worked ok. She had her own office, and a place for baby to sleep. The baby was pretty easy. He only cried if he needed something. I didn’t mind his presence as long as he was sleeping. If he’d been a fussy or colicky baby, it absolutely would not have worked. When he got older and started needing more interaction, the mom made other arrangements.

  109. It Depends*

    I’ve experienced this in an office environment — I think it ultimately worked well and was not disruptive. I worked in a small office (I was one of four full-time employees) with an open floor plan and one of my co-workers brought her infant in to work with her every day until the baby was around 4 months old. The baby mostly slept and, in the rare event that she did cry, my co-worker would take her into a private room with her laptop to work. It did not result in any shifting of work on to other employees. It definitely helped that the baby was not yet crawling/walking. That being said, I think the policy definitely led my co-worker to return to work earlier than she otherwise would have (around 3-4 weeks post-partum). Of course, I only have a sample size of one, so this will depend on your co-workers/the office environment/the temperament of the infant.

    1. It Depends*

      I should add that our office was public-facing/social services and our clients often had children with them when they came for appointments. As a result, it wasn’t out of the ordinary for there to be other children around our office during the day and clients weren’t put off or surprised to see a baby in the office.

  110. AyBeeCee*

    Thinking of my specific experience with my specific kid – LULZNO. I took a three month maternity leave, I work in a cube/open office environment adjacent to a call center, and my kid hated sleep. There’s no way bringing him to the office for three months would have been workable.

    Childcare was also booked out by a few months in my area, so if you suddenly realize you need childcare for an infant today then may will be difficult to find anything (my neighbor just went through this, a family member was going to care for the baby and was suddenly unable to the week before mom was starting back at work and it was incredibly stressful for the family). And that’s just to find a spot – if you want a nicer day care, they can be booked out 6-11 months (I assume this is because of younger siblings getting priority because otherwise how the heck would there be a waiting period of longer than nine months for an infant spot? Insanity)

  111. Wing Leader*

    I’ve had to deal with this once. In my office, this isn’t a typical issue because most women are older and have grown kids, and the younger ones (myself included) aren’t having kids right now. However, one of my Big Bosses actually had his wife coming into the office for contract work for a few weeks (she was an expert in a matter that we needed consultations and direction on).

    Anyway, they had a newborn at the time and he said that the baby would be coming to work with her but there wouldn’t be any disruptions. It…didn’t go so well. It wasn’t terrible, but everyone was definitely very aware of the baby every day (it didn’t help that Big Bosses’s wife insisted on doing show and tell with the baby and giving everyone updates on her growth and weight every day). I found it quite disruptive, honestly, and I was glad when the wife’s contract work ended. All that said, there are a couple things I would encourage OP to think about:

    1. How quiet is your office? My office operates in near silence most of the time to where I can hear someone sneeze down the hall, so it’s pretty easy for us to hear even minimal sounds from a baby. But if your office is a little louder and chattering/various other noises are normal, it might be easier for baby sounds to blend in.

    2. If your office does decide to put this policy in place, make sure there is something in there (however it’s legal to word it) about mothers not expecting their coworkers/assistants to help babysit the baby at work. This was another issue we sometimes ran into with Boss’s Wife. Sorry, but I’m not in childcare and I don’t know the first thing about properly looking after a baby. I also have my own work to do. In my opinion, it needs to be either a) the mother’s responsibility or b) have hired childcare workers specifically for that purpose. No dumping the baby with an assistant while you go have lunch with your spouse (ahem).

  112. Celeste*

    When our office first started the Take Your Daughter (now Kids) To Work Day, we had people who brought in their babies. It led to creating an age requirement of being 7 to be able to participate from then on. We quickly learned that our open plan is terrible when babies cry, and our bathrooms do not have a changing table. I didn’t hear of any projectile vomiting or poopsplosions going on that day, but these can both happen with tiny cute people, unfortunately. The latter just makes you want to put your baby in the bath for a shampoo, which is pretty disruptive to a work day. You’d just want to go home.

  113. Radio Girl*

    I think it depends on the type of business, the size and layout of the office, and the size of the workforce.

    Sometimes it cannot be avoided.

  114. Jessie*

    One of our attorneys had a baby in early June. He was out for about a month, and for the past six weeks he’s been coming in for roughly three hours a day / three days a week, usually with his new little one. We don’t have a policy regarding bringing newborns in, but he asked in advance and was allowed due to the demands of his practice at the moment. I sit diagonally across from him, and it’s actually been going really well. We have a pretty quiet environment, and when the baby gets fussy (which has been rare) it’s not annoying but I think endearing and a good reminder that the firm promotes having a family-friendly/work-life balance for everyone. There’s only been one time when the attorney left early because the baby wouldn’t calm down. It’s not unusual to see kids here (probably at least once a week someone has kids in tow – especially in summer), so that’s probably helped it work out well. I’m not sure we’d ever implement a policy though but rather keep it as a case-by-case basis.

  115. Gloucesterina*

    Caveat that this is my husband’s experience and not mine–he cared for our son in his home office (a desk in our bedroom) from ages 1 month-3 months while I was at work on a part-time schedule. Part of what made it work was the being at home factor; the ability to swap once I got home; and his ability to stand up the desk wearing a baby carrier. It’s hard to imagine it would have worked well for us beyond 3 months or if my husband were not conventionally able-bodied, able to wear a carrier, etc. In our son’s case, he is very social and curious, and really took like a fish to water to a daycare where he could interact with other kids.

    With a baby who thrives with less interaction with other kids, it could have worked for longer; but I also wouldn’t discount how exhausting it can be for the parents & if there will be a cost to their time & mental energy by having to do childcare at work, including but not only for parents with physical and mental health concerns.

  116. HarvestKaleSlaw*

    I have experience working from home with infants. Please delete if this does not qualify by the rules.

    During the first three months, it was extremely easy. Baby nursed in a sling when awake and slept a lot. Now, with a toddler at home, WFH is a complete impossibility. On days when daycare is closed, I cannot get any work done. However, past age 4, kids can entertain themselves fairly well. It’s a kind of a U shaped curve over time of how much work you can get done with a kid around, and it bottoms out around age two and a half.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Similarly, WFH from 10 weeks post-natal. Even with a baby who mostly fed and slept (so long as he was in a sling on my chest) it was hard. I managed only reduced hours, and honestly I think a lot of the work product was probably garbage. Conference calls were very difficult to schedule and to give full attention to; webinars and similar training probably got only 3/4 of my attention.

      At around 7 months baby started at day care. It felt like I could get a week’s work done in a day.

      The first few months of a baby’s life are “fourth trimester” where baby is not really aware of its surroundings. Between maybe 3-6 months they are observing. From six months (ish) they start to move, and all bets are off. They need and deserve primary attention from a dedicated designated adult whether a parent or other family member, or paid professional.

  117. Gaia*

    I worked at an organization that did this and, on the good side it did make it easier for new parents (mothers and fathers) to return to work after the baby. The downside was it was incredibly distracting for everyone and productivity took a big hit. From wanting to play with baby, to baby fussing, etc it caused issues. The next year the org switched gears and said baby couldn’t come in but parents (and everyone else) were encouraged to work remotely as needed and with flexible hours. This was much more successful and I understand they still do this today.

  118. Contracts Killer*

    Parents periodically bring children of all ages into our office and there are minimal disruptions. However, we do not have an open floor plan. People are either in offices or cubes and parents do a good job of keeping the kids within their work space. Because kids do not come in that over, there’s often a quick parade through the office for colleagues and office friends to say hi, then everyone pretty quickly goes back to work.

    I wonder how OP’s office is set up. I can see this working in an office like mine, I think it would be a disaster in an open floor plan.

    1. Manders*

      Yes, I think this is one of the biggest factors in whether babies in the office are going to work. A baby in a reasonably well-soundproofed room? Probably fine, so long as the parent’s not distracted and doesn’t have the kind of job that requires a ton of meetings or moving around. A baby in a crammed open office? Almost certainly a bad idea.

      I was one of those kids who spent a lot of time in my parents’ workplaces growing up, but 1) There was a daycare run by the school they worked for so I was being watched by professionals for a good chunk of the day during the noisier baby/toddler stages, 2) They had flexible schedules and personal offices, and 3) They were academics, so workplace norms were already unusual and being at work with young kids was treated as a sign they were working hard. It worked out for my family but the circumstances were pretty far from normal.

  119. WinnaPig*

    When my son was born (mid-1980s) bringing your child to work was all the rage in discussions about balancing mothering and work. We only had 17 weeks of employment insurance maternity leave at that time (now it is a year that can be spread between parents and also over up to 18 months), and my son’s dad was not working, so I could only afford to be away for 13 weeks (sigh). I brought him into my office part-time for a couple of months. I had a door I could close and he slept well (once asleep) so I could focus during that time. Everyone was supportive but as soon as he was sleeping less it became disruptive and I wished there was a daycare centre in our office building, as many were also established at that time. Hard to believe this is even something we have to discuss 30 years later.

  120. A Parent*

    I had to bring my baby a few times. There was a lovely secretary who was genuinely happy to take care of her while I was teaching a class. Felt guilty, went fine, probably aggravated the hell out of some people.

    Now, there are people who bring toddlers and babies on occasion (different place). Couple weeks ago, 1.5 year old brought to a meeting. Kid climbed all over the furniture, ran around in circles, banged his head on a table corner, spilled a juice, slobbered all over the pretzel bowl, distracted everyone. Meeting ran long, nothing got done. Went horribly.

    1. Natalie*

      Okay, but this question is about babies under six months of age. They don’t climb or run or crawl, even.

  121. wish it had worked*

    A co-worker of mine brought her baby in with her for about 6 months (after a 10 week maternity leave) recently. She came back part time so she and the baby were only in the office 2 days a week.
    On the days it worked well, the everything was great! The baby was cute and sweet! But, on days we had a meeting in our office or in another building, or if there was work to be done beyond the desk, or on days the baby was fussy or wouldn’t fall asleep… not so great.
    There were some disruptive elements, e.g. co-workers from other buildings constantly stopping by to meet the baby, or dirty diapers left in the trash when the mother wouldn’t be back in the office until the next week, or when the mother had arranged for childcare because we had off-site responsibilities all day and then the childcare fell through last minute.
    I can’t really speak to how much the baby impacted the amount of work getting done by my co-worker (of course the shift to part-time affected that anyway). In the end, though, the set-up didn’t work for the mother or the supervisor, and she quit. I don’t think our supervisor would be open to babies in the office again.

  122. Annika*

    It doesn’t happen in my particular area, but other parts of my university allow it. I went to a conference with a woman and a baby in a sling. It was so distracting. The baby did a lot of cooing. I am not a parent so is not something I am used to. There were also many people fawning over the baby. That I could see as something that would die down. I think if you have an office with a door and aren’t in a lot of meetings that it could possibly work. Of course, that can lead to an inequity issue depending on your office set up. Only the higher paid people here have their own offices. So they could bring in a baby, but the rest couldn’t. The people who could bring in the baby are the most financially able to pay for care.

    1. Jes*

      > The people who could bring in the baby are the most financially able to pay for care.

      THIS. This sucks. Almost everyone’s saying this would only work if you have a private office. But the folks who most need the open-minded assistance and can’t afford to take off work generally don’t have a private space. And so the gap between privileged and unprivileged continues to grow…

  123. Damit it Hamlet*

    I have a colleague who brings in her baby, and 90% of the time I don’t even notice the baby is there. Our company set up a really nice nursing room for her, so if the baby starts crying my colleague can take her in there. I appreciate this perk, even though I don’t want babies of my own, because I value my female coworkers and acknowledge how much work and money babies are, and if the company puts in a little work it has a much higher chance of retaining these employees

  124. Madeleine Matilda*

    Many years ago I worked in the summer in my mother’s office. It was a small finance office at a small college staffed by all women. One woman brought her baby in. My recollection was that there was minimal disruption and the new mother was able to get her work done and care for the baby. It did help that he was a very calm and laid back baby. He cried and was largely able to entertain himself. I’m not certain it would have worked as well had he been a fussier baby.

    1. Madeleine Matilda*

      I forgot to add that they worked in a large room where four women had desks and baby was tucked in a play pen in an alcove. So even without a separate office, it worked. But I think the baby’s temperament is what made it work.

  125. Vin Packer*

    I wore my baby to work in an Ergo almost every day when he was ages 3 weeks (no mat leave for me, unfortunately) to about 8 months.

    It worked well because I was working independently in a private office. On days when I had meetings, it was less great. Also, he liked the Ergo; my other child wouldn’t have done as well because he didn’t like to be worn.

    None of this is a substitute for actual parental leave, but absent that society-wide shift, this can be a workable stopgap IF certain parameters are met.

    1. Lucy*

      Disagree, until the burden of care is on both sexes equally it’s a feminist issue.
      And vice versa- we won’t see true equality until men have and take decent parental leave.

  126. waffles*

    I worked at a domestic violence hotline, where one of the hotline managers brought her infant with her, but not longer than 6 months. It was not disruptive. She had her own office, her baby also was personality-wise a peaceful baby, and she kept her management seamless – I didn’t experience any gaps (managers took turns actively supervising the hotline, being available for staff questions, etc; so not like she just closed her door and didn’t support us). For me personally, though I was childless at the time (and also planning to be child-free!), I liked the signal it sent, given the topics our office worked on. I can see in a bigger office (we were a very small team, in a small agency) that it could be pretty hard to manage.

  127. DaniCalifornia*

    I have a question about how bringing your babies into the office and working compares to remote work from home with your baby. I can’t get a sense from the LW if the opportunity to bring in babies is an everyday thing, or when you feel like it, or in an emergency kind of thing. But I know I’ve seen some letters on this site about WFH and how most employers would prefer that you had daycare options. But perhaps that is more for older kids as LW states it’s only babies up to 6 months old.

    1. Betty*

      I wonder this as well. If you are allowed to work while being in sole charge of your baby, why is it limited to being in the office? I would much rather have the option to WFH as it’s much more comfortable to care for a baby there with all your stuff around and not having to commute with an infant in tow. Of course some people want the adult company of an office, but logically I can’t see why you wouldn’t offer both.

  128. MOAS*

    We’ve had a few people who brought in their babies just for a visit (including our CEO at one point; and while everyone was gathered around cooing, no one lost their mind over the “distractions”)…but as far as bringing them in when working, exactly 3 people have done this: head of HR, former controller, and an admin.

    HR — school age kids, they would sit quietly. No distraction at all

    controller — young, I think elementary school age. It’s been a few years but I dont’ recall there being any distraction. (Although if I recall correctly, the kid got in to the candy jar and was running around in circles, but a lot of us were laughing and thought it was cute).

    Admin – sometimes brought her toddler during the summer months. And when she had her baby, she’d bring the baby in too.

    The first two had their own offices, and could close the door. The admin did not have an office (open plan) but she only brought the kids during scheduled half days.

    For all 3 I’d say this happened when schools were closed and/or the child was a toddler.

  129. Accountant*

    My work is kid friendly in a pinch! Meaning if you are having childcare issues and you have a task that cannot wait. No one at my place of employment abuses it. We do all have doors that close, which I think helps. All of our kids are older, so they can be entertained easily for a couple hours with crayons or a tablet.
    My kids also ride the school bus to my work so I don’t have to worry about the small amount of time I would have to line up childcare. By the time the bus arrives it is time to leave for the day.
    I work at a family owned business, so the owner’s grand kids are around quite a bit too.
    Honestly in our situation it works really well! The kids are really not disruptive to anyone else and it is a nice perk.
    I could see how this could be abused though.

  130. Kim W*

    My husband’s company did this. It was about 25 years ago and it was a pretty small educational company so it kind of fit with their mission. Babies could come up to a year. It was fine. The parent was less productive but it wasn’t disruptive to others.

  131. Kate Knight*

    I work for a large nonprofit that instituted this policy (infants up to six months) in 2015 while I was pregnant with my first child. There was something of a baby-boom at the time (10 babies born in 18 months). I brought my daughter to work with me and then my son two years later. Our policy allows babies to be kept with their parents at their desks. We are required to have permission from our supervisor and have two designated coworkers to help in situations when you need someone to watch your child briefly. We are allowed to bring babies to internal meetings but have others watch the baby for short meetings or make other arrangements for the day if you are busy for more than about an hour. We also have a parent’s room that is designed to rock fussy babies or for moms to pump.

    Overall this program has been a huge benefit to the organization. I will be the first to say that it is not necessarily a productivity BOOSTER, but honestly what parent with a less than six-month-old is at 100% productivity anyway? The babies truly haven’t been disruptive – if someone is having a fussy day then they just go home. Mostly at that age they are just eating and sleeping, so it really isn’t that big of a deal.

    I feel the biggest benefit to the organization and culture is the humanizing aspect of having a baby around. People just act differently around babies – they act more human! My relationships with my coworkers are closer because they know a different side of me – they know my kids personally – and as a result, even people that do not have kids opened up in a different way. Everyone gets so sad when a baby “graduates” – it really is just wonderful having them around.

    1. DaniCalifornia*

      It sounds like your company really thought it through when it came to the ins and outs of having kids at work and did a great job implementing it. Did you ever have any push back or hesitancy from colleagues who weren’t super baby friendly? My former background is in child care so if a coworker asked if I could watch their kid for a minute or I knew ahead of time that I would be watching someones kid during a meeting I’d be good with it. (A current coworkers wife brings in their baby and hands her right to me! She is so dang cute!) But I have friends who aren’t baby people. They don’t hate or dislike kids in general, but just have no strong desire to interact with them. Just wondering if that issue arose or how they handled it. (This question is just me being curious btw, I think what your company did was awesome. I’m at a stage where 99% of my friends have kids, the 1% who don’t have no plans to, and we are in the “why haven’t you had babies yet???” stage of marriage so I hear a lot of OPINIONS.)

  132. A Feminist*

    I worked at a non-profit that supported women’s rights and equity. During my time there, I shared offices with several co-workers who brought their babies to work. I thought it worked out great. My co-workers had flexible schedules, and one was part time. Diaper changes, feedings, and a bit of fussing happened. On the whole, though it was not that big of a distraction. My co-workers and I managed to get our work done supporting the mission, and my coworkers were able to save money and spend more time with their children.

  133. Old Millenial*

    I have so many questions about how this would work.

    Diapers. How would the smell be contained? as a recent foster parent, despite being judicious about bagging them, there is a lingering baby poo/urine smell in my house.

    Flu season: are people going to be required to get the vaccine or stay home when contagious or otherwise warn new parents? How is the company going to manage this from a liability perspective?

    Noise: how are they going to implement a fair policy where particularly disruptive babies are banned? Looking at the companies that alow pets, banning bad Fido is hard enough, banning babies will be even more rife with pitfalls.

    It may be worth having these questions answered before you vote.

  134. H.C.*

    I’ve had a colleague who did this occasionally (between once a week or once every other week, usually when her typical childcare arrangement falls through); but she was a senior VP with her own private office, so disturbances are minimal. However, her usual open door policy was a bit more “closed” when the baby is here.

  135. Res Admin*

    A few years ago, one of the key contacts that I worked with in another department kept her baby in the office every day. I love babies and think it was great that she had that option, however the way it worked out was that often calls/meetings were abruptly cut short because she needed to attend to the baby. Her phone would go to voicemail because the ringer was off so that it wouldn’t wake the baby. She would forget things because…baby. Honestly, I don’t know how she did it–and she had that baby in the office for over a year. From my point of view, it quickly became frustrating that the only person who could provide key info wasn’t available–which caused me to miss deadlines. I have no idea how it affected those in the offices around her. (Although some time during year 2, that department had a re-org and she was laid off–no idea if the baby played a role in the decision on who would be laid off).

    So, my immediate concerns would be: Who is going to take care of the baby when it needs attention? Diapers/bottles/fussing/etc. Is there a backup for that person when they are distracted by tending to the baby? In other words, how will this impact workflow for the rest of the office? How will you contain noise? Even happy baby sounds can be awkward on conference calls. Diaper blowouts. They are a Thing. They SMELL and the baby needs a bath–and frequently the carer as well.

    I love babies…but I don’t think I love them full time in the office. Short visits, yes.

  136. justcourt*

    I don’t know how helpful this comment will be, but it depends on the office, culture and parents.

    At one job a manager brought her new baby into the office. The baby had colic, so he cried a lot. However, the office walls were thick and the department staff in the “bullpen” area in front of her office were loud, so it wasn’t really an issue. From what I could see through the little window into her office, she wore her son in a little fabric pouch thing when he would cry. I didn’t work in the same department with that coworker, just near her, so I couldn’t tell you how it affected her performance. She had a reputation as a really strong employee and great manager, and I never heard anyone complain about her performance while her son was in the office, so I’m thinking her work wasn’t impacted too much.

    On the flip side, I had a coworker in another office who brought her son in, and it was not great. The walls were thinner in that office and the atmosphere was much quieter, so you could hear the baby, and it was distracting. It also didn’t help that this coworker believed in letting the baby cry to self-soothe, and she was dismissive of complaints from other people. Despite her claim that we would all “learn to ignore the crying,” I never did. She also flaked on deadlines and punted work to other people using the baby as an excuse (“I’m going to need you to help me with this because [son] needs… whatever”). But she was flakey and lazy before she had the baby.

    In my experience good employees stay good employees after they have a child and bad employees continue to be bad employees. The same goes with managers. A good manager will make a bring-your-baby-to-work policy work and a bad manager will allow bad employees to take advantage of the policy.

    You have to consider your office layout and noise level, what kind of employees your coworkers are now, and how your manager enforces office policy now.

    **I know the question refers to babies in the office, but I want to add that toddlers should NEVER be in the office. EVER. A coworker stretched the limits on our office’s bring-your-baby-to-work policy by bringing her 1 1/2 year old daughter to work for six months. Absolute nightmare.

  137. MamaBear*

    I can only mention my experience of bringing my baby to the office on a weekend when only one or two out of fifty or so co-workers were there. I think that was fine. Diaper changes were a little awkward and frequent at 1 month and hard to hide the smell. But overall she slept either nearby in a mobile bassinet or while I wore her in my ergo. I didn’t bring her after the first two months.

  138. A tester, not a developer*

    My old team was allowed to bring in babies/young children during our seasonal peak hours (think tax season). But the kids weren’t in the cube farm; the managers corralled them all in a conference room with videos on the big screen and crafts, toys, etc. It worked for a few weeks at a time, but wouldn’t have been feasible long term (even though more than a few managers would have loved to make baby wrangling their full time gig!). We needed the conference room back, and having them all out and about would have been unworkable.

  139. Jeyne Poole*

    Many moons ago, I worked for a doctor who had 4 children in the span of about 12 years. Each time she had a new baby, she would bring that child to the office after a 6 week maternity leave, where he or she would remain until they were ready for kindergarten. She would see her patients and expect that the office staff would do their actual jobs as well as act as free babysitters for her various bratty children. Then again, she was an asshole.

  140. Rovannen*

    School setting. A contracted employee servicing speech students brought her baby for several months. No problems. Baby was in a front pack carrier. Win-win as the students loved to talk to the baby.

  141. IWishIHadAFancyUserName*

    Twenty-plus years ago, my supervisor brought each of her three of her babies to work with her for about 4 months each. They were each about 2.5 months old when she returned to work, so they were about 6 months old when she stopped bringing them.
    Our offices shared a wall, and I hardly knew they were there. Except for when she arrived/departed with the kids, most other staff never saw them. They were super mellow babies, and good sleepers, and I think that factored in.
    Over the years, other staff have occasionally brought in young children before/after medical appointments, or when they were too ill to go to school. We have a couple of seldom used out-of-the-way areas where they can hang out without disturbing staff or getting into things they should not, so it’s worked out well. I think clear communication among staff, management, and the kids is key to making this work successfully, and boy, a little accommodation can go along way both for the parent and the business.

  142. Anna*

    I worked in an office where a coworker was able to bring her baby until it was about a year old. I shared an office with her. There were many issues and she basically had to hold the baby the entire time she was at work. Her work suffered and my work also suffered because the baby cried constantly and screamed so I was unable to make phone calls while in the room with the baby. I ended up leaving because of this situation. In some instances I would say having babies at work wouldn’t be a problem if the employee has their own office but if they share an office with someone then it could be a problem.

  143. little jackal*

    I had a boss who brought his baby in on occasion which wasn’t a problem when he was in the office, but he would sometimes leave his baby with me and the other female staffer while he went to meetings. That was a problem. As long as people don’t make the baby anyone else’s responsibility, babies in the office don’t change much!

  144. Working Mom Having It All*

    I have not done this in a traditional corporate office, but I have participated in a “bring your baby to work” scheme.

    For me, personally, it did not work. Or, really, it worked when my baby was under 3 months (which is within most people’s parental leave periods, and I think “oh just bring the baby here” is not a replacement for offering parental leave), when he would just sleep all the time, anywhere and everywhere, with no fuss. When that stopped, there was just no way I could focus on work with him there.

    Beyond stuff like “what if the baby cries” or “what if you have to change a diaper”, honestly, babies are just… a lot. The only babies that are quiet all the time, that don’t really need any attention, and that do their own thing while nearby adults (specifically, the parents) do focused work nearby are babies on TV. That’s not how real actual babies are.

    One thing that surprised me a lot when I had a child is that… babies need actual childcare. They’re not cats or especially squirmy coffee table tchotschkes. My husband and I came into parenthood as remote working freelancers, and we assumed that, between the two of us, we would be able to continue to work full time from home and also parent our baby. Lol. Lolololololololol. We learned fast, and now I have a full time corporate office job, while he’s a stay at home parent actually spending his days parenting our child, a task that occupies his entire day just like my job occupies mine.

    All of the above said, I’m fine with offices allowing this assuming parents actually want to participate and truly believe this would be a good way that they would like to work. But in my experience, this did not work for me.

  145. Close Bracket*

    When I was a graduate student working in a lab, one of the post-docs brought his new baby in to work with him. When it was very young, it slept in it’s car seat and you wouldn’t even know it was there. When it got a little older and was capable of roaming around, he put it in a back pack thing to keep it close to him while he worked in the optics bench.

    My judo coach from that time also had a very small child, not an infant, but close to. He also put it in a back pack carrier to keep it from roaming while he took us through our drills.

    Lots of ways to bring babies into all sorts of work environments!

    1. Close Bracket*

      Oh, I was just on a conference call at my current job where there was a baby in the background. It was a noisily happy baby. I would have preferred that the parent go on mute when not actually speaking, but the noise level for the duration of the call wasn’t bad. I would be unhappy if I had to work with that in the background all day, though.

  146. BottleBlonde*

    I used to work at a university and babies were allowed in the office. I’m not sure if we had formal guidelines on the age of the babies (we probably did) but it worked out similarly to what OP described (babies welcome, toddlers not). Honestly I never had an issue with the actual presence of the babies in the office. They really did not cause any disruption. The main negatives with the setup were:

    1) In our case, the policy was put in place to partially make up for our terrible parental leave policy (only unpaid leave via FMLA, no paid leave). The general attitude among parents was that paid leave would have been MUCH more appreciated than being allowed to bring in a baby, in most cases.

    2) There was always a heightened anxiety around germs whenever a baby was in the office. The littlest babies are most susceptible to illness and can’t be fully vaccinated. This kind of relates back to point 1, no paid leave, because parents who would have much preferred to keep their babies at home for this reason ended up bringing them into the office because they couldn’t afford to take unpaid leave. I had one close coworker in particular who was extremely vigilant about calling people out for coming to work with any kind of symptom (even those that may be caused by something other than an illness). I burned through a ton of my PTO that summer because I was really worried to go into work if I at all felt I might be coming down with something, and the whole situation was stressful for all of us.

  147. Nope, not today*

    I brought my second one in to work with me on occasion, though not regularly. It worked out just fine for us – she was quite a quiet and happy baby, content to either sleep in her car seat or I’d wear her in a sling at my desk. I only worked part time so it was do-able, and it was sporadic. I also had my own office, so no one usually noticed she was even there. With my eldest I could never have done this – she was one to cry and scream if she wasn’t being held. Not possible to have her in an office with other people.

    I think it comes down to the individual baby, parent, office setup, office culture, number of coworkers, type of office (i.e., is it one where lots of people are on the phone throughout the day, etc) – I don’t know that a blanket policy would work. Also worth noting that this only works as long as a baby isn’t mobile – the second they can start crawling or walking it would likely be impossible.

  148. Team Baby*

    My workplace, a government office, also has a policy where mothers (and as of a few months ago, fathers!) can bring their infants to work until they are 6 months or mobile, whichever comes first. One coworker had her infant son with her when I started, and about a year later our office manager had a baby and brought him to work for the allotted time. Currently, another coworker of mine is pregnant and is planning on taking advantage of the program.

    My experience with this program has been positive! I am a kid person but even if I weren’t, I consider the infant coworkers minimally disruptive. Impact on productivity appeared to be minimal, although it does get tougher once the baby is closer to six months and wants to be entertained during the day. Nevertheless my coworkers were still able to perform job duties such as answering calls, writing reports, and participating in meetings. We ensured that coworkers had designated private areas for feeding or pumping, and coworkers brought in whatever baby equipment worked for them (pack and play, toys, etc.) and kept it in their offices or cubicles. The best part of the program for me was taking a “baby snuggle break” for a few minutes when I needed it.

  149. DataGirl*

    About 18 years ago I worked in an office where there was not a bring-your-kids to work policy, but there was a woman who did so anyway. She brought her newborn and five year old and it was a huge disaster. She couldn’t get much done because she was taking care of the baby, and her five year old was a terror who disrupted everyone’s work. Her excuse was that she did not have/could not afford reliable childcare. Her manager tried to find other solutions for her as everyone was so unhappy but she was uncooperative. I’m not sure why she wasn’t disciplined or fired, but this was not in the US so labor laws might have prevented it. I left the organization before she did so I’m not sure how it worked out.

    If this isn’t on topic enough feel free to remove. The situation may go better in an office where a) it’s allowed and b) stringent rules are set to keep the children from disturbing other’s work, but my experience was awful and, as a mom myself I can’t imagine getting 8 hours of work done while simultaneously caring for an infant.

  150. Policy Wonk*

    When my oldest was little, there were rare occasions when I had no choice but to bring her into the office. (Usually an issue with day care.) A very young infant sleeps through most of the day, and probably wouldn’t be distracting if the parent has a private office. But I could not say I put in the same full day of work that I did when she was happily at day care. I think a policy that allows for it on an occasional basis makes sense, but this should not be seen as a substitute for day care, and absolutely should not be in place of parental leave.

  151. VelociraptorAttack*

    My son got sick a lot upon entering daycare and he already had some issues so there were times my husband or I would have to take him in for a half day. Generally when he was under 6 months he just slept the whole time and I was as productive as I typically was.

    However, I had a private office so I was able to close my door and I emailed my colleagues (we had an open door policy) to let them know my door was metaphorically open unless my shades were drawn but there was a small creature in there with me.

    He’s a year now and is 100% not in a life place where I’d bring him to work unless everyone around me really wanted to get squawked at.

  152. blackcat*

    I’m in academia.
    An administrative assistant had her baby at work for maybe 4 hours a day? It worked really well, because she had THE CHILLEST BABY EVAR. No joke, this baby slept like a dream and never cried. Unicorn baby.
    I had to do a fair bit with a young baby, and I dealt with bringing him to work. I couldn’t afford a nanny and couldn’t get a daycare slot until the baby was ~4 months old.
    I was “on leave” but still had meetings to attend. It was really rough. My baby would often to okay if in a carrier, but it was FAR from ideal.

    I think the danger of saying “just bring the baby” is that it places more pressure on someone to work when what they really need is additional (paid) leave or childcare. I’d much rather a company explore on-site daycare, flexible schedules for returning parents (letting people come back for 10, then 20, then 30 hours before going FT), and, most importantly, additional paid leave. Like others have said, I was would have been happy to work pretty early. But not full time, and I really needed to be paid at rate that would have allowed me to afford a sitter for the hours I was working. As it was, it was miserable.

  153. LeighTX*

    When my older daughter was born I worked part-time as a church bookkeeper, and I brought her into the office (I had a private office with a door) for about her first six months. She was quiet and easy, and I could put her on a blanket on the floor and we were all content and productive. That setup would have never worked with my younger daughter, though; she was neither quiet nor easy, and “content” would not be a word to describe her either then or now! I had to hold her a lot, suffered badly from post-partum depression, and would not have gotten much work accomplished.

    I don’t know the best way to write a policy for that sort of thing, though; those first six months are kind of a crapshoot in that you don’t know if the baby will be colicky every afternoon, or if they’ll have trouble eating, or if no one is getting any sleep at night and so the parents are too exhausted during the day to get any work done while still trying to care for the baby. It would be a lovely perk but definitely wouldn’t work for every situation.

  154. Booksnbooks*

    I’m a parent here, who has attempted to work full time in the presence of two (sequential) babies. It doesn’t work. It didn’t work with the first one, and it didn’t work with the second — they both had very different temperments before the argument is made that it was due to the specific baby. There isn’t enough time to actually get work stuff done between feeds, diapers, etc. and you aren’t available properly for meetings, etc. Plus babies are inherently distracting to you and everyone around you and concentration is really impacted by that. I know babies are little and day care is expensive, but based solely on my first hand experience I do not think it’s a good idea at all — for the mom (or dad) who is trying to work and for the colleagues who are disrupted.

  155. Anonymous Educator*

    I’ve worked in an office in which people were allowed to bring babies, and it honestly wasn’t a problem for me. The only thing I’ve had a problem with is employees bringing in their small children, especially if those children can’t entertain themselves.

  156. Ben H*

    I’ve had very mixed results on this, and I feel it depends on ground rules on the onset as well as the specific parent.

    At one practice, we would let moms bring in infants while still nursing. The babies typically slept all day, and after the initial cuteness overload wore off, there really wasn’t much of an impact. We also let parents bring in their older children up to about 5 to help float daycare issues until they were in full-day school. Not on a regular basis, but certainly more flexible than not. The only issue we had was a parent that didn’t understand she shouldn’t be bringing in her 7 y/o and 16 y/o to sit under her desk; and why she couldn’t spend the whole day doting on them.

    Another practice; one of the doctors had just given birth, and I readily allowed her to bring in the baby while she was still nursing. I quickly had to insist that the baby stay in my office because the support staff wouldn’t leave him in his sleeper while she was with patients; the bow broke (punny) when an MA spent an entire shift holding the baby instead of working up patients. It was also stressful to the mom, because she never really knew where he was.

    Overall, I think it’s great perk. It provides flexibility to the parent, reduces their stress, and allows for longer bonding time. Each office just needs to spend time thinking about what ground rules make sense for them.

    1. Jes*

      The visual of a teenager sitting under an office desk all day for his mommy to dote on him… excellent.

  157. Requires o*

    So I have two perspectives on this: my dad worked in an office where this was allowed when I was small and I worked in one when I was an adult. I obviously don’t remember too much from when I was a baby but when I was older I remember hanging around with his assistant. She had her MBA (or mambo as I called it as a 4 year old) and instead of working on financial matters whenever I was there she was taking me to the zoo or the movies or the park. She wasn’t his secretary I would like to clarify. Retrospectively that must have been the worst. She wasn’t the only assistant who got stuck with this either. Pretty much any female assistant at that place had at least one kid to babysit while their boss went to meetings and did their job. So I would hope that your office has a plan in place to avoid this. management and the executives (sorry dad!) were pretty sexist.

    Perspective two: As an adult it made my work environment uncomfortable. I get sick fairly easily so I tend to stay away from small children. My coworkers who returned with their babies would not take no for answer. If I’m working I don’t want to be distracted and not every baby is cute and I hate when they ask me what I think of their baby so I tend to stay away but they would shove their child in my face and tell me to hold the baby and just wait until I have one. I would decline but it wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t hear someone on the phone once because of the crying and the general atmosphere of the office changed when the baby policy happened. laughing jokes funny stories and camaraderie to factions (babies vs no babies). My coworkers who brought their babies also had to leave early to make sure their baby was home in time for bath, sleep schedule, dr, whatever leaving me to pick up the slack. Now I think this was largely just the people I worked with. I think we had at most 9 babies at once and for me it was too much because my coworkers’ personalities. No assistants got stuck babysitting but five of the coworkers pretty much stopped working leaving the assistants or colleagues to pick up the slack. Several of the mothers were moved into an office that had previously belonged to two other people (who were moved to a windowless area). Management and coworkers sucked here. There was a mass exodus after the baby policy. If my office instituted a baby police today, I would leave. But my experience wasn’t universal I’m sure.

    I also work now in a dog friendly office and they divided the space up so that if you didn’t want to work around dogs at any time you could move somewhere else. Open plan with dog free zones. If this had been done with the babies I don’t think my office would have been so bad.

  158. Landshark*

    My job is an outlier because I work in academia, but my two cents… from time to time, I’d be okay with it. I’ve had students have to bring babies and very small children to class from time to time because childcare fell through but they really wanted to get their education. My experiences with that have been mostly positive with minimal distraction or fuss. The parents were attentive and kept the kids calm, and the kids didn’t seem to mind me teaching around them or the other students. So it CAN work.

    But I’m assuming LW is referring to this on a daily basis and in an office setting. I’m not certain I’d like that, so I leave opinions on this to people with more experience.

  159. thethoughtoflilacs*

    God, yes, agreed on point 2.

    I am still in the midst of infertility hell, years later, and my coworker’s wife gave birth to their son shortly after I lost mine to a miscarriage. I am luckily in a different office, so I didn’t have to see the baby when Coworker brought him in (many, many times), but I got the emails — complete with photos and cooing — and have had to hear about this baby every. single. day. over the last seven months. It is all this man can talk about. I am nearing what would have been my due date, going through yet another IVF cycle, and having this baby be the focus of every conversation is affecting MY ability to concentrate on work.

    Babies do not belong at work. If you want to support new parents, enact a better paid leave policy, or allow them to work remotely. People struggling with infertility — a chronic health condition — deserve to have a professionally focused work space.

  160. Requires o*

    I forgot to add that when people brought their toddlers in I got sick all the time so that was frustrating but not as much as it was for my coworker who on certain days had to wear a face mask for some medical condition he had. Or one mother who made you hand sanitize if you were going to be in the same space as her child. So there needs to be some sort of ground rules, clearly outlined and understood by all parties involved ground rules.

  161. agnes*

    In our workplace, babies up to walking age have been fine. Once they start moving around, it hasn’t worked well. We allow it on days that child care is closed, or the child is recovering (but not contagious) from a cold, or for a “handoff” between parents. We don’t allow it on a regular day to day basis. And if the baby is fussing and crying a lot, we may tell the employee to go home with the baby. It’s intended to help out in an unusual situation, not as a regular substitute for child care.

  162. GS*

    Perhaps not a traditional office, but a business none the less. A chinese food takeout place I go to a lot has a young toddler there. They have an area set up for her to play in around the corner, but she’s often kind of out and about (they’re at the counter, so can watch her). It’s actually a huge draw for me – if the food isn’t ready, I will often play with her. She is adorable. It keeps me coming back, so good for business for them. After a long day of work stress, getting to toss a ball with her is so relaxing! And then Chinese takeout later! Lovely.

  163. Lies, damn lies and...*

    I work from home, and have since before my son was born. From 3-6 months, I could have survived working with him at home, but it would have made my days (hours to do work) longer and I probably would have felt guilty spending time with my baby during the workday. That said, at that age it is really easy to wear them or put them on a blanket with a few toys or in a bouncy seat and they are generally agreeable and easy to contain.

  164. Nikki*

    I have experience with this as a child and as an adult. When I was little, my dad worked with special needs kids, and when he needed to take me to work with him, I just played with the other kids. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood where my dad was taking me. To me, I just got to play with Play-doh and finger paint. My mom did that with me as I got older. She was a fast food manager, and because of the types of coworkers she had, I could just sit in the lobby where she kept an eye on me until my dad or someone else picked me up.
    As an adult, I had coworkers at Walmart who did that all the time. Grandmas would sit their grandbaby in a buggy with them something to do until the parent picked them up. When I worked in the office, one of my coworkers would lay her son across some chairs, and we would just watch him for her when she was on the floor. Even now that I have a government job, my coworkers will sit their kids in an empty cubicle with some snacks, a tablet, and maybe a coloring book. The kids just mind their business, and the older ones just do their homework.
    Parents have to do what they have to do, and kids usually don’t disrupt work.

  165. Genny*

    My experience is mostly secondhand, so take it with a grain of salt. My sister brought her first baby into the office and it seemed to work fine. However,
    – She was the owner’s daughter
    – My mom has purposefully created a family-friendly, flexible environment, which everyone was able to take advantage of
    – It was a small office (only 3-4 people worked there any given day)
    – The baby was remarkably easy (this system broke down with the second child who wasn’t nearly as easy)
    – There was a place she could put the baby where he would be out of the way if he got noisy/distracting.

    In my office, we occasionally have parents come through to show off their infants. It’s nice, but we’re in an open office, so you can hear the baby’s cries almost anywhere on our floor. I deal with it because they’re rarely around for more than 30 minutes and people really do enjoy seeing them, but it would be difficult to handle if they were there longer (or if there were more of them). Most headphones also aren’t really an option in my office, which complicates things.

  166. Crust Old HR Manager*

    State government HR manager here. Was approached by a manager concerned about losing a top performer. Suggested a baby-at-work program. Honestly, I was totally against it until I realized it was a FREE benefit we could offer in a climate where our private sector talent competitors were not offering anything like it. We drafted, reviewed with legal and risk management, and piloted a program allowing employees to bring new baby to work up to six months of age. Program is all-inclusive, meaning every employee can participate…even in our inbound call center! I’m thrilled to report that we’ve graduated 10 babies from the program since and have had zero complaints.

    1. JSPA*

      Did the policy have guidelines on bringing in babies when they were sick?

      How good was the sick leave, as that could affect the impact of “comes in with vomiting child” issues?

      Did your insurance already cover children in the workplace, or was that a hidden cost you actually did have to take up, and if so, how much was it (or did nobody consider the liability aspect in offering this “free” benefit, and you were just lucky)?

      1. Crusty Old HR Manager*

        Hi JSPA!

        Yes, our policy follows the CDC rules of inclusion/exclusion, which can be found here:

        My state offers 40 hours of family sick leave (provided the employee has a sick leave balance to cover the 40 hours) and vacation.

        Risk insurance already covers visitors to the office (so, yeah, we were lucky on that aspect). Employees who participate must also sign a waiver releasing the agency from liability.

  167. AnotherAlison*

    I’ve scanned through the comments, and may have missed, but I’d love to hear from someone who is on the long-term outcome end of this. How did bring-your-baby-to-work women’s careers compare to other women or male peers?

    We women get advised not to feed our colleagues our baked goods or play office mom so that we’re taken seriously (particularly those of us who are women working in male-dominated fields). How does that advice play when it comes to being an actual mom in the office? The women with babies are often on the younger end, too. Are they viewed as being as competent as their peers when people see them in the mother role at work, or do they get pigeonholed as someone who isn’t dedicated?

    1. Lucette Kensack*

      Oooh, interesting! I’d love to hear about this too.

      I’d been wondering about this too, but in the other direction — this seems like it could have a powerfully positive effect on women’s careers, as it could prevent them from having to take a many-month’s-long pause after bringing a baby home.

      1. YetAnotherUsername*

        I would assume that for benefit to your career 2 – 3 months of working without a baby > 2 – 3 months of working with a baby > 2 – 3 months of extra leave > quitting your job due to lack of childcare or not wanting to leave baby so young.

        Multiple comments above about how this type of policy definitely helped retention and I also know from working mom boards that lots of women in the us choose not to go back to work, so I would hazard a guess that on the whole this benefit would definitely help the careers of mothers it is offered to (or mothers who’s coparents are offered it).

  168. M*

    I had an experience with this at a former job but it was temporary, a separate department from mine allowed a woman to bring in her infant for a month after her paid maternity leave (they had 3 months paid leave before you could use paid sick, paid vacation, and FMLA) so the child came in at almost 6 months. They allowed this because she had some family issues going on.

    It was distracting and not helpful. As a mother myself (now not then) I see how it was not ideal for the organization, the employee, other team members, and also the baby. It’s better to give good paid leave. I understand the desire to do this, but in my experience it didn’t work. Even in the 4 weeks they allowed it with one person the department didn’t meet their quota and they had staff leave because of the distraction. I don’t care what people say babies cry and they need stimulation they can’t get at an office. It’s the same reason if you are allowed to telecommute you could have separate childcare. Yeah, hard no for me, a mother of a toddler!

  169. Christina*

    My former workplace (a Department of Health in a state in the U.S.) had this as a policy and it worked quite well if evaluated on how much babies were a distraction in the work place (they weren’t, they mostly slept and we had systems in place to make sure that parents of infants had good back-up as needed).

    If evaluated on a parental leave policy, it wasn’t quite as nice. I know from conversations I had with my colleagues that some new parents felt pressure to come back earlier because they could bring their infant, and some also felt that it set up a roadblock to addressing the lack of creating a more substantial leave policy.

    Making it stickier, we recommended as a department to the public that the best thing for families was to have parents stay home with newborns for as long as possible (I don’t remember the exact number of months recommendation) based on research by our department and national health organizations, so this policy – while definitely a benefit in the absence of a more robust leave program – wasn’t in line with our overall health recommendations.

  170. Roja*

    I was just planning on reading until I remembered that I do actually have experience with this. In dance, it’s not unheard for new moms to bring their baby (or child of any age, really) into the studio with them as they teach. Like one commenter above said, it’s fine until it isn’t. Mostly the class structure allows for some flexibility, but you can’t just leave the class to care for the baby if it needs care. The instances I saw involved another dancer tag-teaming baby care when necessary. Older kids rarely have that problem and I can’t recall any issues with older children being brought into class or into the studio.

  171. Elephant in the room*

    My comment goes to the equity of the situation. Businesses should make sure the policy has equal effects across the board.
    A former small business I worked for (about 10-15 employees, in late 80’s) allowed the computer person (salaried) to bring her baby in to her private office. The other 2 new moms (me & another) were not allowed (hourly). I had my own work space, so it would not have been a problem for me, but the remaining new mom had a shared workspace (and only the bathroom to use to pump in!).
    I resented the situation then, though to be honest I don’t think my productivity would have been good. The mom with the baby in the office did suffer loss of productivity, but had the option of working longer hours if needed (I didn’t).

  172. government worker*

    I work in a state government office that just approved such a policy this year. It has been received with very mixed reactions. Our offices are set up in large pods of open office areas. One of the new mothers has a very fussy baby who wakes up at the slightest of noises. It has caused quite a few problems, hard feelings, and disrupted work. Our policy also requires the mother to have two back-ups to care for the baby. some in the office see this as the back-ups getting out of their work to play with babies. There have also been emotional problems with women who have recently suffered miscarriages and/or cannot get pregnant.

    On the other hand, it has been a positive experience for the mothers.

  173. Quinalla*

    I have seen this work successfully once. It was actually a male coworker who brought his baby in everyday from when the baby was 6-8 weeks old until he was 4-5 months old. He (and most of us) did have private offices with doors that closed and we had very minimal client facing time or even internal meetings, so honestly it was fine as his baby had an average to mild temperament so slept most of the time either on the floor or in a sling on Dad. Yes, he did take time to change and feed the baby throughout the day, so there is no way he was 100% productive, but he got the work assigned to him done with minimal impact on the rest of us.

    I agree with other that with an open office plan or more client facing time required, this setup would be much more difficult. It also greatly depends on the temperament of the child and that is harder to put in a policy and would need strict management enforcement, so keep that in mind. For example, my first child there is NO WAY this would have worked with her. She was extremely high needs, basically if I set her down at all she was immediately crying, and not fussing, crying like she has been abandoned for hours. She would tolerate slings/carriers for a few minutes and then want to be held in arms. I mean, if I held her the entire time I was there, I guess I could have worked one-armed and it mostly would have been fine for my coworkers but my productivity would have been ~25% if that, but she also had regular times where nothing was wrong and she would still be crying and crying and I would have had to go home those days. My twins on the other hand, I could have brought them both in and been fine as they were more typical babies and gotten nearly as much done as my coworker did with his one baby.

    I would really be hesitant to blanket allow people to do this everyday or even regularly unless management is prepared to step in as necessary.

  174. KinsleyMac*

    I brought my baby into work for his first 4 months of life last year. (I went back to work 2 weeks after giving birth. That’s a completely separate story) And honestly, *I* was interrupted more than he interrupted anyone else.

    I do have my own office so that helped, but honestly he slept 90% of the time and the interruptions came from people stopping into my office to oogle over him. So I definitely think it can work, but I did need to have a pretty strong voice to say, no I’m busy please leave.

  175. Beth*

    I work for a small (<10 people) firm where everyone except the office admin has a personal office with a door that shuts. The office is very informal, and also top-heavy — mostly principals with a very flat hierarchy. All the current employees with young children are men, plus one senior partner who is now a grandmother.

    We have had occasion short visits from babies and toddlers, never more than a partial day. The baby or small child is kept in the parent/grandparent's office, and the office door is shut if needed for noise (and to keep roaming kids from roaming too far). There's often a coo-fest in the hallway when the baby first arrives, which ends after a few minutes and everyone returns to work.

    So far, this has worked well with no problems; it makes a huge difference that the firm is small, the offices have doors, and the office culture is dominated by a general atmosphere of Be An Responsible Adult, Be Thoughtful, Don't Be a Jerk, etc. I actually appreciate the chance to see my male colleagues taking their occasional shift with their kids.

  176. JSPA*

    Question, not comment: is this instead of, or in addition to, on-site daycare? Because on-site daycare is excellent both for parents and for the coworkers of parents. Especially if there’s even a “sick child” section for kids with the sniffles / teething / a bit colic-y but no high fever. Shared, co-sponsored daycare within a block or so of all the workplaces works equally well.

  177. noahwynn*

    I worked for one company that allowed this. It was a small business though and there was no formal policy. The owner allowed it, and he was generally flexible with us as long as our work was completed.

    There were only two people that I can recall doing it though. One took zero maternity leave, and was in fact on a conference call the afternoon after she gave birth in the morning. She brought her son in for quite a while, but not everyday. Her husband was a fire fighter and with his 1 day on, 2 days off schedule he had him at home when possible. The other was a grandmother who very occasionally brought her grandson in for 4-5 hours when he was a baby.

    In both cases it worked fine. I don’t remember any major disruptions to work or anything. Both were individuals who were not running from one meeting to another, so most work was done in their offices. I’m sure productivity was impacted a bit, but overall no issues.

  178. Sam*

    This is not completely analogous but I work from home; I’m one of a team of three and we are all remote. I’ve always had close to full time paid childcare, but with infants it seems like there’s always a lot of hiccups like sick days for the kid or the caregiver, and I am on West Coast time but work with a lot of East Coast and Central Time clients, so we have a lot of early morning meetings. All of that to say I did a fair amount of working while my kid was with me. Up until she was 6/7 months, this was totally fine! She wasn’t super loud, slept a lot and before they can move you can plop them on the floor or in a playpen with some toys and mine at least entertained herself really well. As soon as they get mobile that sh*t is over but prior to that it was fine, and my co-workers didn’t mind at all. Though we’re all remote so I know that’s different than this question.

  179. Mary Dempster*

    This is probably moot after all the (surprisingly positive!) comments before, but..

    I brought my daughter to work 1-2 days a week from the time she was 12 weeks old to 6 months, when I left that position. I had my own office with no windows and a door to close, which was a big part of it. She was still napping 4-6 hours a day out of my 8 hour day, and when she was awake she’d sit in her bouncer, coo, and occasionally I’d put on a Baby Einstein video to keep her attention somewhere else.

    She was not a difficult baby – she rarely, rarely cried, and if she did I would shut my door, or take her outside, or to another location where people were not. My boss was a working mother of two and was very happy to give me the flexibility and was very understanding – on the rare occasion I had to leave my desk to go do something, she’d offer to watch (and love on) my daughter.

    This was a work environment with zero meetings. Feeding her took no more time out of my day than pumping, and often less.

    Now that I’m in an open floor plan I would not do this. I am due any week now with #2, and will be working from home with the help of my husband, although really, until they’re six months and sitting up on their own, all they do is eat, sleep, and poop!

  180. Noah*

    I don’t have experience with this as a policy, but I worked in a small office that let one employee bring her baby to work when she finished maternity leave. The baby came in from age 6-weeks until age 10-weeks. She was far less efficient during that time, but that expectation was baked into the situation.

    But, she was an unusually loud baby for that age and there was no practical way to make the noise not disruptive in our office, so she stopped bringing baby in (it was her decision — we were all disrupted, but we also cared about our coworker so we didn’t make a huge thing about it). I think a first six months policy is likely based on the assumption that baby’s are less disruptive than older kids for others beside the parent, but that isn’t always true.

  181. mochazina*

    when my youngest was a newborn i ran out of paid leave. our family could not afford unpaid leave, as we’d tried it with our eldest to disastrous results. in attempting to finnagle child care, i requested to bring my 6 WEEK old infant to work with me. the request went down the HR telephone-tag line and i was eventually told directly by the HR manager that no, i couldn’t because there’s no telling what the baby could get into around the office since the baby hasn’t had HazMat training. this was a serious answer. i’m still bitter about it, especially now that my company’s HQ in another state is piloting a similar infant-at-work program. i should also add that i had NO choice but to bring the kid for the first few days before we straightened it out an it was completely uneventful. i sat at my desk in my cube, worked as usual on my largely computer-based tasks, wore the kid in a carrier, breastfed on demand, changed diapers as needed, and there were no episodes of disruptive crying or anything else. baby also didn’t get into the copier toner.

    1. Carlie*

      I am picturing someone leaning over the carrier, clipboard in hand. “Baby! What are the four routes by which a chemical may enter the body?” *listens intently*

      Feeding was our big time suck. For various reasons mine had to eat every hour and a half or so, at 10-20 minutes each time. That’s 25% of a work day gone. And there were so many diapers.

    2. YetAnotherUsername*

      I’m so sorry that you were treated like that but I am loving the idea of a 6 week old baby doing hazmat training.

  182. Sleepy*

    This isn’t quite *babies* but I had a coworker bring in his kids, ages 2 and 4, a few times for a few hours each time. I was angry when I saw him walk in with them for the first time, as I assumed he would be asking us for help with babysitting. My experiences with 2 and 4 year olds *outside* the workplace has been that they’re crazy and hard to manage.

    Turns out, this totally depends on the kids. His kids colored quietly for most of the time. There was one brief tantrum which he quickly soothed and got back to work. Sometimes folks would wander over and voluntarily pick the smaller one up to cuddle for a few minutes, which she seemed to like. It didn’t stop anyone from actually doing their work, and no one who didn’t want to get involved with them had to. I learned later that his wife was going through some pretty serious health issues so I’m glad I didn’t say anything to him about it.

  183. Partially Bigoted Zealots*

    Have had it happen a few times at work–usually because childcare fell through at the last minute, daycare doesn’t start for another week, etc. Occasionally been older kids as well. In every instance, it’s fine and hasn’t bothered me at all. I’ve barely noticed that they’re around and never been much a distraction. One newborn even sat in on a meeting and most people didn’t notice she was there until the very end when Mom walked out with her.

  184. Cori*

    I am a mom of 5, and back in 1997 when I had baby #3 our company allowed parents to bring infants to work. It was a life-saver for me, and for one of the people I managed (who also had her third days after me). Most babies (not all) are really easy until they start being mobile, and many of them sleep for hours during the day. I (and she) were both more productive during the workday because we did not have to leave early to pick up the baby from daycare (in our case both of our husbands did the morning school run). Also, because the babies were not exposed to other small children (except their siblings) they didn’t get sick as often as other people’s babies. We both had transitioned from corporate training to technical writing, so we did not have forward-facing jobs any longer, so we were in a great position to have our babies at work until the cut-off (which was I think 4 or 6 months of age). Oh, and it made it easier for me as a parent to come back to work and then slowly acclimate to balancing work and family.

  185. AnonPi*

    I was one of those stuck with watching a co-workers baby when she decided to come in part time a few weeks after giving birth. It was a small community college book store and there was only me, coworker, student worker, and manager (grandboss was the business dept manager). Since her and manger decided her work was more important than mine, I got stuck watching the baby. And yes this included feeding and changing the kids diaper. After the first week I complained to the manager that I was falling behind on my work because of this, but she didn’t do anything about. Thankfully around week 3 the grandboss found out what was going on (apparently they never asked him for approval to do this) and told her she couldn’t bring the baby in anymore. Of course coworker and manager thought I’d complained to the grandboss when I hadn’t, and proceeded to give me the cold shoulder for the next month or so. So, IMHO I don’t think it’s a good idea. I’m sure many parents wouldn’t take advantage like this, there’s always going to be that one that does. I think on site daycare and more leave is the solution.

  186. Spcepickle*

    My office has this policy. And it is 100% baby / parent dependent. We had one baby who slept most of the day, who’s mom was great at working with a baby strapped to her, it worked very well. We had one very active baby, who’s dad couldn’t figure out how to workwhile baby was awake. Productivity dropped dramatically.

    So questions I would ask:
    1) will it matter if someone’s proficiency drops by 50% for 4 months.
    2) do you have the right supervisors, who have the right authority, that they could stop a very distributive baby from coming in
    3) is your office set up? Babies need to be changed, they will cry, they need a physical place to be (so cubes and offices need to be big enough)

    Overall, I do think the idea is great, but it is hard to implement well.

  187. Jenny Grace*

    One place I worked, the office manager brought her baby in from about 2mos to about a year. She had a private office. It was fine with a young infant, but once the baby could crawl and shriek it was very distracting. I think under 6mos would be fine, but it would depend on the baby (my own kids were very for periods during that age) as well as the office set up (it would be hard in open concept offices).
    At my current place of work people bring in their school aged kids occasionally, and the level of “okay” varies widely by kid and parent. There are quiet well behaved kids who you don’t even know are in their parent’s cubicle, and there are wild shrieking kids who are running up and down the hallways. One version is okay and the other is decidedly not. I bring in my own 13yo occasionally; he reads, does school work, or plays on his phone. It’s totally fine. I would not bring in my 2 or 4yo kids because they would be to distracting, both to me and my coworkers, but I realize that’s not the question you are asking.

  188. Yorick*

    In one academic job, we had a shared office for 3-4 people but only I was there every day. My coworker would come in here and there and would have to bring her small baby. I found it ok since it wasn’t all the time, and the baby wasn’t on top of me, the diaper changing was happening a little way away, and the baby didn’t cry too often. But when she did, I imagine it must have been super disruptive to the other people on the floor who didn’t even know why there was a crying baby.

  189. Chinookwind*

    The owner of my local gym and his wife, one of the trainers, have been taking their now toddler there since soon after she was born. It started off that she was there long enough for mom to workout so both parents were with her but, yesterday, she was there with just dad while he worked the desk. Because she had been there from the start, it was easy to see that she knew where she wasn’t allowed to go and even moved further away from the training area every time people started jumping rope. (That happened with such frequency that dad wonders if she had a close call with a spinning rope but she was never injured, so he isn’t sure).

    It helps that we all know each other at the club and all say hi to the little one. She also knows to give fist bumps when we go by and I swear she says “hi” when someone walks in the door. She isn’t disruptive (except as a distraction) but her parents don’t have her there all day either. If she was colicky or fussy, I think it would be different. Ditto if her parents were not spending time interacting with their clients as often as they usually do (so she isn’t overly distracting to them either). And the boss has always allowed clients kids in the waiting area where he is as long as they weren’t under foot.

  190. DollarStoreParty*

    I was the associate publisher at a small trade publication when I gave birth to my son. Three weeks into my maternity leave the publisher/owner was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of cancer. I had to come back to work five weeks early. The baby came with me. My coworkers threw me an impromptu office baby shower. I quickly had a pack n play, an exercise saucer and a ton of toys for him so I wouldn’t have to haul everything back and forth. We made it work, luckily he was a good baby and was not disruptive.
    The owner died three months after his diagnosis, we had a baby boom and babies at the office became a regular thing, and when they became teenagers they all came to work for the business, doing clerical work, working our booth at trade shows and other assorted tasks until they went to college.

  191. Creamsiclecati*

    Does it count as having experience with a baby in the workplace if I WAS the baby in the workplace? Hehe

    My mom took a couple months maternity leave and then brought me into work with her until I was a little over a year old. She was a copy editor for a newspaper. She had a crib for me in her office and I spent most of the day napping or playing in there. She finally had to resign when she got pregnant with my brother and balancing a 1.5 year old, her daily work, and the physical limitations that come with being pregnant became too difficult.

    Of course I don’t remember any of this firsthand, but according to her telling of the events, I was a pretty “easy” baby so the arrangement worked. She says that with my brother, he was a much more energetic child even when he was still in the womb, so she never would have been able to bring him to work with her and get any work done, even if he had been an only child. So it might not only depend on the job requirements or office layout, but the temperament of each specific child will also impact whether or not bringing the baby to work is feasible.

    1. CL*

      I’m the same, back in the 80s I was one of these babies, though it was only occasional. My mum being a mostly home based part timer, but would take me with her when she did need to go to the office for staff/client meetings etc. This continued until I was nearly in to double digits and must not have been too bad as from my late teenage years onwards to my early thirties, long after my parents left the firm, every year or so a different random stranger would interrupt me when I was in the town centre with a , “aren’t you so and so’s son? How are they doing?” type question.

      That maybe why this has always been normal for me for a company to offer these types of benefits by exception (leave it to parents to decide responsibly if things like childcare fall through whether to take leave or bring the baby/kid in) and makes sense to explore offering this as permanent, regular option, under the right guidelines.

      Give it time, industries will work out what works where and the benefits to them from this.

  192. erynlibrarian*

    My company has allowed babies in the workplace for over 20 years. I’ve been around for about 5 years and it’s honestly amazing (and I am not particularly a ‘baby person’). Our work spaces are a mix of offices and cubes and even with all the open space it’s pretty rare to hear a baby cry for any length of time. There are “quiet rooms” and lactation rooms for parents to take fussy babies.

    The expectation is not that the parent immediately is back at 100% capacity. It’s acknowledged and expected that some portion of every workday will be devoted to the baby. However, even without a policy like this, having a baby causes disruptions at work (turnover due to new parents who don’t return to work, time off when the baby is sick, etc). Even with lower productivity everyone seems to come out ahead in the end.

  193. SittingDuck*

    Not quite the same as work, but I brought my infant son to Grad school classes. He was born 3 months prior to graduation, my professers were understandably hesitant, but did allow me to bring him to class.

    It was super helpful to me as I could return to classes when he was just a month old, and he was not a distraction at all. He slept on me in a carrier the whole 3 hour classes. The professors and my fellow students commeneted many times about how impressed they were that he was not a distraction.

    I do think babies reach an age when they do need more attention, but 6 months or less I think it can work in an office setting.

    1. Megan*

      I definitely think this is great, but a little different since you assumably were more passively listening/ taking notes. I know my coworkers who had babies didn’t want to be interrupted at times and were less productive, although I am sympathetic to the need to continue to work while parenting.

  194. Anon Librarian*

    This was done/attempted at one place where I worked. My observation was that success was entirely based on the nature of the job, the nature of the baby and the nature of the position. For folks who worked not with the public, the babies were generally fine. They cried, but we have a sound proofed office which was mostly storage that became an impromptu crying room. So, that was okay. People were pretty chill about it and most of the young babies just slept most of the time.

    However, we had some positions where people had to work public desk shifts (common at libraries) and that became an issue, because people occasionally expected others to watch the baby while they were on desk. Babies were not allowed on the desk with workers, because of both noise and distraction issues, also liability. So, that did get to be a problem. I do not know how this was resolved, as I left before it was.

    I’d also like to add that I am not a baby person. I do not want to hold your baby. If your baby starts to cry, I will call you to come comfort it. I am not going to do so. So, even as a not-baby person as I am, a still didn’t mind the babies, because people knew I was not a baby person and they did not expect me to be one. I do think it can distract people and I think it will cause a reduction in productivity, but so would a lot of things. I never saw it be a real issue. And I would work in an office that allowed babies again.

  195. Health Researcher*

    I am someone who can speak to both sides of this, and I can say that in my experience, babies at work was quite negative. Initially I worked with folks who were allowed to bring their babies in (I work for my state’s department of health), and my formerly engaged, focused, thoughtful colleagues became distracted and scattered, especially when the baby was fussing or cooing. It was like the baby was always the primary focus, not the work. They also became resentful of being interrupted when they were with the baby. When I became pregnant, I wanted to take advantage of our policy and promised myself I’d take steps to remain engaged and not let down my colleagues in the ways I’d felt let down, which felt especially critical to me because my colleagues did not have children. Well, I couldn’t do it. With my daughter there, I just couldn’t focus the way I needed to focus, and if she seemed at all needy, forget it. My husband ended up taking a leave of absence from his job to stay with her until we felt she was ready for daycare, and things became much better at my job. Just my experience, though.

  196. Megan*

    I had a coworker bring her baby in so while on leave so that she could get some work done part-time. It was a little distracting as she spent most of her time passing around the baby/ talking about the baby with coworkers, etc, and I don’t think she got much done. I am sympathetic to how hard it is to find good/ affordable childcare, and I suppose if her manager really needed her, it was good to have her in and be less productive than not at all. It was certainly less distracting when she would show up with her toddler because he had to stay home from school, even though he was a sweet kid.

  197. 404_FoxesNotFound*

    My part time coworker (USA based job) got generous multi month leave after FMLA and vacation time, working at a nonprofit that focused around post-partum mental health stuff, and she would pop by with her 3+ month infant through working a few days a week with baby in the office.
    It worked really well when baby was quiet/minimally fussy, and coworker had a door she could close as needed for whatever reason, baby related or not.

    I couldn’t see this working nearly as well in a different work environment, ie open office/cube farm at all, and agree with many of the other commenters that a lot of this depends on the child’s personality and needs.

    Coming from the perspective of a has-worked-with-kids-but-isn’t-a-parent person who has worked in offices as reception, admin, and IT humans, I don’t particularly care as long as a child (regardless of age) is being mostly quiet and keeping to themselves (or at least respectful and not actively a sustained disruption), and their parent can mind them and sustain a conversation, get work done without a significant delay or loss of productivity.

    My expectations are mid-low level noise in an open office environment w the occasional 30-60 min phone call, so if a baby or child adds to that just a little for a month or three, it won’t make a huge difference for me and my headphones. Longer term than that, I’m less certain as I’ve not experienced that in a non-child-related job.

  198. Princesa Zelda*

    I’m curious about how preterm babies would fit into this policy. Would the 6 months rule be dated from their actual birth or 6 months from their due date or 6 months from their discharge from the NICU? If a baby is born, say, 2 months preterm, it would follow that they’d hit the usual 6-month milestones nearer to 8 months. I’m also curious about twins — are two babies twice as noticable or is it more the case that once you have one kid in the building, a second isn’t much more?

    More generally, what kind of support does your organization give to new parents? New parents of children with intensive childcare needs? How does your organization currently handle family leave? If it’s the usual 6-12 weeks unpaid FMLA leave, having longer, paid leave and WFH options may support parents better.

  199. Jules the First*

    I saw this work in an open plan (no cubicles) office for a few parents. The rules were:
    – quiet babies were welcome. Noisy ones had to go elsewhere (temporarily or permanently)
    – parents were strictly forbidden from asking junior or admin staff to watch or hold the baby. If you had to go to a meeting, you needed to find a peer who was willing to volunteer.
    – babies were retired from the office when they were independently mobile or grabby.

    I’d rather have on-site daycare, but in lieu of that, babies in the office are the next best option.

  200. CatMom*

    I hope this doesn’t violate the rules — it’s a question, but kind of both for the OP and for the OP to consider.

    A few people have mentioned scenarios in their baby-friendly workplaces in which coworkers of the parent are left in situations in which they have to watch the baby for short amounts of time. Do you foresee that happening in your office? Would you be comfortable with that responsibility if so?

    1. Bunny Girl*

      This is my biggest question. What’s going to happen if you need to go to a meeting or talk with a coworker or go to the bathroom? Do you expect other people to step up and watch your child? Are people going to have a choice about that? Will there be an issue where more junior staff will feel pressured into watching a supervisor’s baby, even if they really, really, really don’t want to? Will watching babies fall on the female staff in your office?

      1. Wiggles*

        In my experience, the baby just was with their parent. So, if a parent had a meeting, the baby was there. If the parent went to the bathroom, baby went, too. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone watch a baby that wasn’t theirs.

        1. Bunny Girl*

          That’s great! I’m glad your office has that figured out. That would definitely be something that I think the OP should address though as they are working through this policy. There are plenty of people who seem to have no problem dropping their kids off with their assistants or the admins unfortunately.

    2. Zora*

      At my employer there are a couple of people who are designated as baby back-ups for a person who is bringing their baby to work. They are people who enthusiastically agree to do so, and work in a position where it is not too difficult for them to take a baby for a bit while the parent is in a meeting. From what I’ve seen it works out well. Sometimes it’s just keeping a baby monitor at your desk in case a napping baby wakes up.

      By the time they are in the 3-6 month range most babies are starting to nap on a somewhat predictable schedule. Not every baby, and it doesn’t work out every day, but from my experience it is consistent enough that people just plan their meetings for when their baby is likely to be napping.

  201. JO*

    I can speak to both having my child with me as well as working with people who were caring for their babies simultaneously. I had one of my children at home with me for about 5 months, 3 of which I was back to work (I worked remotely). I can say that it was pretty difficult at certain points to get work done. The feedings and diaper changes are easy, but sometimes babies (especially after the first 3 months of life) just get plain bored of sitting around looking at the same scenery. There were points I thought I would lose my mind because I had 100 things to do, or a conference call, or a supplier meeting and my son would not stop crying. He was just inconsolable unless I was actively (read: holding, patting, or having some kind of direct contact) with him. As for other employees, the trend was about the same, some having more productivity issues than others, but always a marked drop off of availability. Six months old isn’t necessarily very mobile for all babies (one of my kids was rolling and what I call “horror movie crawling” around that time, the other one was a little loaf) but I would wonder what the plan would be to keep them entertained but safe, and the parent productive. I have only brought my kids to the office a couple of times for a few minutes each, and each time I look like Mr. Smith at the end of his filibuster by the time we leave.

  202. M*

    I *was* a child who was brought into work. Not an infant – my mother didn’t move to that job until I was a little bit older, but if memory serves she sometimes brought in my younger brother when he was around that age. Mostly, her workplace allowed it for slightly older children during school holidays – we sat in the very nice big meeting room that didn’t get used with a stack of rental videos and instructions for the VCR and the projector, and had a lovely time.

    Mostly, I’m commenting to say: what strikes me as really odd here is the six month cutoff. Generally, it’s easier to get a well-trained 4 year-old to entertain themselves for a day than to ensure a 4 month old isn’t having noisy, fussy day. I’d be more inclined to suggest that you push for policies around how the children have to behave and how much noise is acceptable, in return for getting rid of the strict age cap – kids vary pretty widely in noise and attention span, and that’s the end of things that’s going to matter a lot more than age ever will. Most likely, that’s going to mean a period of time in toddler-hood where people can’t bring their children in, but defining that as a six-month cutoff seems like a forest-for-the-trees situation.

  203. Database Developer Dude*

    I’ve seen it at places I’ve worked. I have no issue one way or the other, especially because day care is difficult to find and expensive.

    One place where I worked, a co-worker brought her school-age son in, and he sat in a cube across from me and did his homework quietly. He didn’t disturb anyone, yet the big boss still complained about it and told her not to do it again. I thought that was kind of lame, since the kid didn’t bother anyone.

    It’s all about whether it disturbs work or not….seriously.

  204. Bunny Girl*

    So my work allows people to bring their children in, and I really don’t like it. It’s distracting, it’s very loud, and there aren’t really any policies or rules in place about it. One person in particular brings her child around to others during the work day, and while there isn’t an expectation to watch him, there’s an expectation to entertain them when they’re in your office, which is not ideal.

    I can see this working in other offices with the right team and atmosphere, but I think if you do, then you should tell people this during the interview (or during the application process!), just like with dog friendly or cat friendly or goldfish friendly offices, so people can self select out if they don’t feel it’s a good fit for them. If I had been told that our office becomes a daycare during the summer, I would not have taken this job.

  205. Not A Kid Person*

    I admit I don’t adore children so I might be a bit biased but….I’m glad I’m seeing “disruption” as a reason to not do this or be careful about it. It was a big factor for us, or a least a headache for the bosses. If you have an open plan disruption is definitely a problem but most often it’s the other employees not the babies. It became really annoying to be one or two cubicles away from the baby and, multiple times a day, hear the cooing and ahhing over them. Even some of the Mom’s got tired of it – when it’s the 10th person that day to stop by and do baby talk (loudly!) while making faces at them it’s hard to resist the very unprofessional urge to yell “Shut Up” over the cubicle wall. Or someone stops by for an office related conversation but 20 minutes is taken up talking about the baby. It’s very hard to establish a policy that says “Be friendly but not too friendly or “Limit cubicle visits to business only”. Also we had a bit of a baby boom at our office so there was a period where there were about 25 kids of various ages present. The second problem was really the reason the baby in office policy was walked back – Worried Mom’s vs. Laid Back Mom’s. Some Mom’s had their babies at the office because they believed nobody else could care for them and that they weren’t safe otherwise. This extended to illness and even though adult co-workers would take off when truly ill there were certain Mothers who wouldn’t tolerate a sneeze or cough anywhere near their baby. Even if you protested that it was allergies the Mom would complain “You don’t know, you might be getting sick” and any mention of a stomach ache was never “Lunch didn’t agree with her” but was immediately “Stomach Flu!” Basically the non-kid workers were walking on eggshells afraid of being accused of coming to work with the plague and a certain group of Mom’s were constantly demanding that so and so be sent home because they’re obviously sick.
    The difference in parenting styles, the parents vs non-parents, it all become to much and the whole plan was scrapped.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      I was wondering about the illness factor as well. Would people with minor colds be afraid to come into the office when they otherwise would have? Hopefully everyone has a good amount of vacation time but you could burn through it FAST if suddenly parents didn’t want a single germ around their children. And what about vaccines? You can’t really force your entire office to get vaccinated so that they can be around infants.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        And it’s a LOT to ask people to burn through their sick time when they really don’t *need* to (caveat I advocate staying home for serious stuff!!!) just for one person.

  206. Wiggles*

    I worked at a nonprofit where babies were allowed and it went really well. The nonprofit was relatively small, but it didn’t seem like any work was placed on others. FWIW, I didn’t have a baby, so maybe those who brought babies to work had different experiences, but I can’t say it was any different than any other office.

  207. Jeanne*

    I managed a team of 17 staff who had no face to face contact with clients. One woman was pregnant. Everything was set up for leave and child care. In the last days before she had her baby, she came to me in a panic. Her childcare centre had contacted her and their numbers had been reduced and she couldn’t leave her baby there. There were no spare places within an hours drive. Huge waiting lists. I suggested she consider bringing the baby to work with her. We had spare an empty room next to where she worked. I talked to each of her sub-team members (4 of them) about the idea. They were going to be the most impacted. They were all mothers (which helped). They agreed that it could be workable. Talked to larger team. They agreed this was the most humane solution. Everyone had very full workloads, and we discussed that there might be some spreading of mother’s workload, but everyone wanted to help. Room was set up. Baby arrived after parental leave.
    The whole team mucked in. Baby attended team meetings and was passed from person to person. She was a happy, smiley baby. Mother was able to continue to breastfeed too. Baby stayed until she was on the move and a childcare place came up for her.
    The only issue really was a behaviour one for the baby. When she was around 4 months old, she began to realise that if mum was on the phone and she grizzled, someone would pick her up so she wouldn’t cry and interrupt mum’s phone call!! We all laughed at that, and her team were great about going with the flow.
    When people heard a baby laughing or gurgling in the building they would smile and everyone was happier. It really made a difference to the atmosphere.
    Mum told me that she thought that 6 months was the most precious time for her. She got to spend it with her baby, breastfeed her and watch her grow and develop. The stressful times were shared with other people. When baby was grizzly or hadn’t slept well, someone else would take the baby for a couple of hours to give her a break during the day. And through all of that time, she was not stressed about losing income because of having a baby and being off work.
    I would definitely do this again. If the environment wasn’t right I’d see what I could do to fix the environment. And I hope that any team I manage would be as understanding and as supportive of this sort of idea as that team were.

    1. Jeanne*

      I should add that this workplace also had a policy of taking care of whole families. All the school age children would arrive from their various schools after school. They’d use one of the larger rooms and do home work (would help each other, or ask for adult assistance if needed), run messages for the office, sometimes get to clean!! and generally do kids stuff. There was a TV, but they didn’t really watch it. And they were not noisy or disruptive. I wasn’t even really aware of them in my first couple of weeks.

      1. Zillah*

        It would be a lot for me, too, but I can see how for others it wouldn’t be a big deal at all. I think it’s very much a YMMV situation.

  208. Alex Renton*

    This is a hard no for me. I worked for 15 years in an open-plan setting, with some smaller offices for managers. However, the managers usually left the door open and were in and out. Several co-workers and managers brought infants and toddlers for several hours at a time and it was a total distraction for everyone. Employees couldn’t get work done because of kids crying, playing, generally being small children, etc. Even if a manager brought them into an office, they would bang on the windows, play with the blinds, etc. And honestly, this never seemed to benefit the parent/employee. They were always so distracted because they were half focused on their kids, half focused on the work and usually self-conscious about their kids’ behavior. In my opinion, this situation works for no one and should be avoided. The ONLY time I was ever OK with it was if it was a pre-arranged visit and the parent/employee was not trying to actively work. This also allowed employees to finish up work or reach a good stopping point so we could properly enjoy the babies.

    Let me be clear that I adore children. I don’t have any myself, but I have several nieces and nephews who I regularly babysit, and friends with small children who I love spending time with. None of the behavior I described above was outside the norm for babies and toddlers. It just is not appropriate for an office setting.

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      This kind of distraction is why WFH generally requires something showing that parents have childcare arrangements in place. How is this different?

  209. sheworkshardforthemoney*

    I worked in an office of mainly older workers. The younger admin clerk was allowed to bring her under 2 years baby in whenever her childcare fell through. It worked well because the baby was good-natured and never fussed. She was quite content to sit in her carrier and then play on her mat. She was quiet and spent most of the time watching the action around her. If she fussed her mother swooped in immediately and took care of it. It helped that the admin had her own office and could close the door on any other sounds. Most of the time no one was aware that she was in the office unless they saw them arrive or leave.

  210. restingbutchface*

    I’ve had good and bad experiences with babies in the office, but my last one was really chilling and changed my previous relaxed opinion entirely.

    A senior manager had a baby and would regularly bring the baby into the office. Cool, cool. Except the first time the baby wasn’t even a week old. It was so tiny and fragile – and for the record, there was no need for the mother to be in the office, she had a year’s maternity leave but she couldn’t bear the idea that the office could cope without her. (Spoiler alert, we totally could)

    For the next few months I saw this poor baby being ignored to the point of neglect – pushed in a corner, no feeds or interaction, just staring at a wall for hours. The poor thing was so quiet it was nearly eerie. If anyone walked by and smiled or said hi baby, the mother yelled, “just leave her alone, she’s fine”. We all had to pretend she didn’t exist.

    I realised that having babies in the office without the infrastructure to take care of them just doesn’t work. People tend to worry about productivity going down, which is fair but my experience taught me that a drop in efficiency is not the worst case scenario at all – it’s being complicit in the poor care of an infant.

    I still think of that poor baby and hope she is doing okay now she is a bit older.

    1. YetAnotherUsername*

      When you say “no feeds” do you mean that literally? She wasn’t feeding the baby for hours and hours on end? If so that’s not a problem with a workplace policy – that’s straight up neglect and child abuse.

      Not sure about the staring at the wall thing – it’s possible she only did that at naptime which is fine. But if she literally had the baby facing the wall constantly with no interaction at all, then again that’s not a policy issue that’s straight up mental / emotional abuse.

      1. restingbutchface*

        I don’t disagree with you at all – I don’t want to give any more info because it would out me but yes, I agree with you.

        My point is that from a productivity point of view, this was a perfect solution – the baby caused no impact at all (apart from a lot of worry) but it was obviously a terrible situation for the child. I’d never considered if being in the office could impact the child, just considered it from a business point of view or as an employer of the parent. It was clear in this situation that the only negative outcome was for the child herself. If she’d been in an office creche then it would be have been much better for the business, the parent and the child.

        1. YetAnotherUsername*

          It still seems a little bit like you are implying the policy was a contributor to the mothers decision to abuse her child. She would have been better off in an office creche correct, but it wasn’t her being in the office that was hurting her, it was having an abusive mother.

          I’m pretty shocked that so many people in the office witnessed blatant child abuse and chose not to report it. Was this a long time ago? Did they not have anonymous tip off options back then?

  211. ellie1*

    My only experience with kids in my workplaces has been my boss bringing in her school age kids – fine when they shut themselves in the conference room, not so fine when they emerge and insist on their mom’s attention regardless of what else was going on. My boss is also the owner, so even though I found this mildly annoying (it was very infrequent), I would have never, ever said anything.

    I’m wondering, for who had a less than positive experience – did you complain to whatever relevant powers that be in your workplace when it was happening? If so, how did it go? If not, why not?

  212. Phil*

    I’m okay with people bringing their kids to work if they behave themselves. My former boss brought her kids most days every school holidays, and they were super well-behaved and quiet. These kids were aged 8+, so could entertain themselves easily enough. Babies on the other hand, even if they aren’t disrupting other coworkers, I have to wonder how much work the parent will be able to do, with babies needing more attention.

  213. Tiger Snake*

    I’ve seen the offer only once – and the circumstances have soured my opinion on the matter. To simply a long, complicated history; I’ve come to associate the offer with the concept of “I do not care about your work-life balance, but I’m two-faced and my offer makes me look good in front of management, so you can’t complain about anything“.

    The reason for this is because the offer was put forward to a woman working on a project that had a very Bad Manager, of the ‘the temporary transfer going back to his original team when his secondment has ended is a TRAITOR and no one must ever speak to him again’ variety. The offer was not any sort of sincere effort, but a bad-faith attempt to guilt the woman into not using her due parental leave.

    The woman in question refused – but the reason she highlighted was interesting. In the newborn to six month range, a baby hasn’t had all their vaccinations and their immune system is still pretty new and weak. Being in the office all the time exposed the baby to illnesses a lot more, especially with Flu Season coming up.

  214. It ain't morning without my tea*

    We had a coworker do this because they suddenly found themselves fostering a newborn until the birth mother gave up her parental rights and once that happened, they could officially adopt him and one of the parents could take leave. There’s no leave provisions for fostering a newborn.

    She brought him in one day, the other parent the other day, grandma another day at home.

    Now, to be fair, she had a very flexible contract at the time, an office, flexible hours, able to work from home AND asked others to watch him when she had some meetings.

    He indeed mostly slept. It was an exceptional circumstance that had the approval of her director.

    Normally, I would say this is not an ideal situation if you are breastfeeding on demand (the gold standard) and if you don’t have an office, this makes it extra challenging. This kind of perk seems ideal for those higher on the ladder. I can’t imagine this if you were a receptionist.

    And this works best with easy babies. If you have a baby with colic, or chronic reflux, this is not going to work.

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      “…if you are breastfeeding on demand (the gold standard).”

      I know it’s not the point, but this kind of comment sounds pretty shamy. Towards moms who can’t or who choose not to (a valid choice!) for whatever reason.

      1. It ain't morning without my tea*

        It wasn’t intended to. What counts is that baby is getting fed, no matter how! But if you still want to work instead of being on leave and want to breastfeed whenever instead of on a work schedule (because that was your choice) and you’re not in an office, that might not be possible.

      2. restingbutchface*

        I read it the other way, as acknowledging the shaming of parents who don’t breastfeed for whatever reason. Parents just cannot win!

        Bringing your kid to work is totally possible and you can achieve that “gold standard” of being a Good Parent and Good Employee as long as:

        – you have an office
        – you’re not client facing
        – your role doesn’t include travel in the day
        – you can control your hours
        – your baby isn’t fussy
        – your baby isn’t sick
        – you continue to breastfeed (because GOD FORBID, BAD PARENT ALERT)
        – you continue to deliver on your role
        – your baby doesn’t interrupt anyone (but you better let Marj from Accounts hold her even though Marj smokes 40 a day and coughs with her mouth open)
        – you do not show any evidence of having a baby such as spit up on your jacket
        – you’re nurturing to the baby but not to the extent that colleagues think you’re now the Office Mom
        – you keep conversation professional (e.g. not baby related) but yet don’t alienate your oversharing colleagues who want to talk about mucus plugs
        – you remain utterly perfect and composed at all times. Just like your child.

        Just another example of how parents cannot win this game. Workplace creches for all!

  215. calonkat*

    Replying really late, but we’ve had babies in the office up to 6? months. We’ve had 2 individual babies and one set of twins (who often went one with each parent.)

    None of the parents had offices.

    On occasion the babies were fussy and parents or caretakers were distracted or the babies ended up going home, but the vast majority of time the adults cooing were the bigger problem. The babies were fine.

    Our agency does require parents to have at least one volunteer back up person in the office to take the baby in case of calls or meetings, but usually there’s a waiting list of people to take a baby for a limited amount of time :)

  216. PrgrmMgr*

    I brought my son to work part-time from the time he was 8 weeks old until he was 16 weeks old. At 16 weeks, I returned to full time work (so 8 weeks off completely, 8 weeks easing back in part time, the equivalent of 12 weeks off).

    If the office is a safe place for non-mobile, contained babies (so maybe not a place working with people with serious behavioral health issues or a place with heavy machinery), I say give it a try. It helps ease parents (primarily women) back into work, it can save the parents a lot of money, and infant care can be really hard to find. I worry some of the early education trends in my area will draw more toddlers and preschoolers away from daycares (they already are, and it seems to be increasing), making it harder for the centers that provide infant care to stay in business without raising prices to a prohibitive level. Standard childcare rates are currently about 20% of median household income, double what is considered affordable, and many centers are higher than that.

  217. Dancing Otter*

    As a consultant, I have had clients with a Babies At Work program. You know what I like most about consulting? I don’t have to stay at any one client too long.

    First, what others have said about closed office versus cube farm versus (shudder) open plan? 100% difference. Closed office and quiet baby, not usually disruptive, but cube farm only marginally workable, and open plan is absolutely NOT baby-compatible. If you can’t even push your chair back without checking who’s behind you, where are you going to put a baby?

    Unfortunately, the people with closed offices are most likely to spend a lot of time in meetings and on conference calls, because they’re management. They have subordinates who can be “asked” to watch Baby at those times. They’re also the highest paid, so the best able to afford childcare. They think it’s a great perk.

    The people in the cubes and open plan areas can’t really take advantage of the benefit, even though they should (on paper) be entitled to do so, because it’s “too disruptive”. They’re paid much less, so the least able to afford other childcare. They think it’s just another case of RHIP, and those that have getting more. This is NOT a morale booster.

    So, who is the policy intended to benefit? Everyone or the privileged few?

    I’ve also seen a couple of places with on-site daycare, either corporate-owned or just located in the same complex. That works so much better, even if it’s market-rate.

  218. HigherEd on Toast*

    Some of my colleagues occasionally bring their children to work at my university, although since they get a semester’s paid leave, it’s rare for them to be as young as the ones in the OP’s policy. Infants generally come when their parents have a meeting or event they really want to attend, and their parents- mother in one case this past year, father in the other- sat near the door and left to walk in the hallway outside if the infant got fussy. We do have private offices, so in cases where someone brings in a child for something other than a meeting, it generally isn’t noticeable. I’m someone who’s very easily distracted by kids crying and panics at the thought that they might hurt themselves if I have to watch them, but the combination of policies, good leave, and people being sensible at my campus means that I’ve never had to be in one of those situations since I got here.

    There are a few rules that are specifically in place at my campus that also make things easier: you cannot ask an admin assistant to babysit your child (apparently this used to be a problem, with some faculty really obnoxiously pulling rank on the admin), and any unaccompanied children are reported to campus security. That last tends to happen more with students’ children than faculty members’ kids, since it’s a public campus where some students bring their children or families come to wait for parents or other relatives to get out of class.

  219. Heather*

    My non-profit has had a bring your child to work policy for at least 15 years. There was a learning curve to figure out how it really works for everyone, but it has worked well. And it’s definitely helped with retention. We even had a former employee return to us this year because she was planning to have a child and knew that our family friendly policies and practices would make parenting and working more realistic. She was a valued employee who filled a niche role and this is what brought her back.

    Clear communication has been the key for us. It has to be a purposeful plan that’s thought out, planned with your supervisor, and discussed with any staff who may be impacted. Not all positions have the same capacity for bringing a baby to work so the plan may look different for different positions. It generally works for us if baby is at work no more than 2 days a week for most positions at our agency. And only until about 6 months, or until it stops working for parent, baby, and office. We’ve had a couple of babies who were super adaptable and stayed later. And one that was fussy, hard to soothe, cried a lot, and just wasn’t a good fit for an office baby. We make a plan when the parent comes back to work and evaluate it monthly to see if it’s still working for everyone.

    I’ve been in the situation of peer, a supervisor, and someone who brought a baby to work for 4 months. And the biggest problem to productivity again and again is not the baby. It’s other staff. We learned quickly that we had to be really direct about boundaries. Leave the baby and working parent alone to work. Do not wake a sleeping baby. You are likely not the first person to come and coo and interrupt the working parent. I recommend that staff can take the baby for a very quick walk around to all the baby loving people in the am so they get it out of their system and then people have signs on their doors that say “mama and baby working. Please don’t disturb unless it’s about work!”

  220. Steph*

    I’ve had colleagues bring in their kids at my previous job – it usually ended up being around once a quarter. Mostly the kids were around 4-5 and would wander around asking people to help them colour or whatever, which was distracting enough, but when the babies were there, I got absolutely nothing done, even when the parents sat in a meeting room with their kids all day (thereby taking one of the two meeting rooms out of action). Babies’ wailing is not conducive to getting work done.

  221. Tiger Snake*

    Actually, since the offer was never taken up in my office, I do have a question; how on earth is a parent of a newborn getting enough sleep to be able to work?

    If the point of an offer like this, is that you’re paying for a worker to keep working rather than parental leave – do parents of newborns actually have enough energy that it works? I thought that new babies kept their parents up at all hours of the night, and that the parents were basically zombies for the first couple of months.

    To the people that have seen this; do the parents really have enough energy to do their jobs, rather than just nap at their desks?

    1. It ain't morning without my tea*

      With my son? I would have been very dead on my feet. A terrible sleeper.

      With my daughter? Champion sleeper until four months, so I would have been functional.

  222. Tyna Hart*

    Years ago my company did this. Once we had two babies under 6 months. (It was a very small company). We got to play with babies and they “helped” us work, sitting on our laps with their own keyboards. It was so much fun and didn’t disturb our work at all. If anything it made us more excited to go to work and get to play with those babies.

  223. MB*

    I worked remotely while my son was a newborn (for the first three months) and I regret it. From a mother’s perspective it is really hard to work with a baby around because it combines the stress of being a new mom with the stress of working and meeting deadlines. I think this “flexibility” is actually a way for companies to assuage their guilt about requiring new parents to be at work and lets them feel better about not providing generous parental leave. I wasn’t in an office but the stress of trying to care for my child during the work day and work at the same time drove me to tears almost daily. I imagine it would be worse in an office setting.

  224. Moesy*

    So, I’m not sure if it has been clarified or not, but is it possible this is already happening at the supervisor-agreement level and this seeks to codify it?

    I used to bring my children into work (university, private office) regularly and others did as well: closed schools, nannies become ill, etc. It was a mixed bag, because I felt the need to conceal it from everyone because it was something my supervisor had given a tacit OK to, but not everyone could, and you didn’t want to risk a “but so and so” situation. But I don’t think you need to worry about an inundation: not everyone is up for bringing a baby to the office. My kids were quiet and stayed in my office.

    As a parent, you have to be ok with chemical cleaners on the floor/desk/walls and someone who has smoked or hasn’t washed their hands or has used scented lotion or whatever being around your baby if you bring them into an office environment, so as a parent not everyone will want to. After my first (quiet baby that took a bottle well) I wanted a break and loved the quiet office but after my second I had boat loads of trouble going back to work: my baby wouldn’t take a bottle and screamed for me all day when she didn’t scream herself to sleep and I ended up meeting my nanny in the parking lot to nurse most days, multiple times a day. It wasn’t sustainable and I ended up having to leave my job because she simply didn’t eat enough and kept me awake at night nursing. It took a full year after to get her to not scream when I left the room. I did bring her in sometimes and she was quiet with me, but it is a hassle to make sure it looks like your baby doesn’t exist: pack up the crib, toys, diapers, wipes, etc on a daily basis. It’s possible you won’t notice a change other than some pack and plays staying open and toys appearing in offices you hadn’t noticed before.

  225. Jess*

    I did it with two kids. The first one was calm and I could do it without issues for my productivity until he was six months old. The second needed a lot more interaction and I needed to get him a carer when he was three months old after some weeks of my work suffering. I trust the feedback I got from colleagues that they didn’t feel disruption from the kids being around. Infants, barring the colicky sort, juts aren’t that loud for that long.

    The cosmetic message here is it depends on the kid. The actual message is that you should trust your colleague to be able to make the decision. If your colleague is pushing it with a loud or distracting baby, they are probably suffering from it much worse than you are, and the problem isn’t the policy of allowing parents to bring infants to the office so much as parents getting inadequate parental leave or access to early childcare.

  226. WS*

    One pharmacist at my workplace did this with her first child for 8 months (until the baby got really active and didn’t want to be in a playpen). She was a placid, good-natured child who fed and slept on schedule, and work could easily be planned around that. In fact, it was so easy that she and her husband decided to have a second baby within the year, and that second baby was a much more regular child in terms of (not) sleeping and wanting attention, so she didn’t bring that one in but took extra parental leave.

  227. Needaname*

    My work trialled this recently with a valued worker who wanted to come back from leave and had not found childcare yet. She worked some days at home and some in office with crib in corner. I not sure how it was for her – I never heard the baby cry, she would carry baby around when awake and she needed to talk to people and people – me included – rushed to help hold extemely adorable baby. There were enough people around that it did not feel like distraction – I could easily wander away.

  228. Zoe Washburne*

    This is one of those things that works in theory, but actually can be more harmful in practice. Another reason for maternity leave isn’t just child care, it is the fact that your body is recovering from what can be a traumatic and difficult physical process. Of course there are people that have babies and are running marathons the next week, but those are not the norm. Add in common problems like mastitis and prolapses, and you can see why people need time off. Let alone the physical challenges, the mental challenges of having to work whilst being up with a crying baby (a 6 month old is rarely sleeping through), ppd, etc, people need to focus on their child and getting into routine. Employers would be better off providing good parental leave, and subsidised vouchers for daycare, and flexible working options that actually help new parents and are proven to get working women back from maternity leave. That, as well as paid parental leave for both parties.

    It seems a bit like “we can provide an isolation room, so you can still come into work when you have the flu”. No, employers need to provide the minimum for their workers.

  229. WonderIfMyBossReadsThisBlog*

    “The proposed policy includes rules that would be put in place to mitigate any disruptions in the office.”

    Your rules are going to have to cover every worker/baby wanting to access this opportunity. The lovely, cute, quiet, sleep-all-the-time babies AND the fussy ones who Do. NOT. Stop. Crying. The workers who may have their offices out of the way where noise issues can perhaps be minimised, and those who are right in the hub of it all.

    At my previous firm, our headest of honchos (the CFO) used to bring in her infant when she had meetings to attend during her year of maternity leave (her lucky secretary was left literally holding the baby while Mum was in the meeting). I’m sure only happened once a fortnight or so or less, but dear Lord did the office staff come to hate those baby visits. The CFO’s office was in a corner of the building, but we could all still hear the constant squalling perfectly well. I am not someone who easily tolerates the sound of a baby crying, and it absolutely set my teeth on edge every time (and the level of tea-room complaints led me to believe that I was not the only one in this regard).

    So, based on my own experience, I’m with you on the ’emphatic no’, dear Letter Writer.

  230. Someone commenting*

    Depends heavily on the baby’s personality and office layout.

    In the time I’ve been here, they’ve had 3 people do this. For 2 of them, it was absolutely no problem, despite my workplace being close to where the baby was sitting. The children were usually quiet and rarely cried much, in essence, behaved enough to be in an office without making working impossible.

    For the last, they had to ask the mother not to bring her child back after a couple of days because the baby cried a lot and was a general nuisance, and productivity came to a screeching halt in all surrounding offices.

  231. Drax*

    Bit late to the party but it depends on the situation.

    Right now there’s a baby in the office all the time, he’s in the main room. It SUCKS. He’s just being a baby, doing normal baby things but they are incredibly disruptive to your focus and unprofessional on phone calls when they start crying. And I’m stuck in a constant limbo of feeling bad for being mad the baby is being a baby because I can’t get my work done and trying to be okay with life happening and baby being in the office. It’s a common occurrence for me to be on the phone and have the person stop and go “… Is that a baby crying?” and then I have to explain, yes it is, also not my baby so unfortunately we’re going to have to push past the crying to continue this conversation.

    Now, I think I would feel a lot differently if the lady had a private office and could close the door when he’s crying or trying to make a break for it (he recently started crawling). Or could nap somewhere not in the main room where we then have to sneak around and make no noise to not wake him.

    But babies are babies. They cry, scream, poop, and make adorable lil baby noises. That’s what they are supposed to do. And while adorable not in office, it’s surprisingly difficult and actually rather aggravating to drown it out to focus on work. So if your office chooses to do this, there needs to be ground rules as well as quiet spaces with no babes allowed if your office is going to make this work. It’s really undermines you when you’re trying to rip a vendor a new one for dropping the ball spectacularly with a baby cooing or crying in the background.

  232. Rebecca*

    This is a thing in my company (several small officers in different US and European cities) and it hasn’t gone well in my location. We have an open office with three flexible small conference rooms, and one of those rooms has been turned into a private nursery/pumping room/office for whoever is currently bringing their baby to work. So for one thing, it removes an option for client meetings or phone calls (though I agree there should be a private pumping room that is not the restroom). Also…it is disruptive. Babies cry; they wail! And in an open office where many of us are taking calls (in the open, since we are down a conference room) it’s not a good fit for our team. I think some of this is also parenting-style dependent…some parents are more “eh it’s fine that she’s crying” and others are more apt to jump up and tend to every little noise. Both styles are disruptive, of course. I don’t recommend this “perk” unless your office is really set up to handle it. And while I’m here, I’ll just say that if companies want to be really parent-friendly/mother-friendly/woman-friendly…give more paid leave, or offer a child-care stipend. Bringing the kids to work is not really the answer to this question.

  233. Meredith*

    My company does not allow children to come to the office (open workspace, etc), but we have a policy whereby when someone returns from maternity leave, they can work at home 50% of the time for the following year. I assume this may also apply to non-birth parents, though it’s a small company and the only person who has taken advantage of it was a female coworker who was client-facing. It still worked fine. Once or twice on a call her with, the baby woke up from her nap early, but it was handled. The company does this specifically to allow you to stay home with the baby on those days (so no outside childcare is needed or specified and it’s understood that you will get your work done, but you will also have baby things to attend to). This particular coworker also has family that was willing to watch her daughter part-time, so she didn’t need daycare until her daughter was 15 months old, which is a great money-saving tool!

    Anyway, if the OP’s office has work that can consistently be done from home, that might be another option. It wouldn’t distract coworkers in the least, but serve the purpose of allowing parents to be near their babies and save on childcare costs.

  234. OysterMan*

    I’ve worked in an office where infants and babies were allowed.

    It was miserable for some of us. Some people didn’t mind, but some of us were completely distracted and frazzled as the babies cried. One baby had a very wet cough, and it was completely distracting because the idea of a sick baby is so distressing to me (not become I’m worried I’ll get sick, but because my subconscious is screaming to get the baby well. Unreasonable of course, but I can’t help what’s involuntarily distracting me).

    This policy would seriously make me consider finding a new job.

  235. YRH*

    My office allows parents to bring babies with them from 6 weeks old to 6 months old. I think it works well (though I think paid parental leave is better). I’ve heard they are looking to expand the program to 9 months old. Parents are only allowed to bring one baby with them at a time.

    My office is primarily cubes and I’m not terribly affected by noise. Honestly, I find a crying baby to be much less annoying than the person who always takes personal calls at their desk. Because my office does not currently have paid parental leave, a few people have come back to work with kids around 6 weeks-2 months old. I have found that the babies tend to cry a little more until they hit about 3 months. At least one person decided to bring their baby to work less because of how stressful it was when they cried (they came back to work when the baby was 2 months old). I have not noticed any productivity drops, but I am only in a position to evaluate that in a limited capacity.

    We will begin receiving paid family leave in January. I think once that goes into effect, more people won’t try to come back to work until their baby is 3 months old. I also think that the organization should earmark a couple of empty offices or small conference rooms for people bringing a baby to work so that they have an obvious place to go when the baby cries.

  236. Mim*

    My workplace has a babies at work program, and honestly, it’s no big deal at all.

    I mean, I think it’s a big deal in terms of what it reflects about our company’s values and culture, and it’s a big deal to the parents who get to take advantage of this program. But as an employee who has to work with/near others who have brought a baby to work, it’s No Big Deal. There is a separate room, it’s never been loud, and work responsibilities/pay are adjusted during that period to more accurately reflect how much work a person can get done at work with a 3-6 month old. I mean, I guess that’s a few extra months of having a co-worker who isn’t back 100% (only about 70%), but it is also a contributing factor to our extremely low turnover. I have had co-workers I work very closely with do the babies at work program, and it was not a hardship on me or my work.

    I also feel closer to those co-workers and their families because of it. I know that’s not a goal for everybody, and doesn’t fit in with the culture at all places of employment. But it fits in with my workplace culture. I guess people come in knowing this is a thing, and that is different than trying to implement it. I would assume it only works if you already have a workplace culture that is amenable to this sort of thing. Trying to fit a square peg into a round would be stressful for all involved, and there are plenty of family friendly practices that could be implemented in addition to or before this. (For example, if this doesn’t fit into a workplace culture or doesn’t fit in practically with workplace responsibilities, how about extending paid parental leave and/or extending a guarantee of a job to come back to for an extended unpaid parental leave?)

    I never got to take advantage of it myself, as I was done having kids before I started working here. I can tell you that I don’t think it would have worked with my child. He was very, very needy and temperamental, and the opposite of laid back. Maybe we could have pulled it off? But I’m not sure. And even at my very family friendly and flexible employer, babies at work isn’t a guarantee if for some reason it isn’t working out. I don’t know that anybody has had to stop early. It’s not like we have a flood of babies. Maybe one or two a year at most?

    Honestly, the hardest thing about it is saying bye to the babies when they hit 6 months. I have cried.

  237. Shannon*

    This isn’t exactly working with a baby in the office but my employer added private nursing rooms to all locations. Babies are brought to moms who wish to breastfeed multiple times a day, or they can pump in the room if they aren’t able to have someone bring their baby/if they prefer to do that.

    Babies being in the office in this capacity is a complete non-issue. The nursing/pumping areas are separate rooms that were installed away from shared work spaces. I don’t really think there’s any excuse for employers not having them because they can even be set up as soundproof mobile rooms. I think work culture in the U.S. is extremely anti-family and anti-new parent in general so I’m very happy about this change at my workplace even though I don’t personally have kids. What would be even better is at least a year of parental leave like literally every other first world country has. Baby steps I guess! (pun intended)

  238. Kate R. Pillar*

    My best friend went back to work when her daughter was about six weeks old, and brought her with her. She stayed in a playpen in my friend’s office and mostly slept or was otherwise content. My friend had her own office though, so nursing and so on were not a problem.
    When baby started getting more alert and disruptive, that’s when my friend took parental leave.
    The setting: Academia in Germany.
    Also a very “young” department with many colleagues more than willing to coo over and carry baby for short periods of time whenever necessary.
    By the time her second child came along, they had enough small offspring in the department that they organised for an on-site nanny/day-care for all of them.

  239. Vonbomb*

    This is so baby variable! I have three children and two of these this would NOT have worked with, they were clingy & dependent and it would have been awful for those around me and super stressful for me as the parent/employee. My other kid would have been fine, put her down and off to sleep she went. Based on my personal experience I would say definitely not a good idea as when it goes pear shaped it can have the potential to be soooooo disruptive. And how do you know that until the baby is on site and already a problem? Like I could not have predicted the same parenting style would have turned out differing results with my own kids!

  240. Jes*

    Can you vote for the rules, as well as voting on overall policy? I would vote for an initial probation/transition period, maybe 2-5 days’ trial to see if the parent/baby adjust well or not. Then the manager could make the call about disruptive situations without impacting the quiet babies & thoughtfully adapting parents.

  241. Luann*

    I am against this. I had an employer that brought in there baby for 2 weeks when the babysitter was sick. The noise was very distracting and production went down. I am also someone who was unable to have children so it was a very upsetting 2 weeks for me and one of my co-workers absolutely dislikes children, can’t stand to be around them and after 3 days up and quit.

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