Bringing Baby into Work

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Taking baby to work as a way of returning to work early

July 2005

Has anyone had experience taking their a young infant to work with them, on a part time basis, as a strategy for returning to work early? This is at the suggestion and with support of my boss and colleagues, who are excited by the idea of having a small baby at work, but who don't really have any experience with this type of arrangement (people do bring their dogs with them, so I guess that attitude is why not try this as well). I work as a processing and conservation archivist at a small research library and museum. What works and what does not? Advice? Pitfalls? Essential supplies? Anecdotes? thanks very much. My kid is due out of the womb in mid-September, and I'm hoping to get back into the office VERY part time by mid to late October. I will also be doing some telecommuting too. The Best Baby in The World Plan (BBWP) has me back at work full time by mid-January, with full-time day care as well. Am I delusional?

I did bring my first born to work when he was 4 months old and describe it as ''one of the dumbest things I've ever done''.

Cons: My productivity went way down. I ended up working longer days and going in on weekends (leaving baby with daddy), all to complete 30 hours of work a week at a very laid-back non-profit organization. I couldn't concentrate on either task - being a mom or doing my job. My boss started getting complaints from another department regarding ''noise and disruption'' (he was a very quiet baby!), which made me even more anxious. When it came time to look for a nanny, I couldn't do it properly, being at work most of the time.

Pros: Being able to nurse my baby.

This all worked for about two months, and I ended up asking for a month's unpaid leave to sort out myself and my child's needs. With my second child, I went for the maximum leave, and then back to work at 80%.

I wouldn't say your plan is delusional, but with your first you just cannot imagine how you feel about work, your child, everything - until they are there in your arms.

Back in the office when your child is 4-6 weeks old? Hmmm... All depends on how well your child naps, if they're colicky or not, do they like being in a baby carrier or not...

But back working full-time at 4 months - if at all possible, I would advise 80% - even if you don't need to take the extra breaks for pumping, you'll be tired, you'll want to get back to your child, you'll need a bit of wiggle room in your life for illness, doctor's appointments, bad nights, and all those other things life requires. Been There Too

My son came to work with me every day starting at 7 weeks. We commuted from the East Bay on the bus and then came to my office. I run an association and there is only me and a staff person. I had a ''nanny'' come in 2-3 days for 3-4 hours to give me a little time to make calls or schedule meetings etc. This worked out very well as she could bring him to me whenever he needed to nurse-and I rarely pumped. we did this till my son was 18 months old. He still comes in one day a week with me (he's now 3) or if someone is sick or on vacation or whatever. people always ask how I could do this- which seems funny to me since if I was at home I wouldn't be sitting there entertaining him all day- I'd have a house to run, meals top cook, dry clenaing to pick up, dr appointments to make whatever. My son is very good at playing by himself for periods of time I think due to this early experience. He basically plays in 20-30 minute intervals- I then will take some time out get him going on the next thing and so on through out the day. Early on it was easy because they sleep so much anyway. I would sit at the computer with him either at my feet in a bouncy chair or on one of those playmats or have him in the bjorn. For naps I used our peg pergo stroller that lies flat. As he grew I brought more toys in the office, johnny jumper in the doorway etc. I now have toy boxes from Ikea stuffed with craft projects and books, toys and more. Of course now I can also pop in a DVD in the portable DVD player if a need an extended period of time - now that we are losing the nap time. We eat lunch together and he will also play on any unused computer- is great for elmo games!Does it always work no- but what situation does? I do know that I would have really had a hard time leaving my 7 week old home - my employers feel that a happy mommy is a happy employee and they are right. I feel taken care of by them and in return I make sure that I get my job done well. This situation can work but like all things it has to be made to work. I would hope you'd have an office door you could close when the baby is just inconsolable and needs to cry- this way the rest of the office won't get upset or have an escape route you can go to where it's ok for baby to let it out- as they all must! Also you'll need a place to nurse- or bottle feed the baby that's quiet and a place you can put the baby for a nap wehere there isn't so much noise. We have an extra office space that I used for this purpose- you can always have a monitor in there just as you would at home. And you'll need a way to attend meetings without the baby- so if you can arrange to have a caretaker for at least part of the day that is really helpful- could be a student after school or a grandma looking for a couple of hours of work or whatever. My ''nanny'' found all the cool spots for kids downtown- fountains, macy's windows at christmas, little parks, 101 california's outdoor steps etc. Anyway it can be done. You are welcome to email me if you have any specific questions. Good luck and enjoy. Juliette
Hello, I highly doubt that taking your infant to work is an option, unless your job requires little or no focus. Just wait until your little one is born, and you will understand. You need to have someone who can devote their attention to your child 100%, either yourself (ie resign or work when you have care), someone at work or a nanny. I think your expectations of taking your child to work are very unrealistic. An infant needs their caregiver, preferrably its mother or father, to hold him, to respond to him, to feed him, to soothe him. Good luck working this out
I have brought both of my babies to work with me. It can be really hard. But (in my opinion) it is much easier and much better for mom and baby than any available alternative. :-)

After your baby is born, take a three-month maternity leave. Do not try to go to work, with or without the baby, and do not promise to do any work from home (other than returning the occasional phone call). Really. If there is any way at all in the world to avoid doing ANY paid work for three months, do it. Assuming you are covered by California's SDI and new PFL programs, you even get paid about half your usual paycheck for 12-14 weeks after your baby's birthdate.

At about 3 months, you will begin to settle into a new version of normalcy and develop the capability to get up in the morning, shower, dress and go to work in something approaching a reasonable amount of time. You will probably be emotionally and physically ready to return. Your baby will be the PERFECT age to accompany you to work. He or she will be past the fussiest newborn stage and probably sleeping longer stretches at night. He or she will be exclusively breastfed, not mobile, and often asleep during the day. He or she will most likely be content to ride in a sling more or less 24/7 and small enough not to be in your way as you work. All you really need, aside from a comfortable sling or other carrier, is a diaper changing area and supplies -- I use a Pack-n-Play with changing table and ''parent organizer'' attachments. The infant carrier carseat you will probably also have anyway provides a secondary place to put your baby when necessary.

If you can return part time or do some telecommuting, do it. You will appreciate the extra time to spend just caring for your baby. I worked essentially full time hours, but a lot of it at home, when my son was 3-6 months old; with my daughter I found it worked better to work fewer hours overall but go on into the office instead of telecommuting. What makes the most sense for you will depend on a lot of personal factors; I don't think there is any one best way to set things up.

Once your baby is sitting up, around 5-6 months, s/he will probably need a little more undivided attention. You'll need to bring in toys and possibly other accoutrements such as sippy cups and solid foods. At this point, how well it works depends on your baby's temperament and nap schedule, as well as the tolerance level of your co-workers. With my son, I hired a nanny when he was 6 months old. With my daughter, she is still going to work with me at 13 months! There are a number of reasons for that difference but part of it is my daughter's greater ability to entertain herself and my access to better baby carriers (she sleeps on my back in a mei tai or Ergo for several hours each day).

I'm happy to respond to more specific questions about what worked for me and my employer.

Babywearing Worker Bee holly

I took my son to work with me for 2 days per week from the time he was 3 months old until he got to be about 1.5 years old, and I plan to do the same with the next one, when we have another. I was (am) extremely lucky to have a boss and co-workers who were very enthusiastic about having a baby at work, AND my boss has a son of her own and has worked places where people brought their babies, so she had a realistic idea of what was involved.

Before you definitely plan to do this, I would really make sure your boss knows that it will mean you will be less productive. My boss didn't care - she knew letting me bring my baby to work would triple my loyalty to the organization, and she know I would work extra hard on the days I didn't have the baby (and she really wanted to have a baby to hang out with!). But it really does make it harder to work. You have to spend lots of time changing diapers, nursing, soothing, etc, and it's not so easy to concentrate on other stuff because you are sleep deprived. Your boss should realize you have to have the time and a place to pump milk on days that your baby isn't there also.

I don't want to make it sound like it's all a lot of work with no benefit though - I am so, so glad I was able to do it, and it meant that I was able to spend lots of time with my son that I wouldn't have otherwise had, and it also meant that my co-workers got to develop great relationships with my son as well - which is wonderful for everyone; he's now 3, and he still has a great relationship with them, and comes for a visit every once in a while.

Some things that were helpful for me - I had a playpen/changing table at work, and a quiet office where he could take naps. I used the baby sling A LOT to keep him snug and happy while I was typing away at the computer. I kept a nursing pillow at work that fit my desk chair, and often he would just fall asleep while nursing, and I could work at the same time. I also took frequent breaks on days he was around (with permission from my boss) so that I could have quality time with him as well - I think that's really important for at least part of the day; otherwise it would feel like I was trying to do too many things and not getting any of the benefits of having him there.

I have to say that I think you are too ambitious to be thinking of starting an arrangement like this at 1 month... newborns are really much more demanding than you can even imagine, and I could barely make it out of the house 1 month after the birth, let alone think about having a brain to start work that early. If you can possibly do it, I would recommend not starting work for at least 3 months - I wish I had done 6 actually, but I couldn't have. There is a big developmental shift at 3 months, and I don't think I could have managed this before then. Also, that time off work to really figure out what your new family is all about (because it really is a whole new family - your relationship with your partner will be different too) is so, so important.

Good luck with whatever you decide! Jen

I took my baby to work with me from when he was about 8 weeks old until he was 7 months old. I worked in a small office and was able to be flexible with my part time hours. The most essential piece of equipment for me was the vibrating bouncy seat. He loved being in this and napped well. We would go for walks outside when he got bored and my coworkers enjoyed interacting with him as well. I was able to nurse him in my cubicle. The main downside to this was that with nursing and going on walks and taking time out to interact with him, it took me twice as long to put in the hours I was supposed to be working. After he was 6 months, he was too mobile to have in the office. He wasn't content anymore to be in the bouncy seat. But it was a good arrangement while it worked. Good luck! Kim
I am a manager of a very small office. My co-worker has been bringing her baby to work since he was 3 months old. Frankly, although it was fine at first, it has not been working out that well recently. I am not sure there are really that many offices where it would work out either. What I have noticed is that the mom does not get as much done in the time she has at work - and that the baby is a distraction for me and other people in the vicinity. In short, no one is really getting things done during the day, which has frustrated all of us. She is now thinking through what she wants to do, but be prepared for your co- workers to change their minds about what they can tolerate, esp. once the baby is no longer napping as much, and needs more stimulation and attention than you will be able to give if you're working on a project or have a deadline. trying to be pro-mommy but failing

Bringing baby in one day a week

Feb 2005

I'm going back to work part-time next week when my son will be 3 months old. My husband will take him 3 days a week while I'm at work, and I'll work from home one day a week. That leaves one day uncovered, so I've asked my supervisor whether I can bring him to work for the next 3 months (the scenario being that I'd be at work for 6 or 7 hours, but only get 4 hours of work done while he's nursing & sleeping). She's OK with this, but thinks her supervisor will not be. Apparently University policy (& state law) only requires that women have a place to breastfeed or pump that's not a bathroom.

Can anyone offer advice about convincing an employer to allow you to bring your baby to work and how it went? The main reason I want to do this is that I've had trouble pumping enough for even one bottle per day (and I have been pumping during a skipped feeding), and I am committed to exclusively breastfeeding for 6 months because of a family history of allergies & asthma. So bringing the baby to work seemed a good way to combine work & breastfeeding.
-Trying to combine career & motherhood

The January 2005 issue of Mothering Magazine, which is at newstands or the library, has several articles about this topic. It won't exactly solve your problem, but it will give you some ideas and advice. David
If I were you, I would try to build a convincing case as to why my child would not interrupt the workday of other employees, and what I would do to ensure that this did not occur. In my workplace, there have been various parents who successfully and sensitively brought their infants into the workplace, and thereafter a couple of moms assumed, ''Great! I don't have to find a place for my school-aged kids during spring break!'' whereupon the conference room was adopted as a place to view Disney videos and.... you get the picture. As to your breastfeeding issues, be aware: 1) your kid WILL drink out of a bottle if he/she is hungry enough; and 2) if he/she does not, and goes on a 'bottle strike' for 8 hours one day a week, your baby WILL be ok and will adjust his/her feeding periods accordingly. Please don't worry too much -- this will work out.

Mom of a bottle-strike baby

1.) Your baby may sleep for 4 out of 6-7 hours during the day now, but he won't in another month or so!

2.) How do you work while nursing??? Please let us all know!

3.) I assume you have your own office? Otherwise a baby would be extremely distracting to your co-workers.

4.) Pumping gets easier and much more productive when you do it several times a day, every day, using a good electric dual pump.

Check out some of the websites for working/nursing moms for tips. Good luck. -working mom of two

I sympathize -- I went back to work part-time when my twins were about 4 months and I had a terrible time pumping enough to keep them in bottles while I was gone. I could pump about two-thirds of what they would consume while I was gone, so I was constantly playing catch-up. It was a huge source of stress for me. My top recommendation is, if you can, to wait 3 more months till your baby is 6 months and starts solids. Then all of a sudden he/she can get juice bottles and food, plus whatever milk you are able to pump -- the pressure is off you to be their sole provider of food! I really wish I had done this.

If you can't do that, can you have a care provider bring the baby to you for a feeding? That way you get to see your little darling and you don't have to pump. If you are only working 4 hours, one feeding should be plenty (and it won't be long till your baby can easily go 4 ho! urs without a feeding).

The last option, least attractive, is to pump a little every day, at some convenient time in between feedings-- even if you only get 1 or 2 ounces, it will add up to plenty to cover a bottle or two over the course of a week. Is there any chance a better pump would improve your pumping output? Good luck! Suzy

Most places of work will not allow you to bring your baby, period. So good luck if it works out for you and your employer. However, if your main concern is the breastfeeding, I'd like to offer an alternative point of view. I too was a lousy pumper, and found pumping at work to be a humiliating experience, and frustrating because I could spend an hour at it and produce maybe 1-2 oz, which wasn't very useful. I found that pumping on one side while nursing on the other was th! e only way that I could really produce anything at all. Also, if I recall correctly, I had a production ''peak'' at around 4 months or so, and contrary to what the books tell you, I was most successful if I got up very early and pumped those full breasts and put all the excess in the freezer, then pumped again in the evening before bedtime (in addition to some pumping while nursing, which admittedly was a lot of work....) jan
It's true that there's no law allowing you to bring your baby to work, but the absence of a policy on the subject shouldn't be a problem as long as there's no policy AGAINST it.

What you need to do is make the point that bringing your baby with you will make you MORE productive, not less -- and that you'll be grateful to your employer for the opportunity to prove it. Assuming you are a valued employee, your supervisors should be willing to at least let you give it a try.

For one thing, working while you nurse a baby in a sling is a lot easier than working while pumping -- at least, I have found it so. Especially if you'd be pumping somewhere other than at your desk. For another, you'll be much more able to work longer hours if necessary when you have your baby with you than you would if you had to conform to a daycare schedule. And, of course, bringing your baby to work will allow you to do more work than you would if you simply stayed home -- perhaps it's not really feasible for you to take a longer maternity leave or to quit your job, but if push came to shove you would certainly have that option, and your employer knows it.

You might also offer to accept a somewhat reduced salary, temporarily, or to give up some other benefit, in recognition of the time and attention you will be giving to your baby while on the job.

I'm currently bringing my almost-9-month-old to work with me, full time; I returned part time when she was 3 months and then increased my hours to full time when she was 7 months. It's worked out very well. I did the same, part time, with my firstborn, between the ages of 3 months and 6 months.

Fortunately I work for a small firm and never had to do much in the way of persuading my boss to let me try this, but I can assure you that although bringing baby to work can be hard, it's a lot better than the available alternatives -- for you and for your employer. I'd be happy to talk more about my experience with you, or your supervisors, by email. holly

i've done this! and good for you for being smarter than me to realize that you're only getting 4 hours of work done in 6 hours. it took me a ! few weeks to figure that one out!

i work in an office and i have great pictures of my son asleep on my desk next to my computer. i bought an extra bouncy seat with a toy bar on it and kept him on the floor next to my chair when he got a little ''older''. we worked together 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, from age 3 months to about 7 months. he was certainly getting too old and needing alot more of my attention so it simply didn't work anymore and i was asked to make other arrangements.

we started out the first few weeks sort of on probation. i insisted that they not spare my feelings if they thought the arrangement wasn't working, but fortunately for me i had a very good baby (but i'm not biased at all!) he never cried, never fussed, slept alot, i was told often by coworkers that they ''forgot he was there''. this would have been an impossible arrangement had he been fussy or colicky.

i had the same reasons as you, breastfeeding was a huge issue with us. it was pretty important to me to do whatever i could to make that successful. when he needed to eat, we would excuse ourselves to the conference room and lock the door. it was very quiet and seldom used. (although i can remember one time trying to feed him at my desk with his blanket over us and one of our project managers walked it...i've never seen a grown man turn so red, so quickly) i was in an unusual position that NOBODY in my office had kids. NONE. i was it! only a handful of others were even married or even coupled! When I announced my pregnancy, there was alot of scrambling to figure out what the maternity leave policy was (I think I got a pretty generous deal, probably because they didn't know what to do with me!) I told them all from the beginning that I could work from home, but was constantly hearing ''it would be better if you could be in the office'' which lead to the unusual arrangement we ended up with.

i don't know how to tell you the surefire answer to ''convince'' the supervisor of the arrangement, but only offer you support and a precedent and assure you that although difficult, it is possible to ''have it all'' and family. if you want to talk about it further or have other questions, contact the moderator for my email.

been there, done that