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Babies at work?

January 5, 2009 12:27 PM

Yesterday the New York Times became the latest media outlet to chime in on the movement among some companies to invite babies to work as an alternative to extended maternity leave for moms. In some cases, the ability to bring baby along means some women return to work instead of opting out.

While the benefits to families—avoiding expensive child care, time for mom and baby to bond, the ability to earn a living instead of staying home—the impact on colleagues, especially those without kids, has stirred some debate.

What’s your take? Do you think it’s good for families and good for business to allow parents to bring babies to work? Or are babies an unnecessary distraction to the greater good of the workplace?

Comments (36)

I agree. I don’t know whether it’s bad manners or just that young bloggers don’t understand the nature of the conversation.

Lately, I was searching for the same issue but couldn't truly find it out. A thumbs up to this one.

Hey Tory,
I'm a mom who brought her baby daughter to work long before fashionable. In 1990 my 6 mo. old would sit on her "blanky" on the floor beneath my computer (literally between my legs) or in a playpen next to my desk. There were good and bad things about doing this on an occasional basis, but I would never recommend it daily.

She was a quiet baby, rarely fussed and occupied her time with toys, however, she did not get the attention or intellectual stimulation required, not to mention the germs she and my co-workers traded. Day Care was my best option and I utilized it.

Bringing Baby to work was only for emergencies. Even then, it created stress for me, my co-workers and my baby. Not to mention the resident cat and dog (hey, we were a really small office). The day my baby crawled over to the cat dish and helped herself to a snack - well, that was the last day baby came to work! I wish that would also have been true for the pets! Other than give me something unique to reminisce and write about - it had little long lasting value!

I think this shows that our country needs to do more for working mothers. Why don't more companies offer on-site daycare? Or allow more women to work from home? Most moms I know are pretty stressed out by having to juggle work and being a mom. We claim to be the greatest country in the world, yet we do not taking care of our working mothers. We are one of only 5 countries in the world that doesn't offer some sort of paid maternity leave - we're on par with Swaziland!

I do not think people should be allowed to bring their babies to work. I think it would be disruptive and I do not want to watch anyone's kids. Years ago, I heard of a company that allowed people to bring pets to work. It all seems cute but I do not want to deal with people's pets either. Work is sort of neutral territory and people should not bring their personal lives there which may intrude on others who live different lifestyles. I think companies should either provide onsite daycare or help subsidize paying for daycare. I also agree with other posters that with today's technology working from home and telecommuting should be other options as well.

I'm all for having your kids close to you when they are young. Although they are a distraction at the work place. The best alternative is to have a daycare situation in the building. You can then eat lunch with them, work late, spend more time with your kids and also provide an income.

No! I've been in this situation. I shared an office with two women, one who brought her toddler to work. It created a situation where three people were working at sub-optimal productivity. The mom was too busy tending to the baby to get work done and the rest of us were distracted by the noise and activity. Not to mention whenever the mom had to use the restroom or go into a meeting, she'd hand the child off to a co-worker to take care of her while she was away. It was ridiculous. I'm all for telecommuting. Babies do not belong in the workplace.

Telecommuting is the only option. With MRSA, VRE,VISA,CDef, and all of the other superbugs out there in offices especially keyboards and elevator buttons, a mom can't be too careful with her babies. Think how much money an office manager can save on office space and retraining by letting a mom work from home. With virtual link ups, even a control freak can monitor his employee's productivity, even keystrokes.

Bad idea. I stayed home and raised my kids and have now returned to work. I don't want to be around any children at work!

Consider the impact on the employee, colleagues, the business and the baby. I started my own business when my daughter was four months old and rather than taking her to work (which was not in her best interest), I took my breaks and lunchs to go be with her. A baby deserves the comfort of her home, her crib and an unstressed, attention-giving caretaker. Multitaskers we are, perfectionists we are not.

Not a good idea because of the distraction to the Mother. Not to mention well-meaning co-workers who may breathe near the new-born. Personally I would stay home 3-6 months myself and arrange for childcare afterward.

I'm with the Parenting in the Workplace Institute mentioned in the article and thought I'd clarify a few things. These programs work well in a very wide range of businesses and employee positions *because* there are clear guidelines and parents are so grateful for the opportunity that they basically make it work. Parents in structured programs tend to be highly responsive to their babies' needs in the workplace, and the babies are overwhelmingly content as a result. Because the babies are generally so content, coworkers (even many who were very resistant to the concept beforehand) often bond with the babies and will eagerly pitch in for brief periods (like on their own breaks) to hold or play with the babies. It basically replicates a "village" model of care--and the babies thrive. The babies love the social interaction and attention, which also helps to keep them content. Basically, when parents know that they can bring their babies to work *as long as* it's not disruptive for coworkers (which is the case in nearly every business on our list), people learn ways to make it work--and these programs have benefits for parents, babies, coworkers, and the company as a whole.

There's a lot more on our Babies in the Workplace site about how and why these programs work (http://www.babiesatwork.org) and we provide free downloadable template documents at our Institute site to make it easy for businesses to set up sustainable policies (http://www.parentingatwork.org).

Sure, why not bring the children to work? In the early 1800s slaves often worked in the cotton fields with their babies strapped to their backs. In some cases, I've heard of Chinese women having babies right in the rice fields. Children eventually pulled their own weight to build the industrialized world that we all enjoy. But then someone stood up and said, you know what maybe exploiting our children is wrong. And maybe a mother should have the choice to stay home with her child and raise the child in a safe environment and not in the baking heat of the sun or the deadly insects of a rice field. But an office is a great place. It's different. There's carpeting, air conditioning and no one would ever think that a child wouldn't be safe in his mommy's nice office. That is until crazy Mr. Fiddsticks loses his job and comes to work with an AK rifle. Kids in the office? My vote is a resounding NO.

I think that mother's should be able to stay home and bond with their infant(s). That companies, large or small should show compassion and give these mother's the time that they need with their children. In Europe, mother's are given one year off with pay, what's wrong with the picture of USA?

I bring my baby to work. She will be at work with me for about a month. She sleeps all day. Most of my clients don't even know that she is there b/c she is so quiet. It is not an ideal situation, but I am glad that my boss is so flexible. It is hard transitioning back to work. I think temporary bring your child to work is okay.

I'm a mom and a grandma - a manager with whom I work just returned to work after time off to have twins. I do believe that in her case it would be too much of a distraction to have both babies on the job. But fortunately for her our company allows employees to work from home, and since she is fortuante enough to have family willing to volunteer to help she will be coming in to work 2 days and working from home the other 3. I think she may also enjoy some of the down time away from the babies so that she may renew herself and go back to them and enjoy them more.

Generally speaking I believe it isn't necessarily a bad thing - depending on the nature of business that your employer does and how much of a distraction having a baby in the office might be for all, but yes I think its a good thing if everyone is on board to make it work and not take advantage of a good thing. Heck years ago a woman was expected to stay at home after having children. Now there is so much flexibility out there with companies realizing what valuable employees they may be loosing that maybe this is the wave of the future.

I think if you can handle both (and I believe most women can) and the company permits it - go for it - the world may end up a better place for it!

NO NO NO! just like I don't want kids at my social events past 8pm, I for sure do not want children **with their parents! who are supposed to be supporting ME hello, not the kid** in my workplace. No question about it.

Babies to work would be great if all we could do was stand around and coo with baby. As a single mother, there were days I had to bring my son into work, but I made sure that my work was pretty much up to date prior to his arrival. I am lucky to have had a non fussy, daysleeper baby. All my co-workers would fight as to who would keep him during the day. As a 6 year old, my co workers are amazed by the fact he is a child, he is well disciplined, quiet and listens to every word I say. Most people don't even know he is in the office when I am forced to bring him in. Are all children like that? NO WAY, I get annoyed when people bring their screaming, running wild, non listening children in and am thankful mine isnt like that. On site daycare is the best bet. It may be higher in insurance for most companies, but you would get so much more out of the working parents during the day, just knowing their child is nearby.

I am against this. If the corporate world wants to ensure that young mothers are incented to come back to work quickly, it us incumbent upon the organization's management to find ways to do this without burdening everyone else. If you think it through very carefully, the potential for negative and far-reaching results that impact many will far outweigh the pre-supposed benefits for the few. There are other options and corporations just have to get creative.

I wish I could say it was a good idea for everyone. If everyone is willing to accept there will be some loss of productivity, then it might work. There is a very strong potential for people without children or whom had children before the policy to resent the person bringing a child into the workplace as well as his or her employer. I think having day care on site is better for the group as a whole.

No way. Babies at work would be an added stress and a HUGE distraction. Coworkers complain of loud coughing or laughing...how annoying would a kis with colic be?

It's a personal choice to do this .My choice would be to not do this

Honestly being a Mom myself, I would LOVE to have my baby at work with me...but the reality is...your place of employment is no place for a baby. I find it to be a bit unprofessional, especially if your company is client based. Finding that balance is the most difficult task but it must be done for the sake of our children.

On another note, I would welcome a flexible schedule rather than taking me baby to work.

That's my take on it. Signing off, Melinda from Braselton, GA!

I feel this is a win-win situation for both the employee and the employer. This is a wonderful option to have available to new mothers.

Babies At Work?

I think it would help those we work with to understand the added demands those that choose to have kids face and deal with on a daily basis. It is to easy for singles to take the attitude that they are getting dumped on or asked to work to much overtime because a co-worker who has a family can not put in the overtime. They get to see that parents don't get off work to go home and have fun, but simple change hats and keep going.

It could also reduce the amount of sickness young children experience and thus reduce the number of sick days the employee takes off to care for their child. This also means less sickness being spread among co-workers from parents who catch sickness from a sick child and now have no time left to take off and go to work sick and share with everyone else causing a domino effect.

However, I must be realistic here. Not everyone raises their child the same way and no two children respond the same way to discipline. An inatentive mom or dad at work who does not properly discipline their child from the start could be a huge disruption. I don't see this working except for executives who have an office they can close off if the child gets to loud or vise versa so I don't see this helping the majority of the population.

A better choice is allowing the employee to work from home with specific times to check in with work to show proof they are meeting quotas and deadlines. A child is much more likely to be compliant for a short period of time when tagging a long with mom or dad to show proof of work once a day or twice a week; than to be quiet for and 8 to 12 hour period in a small confined space. You ultimately need to do what is best for the child not just what is best for mom and dad.

Hey here is an idea, stay married or don't sleep around. Choose to make it work on one income and have mom stay home instead of keeping up with the Jones's. Don't get into debt to begin with...pay as you go. Have a stay at home mom be able to produce income from home with a trade or business of her own to keep the family afloat in a pinch not where you are dependant on the income for bills. That way if dad looses his job the family doesn't go belly up financially or relationally because the stress becomes to great.

As for parents who find themselves single through unfaithfulness of a spouce or widows/widowers I suggest you reduce your stress as much as possible. This may mean moving back home or near home to have extended family members help raise the child (ren). I don't see the work place radically changing any time soon and unless you have a phenominal support system I don't see or hear of anyone coming to your aid to help. Saddly to say not even within the church and communities like Big Bro Big Sister which have waiting lists and only service a certain age range. Before you call it quits and throw in the towel you better count the cost to all involved not just yourself for the long term not just the next couple of months. Widows/Widowers need to ban together and create communities where we help eachother. This group unlike any other group in exsistance knows the value of the oppisite sex in our lives and what they bring to the table and the huge whole that is left behind when a spouce passes on. This was not a single life by choice no matter the age and you would be suprised to find out that the medium age is younger than you think. These parents face the same issues as new parents and divorces and with no more recources sometimes less.

I do not think it is a good idea to bring your baby to work. For one thing they will be a distraction and for another thing, there are so many germs, the parents would end up missing work to care for the ill child.

I personally think it's a great initiave however, I don't feel it's setting the right tone for a business. If they are planning to provide on-site daycares at no or low cost, that would be awesome and very sensible. But if this means allowing employees to be parents during their paid tour of duty, I don't think makes good business sense.

It's the same focus as working from home. Your primary job should be the one your paid for, not the one that may give you more joy. It's already tough for new moms to concentrate at work after 6 weeks, or more, of bonding with their babies. How much productivity would you expect to get from them with their little bundles shaking rattles next to them?

I have 3 children and I think it would become a problem due to the circumstances that a baby needs undivided attention at all times, especially when awake. I peronally feel that the child would take away from what you are to do at work. Half of the work will get completed and I agree that a mom and child should be together but that should be at home plus it would mommy a chance to have mommy time away to clear her thoughts and look forward to spending more time with her child when she arrives home. The bond can still grow very strong.

Yes, I definitely think that women should have the option to bring their babies to work with them. I think we are behind the times with our maternity policies compared to some countries in Europe. For all the women's rights we have, maternity leave is one we need to improve upon more.

I'm sure the baby at work logistics will be handled in a way that's not disruptive. Anything that can be done to have happy employees will help boost productivity and employee goodwill - happiness is contagious! That being said, how about pets at work - I love my chihuahua.

Fourtnee years ago, when my son was born, he was one of six infants in our small non-profit office. We moms pitched in, found an empty office, and outfitted it as a nursery, complete with hired nanny, Miss Margaret. Had our son not had that experience, he would not have the interest in science and computers he enjoys today! Thank goodness he had the moms with spunk on his side! We had absolutely NO complaints about children at the office.

I think babies at work is a good idea for all workers. Those of us without children should remember that raising children is a public service as well as a personal desire. We all have an interest in children becoming well adjusted, contributing members of society.

Quite honestly, that would be hard for co-workers like me who do not have children. It is convenient for those who do have children to be able to bring them to work, it would be distracting, however, for some people though.

I do not think it is a good idea to bring baby to work because of the distraction it might cause to mommy. However, I fully support having a daycare at work subsidized by the employer which I think is the best option for a working mom going back to work after her maternity leave.

In the absence of a daycare facility located at the work premises, I would like to see a change in the employers' attitude towards moms going back to work after maternity leave; the change would involve a flexible hours options, the ability to work from home a couple of days a week and mostly a non-discriminatory policy strictly implemented by the company to protect new moms from harassers on the job.

With preset guidelines and expectations, this sounds like an excellent option for both employers and employees. I know I may have stayed at my past position if this had been the case.

So much talent goes to waste because businesses feel women are incapable of multitasking. New babies sleep and they can't get into anything (yet) so why can't mom make some trips to the office. In this day and age, why can't more mothers telecommute and/or job share?

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