Just over a year ago, when I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I was already concerned about child care when I went back to work. Staying home is not an option for us, so I started considering my options.
That’s when I discovered the Infant at Work program.
I am lucky enough to work for an organization that has an established program, although it had never been tried in my office before. So, in my maternity leave plan, my transition back to work included a proposal to bring my baby to work with me until he is six months. My proposal was approved, and now my little guy comes to work with me.
How it works
Each morning, I pack him up, and off we go to work. (We drive in the carpool lane because I’m using the 2+ in the car to my advantage.) At work, he hangs out in his pack and play, rock n play, or I wear him in a carrier. I talk to him about what I’m working on, even though he has no idea what I’m saying, but it’s increasing his exposure to words and building future vocabulary. (Once a teacher, always a teacher.)
Since most of my day is spent at a desk in a cubicle, having him there works for me. I set a timer to stay ahead of hunger and move his position frequently when he is awake so he doesn’t get fussy and bother anyone in the office. But, it’s not always perfect. Sometimes he wants attention or gets fussy, so I lay him on my lap and keep working. Even the frustrating moments are worth it because he is with me and I get to see his smiles all day. We benefit because we get more time to bond, it’s been easier to continue breastfeeding, and we get to bring home a paycheck.
My coworkers enjoy having him there and many of them stop by occasionally for a “baby fix”. Sometimes when they take a break, they just come pick him up and snuggle with him for a few minutes or walk around the office with him. It turns out that baby snuggles are a great stress reliever. My supervisor even said it’s like he sucks the stress right out of the air. The office has benefited because I came back from leave earlier, it’s been positive for office culture, and I’m more productive because I’m not worried about my baby at day care.
Talking to Your Employer
One of my mottos is, “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.” If you work in an office like I do and are expecting a baby, I highly recommend you talk to your employer about taking your infant to work. Even if you think your employer will say no, it’s worth asking if you feel like you could manage it, and it can benefit your family, the employer, and your fellow employees.
The Infant at Work program has been tried all over the country, and has been successful in government agencies, law offices, credit unions, and many other types of employers. The Parenting in the Workplace Institute has many resources, examples, and stories of successful programs. The State of Arizona is a participant in the program and has many resources available to help get a program started.
Are you ready to ask your employer to let you bring your infant to work after he or she is born?
The following links have some resources to help you have that conversation with your employer and get a program started.
Arizona Department of Health: http://azdhs.gov/prevention/nutrition-physical-activity/breastfeeding/infant-at-work/index.php
Parenting in the Workplace Institute: https://www.babiesatwork.org/