I have three children, and I worked through pregnancy with each of the kids. Then, I went back to work quickly after each of them was born. My work was an office job and I had my own separate office space. I brought my two older sons to work with me for close to a year for each of them. My youngest child, my daughter, I also took to work with me for the first year, and now I continue to work with her around me as I am currently working full time from home.
It was not always easy to bring my babies to work, but I was grateful for the opportunity. Since I could bring my infants to work, it meant that I did not feel like a long maternity leave was necessary, so I was able to once again become a contributing member to my office team.
Also, if you have ever an infant, you will know that for the first month or two all they so is sleep, eat, and need a diaper change. If you hold on to them and nurse them, during the day so long as they are not colicky, they’re pretty peaceful. You can do skin to skin with them under your clothes at work, or they can sleep nearby in a bassinet or other safe sleeping space, even on the floor in a place where they are safe.
Because I was able to take my infants to work, it meant that I never had to pump or use bottles, even though I spent the money and got a high-quality company in advance. This also meant that I had complete control over my baby’s schedule, and I didn’t have to worry about them being away from me.
However it wasn’t always easy. The first few months, those were always the easiest because the baby was asleep most of the time. But once she began to get more mobile, and louder, that was when it became more of a challenge to have her at the office. Wwith that in mind, here are some tips to help you get through working with your baby at the office
Establishing a consistent schedule is a key component of bringing a baby to work
It is critical to establish a very strict schedule with your baby at work. Be very consistent about when you arrive at work, when you nurse, and when they go down for naps. If you establish a really strict schedule, then you can plan your workday. While she is sleeping, you will try to maximize how much you get done and what you get done during their nap times.
If your baby is mobile and makes noise, your office may not always be an appropriate place to have clients around or to make phone calls. She might also make it hard for you to step out and participate in team meetings. If you can consistently put your baby down for a nap at a certain time and then know about how long she will sleep, you can schedule important phone calls in the office next door or even have your assistant or co-worker sit quietly in that office to keep an eye on the baby while you step out and meet with the client.
I was very aggressive about my children’s nap and food schedule int he office. No one was going to do anything to cause me to lose my work time during sleep time. I swear I could get more done in a 2-hour nap than most of the people in my office to get done in an 8-hour day.
Gear up to make things easier with your baby at work
Get the gear you need to make life easier as mom at office. I had a bassinet, and a baby swing in my office. As time went on, I added floor mats and toys. I set up a changing table in the bathroom and kept it fully stocked with wipes and diapers and extra clothes.
A fully stocked changing table meant I was never left in a lurch as far as food or clothing went while I was at the office. It’s also meant that in the morning when I was getting ready, all I had to do was get the baby ready to go and then get her in the car. I knew that once I got to the office, I could remedy any issues upon arrival. It also meant I didn’t have to pack a lot of stuff back and forth.
As baby got older, I switched out the bassinet for a high chair, so my sons could sit at eye level with me as I sat at my desk. I have used a Bumbo seat on the desk, with a keen eye to making sure that the seat was stable and that baby could not fall off the desk (I bought the extra wide base for it).
I kept a nursing pillow under the desk, and let baby snooze on it on my lap after nursing while I worked away at the computer.
The lighting in the office was really bright, so I added a lamp to my desk that I could use to help me work without lighting up the entire office too bright for naps.
Buying extra gear meant that I ended up with two of everything, and that was just more stuff I had to give away or get rid of. But it certainly did make my office life much more easy because I didn’t have to haul things back and forth.
Another thing I also suggest that you leave at the office is a dedicated office stroller. Strollers are difficult to get in and out of the car sometimes because they can be big and bulky, or heavy. If I wanted to take a quick walk to try to get her away from the office during a particularly cranky moment, or to have someone else take her for a quick lap around the building, it was easy to do. Having a second stroller also meant that I was never without one at home when I needed it.
I found it to be really useful to employ a white noise machine or app during naptime.
I also utilized carriers in the office a lot. I used a front pack (Infantino and Moby), and an Ergo for when she rode on my back. I put the baby in the front part when she was small and then I will take phone calls and walk around and dance around back and forth to help keep her calm and sleep while I was on the phone. The side benefit of of this was it helped me get a few steps in and also feel like I was sitting a bit less.
I wore my baby on my back as she got bigger and struggled to take naps. I could walk and help soothe her to sleep and then I would stand at my desk to do my work instead of sitting. When she was on my back, my hands were free to work.
I didn’t have a stand-up desk so what I did was but a banker box underneath my keyboard and another banker box under my mouse, and then I would tilt the monitor so that I could look down on it. This was a really cheap way to make my desk more flexible so that I didn’t have to wake the baby up by taking her out of the pack to put her in the crib.
I have also seen parents utilize foam flooring, gymnastics mats, and then baby gates to set up a child specific play area that was safe for them and also kept them out from underneath the office chair of mom or dad at the desk.
In the beginning, your baby will not like being in a play area even if it is only a few feet away from you. They just like to be nearby you and be able to touch you. But if you start slowly and give them increasing time in the play yard in your office, they will get used to it. Over time you will be able to have them play safely in their play space and not be quite as disruptive as they can be when they can get your desk, opening up all the doors, taking out the paper and generally making a giant mess of things while you are distracted with what is going on with your computer.
Communication with your office is an essential part of avoiding frustration
I would talk extensively with the manager and other employees in the office about having your baby at the office. If management approves of you bringing your baby (or even encourages it), you still want to talk with your co-workers about how this is going to work.
I cannot tell you how many times I put the baby down for a nap and then went to work at my computer only to have someone burst into my office asking questions, waking the baby. I would get incredibly frustrated, because these interruptions completely destroyed my work window. Let your coworkers know what time is good for them to come in and talk to you, and what times are not good. While the baby is in the office, you can ask people to communicate with you primarily through email or in other written form to reduce the need for face-to-face communication.
Other employees and assistant’s also frequently burst in on me while I was nursing. If you have an office that is your own, try and see if they will put a simple lock on the door so that you can maintain privacy for yourself while you are nursing. Another thing that you can do to gain some privacy is put the sign on the door to let people who are planning on coming into your office know that the baby is sleeping and that means that this is not a good time.
Another thing you can do is use an earpiece that beep straight into your ear without making noise such as beeping or ringing to confer with you.
You also want to have a chat with your co-workers about congregating outside of your office. They might think that they are not bothering you because they’re not in your office, but they may not realize just how loud they are.
Talk to your boss to clear the air about expectations after the birth of your baby
Talk to your boss about your productivity expectations. When you have an infant in the office, it is generally not too difficult to maintain a level of productivity that was similar to when you were pregnant or before pregnancy. But once the baby becomes three to five months old, they want your attention, and it will be much harder to get as much done.
You often find yourself multitasking and getting a lot done even when they are needy. But in any case, it can be really difficult to get just as much done as before. It can be good to meet with your supervisor frequently about your productivity and accomplishments to get an idea of how things are going and what else can be done in order to make the most of your time in the office.
It could be that working half day in the office with the baby and then planning on working another half day from home would work. Or you could try to get in some extra time in on a Saturday when your spouse is available to watch the baby for a few hours. In any case, to avoid conflict with the management, the expectations for what you can accomplish just need to be very clear.
Get help to succeed with your baby at the office
See if you can work it out with friends, extended family or your spouse to help with baby when you need it while you were at work. It can be too difficult to run back and forth between home and work to exchange the child, but you can get a few really good hours in if your spouse comes and picks up the baby an hour or two before the end of the work day.
I worked it out with my own mother so that she would come to the office when I had scheduled client meetings so that I could get an hour here or an hour there sporadically outside of nap times to get work done where I couldn’t have my baby with me. When my children were small, my clients were actually fairly charmed about having an infant in on the meeting, especially if she was asleep or quietly hanging out in my arms. But it was not quite so charming when they were distracting and making a lot of noise.
Keep extra clothes in the office for yourself
I developed the habit of having a full extra set of change of clothes for myself at the office. It was a regular occurrence that my infant spit up on my good-looking office clothes. When I was in the office with her I would try to wear a sweater over the top of my office shirts or jacket so that if she spit up, it would not necessarily get everywhere on my clothes. But even with spit up rags and coverups, inevitably my office clothes would get dirty when I would need to be presentable to a client. So I just made a habit of having an extra set of clothing, including shoes, available in the event that having the baby at the office destroyed my office appropriate attire.
What about you? What tips do you have about taking a baby to work? Leave them for us in the comments below.
And before you go, check out one of these great articles from one of the many much appreciated Mom Advice Line contributors:
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Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, all under the age of 10. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the US, Emily is a mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the computer when the kids are sleeping. She started this blog in April of 2019 and is proud that the blog is now paying for itself. If you want to know about her journey as a blogger, check out out her personal digital journal or her post about failing her way to blogging success.