Photo by kennymatic, used under Creative Commons license.
I’m a new mother to a beautiful four-month-old girl. I’m also a contract lecturer and have to take work when I can get it. I’ve been working part-time since my daughter was six weeks old, mostly from home and popping in to university to give lectures (with her coming along in a sling).

I’m about to go full-time and want to spend more time at my office. I have family looking after her during my lectures — again she’ll be at university with us — and am not putting her in daycare until she’s older (she’s exclusively breast-fed on demand).

One of the things I love about my job is that I can work from home and take her to university with me, but I’m not sure how to set up my office to suit us both. I’m the first in our department to bring a baby to work. Has anyone else been in this situation? How can I set up a good sleeping and playing environment for my daughter in my office? — Lorena

Comments on How can I make my office baby-friendly?

  1. I’m interested in this too. We have a three bedroom house and are expecting our second child and need to move our office out into the living room. I have a toddler who likes to pull all of the cords and things. I guess I’m looking for something different… not so much sleeping arrangements as how to get him not to turn off the computer and pull all the cords…

  2. I work from home as an architectural designer, and have a full office. While I do have at home amenities, there were some things that I used to help me when I was working in my office.

    – Playpen or co-sleeper (like the arms reach, can be a standalone playpen or bassinet).
    – Little box of toys and books to entertain.
    -Camera…cuz even at work you will want to capture some moments

    Otherwise, its really really simple. I’m not sure how old your daughter is, but kids are so easily entertained and amazed by the world around them that even just watching you work is stimulating.

    My daughter loves to imitate mom working, so she has her own sketchbook and crayons to draw with. She also grabs her play cellphone and will talk on it while I’m on my phone.

    As to cords and plugins…honestly I never really baby-proofed (besides putting sharp things and cutting tools out of reach). When my daughter went for the cords, I took her away and said no or not for baby. It worked after a while, but was frustrating for a time.

    Now, I have a cord holder from Ikea (the Kvissle series), and that works great, and keeps everything much less messy. It also helps hide power bar buttons and stuff that lights up (my daughter’s kryptonite).

  3. A nice corner to play in (my boy loves to snuggle on a sleeping bag) or place to put a playmat while she’s so little. If there are cupboards make sure they are baby proofed for later on so you don’t have to worry so much. Also not sure how the arrangements are but having a cooler or mini fridge for expressed breast milk for others to give while you lecture would be helpful too.

  4. My daughter went to work with me from 12 weeks to 9 months. I have a love seat in my office which I placed strategically to block a pack and play. That way, my daughter could nap without seeing me. Otherwise, she was too distracted to fall asleep.
    White noise was essential for drowning out other noise while she was sleeping.

    Other than that, I kept an assortment of toys and blankets and used an exersaucer. I also used a bumbo seat to feed her as she got older instead of trying to store a highchair at work. We also used a small umbrella stroller for quick walks and fresh air.

  5. My daughter is 7 months now and I’ve been bringing her to the office about once a week since she was 3 months. Honestly what’s helped me the most has been having supportive coworkers. Honestly the baby has needed some attention every 15 minutes or so, even if it’s just a smile or repositioning her, and having someone else entertain her for a minute while I make a phone call is a lifesaver.

    For sleeping and playing, I got a mini pack ‘n’ play. It was easy to dangle toys that she could lie in and look at and try to grab, and it has a hood to make it darker for naptime. I agree with the previous poster who mentioned white noise too–I have an app on my phone, but you can get white noise machines for pretty cheap. I think it’s helped that she naps in the pack ‘n’ play with white noise at home, too, so there’s some element of familiarity.

    As she’s gotten older and can sit up on her own, it’s actually gotten easier. I can put her on the floor with a bowl and a spoon from the office kitchen and she’s happy for 30 minutes at a time. She’s on the verge of learning to crawl now, though, and I think that might be the death knell for my ability to bring her in… I just can’t think of any way to babyproof all the cords and outlets and shelves in my office for a mobile baby.

    • I’ve just downloaded a white noise app to my phone to try. I know what you mean about the co-workers, that’s probably the thing I’m most worried about. Luckily the offices on either side of mine are empty at the moment.

  6. I’m very curious how you got your supervisors to allow you all to bring your babies to work? Is it because of the type of work you do? I’d love to have that as an option when our baby arrives, but I will also be the first (female) in my office to have a baby and don’t know how to ask.

    • Personally, my supervisor is a father (although his son is a teenager now) so he was generally supportive. I do have a desk job so I think that helps as well.

      I think it’s worth asking! Have a plan when you ask, to address all of your supervisor’s possible questions. What will you do when the baby cries? How will you make sure you get all your work done? And the big one that your supervisor probably won’t ask but I think is the most important: How is bringing your baby to work going to make you a BETTER employee? (My personal answer: less stress thinking about the baby somewhere else, more productivity because I have to work better in shorter bursts, and super duper high morale!)

    • Yes I think not all offices are open to this. I’m expecting later this year my job wouldn’t even approve me telecommuting once a week to save on daycare costs. Never mind I could do my entire job from home. The compromise we reached is having a 4-day compressed work week. I have a feeling after the baby arrives I’m going to be actively looking for another job that is more supportive of new mothers.

  7. When I was younger, I was a part time nanny for a mom who worked as an accountant. She went into the office 3 or 4 days a week and worked from home 1 or 2 days a week. She was breast feeding, so wherever she went, the baby went, & I came along to watch the baby in-between feedings. This started when her son was almost 2 months old and lasted until he was able to join his older sister at the day-care/preschool (when he was approx 18 mo).

    Her office was a shared office, so honestly I didn’t spend a whole lot of time up there. I would take the baby on walks, or to a nearby grassy area to play & read with him. I’d go back to her office when it came time for a feeding, and then resume to entertaining the little guy. We didn’t have a good place for him to nap in her office, so I would often just find a quiet place to sit & hold him, put him in a sling & go for a walk, or let him nap in the stroller (most of the time I’d be holding him though, since neither his mom or I were overly fond of the stroller).

    It would have been wonderful to have play time in her office so his mom could more be a part of her son’s day (even by proxy), but many days that was just not possible. There were too many people in and out of the shared space to allow the lil guy a nap, and any playspace we took up on the floor would be a tripping hazard for those trying to get work done. If it wasn’t as busy a day, though, we were able to get away with it. The days I watched her son while she worked from home were much nicer in that way. Sometimes her 2yr old daughter would stay home with us, and it was nice for the siblings to have more time together too.

    It sounds like the original poster will also have someone around to help with the baby when she needs to focus on a project or go to lecture. I’d say that really makes a difference as to how bringing your child to work with you can be effective or not. It also helps alleviate any doubts an employer might have about approving the arrangement. I think it’s also good for the baby since it helps with early socialization, although it honestly isn’t that big of a distraction for other coworkers when the baby is there more often than not, it just becomes a part of the routine.

  8. I was able to take my son to work as long as it worked for both of us- I worked for a social service non-profit, and we had a very family friendly workplace (and dog friendly). I started when my son was 3 months, and he nursed on demand while we were together. I had a pack and play I used for playing, and would lay him under the desk on a couple of folded blankets when he slept (he fell asleep in my arms and then I’d lay him down). Having co-workers who had also brought their infants to work really paved the way for us. One co-worker would pop by and “borrow” him when I was on the phone or needed to have a face to fce chat with my boss. Having no expectation for how long this set up would last allowed me to take it one day at a time. I mixed part time child care with taking my son to work, with shortened days and working from home and we were all happy.
    Also because I set my own schedule (80% of the time) I’d plan to be in the office during nap times, and when he got older I’d take him to the park or another active type activity and then stop in for some work time when he was ready to play quietly and have a meal.

  9. Just wanted to say thank you for this post – I am a contract lecturer who is probably pretty far away from having a baby but it is very helpful to know how it would actually work from a practical perspective. I am also a Canadian who just moved to the States, and I’m having difficulty getting my mind around the whole “no year-long mat leave” thing, so I find it heartening to read about people who made it work!

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