Bring my baby to work? No, thanks

Getty ImagesGetty ImagesWhen I went back to work after my first baby was born, I felt guilty and excited at the same time. Guilty because I'd fallen in love with my baby and wanted to spend more time with her. Excited because I'd be able to have conversations with actual adults again, and be productive in a pre-parenthood way. And guilty, of course, about feeling excited about being back in the office.

Being able to leave my 6-month-old at home with my husband made me feel better (no Parenting Drive-Byes, please, this isn't a post about working moms vs. stay-at-home moms), but if my company had offered to allow me to bring her in to the office with me for those first few months, I would have turned them down. As far as I'm concerned, bringing baby to work is not a good option -- not for me, not for my kids, and not for my company.

Every company is different, and allowing a new mom to keep her baby with her at the office may work in very small, family-oriented companies (or if the new mom is also the CEO). BabiesAtWork.org points out that there are many benefits to allowing parents to bring their babies to work with them -- at least until the child is 6- to 8-months-old or crawling. Those include lower stress levels for parents, better bonding and breastfeeding experiences, lower daycare costs, better financial stability, greater paternal involvement, and less incidents of post-partum depression.

But all babies get fussy from time to time, and a wailing infant does not make for a peaceful or productive work environment -- and even happy babies can be a major distraction. And, speaking of distractions, it's hard enough to focus on work immediately after maternity leave without having to multitask with a newborn at the same time (and feeling like you're not giving enough attention to either your job or your child). Wanting employees to be more financially stable is admirable, but if a new mom cuts short her maternity leave in order to maximize her paycheck, the company is the one that benefits most. Greater paternal involvement? How does that happen if the baby is at work with mom all day? And as for those lower daycare costs: Even passionate baby-to-work advocates admit that once the baby is crawling it's time to find another child care plan, so the savings would be minimal.

I think there are several other options companies could consider before implementing a babies-at-work program. On-site daycare, guaranteed daycare at a nearby center, paid maternity leave, encouraging fathers to take parental leave, and, most of all, allowing schedule flexibility and telecommuting would have similar benefits for families while causing far less disruption in the workplace.

Having a flexible schedule worked for us. My husband and I arranged to work opposite shifts, so one of us was always with the kids when they were little. (I called my 5-p.m.-to-3 a.m. solo time with the kids my "second shift"; here are some ways to cope if you're in a similar situation.) When our youngest was born, my husband switched to a day shift just as my maternity leave came to an end, and we had to deal with daycare for the first time. Would I have preferred to take my then 5-month-old son with me to the office, to save on daycare costs or to make breastfeeding easier? Absolutely not. Even at 5 months, my son was active. And, frankly, hilarious and a lot of fun. I would never have been able to get anything done at the office with him there -- and neither would any of my coworkers.

When your babies were brand-new, did you wish you could bring them to the office with you?

Lylah M. Alphonse blogs at
Write. Edit. Repeat. She's the managing editor of Work It, Mom!, where she writes about juggling career and family at The 36-Hour Day, and she writes about parenting for Boston.com, Follow her on Twitter @WriteEditRepeat.