Washington State is letting new parents bring their babies to work whenever they want

A baby with a laptop.
(Image credit: iStock)

If a pilot program in Washington State is successful, expect to see a lot of babies going to work with their parents.

In June, state officials enacted the "Infant-at-Work Program Policy," which lets new moms, dads, and legal guardians working at the Traffic Safety Commission bring their babies to the office. They must be at least 6 weeks old, and can continue to come in until they are 6 months old, or start to crawl. When announcing the program, officials said research proves letting parents stay with their infants "supports critical bonding, healthy infant brain development, and parental well-being. It also enables exclusive breastfeeding, which improves lifelong health."

So far, it's been an ideal arrangement, communications consultant Erica Stineman said. Stineman brings her 4-month-old daughter, Lydia, into the office three days a week. "It was really exciting to know that I wasn't going to have to be bringing her to day care after eight weeks of being on maternity leave," she told ABC News. "Having this extra time with her just meant the world to me." Her co-workers say having Lydia in the office boosts morale and has even helped productivity. However, if a baby doesn't enjoy being chained to a desk from 9 to 5, that infant will be asked to leave. "In the policy we do say that if baby is having a really bad day or very fussy or gets sick, mom takes baby home," commission spokeswoman Shelly Baldwin says. "We haven't had to do that yet."

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for TheWeek.com. Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and EW.com, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.