A cooing baby in the next cubicle? It may sound like a recipe for distraction to some, but programs that allow parents to take their infants to work are growing across the country. The newly established Parenting in the Workplace Institute has a database of more than 70 U.S. companies that allow babies at work, and founder Carla Moquin says she is constantly including more. “I believe that this is actually a lot more prevalent than I’ve found so far,” she says, adding that many companies are slow to establish formal policies but often make ad hoc arrangements for individual employees.
Those informal agreements are paving the way for official policies, particularly as more women move into protocol-setting positions. While working as the executive director of her state’s trial lawyer’s association earlier in her career, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius took her two infant sons to the office and has been an advocate for workplace parenting ever since. Today, 21 state agencies in Kansas allow parenting in the office. “We live in a society where too many people make workers choose–do you want to be a good parent, or do you want to be a good worker?” says Sebelius, whose oldest is now 26.