— -- Bring-your-child-to-work day has a whole new meaning for Washington state employees in a pilot program that allows parents to bring their babies to the office.
The “Infant-at-Work Program Policy,” enacted in June at the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, allows babies ages six weeks to six months, or until they can crawl, to come to work with their parents.
Parents are defined by the program as new mothers, fathers or legal guardians.
First-time mom Erica Stineman, a communications consultant for the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, brings her 4-month-old daughter, Lydia, into the office three days per 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,” Stineman told ABC News. “Having this extra time with her just meant the world to me.”
In announcing the program, Washington state officials wrote that, “Research proves that allowing a parent and infant to remain together in the earliest stage of life supports critical bonding, healthy infant brain development and parental well-being. It also enables exclusive breastfeeding which improves lifelong health.”
Stineman’s co-workers say that Lydia has proven to be the perfect colleague.
“In a lot of ways it’s helped productivity,” Chris Madill, the commission’s deputy director, said. “Morale is high and it’s been a good thing for our office.”
The pilot program in the 22-person office of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission is modeled on a similar effort undertaken earlier this year by the state’s Department of Health.
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission’s infant policy has at least one protection to ensure that the youngest colleagues do not affect productivity too much.
“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,” said Shelly Baldwin, a spokeswoman for the agency. “We haven’t had to do that yet.”