Table of contents
- Create dedicated spaces for work
- Arrange a child care schedule
- Inform colleagues that there’s a baby at home
- Use a baby carrier while working from home
- “Contain” the baby!
- Get noise-cancelling headphones
- Set up soundproofing on the walls
- Test out your Zoom background
- Let coworkers meet the baby!
- Connect with other parents at your company
- Alternate daycare drop-off and pick-ups
- Block your calendar for pumping time
- What we considered in writing this list of tips
- There are all different types of care for babies
- Not every job is flexible (every job is different)
- You might live in an apartment, or a house
If you’re working from home and there’s a baby around, you already know that this isn’t an easy feat!
Well, first, it’s because you have a cute baby around the house, and you would rather be playing with them than doing work all day.
Second, it’s because babies can be distracting… and loud. If there’s a baby around, it likely means someone else is taking care of them, but maybe not! Maybe today your baby is under the weather and home from daycare, and you didn’t have time to arrange backup childcare. Maybe your nanny or caretaker called out sick, and you weren’t able to cancel a day of work.
Whichever the case, you’re working from home with a baby and you need some tips. Let’s take a look at all of the ideas that have helped me to get you through working from home with my baby in the house.
Create dedicated spaces for work
As we have discussed before in our guide to the best tips for working from home, you need a dedicated office space for your work if there’s a baby at home.
I’m actually the type of person who prefers to work in the living room. We’ve lived in four apartments since my full-time working from home began in 2020, and in every apartment, my home office has been a standing desk in the living room.
Most people, though, have a dedicated space like a spot in the basement or an entire room with a closed door, for a home office. In designing your perfect work-from-home setup, hopefully you have found what works for you.
The ideal for any remote work professional is to create a dedicated space for a home office, especially one where you won’t see or hear the baby. The goal is to prevent frequent interruptions working at home, and if your work sticks to one spot, the baby will affect your work a whole lot less.
Arrange a child care schedule
I have to call out Becca’s friend and her husband in this part: they had their first child in March 2020 and because of the entire pandemic starting, they both worked from home (first in a one-bedroom NYC apartment, and then in a bigger suburban house) full-time, without daycare for the baby, nor a nanny/caretaker.
They diligently split up their full-time work-from-home schedules hour by hour, taking turns watching the baby and playing with the baby, and made it work for a LONG time. They prove that when there’s a will (to work from home with a baby), there’s certainly a way.
Most people think they’ll save money by working from home, but these friends of ours really take the cake by having saved on expensive childcare fees.
In any case, most people won’t have the flexible types of jobs nor the patience to have this work out, and childcare is totally worth every penny (as we see it). Having a care schedule for the baby will create predictability, whether it’s a grandparent caring for the baby in afternoons, or daycare from 8:30 to 5 (like ours, now that our baby is older).
If you’re able to only have a nanny for a 5-hour part of the day, be consistent about expectations when there’s a baby around the house and you’re working from home. For the other 3 hours of the workday, follow the tips below.
Inform colleagues that there’s a baby at home
It’s definitely helpful, both for being transparent as well as creating empathy, to tell colleagues that there’s a baby at home. If your home office is nowhere near where the baby plays, sleeps and eats, then your coworkers may never hear or see the baby.
But if you are working from home in an apartment or you like working in an open area of the house, there may be a glimpse of the baby. By either a short mention that there’s a baby nearby, or by connecting with a coworker who may even have the same situation of a baby at home, you can create trust!
By showing your team that you can excel, even with a baby around, they will hopefully be impressed.
Use a baby carrier while working from home
Becca’s really the one in our house who uses the baby carrier. Friends and moms in her “mom group” told her within the first few weeks of parenting that she needed to start “baby-wearing” in order to be hands-free and get stuff done. It was true!
If you are working from home with your partner and your partner has a meeting, you might be on “baby duty.” If you have to get something done for work, pop your child into a carrier (we recommend the Explore Carrier for being pretty heavy-duty).
Use a baby carrier at a standing desk
Becca had great success in “wearing” our infant in a baby carrier and working at her standing desk (which is the Flexispot Comhar).
If you don’t have a standing desk yet, I suggest checking out or list of the best budget-friendly standing desks for having this be an option for you.
Having your baby in a baby carrier lets you be hands-free. Becca has found that the key to baby-wearing and working simultaneously on a laptop or full screen setup is using a standing desk. Just make sure that you use my tips for using a standing desk and get an anti-fatigue standing mat, or wear cushioned house shoes like my Kane Footwear Revives to support the stress on your feet.
Currently, the most supportive baby carrier we’ve found is the Explore Carrier from Baby Tula. You can see more photos and details at Becca’s Baby Tula Explore Carrier review.
“Contain” the baby!
If you have to get something done while working at home and YOU’re the one on baby duty, do what my friends call “containing” your baby in some type of seat. For young babies who are not mobile, this is easier (until they get bored, fed up or need to eat or nap). For older babies who want to be mobile, the challenge is keeping them occupied if they’re going to be left in one spot.
For 0-4 months, we had luck with the BabyBjorn bouncer and the 4Moms MamaRoo. The disclaimer for all these products is to never leave a child unattended in them, nor let them sleep in these bouncing or moving seats.
For 5-7 months when our daughter started sitting and wanting to be upright all the times, we got the SkipHop “upright baby seat” with activities. It’s like a sitting chair, and we’d put her in there to play with the three toys, and chew on some teething beads. She could stay put in this for quite a bit of time.
For 7-8 months, our daughter has enjoyed being mobile in a walker with activities, or at the SkipHop activity center. For babies 8+ months who want to scoot or crawl, hopefully you have the space for a contained play pen or play yard.
Right now our daughter is 10 months, and while she likes to “try to crawl” around our home, she’s also happy sitting in an area where she can play with interactive toys and pick up some baby puff snacks to eat.
If you’re working from home and something comes up like a surprise meeting with your boss or an unexpected “sync” with teammates or a client, hopefully one of these tips works, depending on your infant’s age.
Get noise-cancelling headphones
I’ve had a journey with noise-cancelling headphones. Honestly, they are the remote work setup improvement that I really can’t function without.
I originally was using these Sony over-ear noise-cancelling headhpones, and I’ve since started using the AirPods Pro. These were helpful in blocking out some baby cries and sounds in the newborn days, and both products have helped me concentrate if there’s playing or feeding in the background.
Set up soundproofing on the walls
In my guide to how to get rid of the echo in your home office, I talk about getting soundproof panels.
Maybe your home office shares a room with your baby’s room. Maybe the baby always cries when he or she is going down for a nap (or maybe this is unpredictable). These sound panels work such that they add acoustic soundproof padding, and you can add them to a wall.
They can be removed from walls as well, without any holes being needed.
Test out your Zoom background
Pretty soon I learned that my meeting background should be blurred if I wanted to have productive remote meetings. In our last apartment, my desk faced the door to our baby’s nursery, and Becca would sometimes walk by in the background with a fussy baby!
I kept my desk there because I like being out in the open in our apartments, and I don’t get distracted easily when I’m deep in work. If you are working out in the open in a living room or a home office space where the baby could pass by, test out the “blur factor” of your Zoom background.
Let coworkers meet the baby!
Have you seen those jokes about if you’re working from home with a cat, it’s mandatory to let your coworkers see the cat during the Zoom meeting?
Well, with a baby, who wouldn’t want to meet a baby over Zoom? A few times, I’ve had Becca bring over our baby and she “meets” my colleagues. It’s a great way to form rapport with new coworkers, if they can put the baby’s face to their name.
After all, babies are the cutest coworkers.
Connect with other parents at your company
If you’re working at a company that lets remote workers stay connected with one another, join the “Parents” channel on Slack, or whichever communication platform is used professionally and socially.
If a way for parents to connect with one another doesn’t exist, then start one! It helps everyone share tips, share ideas, ask for advice and of course, share milestones of their kids.
Alternate daycare drop-off and pick-ups
While this tip doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone, if you and your partner are working from home and you have a baby, make sure to evenly split up daycare (or nanny-share) drop-offs and pick-ups. Currently, I handle drop-off while Becca handles pick-up. It’s because Becca works on our website full-time (learn about us here!), and she’s pretty flexible.
I’m putting this under “how to work from home with a baby” because once the baby comes home, it’s likely that one or both of you may be a) trying to entertain the baby or feed them and b) finishing up work for the day until dinnertime.
Block your calendar for pumping time
I’ll let Becca take the reins on this section, as she has been the one in charge of feeding our daughter until she started solid food (which I take care of).
Becca says: “Some new mothers may be exclusively pumping as their way of feeding the baby. If you are an exclusive pumper, you’ll have to be blocking time off your calendar to get pumping done, even if (!) the baby is around. If you are the parent who is exclusively pumping and also working from home full-time, make sure childcare (or naps) is arranged during those times every day.
If your partner is out of the house during the day (works from an office or commutes), I salute you and respect you a ton for pumping and working full-time. The hardest thing ever is to be caring for a baby while pumping, because you have to stay put and it’s hard to pick up the baby.
I’d recommend connecting with other mothers in this situation, as it’s challenging both physically as well as mentally. It also helps to be transparent with your coworkers about how demanding this can be, so that they can visualize the situation if they have no experience with it.”
(You can also get directly in touch with Becca for any tips or for what has worked.)
What we considered in writing this list of tips
No two work-from-home situations are alike, and I took that into account as I thought of these tips, and thought of all the professionals I know with diverse backgrounds. Here’s what I thought about.
There are all different types of care for babies
We have friends with all sorts of different scenarios. Among our friends, and us, there are all sorts of varied maternity and paternity leave policies, from doctors who get 3 weeks of leave, to tech employees who get 6 months. If one parent has a long parental leave, then that partner is probably caring for the baby while the other works from home full-time.
Some families are able to hire nannies to come to their home, or participate in a “nanny share,” which is something popular near where we live. Other families have grandparents close by, and they may be retired and able to help care for a child if you’re working from home.
I keep mentioning daycare. If you have daycare, maybe you send your child during business hours Monday through Friday, but some parents choose to do three or four days a week, depending on their work schedule, or budget constraints.
Not every job is flexible (every job is different)
Wow, this is for sure: no two jobs were created equal. Some jobs require meetings and calls all day, and some jobs only require a minimal number of video meetings. You may even have meeting-free Fridays, like I have.
The other thing is that some jobs are flexible, and some are not. For the friends of Becca’s I mentioned above, they were able to finish their work at night after the baby went to sleep; however, some jobs aren’t of this nature, and everything has to meaningfully take place strictly during the 9-5.
You might live in an apartment, or a house
We’re writing this list from our experience living in an apartment, which, given, is a bit more intense (if you’re working from home with a baby) than living in a house where you may have a basement or dedicated bedroom for your home office.
Living in an apartment while working from home with our baby around definitely threw us for a spin (especially on rainy days, if you know what I mean).
Why I wrote this list (and why trust me?)
I worked from home full-time starting when our daughter was 6 weeks old. Becca was on maternity leave and cared for our baby full-time, all the way until I took my parental leave when our baby was 6 months.
Working from home was sometimes easy, and sometimes a challenge. In fact, the biggest challenge was that I wanted to be around to take our baby for taking walks, playing with her and generally being around.
In any case, I got to experience working from home in an apartment when a baby was around. This meant when Becca would walk past my video meetings going into our daughter’s room for playing, or getting her ready to go for a walk.
Everything changed when our daughter started daycare at 9 months. She comes home at 5:15 or 5:30, but sometimes I’m still working til 6pm. Then, we get back into the whole thing of working from home with a baby!
I hope this list was helpful for you. If you are having a tough time, just remember that babies grow up and it won’t be like this forever! Make sure to spend time with your child, because they change all the time and get bigger so fast.
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