Yes, there really is a baby spending all day at Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa these days.

In fact, the organization announced a new and innovative policy that allows parents – mothers, fathers and guardians – to have babies at work up to age 6 months or when the infant begins to crawl, whichever comes first.

The idea was brought to CEO Beth Shelton when one employee was expecting a child and broached the topic.

“My gut instinct was how could we possibly do this?” Shelton said today during a phone conversation with the Business Record. “We chose to do this because we want our mission to inform our operations, and not the other way around.”

The Girls Scouts researched and talked with other companies in the country that offer similar policies.

There are some contingencies in place. There’s a spot now called the quiet room. If infants are fussing for more than five minutes, the parent can take the child to that area until he or she is calm. There’s also a list of alternate care providers for parents. On the other hand, a co-worker could request to not have an infant nearby and accommodations would be made, Shelton explained.

Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa has 50 full-time employees and 70 part-time workers. They are located in multiple locations.

Of note: Seven workers have new infants or are expecting, Shelton said.

“We are really changing our culture,” she said. “Babies are part of the gig.

“Think of all those moments we miss out on as working parents. It’s amazing to see. It’s not one or the other. … They can pursue an amazing career and still soak in those smiles and nurse. They are not mutually exclusive.”

Shelton has three children and understands the need for flexibility to balance life and family. In a Facebook post about Infants at Work, she wrote: “We know this is ‘disruptive.’ We know babies cry. We know they need attention and care and diapers and quiet places. And yes, we also know that productivity will dip for parents who are multitasking with their infant present. That’s true. But we also know that we want to attract and retain talented employees, provide economic savings for employees, and support employees in their transition back to work.”

The Business Record regularly reports on Iowa’s need for attracting and retaining talented and skilled workers, the same as Shelton’s post describes. Infants at Work may not be the answer for every company or organization, but it offers food for thought.