Did you know that more than 5 million students in college are currently pregnant or parenting? Being a parent shouldn’t stop you from attending classes and graduating from college. But many mothers and fathers are if they can bring their baby (incl. newborn) to their college campus, e.g. when they attend classes.
You can bring your baby to college but you’ll probably need to inform your professor and ask for permission first. However, 49% of four-year colleges offer on-campus child daycare centers. Or there are child-friendly colleges you can attend.
- Is it hard to go to college with a baby?
- Challenges of having a baby while you’re in college
- Common reasons of why you would need to take your baby with you to college
- How to go to college with a baby
- What if you get pregnant in college
- How to study with a baby around
- Can you live on campus (in a dorm) with a baby?
- Child-friendly college programs
- Final thoughts
Is it hard to go to college with a baby?
Yes, it can be difficult to attend college with a baby but it’s not impossible to do. There are some colleges that are baby friendly and provide the services you need to take care of your child while you’re studying. Some colleges offer family housing for students who are parents.
Challenges of having a baby while you’re in college
Being a parent can be extremely difficult at times and will be even more of a challenge while you’re studying. Being a college student requires self-discipline and dedication and so does having a child. Juggling both responsibilities might have the following challenges:
- Not enough rest: Babies tend to wake up during the night or early morning for feeding or nappy changes. This can cause erratic sleeping patterns which can cause you to feel tired and drained during the day when you need to attend lessons.
- Lack of concentration: You may be worried about your baby’s well being especially if your little one is sick. This can decrease your concentration when you’re studying.
- No time to study: Your baby will require plenty of attention especially when your little one becomes fussy. You may find it difficult to study when your baby needs your attention.
- Taking time off: Some colleges advise mothers to take the first semester off when they have a baby so they’re there when the baby needs to feed. This means you’ll spend a lot of time away from your studies
Common reasons of why you would need to take your baby with you to college
Although it’s not extremely common for parents to bring their babies to campus, sometimes it’s unavoidable. As long as you inform your professors that you’ll need to bring your baby to class with you. Here are common reasons you may need to bring your baby with you to college.
Daycare too expensive (off and on campus)
Close to 70% of college students work. But if you’re a parent you may not have the time to juggle a job, college, and a baby. This means you won’t always have funds for expensive daycare centers on or off campus. So this may be one of the reasons you’ll need to bring your baby with you to college.
No relatives or other family members available
Some colleges are far away from home or family members so you won’t have anyone close to you to take care of your baby. If you don’t want to miss your classes you may have to bring your baby to college with you for the day so you can continue with your studies.
No babysitter available
Babysitters may not always be available to take care of your baby when you need to attend classes. Sometimes babysitters can cancel at the last minute leaving you with no option but to take your baby with you to college.
Your baby is still breastfeeding
Some mothers will need to take their babies with them to college if their little ones are still breastfeeding. You could use a breast pump especially made for travel to put milk into a bottle but some babies prefer to feed on the breast. In this case, you’ll need to feed your baby between classes. Title IX protects mothers who need to breastfeed or pump milk while they’re on campus.
How to go to college with a baby
There are ways you can go to college with your baby. Simply make sure you have the right items with you such as natural pacifiers, blankets, and stroller shades to keep your baby comfortable in bright and noisy classrooms.
Decide first if you really need to go with a baby
Firstly, you should decide whether it’s really necessary for you to bring a baby with you to class. If you have a babysitter or someone in your family that can help take care of your baby then you don’t need to bring your little one to class. However, if you don’t want to be away from your baby there are ways you can learn without attending your college such as:
- Online courses
- Getting notes taken from classmates
- Watching live videos of classes
- Asking classmates to record the class on their phones for you
Ask your professor what he or she thinks
If you still want to attend your classes with your baby you should ask your professor what the best course of action is. You are protected under Title IX so you can bring your baby with you to college but you should get the opinion of your professor first.
Your professor may allow you to bring your baby with you to class but remember, you may disturb other students if your baby starts crying during the lesson.
Ensure safety for your baby
Your main priority is the safety of your baby. Do you think that your college environment is a safe place for a baby? Crimes can happen anywhere even at the most expensive Ivy League colleges. Or your baby might hit herself since typically a class environment is not really meant to be baby-safe.
Make sure that if you take your baby with you that you are always around other students and that you never leave your baby’s side.
Enroll in a fewer number of classes
If having a baby in college is too stressful you can opt to take fewer classes so that you don’t have too much work to do. Fewer classes mean less studying and more time spent taking care of your baby and having fun with your little one.
Prepare for each day
Whether you’re at college or taking a stroll in the park with your baby you’ll need to prepare for each day. You’ll need a diaper bag or backpack so you can pack all your baby’s essential items such as diapers, wipes, snacks, and formula.
Your baby may not want to sleep through your classes so it’s important to pack quiet toys your little one can play with so he or she is kept entertained. You should also take recordings of your class in case you get distracted by your baby and miss important information during the lesson. You can go back to the recording at a later stage to listen to the parts you missed.
Scholarships or grants to apply for
You may think that having a baby in college will set you back. But you’ll be happy to know that there are colleges that offer grants. Here are some you can apply for:
- Birthright International: This organization helps mothers and expecting mothers with financial solutions and housing.
- Go Girl! Grant: If you want better opportunities this organization will help you with your financial needs as a mother.
- Federal Student Aid: Here you can get help to pay for college with low-interest rates
- Single Parents Alliance of America: You can find safe and affordable housing with this organization.
- CoAbode: Provides safe house-sharing amongst single mothers.
Know where the “baby spots” are on campus
One day when your baby is safe with a loved one or a babysitter take the time to find baby-friendly spots around your campus. Walk around to see where there are ramps that will work well if you’re pushing your baby in a stroller. Additionally, find bathrooms that have baby changing tables because not all the campus bathrooms will have this feature.
Take a look at the baby care center to see if it’s safe and affordable if you need to attend an exam and need a place where your baby will be safe. And finally, take a look at the eating areas such as the cafeteria or the gardens to see if it’s a safe place to have lunch when you’re with your baby.
Relax (and read)
Looking after a baby, juggling classes, and trying to keep up with your studies can be stressful for a parent. So it’s important to take a moment to relax. Take a look at meditation for parents and moms that need to unwind. Or read this book: Professor, May I Bring My Baby to Class?: A Student Mother’s Guide to College.
What if you get pregnant in college
If you get pregnant in college it’s important not to panic. Based on a survey 50% of college students have unexpected pregnancies. But it’s important to understand your rights as a pregnant student in college. Pregnant students are protected by Title IX. This means you are allowed to attend college and even live in dorms while you are pregnant.
How to study with a baby around
Since you’re a parent now you don’t have the free time you once had to study whenever you needed to without disturbances. One piece of advice I can give you is to be flexible with your time. Your baby isn’t going to conform when you want to study. So the best thing to do is study when your baby is napping or when your little one is playing in his or her playpen.
You can also ask a loved one to assist you with taking care of the baby while you’re studying. Or rotate baby duties with your partner so you have the time you need to complete your work.
Can you live on campus (in a dorm) with a baby?
There are colleges that allow you to live on campus and in a dorm with your baby for a certain amount of time such as Endicott College. Other colleges don’t allow students to live in their dorms with their babies. In this case, you will have to apply for family housing which most colleges offer at affordable costs to students who are parents.
Child-friendly college programs
If you become a parent before you apply for college then you’ll need to find a college that’s child-friendly. A study shows that 1 out of 5 undergraduate students has a child. If you have a dependent but would still like to study then here is a list of colleges that parents can attend:
- Berea College: Provides family-friendly accommodation and programs that are for students who are parents.
- Endicott College: Offers a Keys to Degrees program for academically qualified parents who are single. Parents between the ages of 18 and 24 can live on campus with their children.
- Mills College: College students who are parents get priority family housing and this college offers emergency loans for single parents.
- College of Saint Mary: Has a Mothers Living and Learning program for single mothers.
As you can see there are colleges and programs specifically designed for parents or single mothers who want to study and live with their babies on campus. As a mother or an expecting parent, you are protected by Title IX so you won’t be discriminated against if you need to bring your baby with you to college.
And what about the case when you need to go to your dentist – can you bring your baby with you?