New Zealand Speaker Feeds and Rocks Baby During Debate in Parliament

The baby is the son of MP Tamati Coffey, who recently returned from paternity leave.

A very special guest sat in on a hearing in New Zealand's parliament this week. 

Trevor Mallard, the speaker in the country's House of Representatives, held and rocked a colleague's newborn son as he presided over a debate Wednesday.

Tutanekai Smith-Coffey is the son of Tamati Coffey, a member of parliament who recently returned from paternity leave. "Normally the Speaker’s chair is only used by Presiding Officers but today a VIP took the chair with me," Mallard tweeted. "Congratulations @tamaticoffey and Tim on the newest member of your family." 

Little Tutanekai, who is only about a month old, captured lawmakers' hearts during his visit. "Lovely to have a baby in the House, and what a beautiful one!" member of parliament Gareth Hughes tweeted. 

It isn't the first time a baby has sat in on legislative proceedings in the country.  

MP Willow-Jean Prime brought her baby daughter to parliament and breastfed her there in 2017. And New Zealand's own prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has been open about what it takes to balance her life as a politician and a new mother after becoming the second world leader to give birth while in office in 2018. 

Politicians in Australia, Iceland and other countries have also made history by breastfeeding their babies during legislative sessions. Larissa Waters became the first woman to breastfeed in Australia Federal Parliament in 2018. 

In 2016, Icelandic lawmaker Unnur Bra Konradsdottir addressed her colleagues while breastfeeding her 6-week-old. 

“It’s like any job, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” Konradsdottir said at the time. 

Last year, the U.S. Senate voted to change its rules to allow all senators — men and women — to bring their children under age 1 onto the floor and allow lawmakers to breastfeed there as well. 

It was passed after Sen. Tammy Duckworth became the first woman to give birth while serving as a senator in 2018. 

Around the world, these barrier-breaking parents are showing all of us how challenging and sweet it is to balance work and family — and their babies are reminding lawmakers whose future they're working for.