5 reasons I don’t leave my babies in the church nursery

The church that our family attends has a wonderful children’s program.

There are classes for kids (nursery through high school). In the summer and during school breaks, there are camps and outings and service projects. The whole thing is organized quite efficiently. The classes are clean and bright. The people are nice. In fact, Susan (the woman who is in the 2-year-old classroom almost every week) is fantastic with kids and is super conscientious about their health & well-being.

That said, I still don’t leave my almost-3-year-old in the class (and I never have). Nor do I leave her 5-month-old sister in the nursery.

It’s obviously a very personal decision and I certainly respect that many parents feel differently than I do for a variety of reasons…and that is perfectly okay. Every child and every family is different. But I thought I’d share my “reasons” in case you’re curious why we do the things we do:

1. I don’t want my baby to cry. If I leave my baby in a stranger’s arms, she cries…which I think is perfectly healthy and good. Quite frankly, “Separation Anxiety” gets a bad rap in our culture. It’s actually a very positive thing, in my opinion. It seems to me that a baby should cry if they are left in the care of someone unfamiliar. It’s actually a bit disconcerting to me that our culture will look at a baby who can be dropped off anywhere with anyone without crying and say, “What a well-adjusted baby!” And then, when a baby cries when dropped off in an unfamiliar setting, people shake their heads and say, “tsk. tsk.” It baffles me, really. I actually tend to think the opposite. If a baby cries when given to a stranger, I tend to think “What a smart and astute baby. She really knows her parents.

why I dont leave my baby in the church nursery1 5 reasons I dont leave my babies in the church nurserySo my 5-month-old stays right where she should be – close to me, close to my heart. And we accompany her big sister to the 2-year-old class. My 2-year-old and I have had many conversations about the kids’ class and she likes it, but always politely asks me to stay with her. She assures me that she will go to the class by herself “when I get bigger.” And I am 100% okay with that. Pretty soon, she’ll be scampering off and waving “good-bye” – just like that. For now, we’ll stay together.

2. I don’t want someone else to change my child’s diaper/take my child to the potty. Again, this is totally a personal preference thing, but I just like to do “personal hygiene” tasks myself. My husband and I try to instill a sense of “privacy” and modesty in our girls – and I’d rather them not think it’s okay for others to see their sweet bottoms.

3. I don’t want my kids to get sick. Babies slobber on everything. Toddlers don’t know to cover their mouths when they sneeze. So they gladly “share” their sicknesses (snotty noses, coughs, sore throats, etc.). I’m always surprised when I talk to a parent on Saturday and hear that their child is throwing up…and then they come waltzing up to the kids’ area on Sunday to drop off their child. It happens surprisingly often.

4. The ratio of kids to adults is too high. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the focus, energy, and physicality that is required to care for my two girls – and I just have two. Then, I go to the “kids’ class” at church and there are over ten 1 and 2 year olds…and two adults. They do a phenomenal job, but they only have four hands between them.

sisters august 2009 5 reasons I dont leave my babies in the church nursery5. MOST OF ALL, I want to be with my kids. I like being with my kids. Sometimes people ask me if I want to leave my baby in the nursery and “get a break” – and I’m sure I get a rather quizzical expression on my face. Because that wouldn’t be a break for me.

A break would be hanging out in my 2-year-old’s room in our pajamas, watching her jump “high in the sky” on her bed and then reading story after story under the covers, stopping to make her baby sister smile and laugh. Yes, I fully acknowledge that “playing the day away” (as my 2-year-old calls it) is exhausting too – but it’s also oddly comforting.

A break would be going for a run or out to coffee with my 5-month-old and a friend for an hour, while my husband has some daddy-daughter time with my older one.

A break would be an evening walk with my family.

But leaving my baby in a nursery? A break, that is not.

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When I first had my older daughter, I felt a bit self-conscious about our decision. I felt questioning eyes on me when I brought my baby into the church service week-after-week. I felt timid, unsure.

But now I don’t. Now, I realize what works for our family and do it – gently, peacefully, with a smile on my face.

  • Kimberly/Mom in the City

    My husband and I oversee the Children’s Ministry at our church. Still, with our oldest son, one of us stayed in class with him (by volunteering to teach) until he was 3/ready to stay in class alone. Our younger son is more independent by nature and he has enjoyed staying in class by himself since he was 6 months or so.

    Whatever works for each individual family – that’s our mindset….

    • Amy

      While I agree with your statements, and I agree that it isn’t good to leave your child with a stranger, once you get to know the workers, it may not be so bad. Once a child gets to a certain age, they can be quite disruptive, because they are kids! When everyone is trying to listen to the sermon and there’s a kid making loud noises, though you think it is sweet, others do not. Try to keep that in mind. Of course, not every child is disruptive, but if your youngster is, remember that there is a safe place for her to be as loud as she wants… in the nursery.

  • http://crazydogslife.blogspot.com Blessed

    My almost two-year-old will be starting to go to kids church in a couple of weeks. We’re excited for her to go… but she’s ready, and her Auntie is one of the teachers, and I’ll be teaching again this winter and it’s a small class (we have a very small church) she’ll be the youngest, the oldest is her 12 year old cousin and there are three teachers – for 10 to 15 kids, it works out well.

    I remember visiting a church with my Dad when I was 6 years old, they insisted that he, a single dad, needed a break and I should stay in the nursery. I completely freaked out and had a total melt-down that I still remember almost 30 years later. We never went back to that church… a few months later we started attending a different church, and I was welcomed into the sanctuary with my Daddy. It was good, a couple of months later, when I was ready, I ventured into the kids church and enjoyed it, at my own pace and in my own time. I’m so thankful my Daddy let me do it that way.

  • http://www.mamasparkles.blogspot.com Marissa

    Our church starts Nursery class at 18 months. My son hated it at first, and would cry if I left him. So I stayed with him for a couple of months. Now he loves it! He runs off to his class and dives right in to the activities. Of course he’s always excited when we pick him up which makes me happy :)

  • http://www.das-leben-der-lundquisten.blogspot.com melissa

    And here, I wish there was something for kids to go to! Without having an option of a church nursery or younger children’s class, I am adjusting my 15 month old son to sitting with me for the first part of the church services (my husband is involved with music). Then during the preaching/prayer time; we go to a separate play room.

    A question I have for you is … how do you feel about babysitters?

  • http://www.simplythingsfamily.blogspot.com Lisa

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. We do use our church nursery, since it is clean and modern with trained staff. We did not at our old church for all of those reasons were lacking.
    I am amazed though at the number of parents who seem to need the break and can’t wait to get rid of their youngsters for a couple hours a week. Time goes by quick and you need to be with them as much as possible when they are young.
    Thanks! I always love your posts and thoughts.

  • Summer

    I think all of those reasons are valid but I still send my kids to nursery when they are 18 months. That’s the youngest age limit for our nursery. If the children need to be changed or use the bathroom then one of the nursery leaders will bring them to the parent and then we return them to nursery when that’s done.

    As for illness, it’s already pretty much unavoidable since my two oldest attend school and I’ve always been one to think minor illness is great to get to strengthen immunity!

  • http://www.nunnallyfamilyfun.blogspot.com Melissa

    We weren’t attending church regularly when my son was a little baby. I did go to a mom’s Bible study one day a week and he always stayed with me. I too agree with the crying baby when left with strangers. Once we found our current church and started going regularly we slowly started introducing him to his “class” room. Just for a little bit at a time. But now he loves it and walks right into his room and waves to us. I think it is good for him now because he seemed totally ready. And for that 1 hour a week I am ok being away from him too. But I am so excited to pick him up right after the church service. When our next baby comes I will take him/her with us into the service until they are ready also.
    Good for you to sticking to what is best for your family!

  • http://www.ourgreennest.blogspot.com Our Green Nest

    I agree with all of those so much!!! How true about a crying baby – seriously. This is something I’ve been struggling with b/c I don’t want to leave my baby (20 months) with people I just met…it’s not something I’m comfortable with AT ALL. Plus, like you said, I WANT to be with her, take her to the potty, and nurse her whenever she wants! :) I’m just going to do what feels right, which means staying with her until she walks into the classroom w/o looking back (whenever that is!:).

  • Spoodles

    You have very interesting reasons for keeping your kids in service with you. I never considered it that way. I keep mine with me because I think worship should be done as a community, not fragmented into meaningless age groups. Children don’t learn from each other; they learn from adults. Keeping them out of worship service just teaches them that they have to be grown-up to be serious about God.

    • http://ayearwithmomanddad.blogspot.com Julie Kieras

      oh I sooo like that statement “children don’t learn from each otehr; they learn from adults” – that can be so true!!!

      • Beth

        I believe kids can learn from kids too tho… Kids just learn – period. They are little sponges and are soaking things in even when we aren’t aware… I like the idea that my child can sit in a classroom with other children her/his age and learn about the Lord and the Bible in a way their little mind enjoys. I don’t know how much a 6 month old or even 2 year old would be “soaking in” in a “worship service.” My children are active (and let’s admit it, most children are) and would struggle to sit still and listen. And I don’t feel like I should force that. Besides that, “forcing it” before they are old enough to be able to sit that long (really, would you expect them to sit that long at home when they are that young? why make church a place that they dread b/c they have to sit still for so long when they aren’t mentally mature enough for that yet. It doesn’t mean they are LD, it just means they are their age! My children are quite bright, but could not sit still in a sanctuary for almost 2 hours without disrupting other people and ourselves… that’s just being real.) I appreciate that my church offers classes with caring Godly teachers who are teaching the Bible to my child in a fun and active way. It works with the way their little minds work and when they get older and are ready for more “deep” knowledge of God, I will bring them into the service with me. And even better, by that time, they will know how to sit still and behave because they have been learning to sit still and listen little by little over the years that they have been exposed to Bible stories and God in Sunday School. Besides, I don’t leave all of that teaching to my church. We do most of that at home with our children and church is just a supplement of that. Just my thoughts… I agree people can do what they want. I just think they should be more realistic. And sometimes I think people just jump on other people’s “band wagons” b/c they don’t want to just follow the “status quo.” I’m not saying we should always follow what others are doing. But SOME of “those things” others are doing b/c they have worked and are practical. Just my two cents.

  • Alyssa

    I agree 100%. No one seems to understand that I don’t want a break from my baby. I love her to pieces and spending time with her is wonderful. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I also don’t leave her with babysitters or the nursery at church. People have made me feel bad because of my decisions but the way I look at it now is, “if my baby isn’t welcome, then neither am i” I take her everywhere with me, she doesn’t “bother” me. Our society views children as nuisances.

  • Ashley

    Being a mom has made me totally confident in my decisions and opinions about parenting and life in general. If I think a certain way, but others don’t…that’s okay! My kids LOVE going to their classes at church. I always have to ask my son to come back to give me a kiss, because he always runs in. He even asks when we are going to church next, so he can see his friends. I do however, and have always cringed at the mom’s that talk about their kids having a fever or throwing up the night before, and then they bring them to church. There should be a sign posted on every door entering “kids church” saying,”If you or any of your family members have been throwing up in the last 72hrs, PLEASE stay home and rest”!!

  • http://www.mamanash.com/ Jenny N.

    We also do not use the nursery during church on Sundays. Like you, one of my top reasons is because of the germs. Ick! But my other reason is that I firmly believe that attending regular Sunday church should be a family event. Not time for a “break”! I want to instill in my kids that we take time out of our busy weeks to give praise and thanksgiving. God isn’t just for adults!

    I once heard someone say that they love when babies babble at church because it sounds like their very own way of being jubilant about God. What a cute way to think about it rather than constantly trying to shush them.

    • Beth

      I agree it certainly is cute – to us moms… and maybe to our friends who sit around us… for a few weeks… but week after week, it gets distracting. Not only for the people sitting around the child, but for the preacher himself, depending on the circumstances. I’m not saying it should be “gospel law” to use the nursery, but fear of germs shouldn’t be something that keeps us from using it and then try to excuse that fear by saying our children are “worshipping” with us. I realize it’s “distracting” to some mothers to leave their children in the nurseries b/c it’s hard to mentally focus, but I have learned that the more you do it, the less worried and distracted you become when you realize that your baby was okay, and then as they get older and older, they are not just “okay” but they actually LOVE playing in there. And as for germs… Research shows that exposure to germs and minor sicknesses here and there are actually GOOD for the child’s immunity. I find it interesting that many of my friends who are “afraid” of germs are the ones who’s kids are always sick…and of course this adds to their fear of germs. But it’s really that lack of exposure to common germs (I’m not saying send them to your girlfriend’s house when her son has the pukes or her daughter has green snot leaking from her nose and spewing out with her sneezes, of course) that leads to more illnesses. I think just being practical is wise. Common sense and practicality go a long way. :-)

      • Ellie

        My friends who leave their kids at all the free childcare places at church or the gym have kids who are always sick, have the stomach virus, ear infections, etc. My kids, who I keep with me, and other like-minded moms, have kids who are rarely or never sick. Exposing to good germs means like dirt and outdoor type germs and not using hand sanitizer – NOT the stomach flu! You can’t ever build up an immunity to a stomach virus or the common cold. That is basic knowledge. Putting your child around fecal matter (common in public play areas) does not build up their immune system. And advising a mother to keep leaving her child until she gets over it and it isn’t hard anymore is very sad advice. Mothers belong with their children and nurturing is a natural instinct! It is so sad that modern society has changed so drastically to think it is better to leave your kid with a childcare worker instead of their own mother!

  • M.J.

    Before I had my baby, I worked at a church nursery/ daycare. After what I saw regarding cleanliness I keep my baby with me…

    Although, I do look forward to sitting through a whole service in the sanctuary, I’m in no hurry.

  • http://myboyandme.blogspot.com/ Madeline

    I’m the same way. At first people were a little mystified, but they’ve gotten used to it. Naptime is a break, but leaving my little guy screaming for me…not a break…closer to torture actually.

  • Michele

    I feel exactly the same way about leaving my daughter in our church nursery (which starts at 18 months). The thought of others watching my child makes me nervous – I love keeping my two year old daughter by my side. I am blessed to be able to stay at home with her each and every day – and the thought of daycare also scares me for many of the same reasons that you listed above. I understand that many people financially are not able to have this luxury, but for now there are many things that my husband and I sacrifice so that I can be the ONLY one to watch and nurture our daughter (and soon to be second child!) I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • http://www.larsenscrazylife.blogspot.com Cindy

    Our church nursery starts at 18 months. All of my kiddos would cry if I left. So, I stayed with them. The older kid classes start at age 4. By the time they are 4 they are ok on their own. I feel the same way about the privacy thing.
    In our church if a kid needs a change…we get the parent and if they need to go to the bathroom, we get the parent. It is a not allowed for anyone other than the parent to deal with this issue. We also have a rule that if they are sick then they need to stay with a parent. We try to keep the germs down.

    I love the fact that you are close to your kids. That is the way it should be. They are only young once. Take advantage of the stage when they only want YOU. I admire your decisions and think that you are very smart!! :-)

  • Kim

    I completely understand, both sides! I have triplets that are now almost 7. When they were small we were told to not leave the house with them, except to see the Dr., because of the RSV virus. It was really hard to leave them the first time. Then when my youngest came along, he was going to me our last, I wanted to snuggle him. But he had other plans. When he did go I felt that a part of me was missing, because I had had my kids with me all the time, I didn’t know who I was without one in my arms! I work in the nursery at our church, and I try to make it more comfortable for the families who use the nursery, but I also understand that church is ‘family’ time. I would love for people of the ‘older’ generation to understand this, they seem to think that ALL children need to be in the nursery and don’t ‘like’ when a child is kept in the service, and actually get upset when the child is simply being a child. FAMLIES NEED TO DO WHAT FAMILIES NEED TO DO. Church is not to be a judgemental place it is to be an ecouraging place.

    Sorry to get on my soap box, I think you are doing a wonderful thing for your family! I also think you are doing a wonderful thing here for other moms!

    Kim

  • http://www.lettners.blogspot.com Nini Lettner

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. We have a fabulous children’s program at our church. My 2 1/2 year old LOVES going to church. She learns songs, verses, gets to play with friends. She asks when she gets to go again. “Mom is it Sunday today?” I hear that A LOT. That being said, our church encourages keeping children in the service as well. I love that our church is a place where a family can worship TOGETHER and not feel scorned or scoffed at because a child is squawking a bit. I love having my whole family together for music and communion. Sometimes we keep the kiddos with us until after the music is over and then let her go to her classroom. Something that completely melts my heart is when my daughter will ask to listen to or start singing ‘Jesus music’. LOVE IT!

  • Anne at Catholic Mommy Brain

    Totally agree! If the expectation is that he sits with us, and we sit up close so he can see, he gets used to the routine and behaves much better.

  • http://ourjacobsenfamily.blogspot.com The Jacobsen Family

    The nursery at our church is just a quiet room where we can take our babies to feed them or quiet their crying, etc. We have no “nursery” to drop our kids off at. If we did, I wouldn’t take mine either. I like having them with me, and agree with many of your reasons! My kids do go to Sunday School, which is their own class for 45 minutes while we are in our adult Sunday school… And then we are all in the chapel for the sermon. I like being together as a family!

  • http://www.5minutesformom.com Janice (5 Minutes for Mom)

    I stay with my babies and toddlers too. And I have to admit, I often skip going to church when they are very young cause I would rather play with them at home in the morning – I am NOT a morning person! LOL

  • http://my-bloggy-mind.blogspot.com/ Leane

    I feel this way, but also feel this is not a shared opinion with most people. I have had a hard time explaining my opinion on this matter in the past. Your post was spot on!
    I love it. (These are also some of my main reasons for being a full time SAHM.)

  • Andrea McMann

    One thing I did like about the church I grew up in was the “cry room.” It was a room in the balcony, walled off with soundproofing, and a big window so you could see the service. When my grandpa died, my son was very little, and cried during the funeral. I was able to take him up there and still enjoy the memorial without missing out on what was going on, or feeling self-conscious about disturbing anyone.

  • Clara

    My kids were always happy in the church nursery, and many times I volunteered to work in the nursery. All the workers loved and doted on the kids. It really is a one of a kind place that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else. Everyone’s situation is unique and it’s great when moms stand up for themselves and do what is right for their families. And hopefully the church will be a loving, safe place, supportive of each families unique needs.

  • http://everyurlwastaken.blogspot.com Audrey

    I don’t put my daughter in the nursery, and I won’t put my new baby in the nursery when she gets here either.
    Although on the crying thing, I kind of feel left out. My daughter does not have separation anxiety. She never has. I certainly have it (one reason why I don’t put her in the nursery… and why I plan on homeschooling…), but she has never cried in the arms of strangers. Now she’s a little hesitant when she meets people she doesn’t know, but only now that she’s 2. Before, she was fine.
    And if you want to read about why I don’t put my kids in the church nursery, here is the post I wrote about it a while back.
    http://everyurlwastaken.blogspot.com/2009/04/children-in-church.html

  • Erin S.

    i felt a lot of pressure to leave my kids when we first moved to our new home (almost 3 years ago now). it was hard sticking to our guns about not leaving our kids OR staying with them.

    now that i am no longer pregnant i am new on the rotation for the nursery so that i can play a more active part in my child’s experience there. i look forward to encouraging parents to stay with their kids OR just take them back into church with them.

  • http://www.businessmommy.blogspot.com Danielle Miller

    All very good points. I want my little guy to be comfortable around strangers, but I also give him time. I don’t just drop him off and run. Except with my mom. His nanny is an exception. He hates to see me go, but he loves her too.

    But I love it that you do your own thing and don’t worry what others think. You have empowered me to do the same in other areas of my life too. I don’t go to church. I’m one that has been turned off by people that are too critical. I’ve turned to Wicca to follow my own path as God has specifically called me, but it’s hard to go against the groove when all of society says one thing, but your heart says another.

  • http://sillymommy2sillygirls.blogspot.com/ Noreen

    I am the same way. I actually don’t attend church as often because I am always questioned about why I won’t leave my girls. I even dropped out of Moms Club because they always would ask me over and over if I wanted to put my girls in the daycare (funny thing is unlike MOPS you are suppose to beable to keep your child with you at all times)

  • Joy Luce

    1st let me say, you are right, every child, every family is different and entitled to their way of life and raising their child. However, I feel that it is important to create an environment where your children can grow and feel strong as an individual without you at their side at all times. When your child grows up and attends a school or is with friends and you are not with them, they need to have a confidence deep within themselves that comes out, if incase there is peer pressure or wrong choices presented to them. If they are always with mommy and daddy 24/7, this is great, but taking time to give them time away from you, is beneficial to your children. They gain stability and strength within themselves. They realize, “I am a strong person, even when Daddy and Mama are not here with me.” Also if you are a Christian, you should trust a Christian worker to love on your children like God loves us. It is true, humans are fallible, and we make mistakes, but so do we mommies make mistakes at times raising our children. Leaving your 2 year old for a couple of hours should not be a dramatic, intense decision. They are not going to be scared for life, and remember back to their childhood when you left them for 2 hours with a loving caring stranger. When you attend a church regularly, your child will bond with the teacher and /or helpers, and then they will be happy to enter the classroom without crying or kicking or begging you to stay. I let parents know that usually the crying stops within 2-3 min. after the parents leave the room, and I try my best to hold and comfort them until they stop. Or if they are older, 1,2 or 3 I try to distract them with a toy or funny faces or another child will come and help.
    Always pray about situations like this, if you are in doubt. Ask God what He would want you to do for your baby and children.
    1.reason: I can understand that. I hate to hear my baby cry also. And she sometimes does cry when a stranger holds her. At our church you can simply tell the helper/worker that you want to be called if your baby cries for more than 1 min, 2min or 5 min., which ever you prefer. Talk to your church preschool dept. leaders, let them know your concerns, they are there to listen to you.
    2. Diaper changing: I have never heard of this concern before. I think for me I am very picky about who changes my baby’s diaper, but at church I trust the workers there. At our church they have to fill out a background check. Also only women can help children to in the potty area. A man is never allowed to enter a bathroom with a child in our preschool/baby area. I instill in my kids very young that they are the boss of their body and no one is aloud to look or touch them there.
    3. Ratio of adults to kids- at our church we watch this carefully. But you always can take control of the situation by volunteering to serve in that class room where your child is being dropped off. This increases the ratio of adults and you can be assured your child is taken care of, because YOU are there. Children who who have separation anxiety, I ask the parent to stay with their child until they feel like they are ready to be by themselves. This gradually gets the child more independent and comfortable with the new classroom and making new friends.
    5. Can’t leave your children: I struggle with this also. I love my baby and child. I love every minute with them. But I feel it is very healthy to leave them with family or trusted friends to do activities that do not incorporate them. Your are developing independence in this child. Not abandonment. You as a mommy need refreshment and time alone in a bubble bath or a simple coffee outing with another adult or a date night with hubi, give you a time to recharge the mommy batteries. This time away from your kids gives you a sense of your inner person, and a sense of I am more than an awesome mommy, I am a friend, daughter, wife, and sister.
    I have taught the 4 yr. olds class now for 10 years at my church with my husband, we love it. We love our kids in class, and our class loves us and the parents loves us. Your comments are very hurtful to people like us. It says you do not trust us to love and care for your child with the love of Jesus Christ.

  • eva

    I agree 100% with you, i feel the same way, THANK YOU so much. How refreshing to see someone else see things MY way, yeah!!

    Good luck & more power to you.

    CA mom.

  • http://www.5minutesformom.com/ Susan (5 Minutes for Mom)

    I am so happy to hear you say that!!!!

    I always felt badly that I didn’t want to leave my babies in the nursery. Our church has a great nursery, but still… I would bring my baby there and stay with her, but not leave her.

  • adrian

    I totally feel exactly the same way that you do. It is very refreshing to come to your blog and read such thoughtful and insightful articles. I love the part when you state so simply that you enjoy your kids. Exactly! I do not want my kids socialized to the behaviors most kids exhibit, even at our church. I love knowing pretty much everything my 3 and 4 y/o knows. I know when someone says a word that she won’t know it. They are with either me or their dad. Period. I want my children attached to me and our family. I am so happy my husband agrees. Thanks for stating it so nicely!!

  • http://www.magicalchildhood.com A Magical Childhood

    Well said. I completely agree. Many of these reasons are the same reasons we decided to homeschool our children, too. We have wonderful local schools but we frankly enjoy their company and love learning and exploring the world together. I always worry that teachers will think it’s a reflection on them but it’s not. I admire them greatly. We grow our own gardens too, but it’s not a reflection on the local farmers. :)

    I’m sorry Joy took offense but I think your post was well spoken and you were very complimentary towards your nursery and the staff. You are following your heart, which every mother should do!

  • Jen Mc

    We don’t have a nursey at our church, so I don’t have the option. I’m not sure if we would use it or not if we had one.
    Anyway, if you do another post faith/church, I’d love to know how you keep your girls quiet/busy during the service. That is a stuggle we sometimes have with our 2 yr old son.

  • Krista

    I totally agree with you! Some people think I’m nuts that I don’t want others changing his diaper, but its just one of those things. Like you, I don’t think he needs a bunch of people changing it. I hate it when people stand and WATCH me change him!

    I also agree with someones point about church being a community and everyone should worship together regardless of their age. If he gets really fussy we leave, otherwise, he’s in there too. I don’t want to end up with a 12 year old who tries to find ways to get out of the service because he’s never had to sit through it (our church has sunday school during the service for the kids)

    Thanks for much for your post! Its great to know there’s more people who ‘get’ what I’m thinking!

  • Sarah

    Joy Luce, she said she WANTS to be with her kids. i want to be with my kids too! I grow so tired of people saying, “Don’t you ever go anywhere by yourself?” “Don’t you need a break?” NO!!!!!! I love my kids and never grow tired of them!!!!

    The main reason I don’t put my kids in the nursery is because they’re my kids. It’s not anyone else’s responsibility to miss church in order to watch my kid. If we would all just train our kids to sit still and be quiet and love Jesus we wouldn’t have to have nursery workers!

    • Beth

      Food for thought… At what age do you think it’s expected for a child to be able to sit still and be quiet and love Jesus in church? Do you have any boys? Any active children?? Why not train them at home and when they are ready bring them in to sit still, be quiet and love Jesus. In the mean time, a nursery worker has a rotation every so many weeks, so they aren’t missing church regularly, whereas the parents, while they are training their children to sit still be quiet and love Jesus are missing it (even if they are sitting in the service) weekly for how many years until little Joey or Sandy is mature enough to sit still for that long?? I love my children too, but I am also considerate of others and also know their psyche will not be harmed being separated from me for an hour and a half to two hours once a week, especially when they know I am coming back for them. I appreciate the nursery ministry and all of the work involved in it.

  • Zoe

    I just found this post, and am so glad that I’m not the only one who feels this way! Our church has a wonderful nursery – I’ve worked in it, I know the director, etc, etc. But I still don’t want to leave my kids in there. Before my girls were born, I worked in the 18-24 mo nursery room, and said to myself then, “when we have kids, I’m not leaving them here!”. And not because the program isn’t great – they have wonderful workers, great rules about women only doing diapers/potty, background checks, etc. But just for many of the reasons you listed. No one loves my kids as much as me, and no one is going to watch them as carefully. I hate all the germ-sharing that goes on among toddlers, swapped pacifiers, sippy cups, etc.
    For now, we take our kids into the service for the music, then sit in the overflow room that has a closed circuit tv so we can still watch/hear the sermon. It is wonderful. I do feel some social pressure to leave them in the nursery, but reading your post has put some steel in my spine. :)

  • http://ayearwithmomanddad.blogspot.com Julie Kieras

    It’s so good to hear someone else say this… I feel the same way about my 4 month old… although mostly my reasons were for hygiene/health, and I was only planning on keeping him out until I’m done nursing, I think you’ve given me much more to think about, and I will probably delay even longer now. You make sound points!

  • Jennifer

    I believe that a parent’s choice is their own choice, but it also depends on your church and your child. You can’t shelter them forever. If it is a very well staffed nursery and church, you will have a program that does integrate the family into worship but also meets the children at their own level as well. They don’t have preschool and children’s ministers for no reason. A well organized nursery will be sterilized after every single service, so you cannot blame the nursery for your child getting sick. Everyone’s choice is their own but really some of this language sounds like an over protective parent. What are you going to do when you child goes to school? Or are you going to homeschool and before anyone tears me down on saying that, we do homeschool. Our kids are well socialized and yep, they have gone in the nursery from six weeks on (even our preemie), rarely get sick, and we even went straight to church with a baby after checking out of the hospital because that is just the way our family is. Not everyone can be like that and not everyone has kids that stay healthy like ours do, so I do understand that, but let’s not tear down church nurseries. There is a reason for them and children have got to learn to be independent. My children also don’t cry when I leave them because they know I am going to come back for them!!!! A child whose parents have never left them will not know that and so they will naturally cry when dropped off. If it is a habit, the child will be more used to it. Every child is an individual though so do what is best for your child. There is a family at our church that kept their child out for reasons that were listed above. She has turned into a spoiled brat. Sorry but there is no other way to describe it. Now they can’t get her to go into a classroom period and she is very disruptive so they can’t go to the service either. All of this could have been avoided if they had started at a young age on teaching her to go into a classroom with kids her own age. She is not good with interacting with kids her own age either. You can take your child to church with you so you have family worship, but then let them go to an age appropriate Sunday School while you go to yours.

    • Beth

      Well said. Said better than me… Thanks!

  • Beth

    I guess the biggest thing that I am taking issue with here is the “separation anxiety” thing that keeps coming up. It’s as if to say that if I want my child to learn to be independent and not “clingy” to mommy, but to be a confident and well adjusted child, I am considered (by most of you, it seems) to be someone who doesn’t really know what real love of their child is. As if truly loving your child means freaking out if you leave them with someone else or being secretly happy that they cry when you do leave them, or not being able to let them cry? I have left all of my children in the nursery by 3 months old and they never cried at that point b/c let’s face it moms… they were probably sleeping when we dropped them off. They only cried in the nursery if they needed a diaper change or needed to be fed. Other than that, they were “dreams.” Now, when they hit that “stage” where they have separation anxiety (as it is dubbed), they did cry… but for how long? About 2-10 min… So if that is separation anxiety, then they would have cried the whole time for me, until I came back, wouldn’t you say? But they don’t… and neither do your children 90% of the time. It’s called “the flesh” and they are (some of you aren’t going to like me for this, but that’s ok) manipulating you. If they weren’t trying to ‘get their way’ they wouldn’t stop crying once they see that you aren’t coming back. At this point, the nursery is a familiar place to them and the workers they have seen for the past 5-8 months (depending on when the “stage” hits), so they aren’t “freaked out” inwardly that you are leaving them and never coming back… they are hoping to get their way and be with mommy. Which is nice for my self-worth as a mom. But I look at the long term picture. If I give my child everything s/he wants when s/he cries I am starting a pattern that becomes more and more difficult to break. If I use “great love” as my excuse to coddle to baby’s every WHIM (notice I didn’t say need) then I am starting a pattern of spoiling. They are learning cause and effect. I know people don’t like to accept that, but I have enough experience over the years to know this is true. So, I guess I don’t appreciate that the comments are made as if you love your baby more than me b/c I am willing to let my child cry when I know s/he’s okay and when I know it’s only to have their way… Am I making sense? I’m not trying to be unkind, and i hope this isn’t coming out that way… I just get tired of hearing that “I can’t let him cry!” as if that means you love them more than those of us who CAN let our baby cry… I think what often happens is that you let your emotions dictate what you do, rather than the long term picture. I am not that articulate, so I hope this made sense. Please know that I love my baby very much even though I DO use the nursery… And in the many years I have put my child in the nursery they have not received any near death illnesses. A common cold here and there, although annoying, is not the end of the world. And if it allows me time to meditate on the Word and the Lord in a way that I am NOT able to do at home b/c I am taking care of my children as a SAHM, I need that time. It refreshes my spirit and my soul and rejuvinates me for the week. I don’t love my child less because I need that time with the Lord in the service without the distraction that I have at home when I try to have my quiet time. I don’t consider that “having a break.” I consider that meeting a spiritual need. Honestly. If you have more than one child and are so spiritual that you don’t need undistracted time with your Lord, please send me some tips. Honestly. Because when you’ve got more than one and they are young, it’s difficult to find that time. Having “less love” for my child implied b/c I use sunday school and nursery disturbs me. Even if it isn’t directly states, it is implied by the reverse of your comments, ya know?

    • Stephanie

      Hi Beth! I just wanted to chime in and say thank you for adding to this decision. :)

      These are 5 reasons that *I* personally don’t leave my babies in the church nursery, but I know that all moms and all kids and all churches and all communities are different.

      I certainly didn’t mean to imply that mothers who DO choose to leave their babies in the nursery love their children less (goodness, no!).

      Some families choose to worship together. Some parents choose to teach Sunday School to stay with their kids. Some families enjoy the more “casual” environment of a house church. Some parents drop their kids off at the nursery and find refreshment in the church service. Everyone has their own comfort level for these kind of things and that’s definitely okay. There’s no “right” way when it comes to nursery-going or not.

  • Christina

    This is old but I’m going to post on it anyways because if I still found it, others will too :) I appreciated your thoughts and agree to some extent to most of them. I personally am not worried by germs. They’re normal. I have no disinfecting/antibacterial anything in my house except bleach and vinegar. Even my dish soap and hand soap are not antibacterial. We are hardly ever sick.
    I love the nursery. You all must have super chill babies because my 7mo old barely lasts through singing! He would distract the fellowship and the pastor and it would be very disrespectful for me to stay with him in the auditorium. That leaves me two choices: stay with him somewhere else or leave him in the nursery. We have at most 10 kids with 3 helpers in our nursery. I miss the service or he gets to play for ONE HOUR with other kids. I make that decision week by week. Did we have a hectic week? Was I busy at home and didn’t get as much face time with him as usual? Was he off schedule the day before? If the answer to any of those is yes usually stay with him. If he is in the mood to play and couldn’t care LESS if I was there or not- I leave and I don’t feel like I’m getting a “break”, like a bad mom or guilty in the least. We also have children’s church and I fully expect to take them there as well depending on the temperament of the child. You can train a child to sit for an hour. This is not impossible as many in our culture seems to think. And ours will be sitting with us by early elementary school. In the mean time, leaving my babies when they are happy to be left does not harm them a bit :)

  • Christina

    OH, but why I wanted to post in the first place! I forgot- What I LOVE about the nursery is: We have many young believers, many who are unsaved, and many who are very weak/disobedient in their walk. How can they focus when they are trying to reign in their unruly children? I say this not because I believe you didn’t mean what you said: that it’s for each family to decide. But because we usually do what we do because we believe we’re right. And if we’re right then someone is wrong. And then it is easy to try to justify it with the Bible. So for those of you who do believe a right and wrong in this situation (when done REASONABLY): Think about those weak brothers and sisters. Those who struggle with substance abuse. Those who have no idea how to train up a child and so their kids behave terribly. Those who are desperate for the Word of God to be spoken in their lives. They need a place for their children to be so that they can hear. What better thing to give a child than parent who is growing in the Lord? Once they see their need for the Lord and are moving forward, then it is the body’s job to help that parent learn how to nurture their children in the Lord. Which may mean nursery, or may not :)

  • Sarah

    Wow! Your post basically just articulated how I feel about nursery, particularly at our church.
    It was really encouraging to read your thoughts and to know that I’m not alone in feeling this way. Our church spends a lot of time talking about “building community” but seems to promote child/parent segregation an awful lot as if children are not to be considered “part of the community”. Today we just found out that our church will be moving to a new location where the kid’s Sunday school classes and nursery will be in another building across the street ( a small cobble stone street, but still a street) and I am so disappointed. Sigh. My son is 17 months old now and while he’s been in nursery a couple of times (I thought I’d give it a shot) I have been uncomfortable with how the nursery is run, the peer pressure to make him go to nursery, the child to caretaker ratio, and the fact that one time he was clearly upset the entire time and no one came to get me or even texted me! I had planned on gradually getting him more used to the idea of going to the children’s services especially now that he’s getting too disruptive to keep in service and either my husband or I stay out with him, but I am so uncomfortable with the fact that the kids are going to be across that street that I don’t know that I’ll EVER send him.
    Sorry to use your blog as therapy, but just had to share my thoughts.
    Thanks!

  • Kristen

    revisiting this post because I needed the encouragement. It’s sick season, and our kids aren’t comfortable being left alone, and naptime is right at church time, so we usually take turns going to church. Sometimes I wonder what people think (why do I always wonder what others think?!), and sometimes I, too, wonder, will it ever end? But I am glad to know that there are others out there who think similarly. We need more encouragement from likeminded parents! Thanks, Stephanie!

    • Stephanie

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Kristen. Kayla (age 5) LOVES going to her class now and happily skips into the room every Sunday. Liv (age 2.5), on-the-other-hand, still prefers to come into “big church” with us.

      I’ve (mostly) stopped worrying about what other people think. I try to remember that every family has their own reasons, their own story…and I hope people will give me that same courtesy/grace.

      • Kristen

        And does Livy sit with you well? I don’t think Ailey is at the point where she would do that well… so bringing her is basically out of the question (1 1/2 is a hard age for that!).
        Also, did you disable the plug-in that emails me back when you reply to my comment?! :)

        • Stephanie

          Liv has done surprisingly well. She usually sits on my lap without stirring…or she falls asleep. She has ALWAYS been a “super snuggler” though.

          At age 2 1/2, Kayla was much more restless. So she and I would often “walk the grounds” or spend the second half the service in the 2-year-old class.

          RE: the plug-in. It stopped working when we updated to the latest version of WordPress. Tim’s searching for a new solution. Do you use a similar plug-in on Jay’s blog?

  • Ellie

    I know this post is old, but I had to comment! (your blog came up on my google search). Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this! I agree 100% and couldn’t have worded it better myself. Especially about the attachment/separation anxiety aspect. I have two young sons (3 and 18 months) and neither will stay somewhere like church without me. My older son will happily play and interact with others if I stay in the room just like you described. Honestly, I would be concerned if my kids didn’t act like that. Children are supposed to be attached to their moms! It greatly bothers me when parents force their kids to stay somewhere despite the children pleading and crying and screaming. They can say what they want, but forced unattachment does not bode well in my opinion. There is plenty of time when they are older and more mature for that. Children need to be near their parents. It amazes me how much society has changed and the ideology that they have made up about children needing to be independent at a very young age. That idea makes no sense at all. We should be encouraging their attachment to their parents at this fundamental time in their growth and development. And don’t even get me started about the parents who continually take their sick kids to nursery/Sunday School. If your child is sick, stay home and care for them! Kids are contagious for 7-10 days after vomiting! Anyways, thanks for this post. It was so great to read from a like-minded mother!

  • dena

    Thank you Sooo much for this entry. I know its an old one, but I was googling to see if anyone shared my thoughts. I don’t think my child is a nuisance for church, or any child for that matter, so why keep them seperated? Why cant parents be parents and take care of their own children, and if a child does cry or make a scene, walk out in respect for those around you. I also feel like the ratio would not be ideal. I would demand a 1:1 ratio. I love my baby with me too. To have him seperated from me during church is silly. I understand daycare if you have to, but Church is family time. And to split up the family… well, not my ideal.

  • http://www.myjourneytohealing.com Abby Lewis

    Thank you for this post.

    Be Love, Give Love

  • Liza M

    I know you posted this quite a while back, but it is a breath of fresh air for me right this very moment. Thank you so much for speaking your mind and doing what is right for your family. My daughter is 20 months old and in that time I have only been to church a handful of times for these very reasons, and I have felt very judged about not wanting to leave her in the nursery :(

  • Evita

    I stumbled across this blog, and would like to put my input. Number one unless your child is being a disruption in the service it should be ok for the child to be able to stay with the parent. That is how our church operates. We don’t force any child to be in nursery. It is however a ministry. And let us not forget that. Just because you don’t want to leave your child thats fine, but I believe a nursery is a great asset to any church. It helps us moms who really want to hear God’s voice through the preaching, praise and worship without having to worry about directing our children and being distracted. More power to all you mothers who have quiet, well behaved children, but I’m just keeping it real I NEED the nursery at times lol.How can I direct and guide and show them love when Im spiritually drained. Sometimes mothers need the refreshing of the Word of God to give them encouragement. Also it is good for visitors who need to be ministered to. Once again no child should never be forced there, but if a parent like yourself feels so strong about not leaving them there then I hope if and when they do get loud or cause a disruption that those parents use wisdom and go outside the service area with their child.

  • Jennifer

    I’ve read a lot of the posts. I am a step parent to three and a mother of one. Even the first Sunday my 3 step children went to church with me, they went to children’s church. No one cries to go with the rest of the kids. When my daughter was born two years ago on a Sunday, the next Sunday we had her at church for Sunday School and church. For the first 8 weeks, we kept her in class or church with us just because my husband wanted to keep her with us. Once she went to daycare, we started her in the church nursery for both hours. She has maybe cried two Sundays and one of those was a teething issue. She has never cried when I take her to daycare. I respect parents who feel they need to protect their children from certain situations but church to me should feel like family. Would you not let your parents keep your children? She is two and because she has been in church her whole life, the people aren’t strangers but feel like family to her. I was glad our church had a nursery who excepted infants. Those 8 weeks were tough on me. I didn’t get much out of the service because she would need a bottle or diaper change right in the middle of it. I go to church to worship God, not to be distracted by the child sitting next to me. We have some children of various ages who sit in church, some are well behaved and some are very distracting to others in the service. I am now the Sunday School Director as well as the chair of the audio/visual committee. I am looking for solutions to assist the volunteers to know when service is closing so they can have the children pick up toys or the workers can get bags together. My husband assists with the nursery on Sunday nights because there was a need.

  • Michelle

    Here’s some food for thought: I started googling because I was shocked when I visited a friend’s church and all the children were kept out in nurseries or child care. At Catholic churches we always have all the kids of all ages in the congregation with us (though sometimes in a glassed off cry room when they’re being loud). It sounds like a lot of the people posting here would be as shocked to see all the kids in our church as I was to see them removed from the others. I don’t have any kids yet so haven’t had to be the disciplinarian, but everybody just deals with a bit of disruption (parents take kids out when needed), and the kids are exposed to “real church” from infancy. It seems to work pretty well and there is even a peer pressure element that helps keep the kids quiet. I’m guessing most you wouldn’t want to try a Catholic service (though they aren’t bad), but surely there must be some other churches near you that keep the families together–why not give them a try?

    • AR

      I’m a Protestant but considering Catholicism because of this very issue. My husband and I believe our children should be with us in the service, but it is VERY hard to find a Protestant church that agrees. It makes me sad.

  • Cyndi

    Agh, this is so hard for me. We have basically stopped going to church because we go to a really big church that isn’t really kid-in-auditorium friendly.
    I feel so trapped.
    I want to go to church. But relinquishing my parenting even for an hour and a half to an absolute stranger without the ability to focus on one or two children at a time makes me sick to my stomach.
    And our church lets kids cry, and tries to downplay it so parents will want to come back.
    I hate when they tell me he cried a little, but I can see his red puffy eyes, and lines of tears down his cheeks.
    I always just kinda figure we have to wait until he’s older.
    I wish there were a better solution.
    In the meantime, I just try to foster our relationship with God daily at home. And I pray God would guide us to a solution!