How do I prepare for my infants first time at church?

What guidance does the Bible provide?

Scripture instructs parents to teach their children about their Christian faith, and to worship corporately as a family of believers. In Acts 2:42, the early church set the example for us in worship: "they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."Paul encourages us in the book of Colossians to "let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts." (Col. 3:16)

Things to think about:

Leaving your child for the first time in the care of someone else can be a daunting task. You have lots of questions: Will he be safe? What if he cries? Will they care for him like I would?

Here are some easy steps to help you prepare for leaving your child in the nursery the first time:

1. Take a tour. It's always helpful to have an idea of where you will leave your child, so arrange to visit the nursery area and meet the team of caregivers that will care for your baby. Ask your Children's Director whether all team members have been background checked, etc. Knowing that, they have received a full screening and training may help ease your fears. Please feel free to ask questions about policies and any concerns you have.

2. Pack a bag. Plan to bring a diaper bag with the following items for your child:

  • Two or three diapers, with your child's name written on the diaper
  • A complete change of clothes
  • Bottle of milk, formula, juice or water (this is a good practice even for mothers who nurse)
  • Please label all personal items (including pacifiers and sippy cups) with your child's first and last name before arriving.

3. Pray for your child, his caregivers, and yourself.

  • Child- safety and contentment
  • Caregivers- patience and a loving spirit
  • Yourself- peace and focus in worship. God is preparing each of you in particular ways for your child's time in the nursery. Your child will be prayed over each session.

What do I do now?

On your first morning, stop by the Children's Check-in stations and register your child with a Check-in Greeter. They will ask for specific information about your child, including any allergies your child may have. Leave a cell phone number that you are carrying, so that you can receive a text if you need to check on your child during the service for any reason. Keep your phone visible in case your child should need you.All churches have their own particular form of nametags and security. You may receive a nametag for your child to wear, for the diaper bag, and some sort of tag with matching security numbers to present when picking up your child. Ask if a child will be released to a parent without presentation of the tag.A greeter will show you to your child's classroom. A team member from the infant room will meet you at the door to receive your child, diaper bag, and any other items. You will be asked to fill out a Care Card with helpful information such as feeding times, sleeping times, allergies, and any other information that will help your child have a successful morning in the nursery.After completing the check-in process, a quick wave goodbye and you're off to worship. It is normal for a child to cry when a parent leaves; this does not last long, and separation becomes easier over time. A member of the children's team will hold or rock your child until they are calm, giving assurance that you will return. If your child does not calm within a reasonable time, you will receive a text to check on him. Picking up your child promptly after service helps prevent any anxiety your child may be feeling.Snacks may be provided for toddlers. Snack items usually consist of Cheerios, Goldfish, or some small crackers that are easy for a child to eat and have few known allergens. Children in the infant room will usually be fed only items brought by the parent. Be sure to check with the workers in your child's room about snacks and alert them to any allergies or food restrictions your child has. Many churches have a special room for nursing moms. Along with privacy, this room will be a quiet place to view or listen to the service while feeding and/or rocking your infant in a comfortable setting. Ask the Greeter or Children's Ministry Director if there is a room like this in the church you visit.

Want to go deeper?

The following is an excellent article to help parents as they experience the apprehension of leaving their child with other caregivers for the first time:FredRogers.org