church nursery & nursing room ideas - Mothering Forums
Spirituality > church nursery & nursing room ideas
papercranegirl's Avatar papercranegirl 04:55 PM 05-23-2007
Not sure where this goes so feel free to move if not appropriate for spirituality...

If you could design a nursery and crying room for your church from scratch what would it include? I'm in the enviable position of being able to do that right now and am looking for ideas to make this a welcoming spot for babies and families.

The basic set up so far is a small crying room with windows to the sanctuary for parents with babies and nursing moms who want privacy. Across the hall will be one large room for children ages 1-4 with a sink and changing area. We are trying to include children in worship as much as possible so the nursery will mainly be used for when the kids or parents feel like they need some freer space. (Part of the sanctuary is being opened up for creative worship/room for kids to draw, move, dance, etc.)

Ideally, I'd like the small room to feel like a sanctuary (in all aspects) for the mothers and fathers who come in. I'm hoping to make it as hospitable and supportive as possible for those who choose to nurse in there. What would that mean for you?

What would you like to see for the older babies and preschoolers? What would there need to be to allow you to feel comfortable leaving your child? (I know for some of you the answer is nothing ) How would the room best reflect God's love and care for children?

Anything else I'm missing?

Thanks for your time.

lilyka's Avatar lilyka 05:30 PM 05-23-2007
cry room - love it. i would suggest one of those windows where you can see out but not in. that way moms could nurse more comfortably. rocking chairs definitely. and perhaps even a pack and play or something inthe corner in case mom just wants to lay her baby down after they fall asleep. maybe even have a couple of boppy pillows handy.

nursery - will this be staffed?
the coolest thing i have ever seen in a nursery is a full length mirror turned on its side at floor level with a row of boppies in fornt of it. the babies totally loved playing in front of this. other wise just rockers bouncers and an exersaucer and swings. just toys and places for babioes top play. a nice big basket of chewy toys (you go through thee pretty quick). things like little people and weebles are good toy choices because they appeal to the older kids but aren't a choking hazard to the babies. also they clean up easy and are fairly light weight. those big cardboard blocks are also a good nursery staple. maybe even have sperate areas (seperated by a gate or low wall) for walkers and non walkers. no TV! I hate that. i prefer to have the service piped in.
Katiemare's Avatar Katiemare 05:41 PM 05-23-2007
Wow, Jessica-It's quite task! What's your budget?

There are quite a few things that make me comfortable with our nursery--the top two THINGS have to do with technology

the #1 thing being a pager that the nursery has so that you can come back if baby is crying or needs a diaper change. DS2 is only 9 months, and last week was the first time I left him there. I was thinking, "either this pager is broken or it's a miracle."

the #2 thing is that we have "listening assistance devices" so that one can hear the sermon/readings (whatever else is on the mic) when not within earshot. That way, I can play with ds in the nursery and still hear the sermon.

As far as what stuff for the kids, I'd take a visit to churches in the area and tour their nurseries for ideas. We have a crib that's never used, but the exersaucer is usually in use, as well as an overhead toy bar (like a baby gym). I didn't want to leave hawk in there until he could crawl--that's not happened yet but he is an excellent sitter and loves to watch the older children play.

The most important element, however, are the PEOPLE who are there. Parent volunteers are better than teenage volunteers, most of the time. Students of early childhood education or actual preK teachers are the best. Besides knowing what they're doing, they've usually had background checks. You might have a local college to find volunteers or cheap help.

good luck!
frog's Avatar frog 05:56 PM 05-23-2007
Wire it so the service can be seen AND heard.
Teensy's Avatar Teensy 06:08 PM 05-23-2007
I went to a church that had a great cry room - it was attached to the sanctuary with a large window to see through and speakers so that you could hear also (the volume was adjustable so moms could vary it if babes were sleeping). They had several rocker-gliders with ottomans and a changing table. The only thing it was missing was a water fountain (or water cooler with cups).
Momma Aimee's Avatar Momma Aimee 07:35 PM 05-23-2007
thoughts on windows into nusery

please

i want a window to see into nusery from the out side -- but but but -- make it HIGH enough that the adults see IN and the children do NOT see the parent ---- we go to a greast church now -- but the window in and out of nusery lines up with the window in and out of the sanuary -- DS can -- from the nusery -- see ME IN SERVICE -- we have YET to get him not to melt down out of sight out of mind in favor of the cool toys is a great thing. nusery is failing, as a service to us, we can't use it. sure the 3 and 4 year olds don't care, but our son does.

I would perfer the window into nusery to a one way window -- so all the kids see is MIRROR -- and what tot doesn't love a mirror.

I would make the cry room / mother's room seperate from the nusey -- a big pet peve of mine -- is not have a quiet clam spot to sit with DS and rock him ( we nurse in service or whereever) when he is fratic and melting down ----- the only rockers ar ein nusery -- with lots of other people and kids...not a soothing calming location. also then i end up another adut in nusery --a nd i am tird of being that.

space -- more space -- most cry rooms and nusery are shoved in let over space.

wht else do i need to feel i can leave him --

nusery weorkers that interact with him, and engange him so i have a change of getting away, and who TRY to cheer him up before bringing him to me, but who are willing to come get me if i am needed -- balance. BIGGEST THING.

SOP -- sign the child in, only that person, or person on a list, can sign the child out. emergcy procedureds posted. stuff like that.

enforce the age limit -- i hate bigger kids (5 or 6) hangin in nusery -- they belong in service or in sunday school or whereever.


Quote:
We are trying to include children in worship as much as possible so the nursery will mainly be used for when the kids or parents feel like they need some freer space. (Part of the sanctuary is being opened up for creative worship/room for kids to draw, move, dance, etc.)

I want to come

lilyka's Avatar lilyka 11:18 PM 05-23-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aimee21972 View Post
thoughts on windows into nusery

but the window in and out of nursery lines up with the window in and out of the sanctuary -- DS can -- from the nursery -- see ME IN SERVICE -- we have YET to get him not to melt down
I think that should win some sort of prize for bad planning.
Tradd's Avatar Tradd 12:33 AM 05-24-2007
DEFINITELY make a separate room for nursing moms. My church has a small room (connected to the nursery - NOT used as a place for parents to stash their kids during services, but used as a separate place for during coffee hour, to QUIET a rowdy kid, etc) with a crib and two rocking chairs for nursing moms.

You might also want to consider keeping wipes and a small number of disposable diapers in different sizes on hand in the changing areas. My church does this. While many of the moms CD, there are often accidents or a mom forgot to put clean diapers in the diaper bag, etc. So it can be really handy.
lilyka's Avatar lilyka 03:24 AM 05-24-2007
oh deffinitely keep diapers on hand. on the event of an emergency nothing beats knowing someone has a spare diaper. If you don't want to keep a full range of sizes I recommend size 3.

and definitely a seperate nursing room. low lights, quiet, rockers and boppies. perhaps even keeping it stocked with bottled water if the budget permits. also make it clear that it is a quiet room and only women are allowed. Not everyone needs a ecluded place to nurse but for mothers who are very modest and don't feel comfortable nursing in mixed company I think it is good to respect this. also for those of us with highly distractable nurslings or those who really can't nurse discreetly (all my children had weird nursing habits and one had a birth defect that made unrsing discreetly impossible. )
frog's Avatar frog 10:47 AM 05-24-2007
In our church, the windows are low and two-way, but it's not a staffed nursery, it's just a place where caregivers and children can go during the service if the kids are owly or whatever.
Momma Aimee's Avatar Momma Aimee 10:54 AM 05-24-2007
imp a STAFFED nusery is sooooooooooooo imporant. we were going to a church where the nursey worker was never there, and when she was she didn't interact with Theo at all -- we left.

BAsically if I have to go sit in nusery with him all service (90 miunts) and DH has to sit alone in the pew .. what does that get us? I am not getting to worship. Dh is not getting to pray with his wife or expereince God together as a couple. Neither of us are really getting feed or nurished, i am leaving more dry than i went in due to careing for my child in a differnt location........

as DH said 'if this is how it is going to be we can stay home and watch church tv and sit in our living room where Theo plays alone a little and at least be together"

Staffed nursey is soooooooooooooooooooo importnat. with GOOD people.

I want DS in the pews as much as possible --and i would LOOOOVE an area of the sacunary he could play and color and be part of service without having to sit mostly sitll in a pew with others close enough to grab ..... but i am realistic DS is 18 months an it is unfair to ask him to sit, or be sitll, for 90 minutes. he can't stay quiet, he can't stay still -- he wants to run and play and explore.

Aimee
papercranegirl's Avatar papercranegirl 11:44 AM 05-24-2007
Thanks for all your input. I'm going to try to pull this all together and will keep you updated on the progress. It's funny that a lot of my "essentials" are pretty much echoed here. That has to be a good start.
frog's Avatar frog 11:57 AM 05-24-2007
Aimee, our take on it, as a congregation, is that children should worship with their families and we do whatever we can to make that possible.

For families for which that doesn't work, there's church school when the kids are a little bit older during our late service.
Momma Aimee's Avatar Momma Aimee 12:07 PM 05-24-2007
Quote:
Aimee, our take on it, as a congregation, is that children should worship with their families and we do whatever we can to make that possible.

For families for which that doesn't work, there's church school when the kids are a little bit older during our late service.
we agree -- tottally -- i am oppsed to people who just drop the kids in nusery as soon as they walk in the door............... and we do try to keep him in service as much as we can -- but it is not possible to keep him in service -- and use wroship or be fed or learn -- while fighting him the whole time.

We always keep him in for music at eh start and as long as possible....and i think by 3 he will be fine.......but for now...all we do it fight him, and he screeches when we don't let him grab other people or run to the front ... adn sooooooo we end up not getting anything from the service expect more tried and more fustrated. ........... it is not to him and it is not fair to us. we don't get to worsip we do not get to learn or be fed -- it is jsut one big horrid fight that makes us not want to go to church at all -- and ther eis no way it is forming a positive imprssion of church for him.

i wish i could keep him in service the whole time, i and i do try -- i bring him in and out as he can handle it.....

aslo -- as for church shool when they are oler 1. i do think that is importnat for a child, in addition to service 2 nothing that is for when he is older will help now with the screeching and constant fighting NOW -- when he is older he will be able to handle service with color pages or quiet toys better than he can now.

sorry -- to steal the tread. i do totally agree kids belong in worship with parents -- we should come to God as a family -- but it just doesn't always work adn i hate not having an option that allow me to at least get a little time alone with God. I grew up in a church where the nursey was staffed by 16 on up into college, up till you had a kid, then a lot of Grandmas too -- none of the actual moms worked it, we always made a big deal about the pregant moms quitting nusery. it was our service to these moms who are moms 24.7 -- it was 2 hours on Sunday morning when the mom could rest with God knowing her child was well taken care of, 2 hours where she could refresh herself, and refill her well so that she could give toher family all week. She would hear God's Word, she could worsphi and pray and rest in His House..........i miss that now that i am the mom and really really really could use that 90 minutes to 2 hours once a week.
frog's Avatar frog 12:09 PM 05-24-2007
Yeah, Aimee, I hear that. I just wanted to clarify what the congregation is up to in our case.
lilyka's Avatar lilyka 03:55 PM 05-24-2007
i prefer when there is no staffed nursery personally. I always feel that children are mroe welcome and they learn at an earlier age to sit in the service and be participants.

it is nice sometimes to have a staffed nursery (especially since I am usually at church alone with the girls) but i am much more likely to be motivated to make teaching my children to participate in worship if I am forced to.
Momma Aimee's Avatar Momma Aimee 04:06 PM 05-24-2007
Quote:
i prefer when there is no staffed nursery personally. I always feel that children are mroe welcome and they learn at an earlier age to sit in the service and be participants.

it is nice sometimes to have a staffed nursery (especially since I am usually at church alone with the girls) but i am much more likely to be motivated to make teaching my children to participate in worship if I am forced to.


wait till you meet my son.

I have no desire to see children shunned out of service, or to see nursery "expercted" ahhhhhhh but it would be so nice if it was there as an good option

A
MaryCeleste's Avatar MaryCeleste 03:44 AM 05-25-2007
We're Catholic, and I've never been in a church that has a staffed nursery. It seems like it's almost taboo to mention it, given the emphasis on families attending church together. Still, like Aimee, I would love to have this option. My toddler is big, strong, loud, and very active. There's no way I could bring him to Mass, especially while I'm pregnant. Even DH has a hard time managing him. And I know he'd have a blast in a nursery, playing and running around.

Most churches we've been to do have crying rooms, but, in the majority of cases, we don't find them to be places where we'd want to take our children, who learn so much by example and observation. Since I'm feeling curmudgeonly tonight, I think it would be simplest to list the negatives we've encountered, before attempting to turn them into positive suggestions. :

Things we don't like about most crying rooms we've seen:

* Parents who act as if it's a playgroup, and sit around chatting about their children's outfits, potty training, etc. while Mass is going on.
* Decorations that are reminiscent of someone's living room, e.g. knick-knacks and still-life paintings.
* Huge toy boxes overflowing with trashy, noisy toys and torn books.
* 2-year-olds rampaging unsupervised around crawling infants.
* Goldfish cracker crumbs ground into the rug.
* Parents who bring grade-school-aged children into the crying room because they're squabbling/"bored," and let them chat, play board games, etc.
* Adults who sit in the crying room when they have a cold, so their coughing and sneezing doesn't disrupt the Mass.


Things we'd hope/expect to find in a crying room (and have actually found, on rare occasions):

* Parents who try to model appropriate church-going behavior for their children, and participate in the prayers, singing, etc. as much as possible.
* A room that's decorated like the main part of the church (even with pews, if possible).
* A small box of quiet toys and shelf of books, preferably with religious significance.
* Toddlers are well supervised, or there's a gated area for the tiny ones.
* "No snacks; bottles & sippy cups only" rule.
* "Infants/toddlers & immediate family only" rule, with bouncers if necessary. Catholic parishes could call in the Knights of Columbus, with their ceremonial swords.

Sorry to sound like such a grump... and maybe these issues don't even come up in the OP's church... but, if they do, I think they need to be considered from the beginning. Any extra features (nice though they may be! ) are going to be secondary to the overall atmosphere.
lilyka's Avatar lilyka 05:02 PM 05-25-2007
I think you make some really great points abut cry rooms. I agree it should be like church and parents should do there best to make it a time for church and not a time for socializing. that would really chap my hide.

I have been to two churches with separate toddler areas. one was a crying room and it was more or les just a partition inside the main church. same chairs, no decoration, no provided toys (there were "church bags but you could have those anywhere) snacks were ok but you could also have those anywhere in the church but parents wee participating and there was room on the side to let the babies hang and play but there was simply no room for running around and such. but the noise level was a little higher with inquisitive kids etc. it was a mega church ad the cry room probably would have sat 30-50 people.

the other church had a big screen TV and living room furniture. you were expected to be very quiet out there. mostly just families with nursing babies or toddlers who couldn't sit still but still, might need to make a quick run for the bathroom, but no one was allowed to run around crazy and out of control. Parents were expected not to talk among themselves and only speak quietly to their children as needed. it was almost quieter than in the service. The TV was showing the service. (again very large church so your best view even in the auditorium was on the big screens).
Momma Aimee's Avatar Momma Aimee 11:28 AM 05-29-2007
Quote:
We're Catholic, and I've never been in a church that has a staffed nursery. It seems like it's almost taboo to mention it, given the emphasis on families attending church together. Still, like Aimee, I would love to have this option. My toddler is big, strong, loud, and very active. There's no way I could bring him to Mass, especially while I'm pregnant. Even DH has a hard time managing him. And I know he'd have a blast in a nursery, playing and running around.
I grew up Cathoilc -- and we still go to Mass with Mom once a month.

her Parish does have a staffed nusery -- older weman in the church -- grandma likes. most babies and tots are in service -- DS is STILL TOO <UCH to handle -- i would LOVE to keep him in service all the time, it is not possible -- it is heck for me and DH and for HIM and i do not want him to end up hating church.
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