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heartlikealion

If you bring your toddler to church

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do you let them walk around the cry room, take them out to another area to move, etc? If you don't have a cry room do you sit in the main part of the church and hold them/expect them to sit by you?

 

Or do you make other arrangements?

 

Let's say there is no nursery option.

 

Sometimes dh watches dd and I take ds to church, but days like today we couldn't get up and moving early enough so I'm going to have to go to the evening service when dh is at work. That means I'll be taking both kids. Last time I took her I wore her in my baby carrier but she did not enjoy that and squawked and tried to lift up and out of it a bit. I know some kids relax and fall asleep, but she was wide awake the whole service so I can't count on her dosing off.

 

There are other families in the cry room so I feel weird about just letting her loose especially with other children roaming. She is only 1 year old so really she's too small to sit up in a seat alone so I'm gonna be holding her or wearing her. In the past I'd bring in the car seat and let her sit in that sometimes. I've never brought a stroller into church and the umbrella one only has a lap belt (my bigger one has a 5pt harness) so it's not a great chair for her as she'd lean forward toward the floor in it.

 

When ds was this age I was attending a church with no cry room and I think I'd stay in the foyer and hold him or let him walk in that small area as it was probably just us.

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I have always brought my children into church with me. If they got fussy to the point that they were a distraction, I would take them out to the narthex, but I would either hold them or have them stand/sit next to me as we continued to participate in the service. There is a small cry room at our church, but I only used that if I wanted privacy when breastfeeding. Church time is not play time for us, so we don't go in there where there are toys to distract.

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Our church has a nursery with toys, where parents drop off their kids.  I made sure DD didn't realize this was an option or she would have fussed every week, and I wanted her in church.  We also have a narthex with big windows into the sanctuary, and sometimes parents stay there with their young children.  We used that sometimes, but I tried to keep DD in my arms mostly, and whisper things about the service to her, and point out stuff to help her start to participate.

 

Mostly, though, we stayed in the sanctuary.  Thankfully our service has lots of singing, and so if she made noise during that, no one heard her.  Other than that, I would whisper a 'story' version of the Bible readings into her ear to keep her from talking (she didn't usually talk when she was listening) and I would nurse her during the sermon, or feed her a special treat like goldfish crackers.  We also had a specific stuffed toy that she took to church with her that didn't make any noise if she dropped it.

 

In general, no matter where we were, I tried to direct her attention to the service, to enable her to participate (by folding her hands, or by singing the liturgy), and to teach appropriate behavior in a positive, cuddly way.

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We used the cry room only when our oldest was a baby, because he was a volcanic spitter upper. 

Now, we just sit in church and take a kid out if necessary. I can probably count on one hand the number of times that has happened. 

We avoid the cry room because it seems like a free for all if others are there. We usually attend the early Mass, so most of the time it's empty. But if we are at the late Mass, all bets are off. Parents don't control their kids at all, bring noisy electronic toys, etc...That's not the message we want to send to ours.

Church is important. We need to focus/pay attention. We don't bring toys. We rarely bring snacks. 

All that being said, the handful of times I've taken all 3 kiddos to Mass by myself have been nerve-wracking. I definitely let them have books to look at then. 

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I brought my toddlers to church, but I don't consider a 1-yr-old a toddler. 

 

That's still a baby, and if it was too difficult to manage her in church, I'd have no qualms about just staying home. 

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Both of my children have stayed with us in the worship service. We worked on training them to behave appropriately and took little things to help them stay still (books mostly). If they made noise, we could take them out, talk to them and return. If it happened again, we would take them out again. There was no playing outside the worship service. They could sit in our lap until they could be quiet again. One was easy, one was not. She went out a lot. It took a long time to teach her.

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I brought my toddlers to church, but I don't consider a 1-yr-old a toddler. 

 

That's still a baby, and if it was too difficult to manage her in church, I'd have no qualms about just staying home. 

 

Thanks. I didn't know what word to use! Toddler makes her sound so big :( She's 16 months and walking all over the place so that's why I said toddler.

 

I will plan on bringing some board books. Last week the service was fairly short, or maybe just because we were a few minutes late. At one point I walked her up and down a hallway for a minute because she was fussy (wanting to get down).

 

Dh has an easier time holding her in his lap during a service than me. There's standing, sitting and kneeling in Mass so holding her is a pain to me. I feel like I can't participate as well.

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Catholic mom here- my kids were never quiet in Mass as babies/toddlers/even preschoolers.

 

My advice? Do what works for you so you can go to church. We did all of the above (cry room, nursery, alternate adults staying at home going different times, choir loft, sanctuary, narthex, outdoors). I don't know about other churches but Catholics can be judgemental / harsh about using a nursery or cry room or going to different Masses. I say do whatever you need to do and don't feel guilty. Mine have all grown up nicely and do well in mass even though we didn't require it of them as toddlers and preschoolers.

 

It was important to me to feed myself during those years and if that meant toddler had a toy or went to a nursery or stayed home with dad that was OK. I did not, however, allow them to be disruptive to others.

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we don't have cry rooms.  babies/children stay with their parents during sacrament meeting - the main meeting that is held in the chapel.  sunday school classes are separate and everyone goes to those divided by age. (nursery for little ones starts at 18mos.  before that - they are with their parents even during the sunday school classes).

we bring snacks and church appropriate toys/books with which to entertain them.   if they need to be taken out, they get taken out.  if they need to walk, they are put in the ground to walk with an adult.   we do have a private 'mother's room' for nursing babies.  they did put a changing station in the men's room so dad's can change diapers NOT in the mom's room.

 

I still chuckle at the difference between kids. I took 2dd to an empty classroom in hopes of getting the message through to her she needed to be quieter.  she cried - even though I was sitting in the room with her.  I didn't have to sit there long before I took her back to the chapel.  I tried it with 1ds.. . .oh, tables to climb, a lightswitch, chairs . . window to open . . . I tried leaving him in there by himself - oh good, mom's not  raining on my parade and stopping me from exploring . . . . . (these are the two I have jokingly referred to as my 'twins' because in some ways they are very alike.  they also look strikingly similar with only  1/2" difference in height.)

I had to do something else with him when he wasn't able to stay in the chapel.

 

eta: because everyone brings babies- most  people are very understanding as most of us have "been there".  people who don't or no longer, have babies, will often help entertain babies because babies are just so entertaining. I remember one  guy who let 2yo dudeling play with his phone and was unconcerned, positive dudeling couldnt' do anything with it.  I took away the phone and hung up the phone call dudeling made.  I stilll have a small toy in my purse i will share for entertaining babies.

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Catholic mom here- my kids were never quiet in Mass as babies/toddlers/even preschoolers.

 

My advice? Do what works for you so you can go to church. We did all of the above (cry room, nursery, alternate adults staying at home going different times, choir loft, sanctuary, narthex, outdoors). I don't know about other churches but Catholics can be judgemental / harsh about using a nursery or cry room or going to different Masses. I say do whatever you need to do and don't feel guilty. Mine have all grown up nicely and do well in mass even though we didn't require it of them as toddlers and preschoolers.

 

It was important to me to feed myself during those years and if that meant toddler had a toy or went to a nursery or stayed home with dad that was OK. I did not, however, allow them to be disruptive to others.

 

Yeah, I don't want to be disruptive which is why I get nervous about going into the main part of the church. We have done it before with dh, but not without.

 

I'm trying to set an example for ds and if I don't go to Mass, he doesn't go. Dh isn't Catholic and only comes with us once in a while.

 

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My experience has been the more I let my kids play when they are taken out, the worse they behave. If my ds gets so disruptive I have to take him out, I go stand in the corner with him until he wants to go back inbecause he's so bored. That said, this is just a really rough age, so do what you gotta do, no judgement from me! :)

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Catholic mom here- my kids were never quiet in Mass as babies/toddlers/even preschoolers.

 

My advice? Do what works for you so you can go to church. We did all of the above (cry room, nursery, alternate adults staying at home going different times, choir loft, sanctuary, narthex, outdoors). I don't know about other churches but Catholics can be judgemental / harsh about using a nursery or cry room or going to different Masses. I say do whatever you need to do and don't feel guilty. Mine have all grown up nicely and do well in mass even though we didn't require it of them as toddlers and preschoolers.

 

It was important to me to feed myself during those years and if that meant toddler had a toy or went to a nursery or stayed home with dad that was OK. I did not, however, allow them to be disruptive to others.

 

All of this! We usually leave a little one that age at home,but when I take them I just know it won't be a soothing service for me. And that's okay too! Sometimes I don't hear a word of the homily. But I get to sing as I carry a fussy baby around, and I get to recieve communion, and I am still blessed. 

 

My church actually usually ends up having a LOT of parents walking fussy babies/toddlers..in fact by the end all the walls are lined with parent holding little ones! There are kids sitting on the floor in the back coloring (again, toddlers, not big kids), parents walking back and forth in the back holding a little's hand, etc. They also have the service piped out to the outside on speakers, so I can sit on a bench outside and listen if need be, if the little one is extra squirmy. Then at 3 they go to nursery/sunday school! Most parents don't use it, but a lot do, and I find it works for us. It only goes to kindergarten, in first grade they are back with you. So this year both my 3 yr old and kindergartener go and I'm enjoying it while it lasts! In a few months it will be summer and over, and then next year just the 3 yr old will go. 

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I don't have a toddler anymore but there are many, many babies, toddlers, and preschoolers at my church.

 

Many people bring their little ones into the service. They are welcome and typical kid noise is expected and not frowned on.  If a kid gets really cranked up so that other people can't hear, a parent will take them out.

 

There are two staffed nurseries - one for infants, one for crawlers up to age 2 - but if someone brings a kid over age 2, no one kicks them out.  Mainly we have the age to keep things pretty even so big kids aren't plowing over little ones, and to encourage preschool-aged kids to learn to participate in the service.  (Also we don't have that much staff!)

 

There is also a nursing mothers' room where a mom and baby can go if necessary.

 

Some parents will stay in the service as long as the kids can stand it, then may drop off in nursery or just hang out with them in the foyer.  They can hear the service in there too. 

 

Basically we try to do as much as possible to make families feel like they can come to church.  We don't have children's church or children's sermon.  Lots of kids bring coloring or sticker books, or just a crayon and pad of paper to doodle (I know that's not going to work for your 1 year old!). 

 

I say, do what you need to do.  This time of life is short (though I know it seems long when you're in it!).

 

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I'm not Catholic so our services are different. It was hard for me to really feel like I was worshipping when I had really little kids, but this season is short. We have a small nursery where you can still see/hear the service that I would use when I had a fussy little one. If I were you, I would sit near an exit and if you need to step out, feel free. I didn't let my kids play when I stepped out though so they didn't think they could go play instead of sit. We usually only used the nursery once communion was over (about halfway through our service)but every family is different and you said that isn't available for you.

 

You probably won't get as much out of the service right now, but you are teaching your kids that it is important to you. Plus, I think it still helps even if I'm not getting as much out of it. I found that most of the time I felt my kids were more disruptive than the people around me thought they were. Many parents give their kids toys or food to help their kids stay quiet.

 

Now my kids are 8,6, and 3 and can usually sit quietly through a service. Although we do usually have a special children's worship they attend during the sermon portion from ages 2-3rd grade. So they leave during the part it's hardest to sit through 3 of 4 weeks a month.

 

Don't worry about the possibility of others judging you, you do what is going to work best for you. Anyone who judges you either doesn't have little kids or forgot what it was like when they did have little kids.

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We have a tiny cry room, but toddlers do toddle in it. We also have families that bring their stroller in. Also, the sermon gets piped into the lobby. We're also a kid friendly church, so low noise isn't a problem. And finally, we have a nursery. Lots of options!

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Thanks. I didn't know what word to use! Toddler makes her sound so big :( She's 16 months and walking all over the place so that's why I said toddler.

 

I will plan on bringing some board books. Last week the service was fairly short, or maybe just because we were a few minutes late. At one point I walked her up and down a hallway for a minute because she was fussy (wanting to get down).

 

Dh has an easier time holding her in his lap during a service than me. There's standing, sitting and kneeling in Mass so holding her is a pain to me. I feel like I can't participate as well.

The bolding is mine.

 

You can't. Or at least I can't. I can count on one hand the number of times I have attended Mass without a kid/kids since our oldest was born. DH and I have talked about the fact that sometimes it's like we haven't gone to Mass, as we are so distracted by making sure our kids are well-behaved.

 

But to us it's important to be there even if we sometimes (often?) feel like we haven't gotten anything out of it. For one thing, it shows the kids that we believe what happens there is important.

 

Anyway, you certainly aren't alone. 

 

I tell myself this is a season of life and someday I will be able to catch more/most/all of what happens at Mass again. 

 

Signed,

Mom who still holds a 4 yo throughout Mass because she does so much better if I am holding her (Yes, through all the sitting and standing...not while kneeling, unless she is asleep)

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The bolding is mine.

 

You can't. Or at least I can't. I can count on one hand the number of times I have attended Mass without a kid/kids since our oldest was born. DH and I have talked about the fact that sometimes it's like we haven't gone to Mass, as we are so distracted by making sure our kids are well-behaved.

 

But to us it's important to be there even if we sometimes (often?) feel like we haven't gotten anything out of it. For one thing, it shows the kids that we believe what happens there is important.

 

Anyway, you certainly aren't alone.

 

I tell myself this is a season of life and someday I will be able to catch more/most/all of what happens at Mass again.

 

Signed,

Mom who still holds a 4 yo throughout Mass because she does so much better if I am holding her (Yes, through all the sitting and standing...not while kneeling, unless she is asleep)

This season will pass. My youngest unruly toddler is making First Communion in two weeks and unruly toddler #2 is being confirmed. Unruly toddler #1 is graduating high school and mentions the priesthood from time to time. Unruly toddler #3 is a superstar altar server. The time does pass and you have taught them it is important.

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Well I do feel better knowing that I'm not the only one struggling to feel present ha. Last weekend I went all alone as I got up really early and ds was too sick to go so the kids stayed home with dh. Ds usually holds the missalette for us and we try to follow along. When I wear dd I can't follow along on my own as her head blocks my view every time. I'm a visual person so I prefer to read along. I don't wear her on my back as then I couldn't sit down ha. I suppose I could try the hip carry one of these days. Tonight I think I'm gonna try holding her w/o the carrier and see how it goes. We're actually trying to wean now and I haven't nursed her during Mass in a while, but last time I did I did so in a nearby CCD classroom. It seemed like the least distracting/best for us, though. So I guess in a way we're making progress, we're usually still in earshot of the speaker system.

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I just thought of something else. If you have any teens that love kids at your church, maybe see if one would be willing to sit with you to help with the kids during the service. That way if you have to step out your son won't be left sitting by himself. Or maybe that teen would take your daughter out so you could fully participate.

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I need to meet the teens. So far I don't know any. I kind of church hop as my nearest church is all elderly. But it would be good to meet some teens. I just don't know how lol.

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I will say, the first time I went without a toddler, It was WEIRD! And, I didn't get so much more out of it like I thought I would. It turns out, holding a squiggly child and smelling their hair while singing "Glory to God" is actually kind of the pinnacle of holiness and reverence, you just don't realize it at the moment. But man, the next time, when I had him with me, did I feel blessed! 

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I will say it was never an option that worked for us at all but I will tell you that other moms swore that the key to keeping the little ones content during Mass was to sit right up front.  Being so close to the activity would entertain them and you would meet and bond with all the regulars that sit right up front.  Supposedly this would work the magic of both keeping toddlers entertained and creating a community of people to pass around, smile at, make faces at baby.  

 

This did not work for us.  Mine were too talkative to ever last long enough to find out.  But, other seasoned moms swear by this tip.  Worth a try. It might help you meet some older folks that are happy to take a turn with baby to relieve a mom.  

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We just sit with them with a bag of quiet church activities. They're perfectly capable of being trained to sit for an hour or two service with a bathroom break. We struggle a bit with the 12-18 month crowd and they're the ones I tend to keep out in the lobby. But playing in the cry room is not acceptable to me. They're sitting in the seats and playing quietly with the stuff in their bags/laps or we are correcting and instructing them on how to do this. It's worked for four kids so far, and was the norm at our old church. Some of the special needs kids needed training longer and more breaks but even they managed to sit very nicely in their own timeframe :)

 

It is a lot more work and mental energy than just sitting there with no kids or letting them play in the back, but it has benefitted us so much for stage performances, appointments, and any number of other activities that require the kids to sit nicely and wait.

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Thanks. I didn't know what word to use! Toddler makes her sound so big :( She's 16 months and walking all over the place so that's why I said toddler.

 

I will plan on bringing some board books. Last week the service was fairly short, or maybe just because we were a few minutes late. At one point I walked her up and down a hallway for a minute because she was fussy (wanting to get down).

 

Dh has an easier time holding her in his lap during a service than me. There's standing, sitting and kneeling in Mass so holding her is a pain to me. I feel like I can't participate as well.

That's my little guy except he hasn't walked yet and he IS tough! That's the worst age for us. We tend to give them their own chair and except to need to leave a few times if they get noisy. A few small mouth or toy noises are no big deal but no yelling or getting down onto the floor. It's the only age when I tend to use the nursery, for those few months.

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That's my little guy except he hasn't walked yet and he IS tough! That's the worst age for us. We tend to give them their own chair and except to need to leave a few times if they get noisy. A few small mouth or toy noises are no big deal but no yelling or getting down onto the floor. It's the only age when I tend to use the nursery, for those few months.

 

Agreed, that's the hardest time for sure! I left my son home a lot with my husband at that age (he doesn't attend church). At 2 yrs old they do much better and can sit for a good part of the service with some felt and pocket sized felt board, crayons, paper, etc. 

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I find 12-18 months the worst, too. Not so much always the running around and wanting to explore, but they don't know how to modulate their voices yet. So they could be seated, looking at a board book, and then all of a sudden they need to show you the "doggie!!!" in their book. We also keep them with us and step out if making too much noise. Sometimes if I wear a chunky necklace or a coat with an interesting zipper or something, that gets me a few extra minutes of quiet play. Bath toys are oddly fun, too. I usually have a couple in my coat pocket in case things get hairy.

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I need to meet the teens. So far I don't know any. I kind of church hop as my nearest church is all elderly. But it would be good to meet some teens. I just don't know how lol.

 

I am sure some elderly person would love to hold a baby for a while. Once, when DD was a baby, I had to be at Mass for the blessing of religious ed teachers. DH couldn't make it to that Mass. So I took DD with. And when it was time for the blessing, I turned around to some elderly lady I didn't know, and said "Could you hold the baby for a minute?" (DD was sleeping.) I think it made her day.

I will say, the first time I went without a toddler, It was WEIRD! And, I didn't get so much more out of it like I thought I would. It turns out, holding a squiggly child and smelling their hair while singing "Glory to God" is actually kind of the pinnacle of holiness and reverence, you just don't realize it at the moment. But man, the next time, when I had him with me, did I feel blessed! 

There is a little girl in our parish who is probably 3 yo. I absolutely love it when we are at the same Mass. That girl sings. Really sings her heart out whenever she knows the song. It never fails to make me smile. I have no doubt Jesus is smiling and wishing everyone there would do the same!

 

Someone else mentioned sitting close to the front. That really truly does help our kiddos. And growing up, my family was always in the second pew on the right. There is another family in our parish who consistently sits in the first pew. A different family usually sits in the second pew on the other side.

 

So there must be something to sitting near to the altar.

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My three are 11 now, but when they were toddlers, we used to bring board books for them and a soft/stuffed Noah's Ark play set. Until the church banned snacks, we'd bring dippy cups and a snack as well, minimal quantit, for the second half. Our church had no cry room. Overall, they were fine.

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This is my life right now. My 3rd child was so difficult for a long time, and dh frequently works on Sunday, so it's all on me. Many times both child and I end up in tears, the discipline required would be more distracting and is difficult to administer when I have other kids to watch too. My fourth isn't much easier and stopping him from being too noisy/boisterous is impossible on my own. It is abundantly clear that I suck at this parenting gig and can't control my toddler...

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We never did the cry room because it always bugged me that people used it as an area where abdicated their parental responsibility and let their kids run wild (like bang on the glass and disturb people at Mass.)  In the early years, I sat near the back so I could take the child out, but I learned that sitting up front and whispering commentary meant that the kids were more engaged.  Someone usually took an antsy kid out if necessary.  There are speakers in the Narthes so that parents can still hear the Mass while letting a kid blow off steam or settle an unhappy baby.  That said, our church is kid-friendly.  Happy kid noises are tolerated as long as they aren't too disruptive. 

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Well we had the cry room to ourselves most of the service. Someone popped in there briefly and then left again. When it came time to kneel I did let her down on the floor with her books and two blocks that ds insisted on bringing in for her and she stayed to my side so I didn't think it was a big deal. Had we been in the main part of the church I would have kept her in the pew and just held the book with her or kept her attention on what was going on up front.

 

I don't mind if very young children have toys if they are quietly playing and not old enough to really participate. But running around and getting in people's way? Or eating and leaving crumbs everywhere? I guess that's where I draw the line.

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This is my life right now. My 3rd child was so difficult for a long time, and dh frequently works on Sunday, so it's all on me. Many times both child and I end up in tears, the discipline required would be more distracting and is difficult to administer when I have other kids to watch too. My fourth isn't much easier and stopping him from being too noisy/boisterous is impossible on my own. It is abundantly clear that I suck at this parenting gig and can't control my toddler...

 

It's only less intimidating to me now that ds is old enough to know the drill and/or help me. About 6 months ago he'd wander around the wrong way when I sent him to retrieve a children's bulletin Lol. I only have two and I cringe when I have to take them both somewhere sometimes. Hang in there!!

 

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