View Full Version : Brainstorm your dream church nursery with me!

07-30-2012, 12:19 PM
I've just been nominated our church's nursery director. In true NF fashion, I have a million ideas in mind for it :giggle. What would you like to see change in your church nursery? What would you keep?

07-30-2012, 01:20 PM
Dont know what current setup or budget is but th one I appreciated the most both as a parent and nursery worker was one at a church we visitd one time that had NO cloth or stuffed animals or things with lots of parts in there only several big bulky play things like this:http://www.walmart.com/ip/Little-Tikes-Activity-Garden/19409980 as well as a couple of the LT rocking horses so that they could be easily wiped down each time and not tons of toys to pick up after. I also would bring a spray bottle of less toxic cleaner to wipe things down with when I was working in the nursery,also would appreciate some kind of healthier snack than animal cookies or goldfish

07-30-2012, 01:53 PM
Any ideas on other snacks? I think fruit would be ideal health-wise, but may take a bit more prep/storage considerations.

I was also thinking of less random toys (which generally just get dumped out anyways)

07-30-2012, 02:31 PM
I would like to see a policy at our church where if a child cries for more than 10 minutes, a parent will be called (or even 5, but 10 would be better than never).

I love that our church has dutch doors on all the nursery rooms with windows in the top half.

Background checks on all volunteers.

Speaking of volunteers, our church is small-ish (about 150 or so), and when we joined they basically said, "Welcome to our church, this is when your nursery training will be." :giggle Obviously you wouldn't do that with everybody (super elderly or creepy people, for example), but I like that for your average church member, it really isn't presented as an option but as a way to immediately get plugged into the church and to serve a huge part of the congregation (kids and parents). We never have to beg for more people to volunteer, and we never get weary from being in the nursery so much because we have enough people that we are on a 5-week rotation in each room.

I'm sure I'll think of more later.

Snack-wise, maybe you could do natural fruit leather? That is more expensive though and gets caught in teeth really badly. Cheerios are the default church snack, and they really aren't too terribly unhealthy if you don't have an allergic kid.

07-30-2012, 03:09 PM
:haha We actually have that toy you linked mamacat, just a previous "model".

We have paid workers so I won't *have to get volunteers, but I'm considering having one volunteer a week to help out because the workers have mentioned they would like to go to church occasionally.

What would y'all sanitize with? They currently just surface spray Lysol, but that doesn't seem to cut it. I wiped all the toys last week and found long-forgotten puffs in the basket :blech

07-30-2012, 03:13 PM
Some things I like about our set up:
background checks are required;
never is an adult left alone with any number of kids;
men are welcome but there must always be a woman in each room;
women do all the diapers/potty duty.

One disadvantage to the background check is that it discourages moms to hang out and help their kids get acclimated, unless they go ahead and volunteer, but they they're more likely to be in charge of more kids.

The main thing I would change is a switch to the use of non-toxic cleaners. I get a headache every time we pull out the chlorox wipes. If anyone has an example letter for requesting this change, I'd love to use it.

I agree with a blanket policy requiring parents to be called after a certain amount of time. :yes My church tries awfully hard to not disturb parents, often taking out the upset ones for one-on-one attention. However, I think they sometimes go too long, and I wish there were a policy for the sake of the kids, or at least a clarification with the parents how long they're willing to let the kid struggle.

07-30-2012, 03:43 PM
Oooh I would love less toxic cleaners as well. At home I use a combo of vinegar, water, and tea tree oil. Would something like that work?

Paid workers...? How does that work? They don't ever get to go to church? I'm confused. I've never heard of that.

Also I would like some kind of paging system. Preferably the buzzers like you get at restaurants.

07-30-2012, 03:55 PM
I think I saw someone mention peroxide as a disinfectant before? Anyone know?

The workers are employees of the church, paid by the hour. They do all of the sanitizing (in theory :shifty) diaper changes etc...It means the babies see the same people every week, and prevents the constant begging for volunteers. It's quite common around here :shrug. I was a paid worker at a different church a couple of years ago.

07-30-2012, 05:23 PM
We have a paid nursery worker at our church. That was going to be my suggestion, actually. We have had the same woman in the nursery for over 10 years and it seemse to me that the consistency for the children from week to week must surely add to the children's comfort level.

Mrs Hutch, I think it is someone who would not ordinarily attend church and for whom the income is a blessing. She's not teaching the children, she's just watching them and creating a loving environment for them during the first half of the worship service. Then the parents fetch the children and they are with us during the second half of the service - for the Eucharist part of the service.

07-30-2012, 06:56 PM
I am hesitant to put my LO into a church nursery for a few reasons. Things that would set my mind at ease:

Diapering logs
A discipline policy (ideally don't boss my kid and do come get me if there's an issue)
Background checks and a policy not allowing other adults access
No pressure to use the nursery. Also offer a cry room or *crazy talk* allow children in service. Offer the nursery without making it expected.
Decor showing God's love.
Enough staff. I don't want some poor adult trying to care for a bajillion kids.

07-30-2012, 07:19 PM
As awesome as they are, I'd be wary of EOs in natural cleaners. I'm allergic to TTO, and I know several other people who are, as well. I'd be happy with the mildest possible commercial cleaner.

07-30-2012, 07:37 PM
Decor showing God's love.

Yeah...one thing that won my heart towards me former church was that every little child-sized chair in the nursery had Beloved written across the back and on the chair rail around the room there was script that said "if you love me, feed my sheep; feed my lambs". Then there was also a mural that had a good shepherd theme and the first name of every child that had ever been in the nursery was added to the mural, season by season.

07-30-2012, 07:40 PM
A spray bottle with half vinegar and half water will kill any germs in a nursery. It is non-toxic, cheap, and easy.

I would appreciate a strict policy of asking the parents how long they want the kid to cry or fuss before the parents are called. It should be written down along with the kid's other info - like are diaper changes ok (or should a parent be called), is snack ok, allergies, etc. Personally I'd prefer to come to my kid if they are unhappy/fussy at all, before they even get to the crying stage. I know most parents aren't like that, so I would want a nursery to check with each parent, then if a kid starts crying, they check the book (or form or whatever) and voila - decide what to do based on that.

As for snacks - I'd appreciate it snacks could be free of common allergens, and not junky. My 4-yr-old boy can't have gluten, and he can't touch it either... so a nursery (when he was smaller) with crumbs and cracker bits all over the place is dangerous for him.

I would suggest rice cakes (ingredients: rice) or rice crackers (ingredients: rice, oil, salt), and perhaps fruit. Banana pieces? Honestly, a couple of bananas each week cut into small little chunks would not break the bank (and if it does then perhaps the church should increase the nursery budget by a couple bucks a week...), and one banana could be split among several toddlers or babies.

I would also appreciate fewer toys, and not the ones from the 70's that probably have lead paint on them. It would be nice to see the church make the nursery a priority, financially, but maybe I'm just talking crazy here ;)

AFA gear: I'd love to see the basics of baby gear - my babies love the exersaucer and jolly jumper. A couple of good rocking chairs would be great. A quiet(er) corner with a lamp and story books would be helpful to draw in the nervous ones.

My parents' church nursery has a separate room off the nursery with a few playpens and a monitor so that the little ones with morning naps don't have to miss them. It's also a quiet place to nurse if the mama prefers that.

I've been involved in churches my whole life (was even a Children's Ministry director)... and I've never yet seen a perfect nursery... a girl can dream, though, right? :)

07-30-2012, 07:45 PM
Megmarch-what exactly do you mean by a diaper log? A note in the diaper bag or something else? As for not allowing others in, I do understand why that is helpful, but I'm the type that likes to go in to get my babies used to the nursery so I personally wouldn't want to be told I couldn't go in kwim?

Anyone have a set routine/lesson? Right now the kids play with the toys and approach the workers (who are sitting in chairs) when they want a goldfish or graham cracker. One worker mentioned that she would like to be given something to *do* with them.

---------- Post added at 02:45 AM ---------- Previous post was at 02:41 AM ----------

Katiekind-that's beautiful! We are remodeling soon and I've been looking at murals. Any chance you have a picture :shifty :)

07-30-2012, 07:51 PM
Megmarch-what exactly do you mean by a diaper log? A note in the diaper bag or something else? As for not allowing others in, I do understand why that is helpful, but I'm the type that likes to go in to get my babies used to the nursery so I personally wouldn't want to be told I couldn't go in kwim?Sure, or just on a clipboard and handed to the parent at pickup. Just so I can see that she's had a change. Food and sleep could be listed there too. Not necessarily done for every kid but an option for parents who are more uptight. That's me.

As for going in, I would like to be in too. Perhaps a parents and legal guardians only situation? Or wouldn't it be nice to have two rooms adjoined with a gate so parents could visit for nursing, cuddling, etc? But if it came down to one or the other, I'd rather nobody who hasn't been background checked allowed.

brown eyed girl
07-30-2012, 07:59 PM
When I joined my last church, the policy was all children were in nursery, never in church, and if a kid cried it was good for them. I was the first woman anyone had seen with a sling, and it was 98.

When we left the church, only half of new moms used the nursery. Breastfeeding was encouraged anywhere mom was and felt comfortable herself- there was no shame in feeding the baby when the baby was hungry. There was a couch in the bathroom and a nursing room and a nursery, but they were for convenience only- moms were welcome anywhere others were welcome. There was a policy that babies younger than 6 weeks could never be left in the nursery. Other policies instituted were: No sick kids. Crying >5 minutes would call the parents. All parents = nursery workers was abolished in favor of "you old folks and young folks give the young moms a break."

There were other things I couldn't change but this was a good start and a HUGE turnaround from when I joined in 98.

07-30-2012, 08:13 PM
The last nursery I used had a paid worker, who attended the Seventh Day Adventist Church, so her worship schedule didn't interfere with ours. She was the most loving, warm woman I know. Certified doula, certified breast feeding counselor, total GCM. See if you can find some workers like that :giggle I know she was 1 in a million.

Then, there was a nursing room/cry room for new babies. Then, when babies were ready for the nursery, we had the nursery at the opposite end of a long open room. In the long open room was a TV, tables, and chairs for all the kids (and parents) who were in between. Too little for the nursery, too big to lay serenely or nurse during church.

The workers always came to get a parent if baby/child was upset and didn't soothe down quickly. Or if baby needed a new diaper they would come and ask the parent if parent wanted a worker to change it, or if the parent wanted to come down themselves and change it. Moms were always welcome to stay with their children to transition them to the nursery routine. Dads were too.

Dutch doors on the nursery on the front side, and double doors leading to the classroom next door in case the nursery needed to spill over (Easter, Christmas services especially.

Honestly, the lead caregiver was one of the main reasons I stayed at that church as long as I did, and I know many, many other parents who said the same. Focus on your people, the rest is small stuff. ;)

07-30-2012, 08:34 PM
I teach nursery sunday school. I have a set lesson and activity. I do not do a craft every week. Some parents seem to want one, but the kids are far more interested in the process than an end product. I share my room with mother's day out :/ I spent a lot of money investing in more natural toys to put in the classroom, but they all got moved to other rooms, when I try to set it up into centers and sort the toys into appropriate bins in separate play areas they are always just shoved wherever and lined against the wall when I arrive the next sunday. I wish we had some sort of calling system, where parents would sign in and leave instructions and I could page them somehow if their kid needed something. If I have an emergency I have to find someone and send them to go locate a parent. My diapering method is to take 2 dipes out of each kids bag and label them with their name. I put the ones back that I don't use. So if you have a diaper in your bag with your kids name, they got changed once, if none are labeled but the one your kid is wearing is, they got changed twice. If the one your kid is wearing isn't labeled and none in the bag are, they got changed 3 times. Anything more than that and the kid has got to be sick and the mom's been located =) I would love there to be specific training for nursery workers in discipline and nursery practices. There are way too many kids being put in time out imo. I think if half the class is sitting on the wall the problem is with the teacher, not the kids.

07-30-2012, 10:43 PM
Our 2 year old class reads a chapter from the Big Picture Story Bible and colors a related picture every week during worship, but other than that, there's no structure.

07-31-2012, 05:43 AM
Ypu cpuld do the vinegar water or my go to is water and peroxide with a tiny few drops of 7th Gen dish deterg so if there is something grubby.We too had that former model and the nursery I saw had a couple more similar but LT doesnt seem to make so many now

07-31-2012, 05:59 AM
I would suggest hiring someone to clean the nursery :shifty we have someone who once a week goes around to all the preschool/nursery rooms and cleans all surfaces and washes all the toys. All plastic or wooden toys go through the industrial dishwasher and everything else gets wiped down with clorox wipes. Any baby blankets or other things like that get run through the washer/dryer, and we got rid of all soft bodied toys like stuffed animals or dolls. It takes her a full 8-9 hours to do (I did it when we had less than half the rooms and it took me 3-4) but it's done once a week. Generally on Friday so that everything is clean before church on Sunday, which is when we have the most kids there. In the baby rooms, "mouthed" toys go in a certain bin after each child has had it and leaves, that way no one accidentally lets another baby in another hour chew on the same toy. Oh and the time between cleaning and services pretty much allows any chemicals to evaporate.

We cannot give fruit in the nursery without prior notice to the parents. Or anything else for that matter. We offer water, vanilla wafers, or goldfish... cheerios for the babies. The reason behind those is that either everyone already knows if their child can have them, or it's easy to show the parents the ingredients. Allergic children bring their own snacks and are fed separately. Snacks are done sitting or standing at one table so that it can be cleaned quickly and easily.

Now, one thing I would like to see in our nursery is just getting the parents after a certain amount of time (5-10 minutes... maybe a little longer for older ones)... not necessarily because I want it for myself, but more because as a teacher/worker, crying babies disturb everyone else... all the other children. Even if they are being walked around in the hallway. So instead of one baby who you have to disturb their parents, you have 25 babies crying.

07-31-2012, 07:00 AM
One that isn't in an opposite basement away from services with no pager or call system. :mutter

Background check for workers, but parents with stickers are allowed to come in; supervised and have contact with their OWN children. (Color match stickers for easy recognition?)

Paging or calling system for parents to come get crying child (saves attendants from having to leave to get parent)

Limited toys, theme or at least some singing instead of being just a baby playground.

07-31-2012, 08:55 AM
A nursery handout/handbook with the nursery policies to give to new members and visitors. I know where the nursery is, and I have met the nursery worker. But I don't know the policies for the nursery and it is easier for me to keep my baby with me than find the time to have a one on one with the nursery worker. And I'm not comfortable leaving my child with someone who I haven't had a decent conversation with. Not going to happen. So maybe a nursery orientation/open house every quarter?

I still might choose not to use the nursery, but that would make me more comfortable with the option.

07-31-2012, 09:26 AM
We visited a church where there was a front station where you signed your kids in, and then someone took your kids to their class for you and you weren't allowed to go past the front station. I *get* safety concerns, but I hated not being able to talk to or even meet his teachers, much less help him transition. He didn't do well in that nursery.