Introducing a Child to a Church Nursery/Daycare/Playcenter

Tips and help for introducing your child to a church nursery, daycare, or a playcenter. How to help them be comfortable.

Church nursery

I only have 5 more months to go before Kaitlyn goes to nursery!

I know that many churches have nurseries for children starting at young babies. My kids don’t go to nursery until 18 months, so I don’t know how starting young affects a child’s view of nursery.

At our church, it seems like most kids have a difficult time when they first go to nursery. I find this to be completely understandable.

They are in a strange room, usually with strange people, and wild children. It seems Babywise babies really don’t have a huge struggle with mom leaving them alone in the nursery, though some do.

The first day my son started nursery, I stayed in the room for a while (like 20 minutes). I waited until I was sure he was comfortable there before I left. Then I told him I was leaving and hugged him and told him I would be back in a little while. He was fine for about an hour, then an older kid hit him and he cried and they came to get me. The next week, my husband stayed with him for about 20 minutes again, then he left. My son was fine that day. We haven’t had a problem since.

Should You Stay or Leave Right Away?

When it comes to how you leave your child in the nursery (or daycare or play center while you work out) you have to do what you think is best for the personality of your child.

My son does better if he has someone familiar there with him at first while he gets used to things, but quickly warms up to the situation.

With my daughter, I think I will have to just put her in there, say goodbye, and walk out. The longer I would stay, the more likely I believe she will get clingy to me.

Whether you stay for a bit or leave right away, I think it is always good to tell your child you are leaving. I don’t think it is good to sneak out.

Your child will notice your absence at some point. Just keep the good-bye short, simple, and matter-of-fact. Save your emotion for once you leave the room (I know I got teary-eyed when I knew my son had graduated to nursery age–it is bittersweet).

I have also heard from many nursery workers that they prefer you to just leave. If your child is crying and throwing a fit, it is easier for them to work with your child without you there.

Again, you need to know your child’s personality. When I stayed with Brayden, he wasn’t clinging to me and crying. He was just looking to make sure I was close by in case he had troubles. I could see Kaitlyn crying for a minute when I leave. But she would quickly get over it. I will be sure to keep you all abreast of the situation when it arises. The nursery workers can come get you if your child won’t calm down.

When They Suddenly Get Upset

I have a Babywise friend whose son did great in nursery for 6 months, then suddenly didn’t want to stay in there. That lasted for about 3 Sundays.

She believes it was simply separation anxiety. They also happened to get a new nursery worker at the same time, and she was mindful of the situation.

Unfortunately, we live in an age where you have to be very careful. If your child really doesn’t like nursery, or suddenly starts disliking nursery, I would be sure there isn’t a serious reason (like abuse from a nursery worker). I know the vast majority of workers out there would never harm your child in any way, but some would. The safety of our children should always come first.

As always, please share your tips/experiences with leaving your child with caregivers.

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Reader Comments/Thank Yous/Advice

  • Dana said…
    Thanks for your thoughts on this! Here’s my experience: We started each of our children in nursery at 3 mo. My son (3yr) has loved nursery from day one. The only times he ever had problems were when I was volunteering, and he didn’t want me holding other babies. My daughter (11mo)hasn’t had any problems in nursery, except a couple times she wouldn’t take a bottle from the worker. She even doesn’t seem to have any problem when I volunteer w/ me holding other babies. I think starting them early helped, plus the fact that we have consistant nursery workers they are used to being around.

    Plowmanators said…
    Thanks for your thoughts Dana! I think some kids have a more natural tendancy toward “jealousy” than others. It is interesting.
  • mommytoisabella said…
    I had a very good experience with leaving Isabella in a church nursery. We were visiting the US during the holidays and at first I was hesitant about leaving her in the nursery at 4 months. I was sitting with her in the nursing mothers room or the family room. However with so many kids in there I could not concentrate on the messages. Being when I am at home in Kosovo I am the nursery worker in the church, therefore I am unable to attend the services, I decided while in the US to put her in the nursery and she did well. All of the nursery workers we surprised at what a good baby she was. When I checked her in there was a sheet where I could write down what her needs where i.e. the time to give her a bottle and if she needed a nap etc… The nursery workers were surprised that I knew the times she would be hungry and tired. Thanks to Babywise. I would get comments like “she was the only baby that didn’t cry.”

    Plowmanators said…
    Thanks for sharing that! It is a nice sucess story 🙂

Reader Questions

  • popuri said…
    Hi, in our church, the nursery room is open to babies & nursing moms as soon as they turn 1 mth old until they start to walk. The only issue is that they expect non-nursing moms to attend the service no matter what age the kids are. Some kids did great and stay with the roomful of strangers without a tear. My kid just won’t. He is shy & gentle by nature and needed someone familier to be around. So I had to stay around. However, I noticed as he grows older 12mths, he begins to warm up to strangers a little better, by smiling, still hiding his face. At least he doesnt cry. So i start to spend some time in the nursery with him until he warms up to the surrounding and then tell him I am leaving and will come and get him later.I do this progressively and lengthens the time I am away. I also make sure there is a care-giver he will be comfortable with. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it does not. Then I realised he did better in a room with not so many people & when it is not too noisy. We have a different set of care-givers each wk, it is difficult for the child to form relationship with my son is trained in babywise mtd at home.Do u have any suggestions how can parents can work together with the church for kids who won’t stay without thier moms? Is there something we can do with the current structure? thanks!

    Plowmanators said…
    Popuri, I don’t know if there is really a good solution for you. Does he have independent play at home? If not, that might help. It is hard since he doesn’t have consistent people in the nursery. I think what you are doing sounds good. Some kids really don’t like other noisy kids, especially when they are the oldest. Otherwise, it might just be something you have to continue slowly working on it.
Introducing Kids to Nursery

1 thought on “Introducing a Child to a Church Nursery/Daycare/Playcenter”

  1. My daughter just turned two and she's been in the nursery (6 months to 2 years old class) since she was 18 months old. But I've always had to stay with her because the nursery workers are different each week and she'd always cry, inconsolably, so the always ended up coming to get me anyhow if I didn't stay. Now we've just changed her in the 2-3 years old class, there are about 6 caregivers that rotate Sundays do I'm hoping she'll eventually get use to it. She still crys inconsolably so my husband and I do a Sunday each by staying in the room with her. If we are in the room, she has no problem playing on her own coming to see us once in awhile. My question is, should we play with her, or just be there to observe.? So she could get use to laying with others and get use to the room and volonteer teachers?


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