by Dale Hudson
We are finishing up the remodeling of our church nursery. It has been such a fun project for me. I love the nursery. There is nothing more precious to me than walking through our nursery on the weekends.
What are some of the keys to an excellent nursery? Here are my top ten tips for creating a loving and nurturing environment for the little ones.
- It should look, smell, and sparkle with cleanliness.
- This means weekly cleaning, disinfecting toys after every service, washing sheets, etc.
- This starts with your nursery director. This person will set the tone for your nursery. The director should be someone with a pleasant personality. Someone who stays calm and collected even when children are crying at their highest decibels. Someone who connects well with parents and has experience as the parent of small children.
- There will be crying. There will be times when a child is not having a good day. There will be days when a child is having separation anxiety. But sanity can still be attained. Bubble blowers, an aquarium, and other techniques can be used to keep things sane.
- Have proper adult to child ratios. This is vital. We strive for 1 adult for every child. It’s a lot easier for a volunteer to keep things sane when they are placed in a proper ratio.
- Create an environment where parents feel comfortable leaving their most precious possession.
- Security tags. Children are only released to the person who checked them in and has the matching security tag.
- Only people who have been through an interview and background check process are allowed to serve.
- Only females are allowed to change diapers.
- Have security cameras in every room.
- Never allow a volunteer to be alone with a child. No exceptions. If you don’t have two volunteers, then don’t open the room.
- We have a police officer stationed in the nursery hallway. You can never be too secure. Parents will notice and appreciate it.
- Have a child wellness policy posted at each room and hold to it.
5. Soggy-free. (just made that word up I think)
- Make 1 Corinthians 15:51 your theme verse. It says “We will not all sleep…but we will all be changed.”
- Put a sticker on the fresh diaper that says “I was changed.”
- Seeds of faith can be planted in children’s hearts and minds even in their early months.
- Have a scheduled time during the hour to sing to the children, tell them a Bible story, pray over them, and tell them, “Jesus loves you.”
- We have a key Bible verse promise on the wall in each room. Our volunteers pray these Bible promises over the children. We partner with parents as they pray the verse over their child during the week as well.
7. Servant Filled.
- The people serving in the nursery should be people who want to be there. I’m not a proponent of “requiring” parents to serve in the nursery. Some will want to, but for others the best thing for them is to be worshiping and serving in another area.
- Look for people who have the heart of a servant. People who are willing to change diapers, get down on the floor, hold a crying child, and rock a baby to sleep.
- Families should walk into a soothing environment.
- Play soft lullabies in your hallways.
- Use relaxing colors.
- Pick people to be your greeters who are full of smiles and a gentle spirit.
- Wall outlets and cabinets should be childproof.
- Know the allergies and special dietary needs of children.
- Regularly check toys and equipment for safety.
- Sunday morning is not the time to run out of wet wipes. Keep inventory of your supplies.
- Use the church’s diapers instead of parent’s diapers. Parents will appreciate it and you never know…you may bless a family that is in financial hardship. Diapers are expensive for a family on a limited budget.
The nursery is one of the most important areas of a church. It is where the earliest foundations are laid for a lifetime of following Christ. A growing nursery also means you are reaching young families which reflects a healthy church.
What are some tips you have for an excellent nursery? Share them with us. Especially if they start with the letter “S.”
Dale Hudson has been in Children’s Ministry for over twenty-two years. He is the Director of Children’s Ministry at Christ Fellowship Church in South Florida. Christ Fellowship is a multi-campus church with five campuses. Dale was recently named one of the top twenty influencers in Children’s Ministry by Children’s Ministry Magazine. He speaks at conferences across the country encouraging and equipping other Children’s Ministry leaders. He is the Leading Volunteers columnist for Children’s Ministry Magazine and has co-authored three books. Dale and his wife, Pamela, have been married for over twenty-two years and have two sons, Josh who is twenty, and Caleb who is seventeen. You can read more about Dale’s ministry journey at www.relevantchildrensministry.blogspot.comor meet up with him on facebook or twitter:@dalehudsoncm.