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Is Your Church Nursery Fun, Well-Stocked, and Clean?
By: Mimi Bullock

The church nursery isn't meant to be the "crying zone." You know the place–where parents and children tearfully part for a few hours during service. The church nursery can be the most popular place in the church, at least amongst the children.

Keeping It Fun
Be ready for faith-filled action by providing upbeat activities for the kids in your care. Activities will allow children to learn about God and be entertained so that Mom and Dad can enjoy all the events on the church's event calendar.

Musical Games
Music speaks to the soul, even little ones. Who hasn't caught themselves humming a tune from their childhood? Place a CD player in an out-of-the-way place. Buy or burn a CD collection to use during nursery time. While some attendees will be too little to clap their hands and stomp their feet, the older ones will love it. You should sit on the floor or rest on your knees when demonstrating bouncy hand and foot movements. Smile and don't forget to show expression with your face.

Dress Up
Use your CD player to play a narrated Bible story or show a Bible video. To complement the lesson, offer children dress up clothing. A big box of dress up clothing will make a fun activity for children in the nursery. Make sure the clothing is size appropriate and safe. Don't offer kids clothing with buttons or embellishments they might swallow. Encourage kids to dress up like King David or Queen Esther.

Nursery-age children love puppets. Buy or make puppets from socks and act out Bible stories. Keep in mind the "Minute Rule." Kids that are 1 will have a 1-minute attention span. Children that are 2 will have a 2-minute attention span, etc. Keep your storytelling simple and exciting. Avoid reading from a script that is long on conversation but short on action. Kids like to laugh!

Edible Activities
Coordinate your snacks with a Bible theme or lesson. For example, if your nursery theme is Jesus feeding the five thousand, have lots of Goldfish crackers. Teach little ones about building their house on God with peanut butter and pretzel sticks. Serve animal-shaped bread pieces or sandwiches for Noah and the Ark. Always check with parents before serving snacks. Some children may have allergies to certain foods.

Keeping It Well-Stocked
The church nursery is a fast-paced, fun place to work and minister to little children. Unlike other ministries, you can't get just get by with whatever is on hand. You won't have time to track down important materials and keep an eye on busy hands. You should ask yourself this question, "What supplies do I need in a church nursery?" While most nursery supply lists will contain much of the same needs, your ministry may be a little different.

Fill your cabinets with these items and practice regular inventory checks to prevent a lapse in supplies. Here are some general supplies for the church nursery.

    * Diapers in all sizes
    * Baby wipes
    * Antibacterial soap
    * Receiving blankets
    * Fitted crib sheets
    * Crib blankets
    * Changing table sheets or covers
    * Diaper pails
    * Diaper pail sleeves
    * Garbage cans
    * Garbage bags
    * Goldfish snacks
    * Plastic food storage containers with lids
    * Small refrigerator
    * Juice
    * Water
    * Digital ear thermometer
    * Toys
    * Sippy cups

Suggested Church Nursery Furniture:

    * Rocking chair
    * Rocking chair pads
    * Cribs
    * Changing tables
    * Television
    * DVD player
    * Christian DVDs
    * Pagers
    * Visitor information cards
    * Volunteer training manuals
    * Training toilets

Gathering everything you need for a church nursery may seem challenging at first. Involve other church members with fun ideas to get your nursery up and running. For example, you could have a baby shower for the nursery once a year. Hold a small party to say thank you for the new nursery equipment and gifts. Don't just invite parents of the nursery children–invite everyone! Other ideas include holding an angel tree event for nursery supplies or advertising a needs list in the church bulletin.

Store extras safely away. Unfortunately, supplies can come up missing if they are not hidden away. Buy supplies quarterly at wholesale places to get the best deals for your ministry.

Keeping It Clean
A growing church nursery can become messy quickly. Anyone who has ever entertained a toddler or two knows that little ones can keep you on the run. Who has time to stop and tidy up the place when it is time for ministry?

With the right procedures in place, you can control the mess and ensure that your nursery ministry is a safe place for infants. Parents and grandparents will feel better about leaving their kids in a neat area.

Put it in writing.
Your nursery team needs written guidelines to keep them on the track. Also, parents and guardians will like having a copy of how the nursery works to keep their precious cargo safe. Include your nursery wellness policy in these guidelines. It is important that workers wash their hands continually, especially after every diaper change. This is critical to curbing germs.

Have regular cleaning routines.
You'll need a deep cleaning monthly, but regular cleanings should occur every time the nursery is used. Here's a list of what to include:

* Disinfect toys in a bucket or sink using clean water and bleach.
* Spray toys with disinfectant spray.
* Wipe down all surfaces like large toys, rocking chairs and diaper changing tables.
* Empty garbage cans and take out the trash.
* Replace sheets and changing table covers.
* Sweep or vacuum floors.
* Empty potties and flush toilets.
* Place items left behind in the lost and found.

Follow the checklist.
Every now and then, it doesn't hurt to revisit the guidelines yourself. Ask yourself these questions about your nursery.

* Do we have extra copies of the nursery guidelines to give to new parents and workers?
* Are we offering our volunteers regular training classes for this specific ministry?
* Do spills or biological liquids get cleaned and disinfected properly?
* Are hand washing reminders posted near bedding stations and bathrooms?
* Are our carpets steam cleaned regularly?
* Do our parents and workers feel they can communicate with us?

Having a cute name and perky, safe decorations are just the beginning of nursery needs. To keep everyone safe, you'll need to care for the kids by dealing with germs. Besides cleaning, adequate supervision is needed and regular hazard reviews from kids-eye level need to be conducted regularly.

Mimi Bullock writes for www.Ministry-To-Children.com, a resource started by Tony Kummer to solve children's ministry problems.

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