While the church nursery is one of the first ministry sites young families encounter when they visit your church, it’s likely not the first room on the list for renovations.
Because it’s not the most public or frequently used space, the nursery is easy to push updates back, until you realize it’s been a decade since you last painted, or that all your board books look like they have been chewed on by hungry chipmunks.
Whether it’s been 2 years or 20, now is a good time to evaluate your space; freshen up decor, toys, and resources; and give your nursery a makeover that ensures that parents and their little ones receive a warm, safe welcome each time they visit your church.
Step One: Evaluate
Asses your nursery space, décor, toys, and resources. Inventory what you have and what you need. What do you have that’s working but needs to be updated or cleaned? What older toys might no longer meet today’s safety guidelines?
Be critical and thorough in your evaluation. You can always adjust later based on your church’s specific priorities and budget.
Focus on creating a nursery space that’s not only safe, welcoming, and fun for kids, but that also helps little ones start to discover the wonder of God’s love.
Step Two: Initiate
Build your nursery makeover team. Whether your evaluation left you with a short or long list of updates to be made, you’ll want to get a team of people together to help make this makeover happen.
There are lots of different people you might consider inviting to be part of your team, not only parents and church staff members – think of anyone looking to make a difference in your church. Send them an invitation or give them a call.
Work with them to estimate the cost and time of each project, organize ideas, and create short-term and long-term proposals that can be presented to church leadership.
Step Three: Execute
Collect donations get your makeover started. Create a gift registry for the nursery for people who love to shop for babies and little ones!
If additional funds are needed to get your makeover started, host a fundraiser or ask your church community to participate in funding this important part of your church’s ministry.
Then roll up your sleeves and get to work. Yes, this will require time, dedication, and hard work. Share your progress in your church’s newsletter, bulletin, and announcements.
A high-quality nursery will have a positive impact on the whole church, not just the little ones who use it and their families.
Step Four: Celebrate
Say thanks to your makeover team personally and publicly for their effort and thank your church for their support. Invite everyone to a blessing ceremony. Ask a pastor to bless the nursery in worship as you embark on using this space to care for little bodies, minds, and spirits, and remind families that the nursery is for them and that they are welcome there.
Let’s make sure we are doing the very best for God’s children, and for their caregivers, by developing a system to check for needed items and to explain the procedures in a church nursery.
Use this checklist as a quick view of what is needed for a well-appointed church nursery. It’s designed for nursery coordinators, children’s ministry leaders, and others involved with staffing and equipping church nurseries.
- Design a welcome sign or bulletin board that is visually engaging and lets parents know that it is not just a babysitting site – it’s one of the ministries of your church. Showing hospitality is biblical!
- Post signage so parents know where to sign in to register their child and make a nametag. Make it as easy as possible, including for parents who are signing in with one arm while holding their child in the other!
- Designate a place for labeling and storing diaper bags, car seats, and other baby gear.
- Select a method for staff and volunteers to receive background checks.
- Schedule a training session for paid staff to learn Infant and Child First Aid, CPR training, and review safety and security policies.
- Schedule a training session or provide training materials for nursery volunteers. Convey your expectations for their role in your nursery ministry.
Diaper Changing Station
- Post a diaper changing policy that includes who is allowed to change diapers, the steps for handwashing, disposing of the diaper, and sanitizing the changing table.
- Post a sign near the table with prayers, songs, or poems to share with the child during changing time. You can pray for that precious child while you change a diaper!
- Make sure basic changing supplies are always available and plan a way for people to report when new items are needed (for example: sanitizing solution, paper towels, wet wipes, diapers, lidded trash can with liner).
Reading and Play Areas
- Create a reading corner where kids and volunteers can explore books together.
- Set up a spot on the floor with soft, washable toys where infants can safely play and explore.
- Place toys and playthings within toddler reach on accessible, child-safe shelves.
- Create an area where kids can engage their imaginations in make-believe with a stocked kitchen area, dolls, and dress-up clothes.
- Set up a table where kids can play and create. Include puzzles, manipulative toy sets, simple games, and art materials.
- All cleaning supplies must be kept in locked closets or above the reach of children.
- Doors need to be shut or latched to prevent kids from wandering but must be easily opened by adults in an emergency.
- Check annually to ensure you have an updated first-aid kit.
- Make sure cribs and other equipment meet all current safety standards.
- Post emergency information and information about food allergies where all can view it.
- Develop and post a regular schedule for cleaning toys. (Many washable toys can be placed in a dishwasher on the sanitize cycle.)
- Reinforce proper handwashing procedures.
- Let parents know your plan to keep the nursery clean. This is another reassurance that their child is being kept safe.
The nursery isn’t always a priority when it comes to church building needs, but you can help it be one by taking these steps to renovate this essential space for young families.
Make sure your nursery communicates enthusiastic welcome, safety, and faith to each family who walks through your door. Your hard work will be worth it as you witness little ones learning and growing in faith and community in your reenergized and refreshed church nursery.
The church nursery can be a wonderful place for children to learn and grow in God’s love. It’s a place where children feel safe, secure, and loved by a well-trained, committed team of ministers who take their ministry to heart, loving and serving God by their commitment to God’s children!
This information is courtesy of Sparkhouse, www.wearesparkhouse.com. From early childhood to adult, Sparkhouse offers curriculum and resources to help spark faith in your communities.