As your baby gets older, he will become more alert, which is when things start getting a little trickier. If your church has a family room, by all means take advantage of its use. Some churches have a nursery, and if you are comfortable leaving your little one there, you may want to take her in before the service starts. Some churches have a children’s sermon before the main message. Children are often taken to the nursery after their little sermon ends. Families get to enjoy part of the service together, then parents are able to concentrate on the lesson. Your toddler may not want to go to the nursery, or you may prefer to keep your kids with you through the entire service. Some churches do not have alternatives for parents, so you’ll be forced to find your own solutions.
At this stage in your kids’ development, you should expect that they will become antsy at some point during a lengthy service. Having a talk about good behavior during service before it actually begins may help a little for older kids, but young ones will hardly keep that in mind. It’s best if you can come up with a plan for quiet entertainment. Cloth books, little dolls or soft toys are good distractions. Allowing your child to draw or color is also an option. Realize that, depending on the length of the service, you may need a variety of selections to keep your child occupied. Napping is something you can consider as an option also. Wake her up early for some fresh air fun and she will probably sleep through most of the service. If you go to church in the evening, skipping the afternoon nap may cause her to nap when you need her to be quiet.
Children out of the toddler stage but still little enough to get bored easily can be occupied with any number of quiet distractions. Again, soft toys, coloring books and crayons will help. Some churches have activity bags for kids, or you can make your own. Start with a cloth tote or backpack; remember while you’re choosing a bag that you definitely don’t want one that will make a lot of noise with zippers and metal rings clinking. Fill the bag with items such as:
Bible coloring books
Felt or cloth books
Bible comic books
Rather than giving your child everything at once, allow him to do one activity at a time, and when he gets tired of that one, choose another for him. If you allow your child to have snacks during the service, make sure they are quiet snacks. Keep the food in a container that will not make noise when it’s opened or closed. Candy wrappers can be very distracting, so unwrap candy before service begins or consider other options.