13 Tips for Taking Your Baby to Church

This is part of an eight part series on how you can introduce the faith to your children.  Today’s post focuses on taking your baby or toddler to church on Sunday.

Going to Church

The simplest way to teach your baby about the faith is to go to church, which can be a little daunting for new parents.  According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Eucharist is the “source and summit of the Christian life.”  When we celebrate mass, we are encountering our faith at its most basic level.  There is no better way to introduce our children to our faith than to take them with us to mass.  When we do, we give them an example of how we live out our faith as adults.

Just think about what you get when you attend church:

  • Scripture readings
  • Hymns and worship songs
  • A sermon to (hopefully) help you grow in your faith
  • An opportunity to pray with other faithful
  • Experience the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist*

Sometimes it seems like church can go on forever, especially if you have a fussy baby, if you didn’t sleep the night before because of your baby, or if the sermon is just not making any sense.  Remember, though, it is just an hour of your time!  There are ways to make attending church work, even with a baby or young toddler.

*If you are a Protestant who doesn’t believe in the Real Presence, attending church is still a very foundational way to expose your baby to the faith.  Each church may have its own way of teaching and celebrating communion, but this sacrament is still pivotal to the belief of most churches, Protestant and Catholic alike.

Make Use of a Cry Room

The greatest thing a church can do to help families attend is to implement a cry room.  These rooms are usually located adjacent to the sanctuary and look into it through large, glass windows.  The sound is often pumped in to the cry room so that parents can listen along to the sermon or know what part of the mass is being said.

Cry rooms vary by parish.  A cry room may be equipped with age appropriate toys and books for your little one to play with.  Others may simply be a row of chairs for you to sit in.  In these cases, you have the comfort of knowing that your baby’s noises are not disturbing the other parishioners.  Some cry rooms include kneelers for the adults who wish to pray while their babies play on the floor.  If your cry room doesn’t look out into the church, it may be equipped with a video monitor so that you can watch the mass.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of Catholic churches that still do not even have cry rooms for babies.  If your parish doesn’t have a cry room, talk to the pastor to see if there is anything you can do to get one.  If there is not a room available to close off for parents, find out if it is possible to pipe the audio or even video from the mass into the lobby, so that you can still listen along.

Consider attending a parish that does have a cry room.  You can find Catholic churches in your area at Masstimes.org.  A church that offers a cry room may have a more robust network of young parents.  In addition, taking your baby to the cry room will help you meet other parents in your parish.

Many Protestant and some Catholic churches even have nurseries.  The advantage of a church nursery is that as the children get older, the leaders can do faith based crafts, songs, and activities while keeping the children occupied during the service.  That sounds like a win-win situation if I’ve ever heard one.

Tips for Attending Church

While the lack of a cry room can give a parent pause, it is not just an oversight.  The church wants us to bring our children into the Mass and teach them to participate from a young age.  If your church has a cry room or nursery, take advantage of it.  Just the act of going to church every week will begin to teach your child about your faith.  If there is no cry room, consider these tips:

  • Sit in the back so you can make a quick getaway with your baby if she begins to cry
  • Similarly, make sure to sit near the edge of the pew and not get boxed in.  Politely ask other parishioners to move to the center if they come in after you.
  • Take a snack – no one will begrudge a little child eating Cheerios during mass
  • Take a bottle
  • Walk your baby back and forth at the back of the church – this will allow her to look at the stained glass windows, paintings, stations of the cross, and statues.
  • Quietly point out what is going on – show your baby the priest, the candles, Jesus.  We did this with our daughter, and one of her first “words” was “Jesus” (pronounced “sh-ssss”).
  • Toys may not always hold your baby’s attention.  Some churches offer children’s picture books.  Consider grabbing a few to take in to the pew with you
  • Let the baby play with the hymnal or missal – these will be far more entertaining to her than her normal toys and books because they are the books you are reading
  • Find out what time the families in your parish attend church.  If your mass is attended by a lot of families with little children, you won’t have to worry about the occasional squeal from your baby.

Become a “Lobby”-ist

If all else fails, take your baby outside to the lobby until it is time to come up for Communion.  This is a perfectly reasonable way for you to attend church, and most churches will pump the sound out into the lobby.  In some churches that don’t have cry rooms, you can find 4-6 moms or dads walking their babies back and forth or quietly talking to rambunctious toddlers out in the lobby.  You are going through a time in your life where it might be hard to get through an hour mass without leaving, and that’s ok!  Attending mass in the lobby is still attending mass.

The lobby also provides a place to go to nurse your baby, change a diaper, or just let your child burn off some energy.  Once your child has settled back down, try taking her back into the church.

Make Sure to Go to Church

Alternate with Your Spouse

Although this post is about introducing the faith to your baby through church, there may be times when your baby cannot attend.  If you or the baby is sick, it may be best to let her stay at home and sleep.  We have encountered this problem many times in our household.

Even if your baby is sick and cannot attend church, you should.  Not only is this the teaching of the church, but it helps your children see how important mass is.  Offer to alternate masses with your spouse.  One of you can take the earliest mass of the day, and one can leave for mass when the first spouse returns.  You may even be able to take advantage of staggered mass times at various nearby churches.  Make sure to take along any siblings that are not too sick to attend.

Attend Saturday Night Mass

Another trick I learned when pregnant and sick was to attend the first possible mass.  This often meant Saturday night mass, which was great because I was usually not so sick and dizzy in the evening.  The other benefit of attending Saturday night mass was that I knew I had gone.  There would be Sundays where I would wake up sick and say, “I’ll go to the 8:00 mass…no, too sick, I’ll go to the 9:45 mass….no, too sick…” Until it was 6:00 PM and I had to drag myself to mass because I knew I was not “that” sick anymore, but I still felt miserable.

We tried this approach with a new baby as well, and it worked for us for the same reasons.  We never knew how much sleep we would get at night or how late she would sleep in the morning.  An additional reason to go to the early mass was that we never knew if a blowout diaper, sudden nursing, or temper tantrum would make us unreasonably late for church.  However, as she grew older, we just couldn’t make a 4:15 PM mass if she was napping.

So there are some tips for getting your family to church, even with a baby!  These are the good old days, and the foundation we lay in teaching our children about the faith is one that will stay with them their entire lives.


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