12 Problems in Church Nurseries

More than one church growth writer or blogger has written about the importance of the church nursery, especially if we want to reach young families. Here are some of the problems our Lawless Group consulting teams have seen in nurseries: 

  1. No established drop off/pick up plan – The church has no policy or procedure in place to make sure that the proper person picks up the right child, etc. They just assume that they’ll always know everybody, so no plan is necessary. 
  2. Untrained workers – The workers haven’t been equipped to take care of little ones. They don’t think about allergies, germs, cleanliness, and basic first aid.
  3. Uncovered outlets – You’d hope that no crawling child would stick something in an electrical outlet, but it can happen.
  4. Only one adult in the room – Permitting times when only one adult is in the nursery is an invitation for trouble because of the potential for abuse and the possibility of emergencies (and . . . for churches who do understand this issue, the two adults in the room should be unrelated).
  5. Minors in charge – Teens may help in the nursery if the church policy allows, but only under adult supervision. They should not be in charge.
  6. Unsafe furniture or toys – It’s amazing how often our team finds toys that are broken, toys with tiny parts, or older furniture that appears to be dangerous.
  7. No background checks for volunteers – Background checks are no guarantee of future problems, but they’re a necessary precaution for all workers. Anyone unwilling to complete a check should not serve in this capacity.
  8. Nursery doors with no windows – It’s logical and wise to make it harder for anyone to “hide” when working with preschoolers and children. Typically, we see this problem in older buildings.
  9. No gloves when changing diapers – A church nursery seems to be one of the easiest places to spread germs (for one reason, parents bring their sick babies to church). Gloves are at least one precaution to avoid spreading germs.  
  10. Uncleanliness – We’ve seen cribs that are dusty, sheets that are stained, counters covered with crumbs, and carpet that hasn’t been vacuumed.
  11. No means to sanitize toys – Some toys in nurseries go from mouth to mouth with no intervention to clean the toys. That’s a problem.
  12. Safety hazards – These vary – e.g., no posted emergency exit plan, poisonous materials or medicines not stored securely, drapery or blind cords within reach of children, plastic bags too accessible, etc.

What would you add to this list? Let’s help each other. 

7 Comments

  • Robin Jordan says:

    Volunteers should be trained and certified in performing CPR and giving first aid in emergencies. If snacks are provided for toddlers, they should be appropriate for their stage of physical development. Some snacks are a choking hazard for toddlers. Volunteers should ask parents about food allergies and other health issues and keep a record on each child. Volunteers should also obtain parents’ cell phone numbers in case they need to contact parents during the service or whatever function parents are attending. Nurseries should be well lit as well as scrupulously clean and decorated in bright colors. Nurseries should be provided with first aid kits and hand sanitizer as well as disposable diapers and gloves. Used diapers should be disposed off in lined, lidded containers. Equip nurseries with rocking chairs and changing tables for the volunteers as well as cribs for the infants and toddler-sized tables and chairs for the toddlers.

  • Robin Jordan says:

    If the church can afford them, one or more closed circuit security cameras would provide added protection for the children. They not only discourage physical and sexual abuse but keep a record of who enters and leaves the room and with which child. Videos from these cameras can also be used in training new volunteers.

  • April says:

    Baby dolls and teaching materials should represent all races and nationalities so as to welcome all children. I recommend no toys with secular cartoon characters so that children don’t confuse cartoon characters with the real people of the Bible (young children are concrete thinkers). Be careful about accepting cast off toys from people whose children have outgrown them. Toy acquisition should be carefully planned and selections made in accordance with our mission to teach babies and preschoolers about Jesus.
    Rooms should be kept neat and clean. Old teaching materials need to be removed and displays need to be updated.

  • Michele says:

    We quit going bc our daughter is autistic. No one wants to change the diaper of an almost 5 year old (including us). She’s almost 7 now and potty trained, but we’re out if the habit of going now.

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