Perhaps you are a pro at taking your toddler places where they need to sit still and be quiet for over an hour; however, if you need some tips for taking toddlers to church, read on. It can be done. People have been doing it for years, and here are some suggestions for making your church experience successful.
Pack Yummy Snacks
This is a must. In fact, Sunday mornings are a snack-fest extravaganza for my girls. We try feeding them a big breakfast before going; however, they begin snacking as soon as we walk in the door. We pack dry cereal, gummies, yogurt-covered raisins, pinwheel pastries, and Smarties. Our daughters also bring a sippy cup of juice or water as well. Often, we open several items when we arrive before the service begins. Then, if more snacks need to be opened, we try to do it during singing when it is loud in the sanctuary. Usually, the girls are full by the time the pastor begins preaching, and we are done with snacks.
Bring Quiet Toys
This is also a must. On Sunday mornings, we take two bags. The first bag is the diaper bag packed with extra snacks, extra clothes, and all of the other diaper bag necessities. The second bag is smaller, and it is our toy bag. We pack coloring books, a cloth pencil and crayons pouch, stickers, look and find books, empty notepads, a few Fisher-Price Little People plastic toys, and occasionally a simple puzzle in a zip-lock bag.
Our favorite type of coloring books are the coloring books with the magic pen. When you color with it on a blank page, it fills in with color. These types of coloring books have entertained the girls through many church services, and they are mess-free. (That is always a plus!)
Look and find books are also great for church services because the books do not need to be read. The kids can match pictures quietly on their own especially if they are familiar with the book.
There is also a lot that can be done with a blank journal-sized notepad. Kids can write, draw pictures, or attach stickers to the pages. Again, our girls have filled many empty journal notepads over the years at home, in the car, and in church.
I decided to give stickers its own category because there are many different kinds of sticker activities that can be done quietly. First, you can pack a few sheets of stickers that can be placed on the bulletin or empty journal pages. You can also buy sticker books that make funny faces, princesses, pirates, animals, dinosaurs, etc . . . My girls love these. There are also sticker books with specific directions and stickers that go on each page. For example, it might have a picture of a farm. The kids have to match the sticker shapes of different animals with their shadow outlines on the page. Then, they can add extra sticker animals to the scene. My girls love these books too, but they require a bit more adult assistance to be completed successfully.
Note: A young toddler may have difficulty pulling a sticker from the sticker page. That’s okay. Either load up one sticker on each of your fingers on your left hand and allow him or her to pull from there, or have your child point to the sticker he or she wants. Start the corner of the sticker for him or her, or you can go ahead and pull it. Then, your child can place the sticker wherever.
Sticker activities are a must in the toy bag. Kids love stickers.
Bring a Blanket
Young toddlers tend to get very sleepy after snack time and may fall asleep while the preacher is talking. Go prepared. Take a very thin, but comforting, blanket in your diaper bag. I always packed one of our linen blankets just in case our little one wanted some extra snuggles for a nap.
Wear Lots of Jewelry
This may sound odd, but toddlers can be very entertained by rings, bracelets, and necklaces. They like to look at them, touch them, take them off of you, and put them on. Then, they will hand them back to you. You put them on. They take them off of you, and the game continues all over again. My daughters’ grandma comes prepared for church entertaining every Sunday by wearing extra jewelry. My girls always have to check out her rings and bracelets. It’s a good way to pass time quietly.
Now you know the secret to keeping kids entertained and relatively quiet during a church service: lots of snacks, quiet toys, stickers, a blanket, and jewelry.
Share with us! What tips do you have for taking toddlers and preschoolers to church?