Young children are often apprehensive over the thought of being separated from their parents . . . this can make the nursery a frightening place. Add to this the tendency of nurseries to utilize teens, elementary children and a once a month schedule for their volunteers and the nursery becomes a place filled with children and adults a child doesn't know. It can be difficult for a parent - particularly a first-time parent - to leave their child in the nursery when they see elementary children and teens as the care-givers and their child screams hysterically over being left in the nursery. We want our nurseries to be a place where parents feel confident and babies/toddlers feel comfortable . . . so consider the following -
- Recruit two key people who see the nursery as their ministry - not just a place where they sit around and chat while babysitting for one Sunday a month. These two key people will commit to being in the nursery every Sunday for a month at a time - allowing parents and children the opportunity to get to know someone - see a familiar face. This also helps if you are trying to begin an actual nursery ministry with a curriculum such as lil' sprouts club from Regular Baptist Press or Baby Beginnings from Gospel Light.
- Be absolutely certain all nursery volunteers are at least 16 years old - parents will feel much more confident knowing the people taking care of their child are adults - or at least older teens.
- Hold training opportunities for your volunteers at least once a year - twice would be better.
- Try to recruit someone who has a background as a nurse or paramedic
- Consider recruiting a couple older ladies who will be the nursery grandmas! These ladies would need to be on the schedule for a month at a time or at least every other week - provides that familiar face again! Be sure to have a chair for them and lots of books for them to read to the little ones!
I don't know of any nursery ministry where they wouldn't benefit from having a "nursery grandma" or two! Parents and children alike would have a much higher comfort and confidence in your nursery with a "grandma" in the nursery!
Most importantly, hold up the nursery as an unique place to serve where you are able to have an impact on a life . . . from the very beginning! These little ones matter and the nursery is where we begin to lay the foundation by teaching them God loves them . . . they experience this love in a very hands-on manner through the gentle, loving care they receive in your nursery!