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Babies in Church: Yes or No?
When my kids were little I took them everywhere. My husband worked about 120 hours a week in those days while he was doing his residency, and I needed adult interaction. So the babies came everywhere with me. It kept me sane.

But now I'm on the other end. And three times lately, while I've been speaking, there's been a baby in the audience making a lot of noise. I really think young moms should be able to bring their babies, because they need the outing. They really do.

At the same time, I couldn't believe how distracting it was for me up there speaking. You just lose your train of thought. I speak without notes, because I find people like that better and you're able to keep their attention better. But it means that I have to concentrate. I have to be funny, yes, but I also have to keep everything in my mind: what's coming next, what joke I'm telling, how to tell this serious story well. There's a lot going on in that little brain of mine.

And when a baby is crying it wrecks the flow, and sometimes I have no idea where I am. I usually recover, but it gives you a bit of a panicky feeling.

When the girls were babies, too, I used to breast feed them everywhere. I just wasn't going to miss out on stuff just because of the babies, so if they were hungry, I'd feed them. I'd take a flannel receiving blanket and throw it over my shoulder and let them go at it.

But Katie, especially, was a very loud eater. She'd slurp, and then every few minutes she'd let out a big, "Aaaaaahhhh", as if she were in ecstasy eating. I swear the people within four pews could all hear it really well. It was highly embarrassing. They could hear her gulping and then sighing. Rebecca was much quieter when she ate!

I know that having the kids with me in those days kept me sane. But now, being on the other end, I really think my talks could have been better if I hadn't lost my train of thought in a few places. And I could see audience members, at the most serious part of my talk, turning around to look at the baby.

What do you think? Babies in church, yes or no? I'm really curious, because I'm quite torn right now!

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At 11:50 AM , Blogger Shaun and Holly said…

I say the babies stay! Unless they are super noisy...


At 12:28 PM , Blogger Melanie said…

In church, meaning Bible class and worship, absolutely yes. I think they should be there as much as possible and be gradually exposed to proper behavior so that they can participate and learn just like everyone else.

However, that does not absolve moms from keeping their kids from being completely distracting. A little noise is fine, and people should be tolerant. But when they start really crying, mom should quietly excuse themselves. Hopefully there will be a room where they can do that, and many churches have at least a "cry room" that often has a window and speakers so that you can still hear. If a place didn't have that, I'd just step out somewhere so that I wasn't bothering other people.


At 12:59 PM , Blogger Amanda said…

I say yes to church. I'm on the fence about your talks, though.

I say yes to church b/c I that's the only way that kids are going to learn to sit through mass. (Sorry, I'm Catholic, so there's a decidedly Catholic bent to this!) I'm not a fan of "cry rooms" nor am I a fan of taking your kids out of mass b/c they're crying. If they learn that if they cry they get to go outside, they're just going to keep doing it. As far as the "cry room", at some point, you had to admit that your kid is too big for the nursery. Now he's 5 and for the first time you want him to sit still for an hour.

At some point, kids have to learn that mass/church is a time to sit still and listen, and the sooner that you begin teaching that, the better.

But, as I said, I think your talks are different. I would NOT take my crying child out of mass, but I would not hesitate to take him out of a talk that I was attending. It's hard to explain, but they are distinctly different occassions.


At 2:26 PM , Blogger He And Me + 3 said…

I agree, it is very distracting...and grownups are easily distracted by a cute loud baby. I brought mine in church while they were sleeping & quiet, but the moment they made a peep, I was outta there. I also sat in the last row so not to disturb anyone by leaving the service. Love your blog. I will be back.


At 3:00 PM , Blogger Megan said…

Yes!! But with due consideration for everyone else. My daughter is 10 months old, and I take her with me everywhere and I breastfeed her in public (using a nursing cover before she got too wriggly, now I layer my shirts or use a blanket just to cover my chest). We have a small nursery in my church, with a speaker from the sanctuary. But when any other children are in it they are way too loud for a baby to deal with. And when it's empty...well, it feels very lonely.

I compromise by sitting in a pew that allows an easy exit if Aurelia gets fussy. When she gets hungry or needs to play I move to the very back of the sanctuary (there's a large open space between the main congregation and a bench at the back of the room) and discreetly nurse her or let her crawl around. I'm pretty sure nobody even knows we're back there, so we aren't bothering anyone and I don't feel left out.

In general, I think people should cut new moms some slack on this front. It takes so much effort to get to church with a baby that nobody should give mom a hard time for being there! But if the baby is being very loud it's time for mom to be considerate and leave the sanctuary. Also, parents with babies should talk to the pastor (or special speaker) about this and find out what level of noise is too distracting.


At 4:12 PM , Blogger pedalpower said…

I kept my babies in church unless they got noisy...happy noisy, or unhappy noisy. Then I took them to the nursery. I think it's the mannerly thing to do. If the church provides a nursery, then the mothers aren't kept away from church and they still get that adult time they need too.

I know as a former nursery coordinator that sometimes it's hard to get volunteers if people are all trying to keep their little tots in church. I think a nursery is an important thing to offer young familes, and if young families want the churches to feel it is a valuable offering they should try to avail themselves of that ministry and service.

I guess since I'm never the one in the pulpit, I never even thought of it from your perspective. It's another good reason to have excellent nursery care.


At 6:25 PM , Blogger Bella said…

I say YES, YES, and always YES.


At 6:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

This is a very controversial issue...and I don't know lacksadasical as our culture has become one would think that breastfeeeding in public wouldn't be a big idea...for crying out loud...our daughter wear less and show more than nursing mothers do.

The church I grew up in had their nursery in a room in the back of the church with a large picture window with sound system hooked up...pros: nursing moms could nurse in "private" and still watch. Cons: other kids loved to pound and throw things at the glass. Now they have a nursery farther away with a television (they now record every service) But you still may not feel as involved.
I never nursed, but I admire those who do and can. I know it is distracting...especially for the poor guy sitting in front or behind...or the pastor who happens to look that way just when the baby pulls the nursing cloth cover off the poor mom.
I agree that moms shouldn't miss out b/c they have to nurse...BUT you only nurse for so long...maybe not a short feeding but most only nurse for about 1-2 years.

I believe that as long as the baby is quiet or nursing is subtle it is okay...But then do you tell a "loud" nurser to leave a church service and go to the nursery...not to mention the baby may scream when no longer latched on?

I guess I am for the "rights" of moms but I wouldn't want the distraction...
(Sorry I didn't really help did I?)


At 6:57 PM , Blogger Jen said…

I like you, took my babies everywhere...mainly, because we didn't have baby sitter's close by.
I took the girls to conferences etc.
I will say, though, I was very cautious of not being a was not a time to play with my baby and get all eyes on them, (I've seen this alot).
I fed the baby, in a sling or fully covered in the service and that usually kept them quiet, until they were big enough to RIP the cover right off!
When they got noisy, even happy noise, I went to the back and out all together if I couldn't quickly quiet them.
I needed to get out, true, but I was also aware that others, had not come to see my baby.
I think wisdom and consideration should reign.


At 10:12 PM , Blogger Dena @ Green Acres said…

When my youngest was born, I had 3 kids age three and under and I would have loved the option of a nursery at our church because I rarely got anything out of the sermon until they were all older. Our section of the pew was rarely quiet and there were either fights, someone asking me for something or as they got older it was the "She's looking at me" or "He is sitting in my spot" fights. I discussed it with our Pastor about starting a nursery and I was willing to take my turn helping in it, and he was very against it. He said he enjoyed hearing the babies and the children because that let him know their parents were bringing them. I could understand his point, but I still would have liked the option. Now that mine are all old enough that it's not an issue, I don't mind that there are children or babies. But it would be nice if the parents would take the child out if they are screaming or being very loud. Most do, but not all, and to me that's just a courtesy issue.


At 10:34 PM , Blogger Sandy said…

Hi Shiela! Ha! I'm the first to comment - NO BABIES in church. Unless it's really informal ... I agree, way too distracting!

Go girl - hope you get some good feedback.



At 11:47 PM , Blogger Sophia said…

I am mom to 3 young kids (ages 4, 3 and 3 1/2 months) and I would say kids in church, yes and no. :)
"yes" as long as they are quiet and not distracting.
"no" when they are crying and are distracting. Then it's time to go back into the nursery and listen to the speaker through the speakers (if your church has them).


At 12:08 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

OK, I've been sitting here for a while trying to decide what I should say about this. And I can't come up with a definite answer. When our children were babies, we were in a church we had gotten married in, so we had no problem putting them in the nursery or any child care they offered for extra things. I didn't take them to other places, only if child care was provided. But, if we were new at a church, I don't know that I would do that, until I knew everyone there. So all that to say, I don't know. But I will come back and see what others think. :)


At 1:29 AM , Blogger TRS said…

I recall mentioning a funny story about a friend and her kids in church and the woman I was addressing looked stunned and said, "Why would you even bring a toddler to church?"
I looked stunned in response and said, "Well, you can't expect to bring them for the first time at age 6 and expect them to sit still."

So yes, I think you should bring your baby to church... with the caveat... that you run to the cry room if the squealing exceeds 30 seconds!
No brainer there!

I remember one Sunday, a chorus of babies set off - since the first parents didn't cart off to the cry room neither did the others.
At the end of Mass when the choir director announced the closing hymn, she also offered; "We'd like to remind the parents in our parish that we have a lovely cry room in the back of church."

A few nervous and appreciative chuckles arose and the point was taken.

Maybe you can use that when you are speaking and interupted by a wailing child, "Ladies, allow me to interject, this space has a well appointed cry room in the back to your left - equipped with speakers so you won't miss a word of my talk."

No one should find you rude - because you are only giving them an opportunity to use their forgotten manners.


At 6:43 AM , Anonymous Capri K said…

Hi, Delurking here to give my opinion. I have been wondering this very same thing. All of the sudden, this is a problem at our church. And not just with infants. I'm starting to wonder if the church nursery is unsafe or something!

I don't mind infants in the service, I realize they need to have access to the food supply, but I don't understand the toddlers. Especially since we have a FULL children's program. And these people are not visitors.

What is especially annoying, is when the poor kids do have a problem, the parents don't TAKE THEM OUT! How can the parents even be getting anything out of the service with that level of baby wrangling going on?
I just don't get that. They wouldn't even be that rude at the movies.

I realize this is not helpful for you when you speak, unless the moms are not using the nursery facilities there as well.

I enjoy your blog!


At 7:00 AM , Blogger ~Tami said…

My sister's been visiting my home church lately, and there are some times that her daughter does better staying in church service with her. She is 18 months old, and tends to make some small noise. The church family doesn't mind. However, if she starts crying, then my sister will take her out of service, so that the congregation can hear the pastor.


At 12:09 PM , Blogger Katy said…

I totally see your point. And I think if a baby is making noise..that they shouldn't be out being a huge the speaker and the audience.
I think the same for children. Some people are gung-ho about kids worshipping in with the adults. I love my children...but
#1~they get more out of their Jr. Church class that is during church because it is geared towards their ages
#2~if sitting in church...they have a tendency to wiggle around...ask questions a little too loud to me....always have to go to the bathroom etc.

So, I think babies and kids are perfectly fine in church...unless they are a distraction!!! :)


At 2:34 PM , Blogger Barb, sfo said…

My family believes that unless someone is sick, they go to church. That has always included the babies. We did always take them out when they got loud. But babies are part of the family and yes--they are distracting--but if we value life then we must tolerate the little distractions that life sends our way. I believe it is an act of charity (love) when a speaker or a fellow churchgoer encourages a family who has brought a baby or small child, especially one who has been distracting. It's terribly embarrassing to be That Parent--the one with the loud baby/child. And in the face of the "evil eye" that we can get (yes, I've been That Parent) it is easy to throw in the towel and stop bringing Baby to church.
My church does not have a nursery or cry room, and it was difficult sometimes. MOST times! But there were many, many people who told us week after week how happy they were to see our children in church. My youngest would brighten the day of some senior citizens when he made sure to greet them each Sunday. He's 6 now and when I run into some of them, they still remember that. And I still remember the encouragement they gave ME when they said how glad they were that we brought our children with us, and shared the stories about how their children used to be loud in church too.
That's what community is all about--babies included!


At 6:03 PM , Blogger Tracey said…

Yes, I would take baby to church but if crying starts up we go outside of to the cry they get older they have Sunday School while we are in services.


At 1:39 PM , Blogger Mrs. Querido said…

Yes and

Our church has a fabulous childrens ministry that extends from six months to sixth grade. After that you sit in church with the adults. I think kids should be where the message is geared more towards them. In the kids ministry, they have praise/ worship, prayer, Bible time, etc. Everything we have in the adult service. We have awesome teachers that love the Lord and love our kids.

Children, younger or older are distracting, but if you can't get them to go to a kids class or your church doesn't provide one, then make do with what you have.

As for nursing in church, I really don't condone that. I have nursed all three of our kids (and am still nursing our one year old daughter). But I agree that it is too distracting, ESPECIALLY for the men, to those around me. Plus, in the nursing room I can just relax and enjoy that time with my daughter rather than being all tense and wondering if she will pull down the cover and expose me. (Well, that and she hated the covers so I gave up and got really good at nursing discreetly--except I would never nurse around any men except for my husband.) Maybe I'm too prudish, but just because I breastfeed doesn't mean the whole world needs to know.

Be considerate of others if you need to have the baby or child in the service with you.

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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