The top reasons parents like or don’t like your church nursery may surprise you.
The nursery was perfect. Matching cribs lined one wall, each with crisp pink and blue checked sheets. Developmentally appropriate toys sat neatly on white shelves just waiting for tiny hands to hold them. A wooden rocker sat motionless in the corner with a soft, pale green afghan folded over its arm, ready to comfort and warm a tiny soul. The small room waited for small guests.
Outside the nursery, a flurry of activity filled the halls. Children and their parents hurried by on their way to classes and services. Laughter and excitement bubbled up everywhere — everywhere except in the nursery.
Makes you feel sorry for the nursery, doesn’t it? This scenario may sound extreme — but when we surveyed parents of babies and toddlers to see whether they use the church nursery, we found that some never do. So why don’t these parents use our nurseries? Their reasons may surprise you, but they also may inspire you to make your nursery the place to be.
1. Health Hazards
One common reason parents resist leaving their little ones in your nursery is they’re afraid their small children will be exposed to otherwise-avoidable illnesses.
“My concern is that many parents will take a sick child to the nursery,” said one parent. “I also worry about whether things are cleaned and disinfected. I suppose I should just ask, but then I feel like the freaky mom who worries too much.”
Take Action: Help parents see that you’re taking measures to keep all your small friends healthy and happy.
Establish an illness policy. For example, require that children who have a fever, runny nose with yellow discharge, diarrhea, vomiting, or other symptoms remain with their parents. Require that parents whose children become ill retrieve their child within 10 minutes. Create an isolation area in your room so if a child becomes ill, he or she can be separated from other children while waiting for Mom or Dad.
Keep your room sanitized. Clean all toys before returning them to the shelves by rinsing them in a bleach and water solution. Keep changing tables sanitary. Use disinfectant spray liberally during peak illness seasons. Encourage hand-washing among children and require it of volunteers. Provide sanitizing hand gel at your entryway, changing tables, and restroom.
Post these policies and health-conscious procedures outside your classroom and in your promotional materials so parents know you’re working to keep kids healthy.