Early childhood matters at church because babies are built for learning. Every sensation — touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound — electrifies the infant brain and helps it establish sensory connections that’ll last a lifetime.
Because babies build a sense of trust with caregivers as their needs are met, it’s vital to respond to their needs in a loving and consistent manner. When adults interact lovingly with babies, their sense of self-worth grows. Babies develop trust in the people who meet their physical needs. You can surround an infant with a sense of acceptance, security, and love with the experiences you provide for babies in your nursery. Babies feel God’s love as it flows from you.
Babies build their earliest foundation of God through their experiences at church. You can tap into their five senses and build a positive experience for babies in your nursery using the following tips.
- Sound — When you sing or talk to babies, use Bible truths such as “God made the birds,” “Jesus loves you,” and “God made you.” Pray aloud with babies.
- Sight — Infants are stimulated by contrasting colors because they’re easier to distinguish than similar colors such as red and orange. Decorate your nursery with contrasting colors.
- Smell — Keep your nursery free of bad odors, but avoid using strongly perfumed air fresheners. A light deodorizer is fine, but a clean nursery makes a better-smelling nursery.
- Taste — Taste is a powerful sensation for babies, especially when it curbs hunger and brings comfort. Tend promptly to an infant’s cries of hunger with milk or formula as instructed by parents.
- Touch — You’ve probably noticed that babies have incredibly strong grips when they grab your fingers. Holding babies or comforting them with a soothing touch also stimulates their brain development.
As babies grow into toddlers, use Bible thoughts, stories, and songs on a regular basis to help little ones learn about God in different ways.
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Toddlers’ attitudes about God and church are formed early through experiences they have in your classroom. Toddlers need a safe, loving environment that stimulates them to explore and discover God’s world. As leaders, we need to provide positive examples of love, acceptance, and security.
Sondra Saunders is the former leader of Prestonwood Baptist Church’s preschool and children’s ministry with more than 5,200 children in Plano, Texas.