The relationship we build with the babies in our nurseries will impact their ability to trust in God. Here are 3 tips to help foster more trust.
I love sneaking into the nursery to get my baby fix. I remember how Lily’s eyes lit up when she saw my familiar face. As she rested her head on my shoulders and snuggled close to my chest, my heart melted. Sigh! Her trust humbled me. At the same time, the revelation hit me that if she could talk, she’d tell us how our adult response to her innocent trust will one day shape her relationship with God. What an incredible responsibility!
If you’ve spent any time around babies, it’s easy to see that their inability to take care of themselves produces unique tensions during the first year. They’re solely reliant on others and because they are, relationships become the experiences that shape the way they see the world. There’s a direct link between how caregivers respond to infants’ needs and how babies learn to trust others and ultimately, God.
Unfortunately, when a baby’s basic needs are ignored, he or she learns that the world isn’t a safe place and adults can’t be trusted. On the other hand, when others consistently take care of a baby’s physical needs, the child feels safe, which teaches trust. James Fowler, a psychologist and minister, noted that trust and faith development go hand in hand, meaning if babies learn to trust others around them, they’ll have faith in them.
3 Baby Steps to Take to Build Trust in Your Nursery
Here are ideas we integrated into our nursery schedule as well as the training and expectations we have for our volunteers to help our babies learn to trust.
Show up regularly.
It saddens me when volunteers underestimate the impact they have when they consistently serve in the nursery. Babies feel safe and learn to trust when adults consistently show up and learn to respond to a baby’s unique temperament, needs, and interests. Because I did, Lily not only learned to recognize me but also associated my voice, smell, and touch with a feeling of safety.
Whether we realize it or not, babies watch us closely to discover what makes us feel happy, sad, angry, or frustrated. They form first impressions of us based on how we hold and rock them, change their diapers, and take care of all their physical needs. It’s one of the reasons we ask our volunteers to prepare their hearts before they arrive so they can respond to babies with love, kindness, and patience. At the end, everyone debriefs their time together and brainstorms ideas on how to make each baby feel safe.
Hold and Talk
When we hold and talk to babies, their brains make stronger connections. Fowler notes that when others speak about God lovingly and reverently, babies will learn to have the same ideas about God. We ask volunteers to talk about God, pray out loud, sing worship songs, and read simple Scriptures as well as Bible stories to babies as they hold them.
Granted, the motions of rocking, holding, reading, singing, and changing diapers can feel repetitive and ordinary. If Lily could talk, though, she’d tell us that how we care for her and her peers is far from ordinary. When we dote on babies and make them feel safe, we sow and water seeds of trust.
Kal Otis is the owner of Creative Ministry Group Consultants. A veteran family and children’s pastor, as well as a speaker and writer, Kal is passionate about equipping next-generation leaders.