Bringing Babies to Mass


#1

Hi,

This is my first post so I apologize in advance if this topic has already been discussed. If so, let me know where it is and I’ll read those responses.

My wife and I have a one-year-old baby and another one on the way in the next few weeks. We joined the Roman Catholic Church on Holy Saturday of this year; she was baptized Catholic as an infant and I was not baptized at all. We enjoy going to the mass–and we like having our baby there–but I was wondering whether we should go separately while the other one watches the baby or just tough it out as a family.

On one hand, we get to appreciate and participate the mass when we’re not juggling the baby. I also don’t have to figure out how to carry him while receiving the Eucharist. Our son has a habit of full-out grabbing things. I don’t want him to yank the cup or grab the body of Christ while I’m doing the juggling act. My wife and I can come together after we both go to mass and actively discuss what happened.

The other perspective, though, is that Jesus wants all the children to come to him. I do not want to deprive my son (and my daughter as well) of being at mass with the Eucharist. I also appreciate celebrating mass as a family. We do not want to do this forever, only when they’re really young. Fumbling with bottles, diapers, and a crying baby can make things hard. Going to church with my grandfather when I was in grade school was part of what brought me back there.

So, which is more righteous: to switch hit babysitting until they get a little older or bring the babies into the church and just make it work so that they can be immersed in the experience? Most people seem to enjoy him being there, however, I realize that he can distract people. He is a very social boy.

On a side note, our son does watch Holy Baby 2 a couple of times a week. We try to not be excessive because television at that age isn’t the best thing for a child, but the DVD does a good job of giving a toddler Catholic primer. I also give him a child rosary and we read him children Bible books. So it’s not like we’re actively pulling him away from the teachings of the Catholic Church. It just seems like mass is such a struggle when he probably won’t remember it anyway.


#2

I have four girls, ranging in age from 3 months to 7 years. I’ve struggled with this since the first was born. While you will get a number of opinions, I am personally in favor of taking the kids to mass from day one. You don’t keep them in church if they’re screaming, or if they need to be changed, but if you’re albe to keep them reasonably quiet and not running about then by all means, have them with you. Some people will probably be distracted, and heaven knows it would be easier for you to leave them at home, but you’re right…Jesus loved the children, and the church is their home too. I like the way it was phrased to me once: “we go through hell so our kids can get to heaven.”


#3

Congratulations and welcome :slight_smile:

You should go as a family.

Just carry him on up, and when you get to the priest and the Eucharist, hold his arms down so he doesn’t grab at everything. The priest will bless him after giving you communion. Then you can let go of the octopus after you start going down the aisle. Can you put a toy in his hands on the way up? or will he launch it into space? He’ll get used to going up to Communion, and he’ll learn how to behave.

IMOHO, I think it’s important to go as a family. It’s one of the perks of being married with children :slight_smile: You’ll get used to it and be a pro, and you won’t fumble for long.

People are used to families with babies going to Mass. They’ll be fine :slight_smile:


#4

Speaking as a person who doesn't have children, but until fairly recently attended an evangelical church where children were not routinely present at services...

Please bring your child to mass!

Honestly, the other people don't mind as much as you think they do. And if they're anything like me, they are incredibly pleased to see families attending church together. It's never too soon to expose children to the mass.

Good luck!


#5

“All are welcome” take your child, please. They will learn their faith from your example. God bless you for setting one.


#6

I definitely will always give the advice to bring your little ones to Mass. I'm seven months pregnant with a twenty two month old daughter and we go twice a week, as a family on Sunday and then at least once during the week, where I'm usually juggling my daughter, which is getting a little bit tough with my growing stomach.

Sadie (the 22 month old) watched the Holy Baby DVDs too most days before nap time and has pretty much been to Mass every Sunday since she was born (I think she's missed three or four during ear infections). We've had easy times at Mass and hard times when I stood outside with her an nearly burst into tears.

But I can honestly say that she now knows what's expected of her and that 90% of the time she sits quietly on my lap now. The other 10% can be a struggle, but it's getting better and better. And I completely credit that with the fact that she goes frequently and knows what we expect of her when she's there. I don't think it would get any easier to introduce her to sitting still and listening later on.

On thing that made a huge difference was moving up to the very front row of the Church where she can see everything. Before we always sat at the back so that we could make a quick exit during tantrums (and there were lots of them). One day we decided to sit up front and she sat pretty much silently for the entire hour, her eyes focused on the priest (she does get squirmy during the homily most of the time, but I've learned that that's the time to pull out her baby Bible and let her flip through the pages). On the other hand now that she can see everything she's usually really good during the Liturgy or the Eucharist and is a lot less distracting to others because she doesn't turn around. So I definitely recommend sitting up front with little ones (and taking them to Mass!)!


#7
  1. Choose the best Mass time for your child. Ideally, this will be a time where he is not hungry and not terribly sleepy. It should also be a time when he was quiet every day of the week, because you can't expect him to suddenly change just because it's Sunday. If you only have one Mass option, then set up every day of the week for that time to be quiet. In other words, if it's 10 a.m. Mass, then every day at 10 a.m., have books and whatever quiet toys work for him.

  2. Make sure he is well-fed and has a clean diaper before you go to Mass, even if that means getting to church 15 minutes early and feeding him just before you go in.

  3. Start teaching him some of the songs/hymns/anthems/responses so that he can participate. All my kids could make the Sign of the Cross when they were 12-18 months. My youngest was singing the Great Amen and saying "Lord, hear our prayer" when she was 2.

  4. Read the readings before you go (you can look them up on line). Then while the readings are being read at Mass, you can hold him on your lap and whisper the stories in kid-sized terms into his ear without disturbing anybody.

  5. During the homily, hand him QUIET toys and soft books (not board books!) that you keep in a special bag only for Mass. It's nice if you keep it to religious items, such as a soft-sculpture manger scene or a felt Mass kit or Bible story books.

  6. If you have to take him out of Mass, make sure "out" is more boring than "in." I used to make my kids stand quietly against a wall, with me standing right in front of them so they could see nothing. This was so boring, they were very quickly ready to go back into Mass and very soon learned to behave in Mass so they didn't have to be taken out.

  7. My youngest was a grabber and once batted the Eucharist out of the deacon's hand just as he was about to place it on my tongue! It was terribly embarrassing. After that, when we went forward, my husband carried the baby behind me, and then after I received, I would turn and take the baby from him so that he could receive without her in his arms. Worked very well.

  8. It is often distracting to have a baby/newly walking toddler at Mass. Try to switch off being the point person -- i.e. this Sunday, Mom will take the baby out if he gets distracting...next Sunday, Dad will do it. If it gets really awful, then you can split Masses once or twice a month, meaning that either Mom or Dad will go solo to one Mass and then the other will go solo to another Mass, same thing you would do if the baby was sick. But that should be an exception and not the rule because you child can't learn to participate in Mass without going to Mass.

  9. Be patient. There are no quick fixes -- it can take months and months for a child this age to get the hang of being quiet in Mass. Just keep praying and grin & bear it.


#8

I second all of this. We do the ‘Mass Bag’. It’s a canvas bag we keep in the car full of religious books. We don’t do toys, and definitely no snacks or crayons.

We also give our kids a good breakfast before Mass (our only option is 9 AM, but it works well for us) and a string cheese (or something else with plenty of protiein) on the way to Mass if they are routinely misbehaving. Then we know for sure if they act up, it’s not because they are hungry.

Definitely take them out if they cannot be calmed or quieted reasonably quickly. We have found there is a 6 week or so period that seems to happen right around the time they learn to walk that they like to push boundries and we end up standing in the back holding them every single week. Don’t make it fun for them. They can behave in the pew or they can be held in the back of the church.

I second sitting up front, too. It is amazing how much better behaved they are if they can see what is going on.


#9

I agree with all those who suggest you take your children to Mass with you. And you’ve gotten all kinds of ideas. Your job as a parent is to figure out which techniques work best for your family, in your particular church design, at any given stage of your children’s lives.

That said, your children are not obligated to attend Mass until they are at the age of reason. And there has never been any rule that says spouses need to attend Mass together. So if you need to take an occasional day where you and your wife attend separately while the children stay home there is nothing wrong with that.

Just be careful because you don’t want to get into the *habit *of attending Mass without your children And that can be all too easy a habit to fall into.


#10

We always brought our children to Mass from a few weeks old on. Sometimes you seem to get nothing out of Mass but some dirty looks and some times everything goes great. That's just life .

There are some good tips in this thread.


#11

Thanks to everyone for the great tips - we are expecting our little one before the end of May. My aunt used to have a wall hanging in her house that said “the family that prays together, stays together”. I definitely believe in that, too.


#12

He won’t remember it. If he cries at mass, you’ll spare a lot of people a lot of pain by not bringing him.


#13

[quote="flyingfish, post:12, topic:196089"]
He won't remember it. If he cries at mass, you'll spare a lot of people a lot of pain by not bringing him.

[/quote]

I admire the depths of your compassion, which cause you to feel pain when you hear a baby crying. I'm sure it's very difficult for you to go anywhere in public where there might be a baby who cries. Of course, we are all encouraged to offer up our pain for Christ. :-)

This child may not remember going to Mass when he was 1 or 2 by the time he is a grown up, but he will remember it week to week, and that's an important part of his education in the faith, which is his parents responsibility.

It's impossible to teach a child to be quiet during Mass and to participate in Mass if the child is never taken to Mass.


#14

As a younger single guy i struggle with children in mass. maybe because it always seems like i sit behind them…lol. God is trying to teach me patience. I’m positive i was the same way as a kid. I would only say just if the the kids do become a distraction (screaming, crying, ect…) you can make the choice to leave. Its important to not lock yourself into the middle of the pew and then have to climb over everyone when you need to leave. however, im sure people , including myself, are happy that you are there with them. I think i missed mass twice as a kid that i can remember only because i was sick. Its important i have found church to be home to me now even though i hated it as a kid, because of the time spent there i knew it was a place to go when struggling with life and have been constantly drawn back some times stronger than others.


#15

Welcome back and I apologize in advance for the inevitable creep who who eventually give you dirty looks or make rude comments.

If you watch the news at all, you'll have already learned by now that being catholic is no guarantee of holiness! We have easily our fair share of sinners and curmudgeons.

My kids are 9,6 and 2. We bring them every week. Sometimes I'm not able to pay much attention to mass. But it's the effort to that God rewards. And guess what? Over time, your kids start to notice too. Nothing teaches kids quite like the BEHAVIOR of their parents. When the parents visibly place a huge priority on mass even when it is highly inconvenient for them, the kids notice. When parents treat mass like they are doing God a favor by attending, kids notice that too.

Bring 'em. Let 'em learn. Take 'em to the back if they get out of hand. Ignore the crabby people who ought to know better.


#16

Welcome Home!
do what works for your family, for your children, the new baby may change the dynamics greatly, and you may have to change your plan for a few months during toddler-hood, some kids simply cannot be in public at that age. Each child is different from every other child, and is different at different ages, and 2 or 3 babies and pre-schoolers is different than one baby. Go with the flow, be prepared to admit there may be months at a time where you have to take turns going to Mass alone. I am sure there are great parents who can make 6 kids under 10 behave during Mass, hallaluiah for them, but don’t feel guilty if you have to arrange things differently. If anybody in church gives you a look when babies cry or toddlers misbehave, tell them Annie says MYOB. Any religion whose primary tenets include married couples being open to life has to accept children of any age at Mass.


#17

Well, I no longer attend Mass since I’m no longer Catholic. But when I attended, sometimes babies would wail for a very long time. It was very disruptive and uncomfortable. It’s not fair to the other people to have to listen to a baby cry, the sound that babies make is just horrible!

If there is a cry room or a children’s mass or the parent walks out of the Church with the baby it is one thing, but it’s just not fair to the other people to have to sit through that. Imagine if I went to your Church and started screaming at the top of my lungs during mass. How would that make you feel?

By the way, if I was in a public place such as a movie theater and there was a wailing baby I would tell the parent to keep it quiet or leave. Imagine if there was an adult screaming at the top of their lungs, it would drive you mad, and that’s how many feel about other people’s children.


#18

I agree that wailing babies should be removed and tended to promptly!

Well, babies rarely cry without cause (hunger, pain, fear, exhaustion, discomfort), and anyway, they don’t know any better. If you did it, I would assume you had a severe mental illness, and I would pray for you…and pray that I had the gumption to get up and go see how I could help you.

Babies are not “its”. And again, they don’t cry without cause. A parent should certainly tend to their crying child promptly, but most parents do so. I very rarely see a parent neglect a crying child.

People should not equate a grown adult who understands decorum and has a sense of self-control with an infant who doesn’t cry without a very real reason.

Ummm…you’re still Catholic. It’s not an “undoable” thing. And obviously, you have some sort of positive connection with the Catholic faith or you wouldn’t waste your time on a Catholic web site.


#19

As long as they’re quickly taken outside it shouldn’t be a problem. I have been in Church where a baby was disruptive throughout, and the parent didn’t bother to go outside.

People should not equate a grown adult who understands decorum and has a sense of self-control with an infant who doesn’t cry without a very real reason.

From the prespective of noise it makes no difference. It doesn’t matter to me why an adult screams or a baby cries, it only matters that the activity is disrupted by the noise they’re making. If it happened in a movie theater for example, the employees there would quickly take action and remove the noisy party, whether a baby or an adult.

It’s hard for me to have sympathy for parents who don’t walk outside the Church when their babies start crying. I’ve seen extremely disruptive children too.


#20

I’m a little surprised that no one has mentioned that their parish offers child care (perhaps I missed it).

We have always taken our 3 year olds and up to mass with us. But where possible (thankfully my current parish is one), we’ve always left our younger than 3 children in the child care section.

I don’t enjoy tending my squirmy, fussing, grabby, talkative, crying, hungry, tired, or bored toddler (or baby) whilst I’m trying to participate in the mass and help my older children learn about their religion. Nor am I ever happy to leave the mass, which typically seems to happen during the liturgy of the Eucharist. I do it, of course, but I’ve never been happy about it.

IMHO, every parish should have a children’s mass and every children’s mass should also have child care for kids younger than 3. Donuts (and coffee!!!), CCD, and a little time on the playground to unwind follows mass. Repeat weekly.

So I suppose in some respects I agree with FlyingFish. If you go into a mass and there are a dozen or more toddlers in there - that parish could come up with a better answer.

Pax,
OA

PS: Father of 3 boys.


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