Handling my 9 mo. baby in church

My 9-month-old is the only baby in my church; I don’t know anyone local with children; and children in my extended family are either Catholic but don’t go to church, or Protestant so they don’t worship with their parents (“Sunday school” during the worship service). So I have a question that might seem pretty basic, but I’m flying blind.

My daughter is starting to decide that it’s fun to make a lot of noise in quiet places, so she’s increasingly making very loud happy-noises during Mass, especially daily Mass. Today she started some longer happy yells. I felt bad, but honestly I just sat there laughing silently because I had no idea what to do. I tried covering her mouth, but she thought it was a delightful game!

My parish is SO excited to have a baby around, and I get a lot of people telling me they don’t mind (praise God!), but I’m sensitive to the noise and want to keep it to a minimum. For the first many months, when she fussed I would typically walk her, bounce her, or try a bottle. Those things don’t always work anymore – sometimes she just switches to happy noises! For the last month or so I’ve been telling her, “No,” and, “We need to be quiet in Jesus’ house” – but I certainly don’t expect her to obey at this point. That’s also about the only time I make eye contact, when I’m issuing those corrections. I’ll put her on the seat of the pew in front of me and let her walk or crawl with my hands on her. For the last couple of days I’ve handed her a saint finger-puppet to distract her (but she’s also begun exploring gravity, so her favorite activity is to drop it).

Is there anything I can try that I haven’t already? I feel like I’m covering my bases, but I don’t know what I don’t know. We don’t have a crying room, and the vestibule is small, unheated so unusable in winter, and provides no sound barrier.

Thank you for your help.

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Hi,

Maybe you may look at my threat and what others had advised? My son is a little older but…

I am happy that you go to mass with your baby and that your fellow parishioners are happy with that! What a blessing!

What your baby do is normal and excepted. Mine do or did the same. They are probably amazed by the sound of their voice and the thetheir echo.
If they do it when everybody sing, it’s probably a song, or will become one when they become a little older. That’s so sweet.

If I were you, I would be amazed too. I had the same reaction annoyed but laughing.

You cannot do something except maybe run and going outside if he really yelled. You will not spent all your time in the cold too.

Some may try watching screens, but I will not recommend it.

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When one of my children makes noise ( happy or otherwise) at mass I tolerate it until I think it’s out of line and then I stand up and hold my child in the back of the church. Pacing or rocking them. On rare occasions I have to take them outside.

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Try to shush her if she’s so loud continuously that people around you may not be able to hear.

When my son was that age he brought to mass one quiet toy, like a teether and I would nurse him in the back of church if he got hungry.

If he was not cooperating I would walk with him in the back of church. Or let him walk back and forth back there. Even if he is loud in the back at least he was less likely to drown out the priest or lector.

You sound like you are doing fine. It gets easier the older they get.

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Maybe try for a little time each sunday to catch your baby’s attention with a detail in particular?

Such as look on candles, smell some flowers, on one painting, on touching some flyers, on the sound of the songs/music etc?

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Happy noises are good except if they non-stop and people truly are missing parts of mass or can’t hear over her. Do you bring a lot of ‘things’ in her diaper bag? By that I mean quiet toys, a quiet book, snacks if she is allowed them (9 months could go either way - not sure if she’s allowed little “puffs” “yogurt snacks” or “Cheerios” yet.) Also her sippy cup or bottle (or breast). But basically when mine would get a little too loud, or what I see most everyone around me has always done (many different parishes as we’ve moved a lot of times all over the country) is simply to walk to the back of the church and stand with her. You can still see and hear but typically the baby is happy for a change of scenery. If she does talk, babble, make happy noises, she is far enough away that people can still hear the priest and take part in mass without disruption - AND if she gets a bit cranky you can go outside/the basement/another room/ hallway… etc.

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This was my approach as well. It seems like such drama at the time it’s happening but it’s such a blip in your life that take it from old mothers… try not to over think the solution. It won’t be long before you have much bigger problems but again, those pass too.

I used to take a little box of crackers that they didn’t normally have at home and were a treat for them. I still recall one Sunday morning when my boys were about 2 and 3 years old, they seemed be being really good sitting on the seat eating snacks and then I started to hear the family of teenagers in the seat behind us muffling laughter. I ignored that for a while but eventually turned to see that my boys were crumbling the crackers into dust for their audience entertainment and my two having wicked grins on their face. After Mass finished I had to go find a broom because they’d made such a mess. :laughing:

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Yeah, I’d steer clear of snack foods at Mass. the mess, the distraction, the sounds and odors. These can be more distracting to others than a fussy baby.

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I love the sound of children at Mass. I would love the sounds of my own grandkids there!! But the parents don’t practice the faith. :frowning:

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Don’t worry about it! Most people and priests get that this is a struggle and don’t mind the noise. It’s probably not as distracting as you think either. Unless the child is screaming the place down then I’d say you’re ok.

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I feel this way too.

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Thank you for your reply! I agree with you on the screens – absolutely not, and especially not at Mass! The only exception I’ve ever allowed was to watch Mass with me during the COVID shutdown. :slight_smile:

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You’re welcome and happy “cake” day!

She doesn’t seem to follow pointing yet, but she is reaching for the hymnals. Right now I move them out of the way. I might try opening one up to engage her (carefully, because “turning pages” can result in tearing!). Thanks!

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She has a few felt finger puppets, and sometimes she plays with her bib. I haven’t looked for quiet books in a while, it may be time to get on that! She does like to turn pages.

No snacks at all yet - she eats so little, and I’d be worried about spoiling her meals.

Thank you!

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yes, she is very little. It takes time!

I am not very confortable with my 22 months taking a book too! Yet he is interested!

But with covid, the parish just remoove all the prayers books…

That’s exactly what parishioners tell me. They love the sound. :slight_smile: I’m also blessed to have a pastor who’s very experienced with babies. He keeps saying, “Ah yes, she’s getting to that time when she’ll be most active in church, 18 months to three years.” And I keep replying, “But Father, she’s only nine months! Are you trying to tell me this is going to get worse for another two years?!”

Someone else above says it feels like a lot of drama while it’s happening. It really does. I trust it will get better.

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… interesting. Almost every parent I’ve seen has a little tiny baggy or container of dry cheerios tucked away for times like that. LOL. It’s not like the child is having a picnic on the pew with drink boxes, a sandwich and fruit. Ha ha.

My pastor said I could try and resist if I want, but every parent ends up using Cheerios because… it works! LOL We’re limiting grains, so if I get to the end of my rope we’ll have to find an equivalent. :slight_smile:

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Durn it…my suggestion is a slightly stale bagel as they don’t make crumbs much, they can hold them and it really helps to keep them busy and quiet…plus, they usually don’t actually eat that much of it.

I’d recommend a cloth book as the page turning is quiet and they can’t tear them. You could even place it where the missals are so he/she can “find” it! Those little plastic children’s sets of keys aren’t too noisy though you will be picking them up off the floor unless you pin it to their clothes. That’s about all I’ve got right now! :hugs:

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