31 answers

Getting Child Use to LDS Nursery

My son, who is currently 23 months will only go to our Nursery if we stay with him. About two months ago, we started just leaving him, and letting him cry it out. The nursery leaders said that he would cry for 5 minutes and then he would be just fine if they held him. Lately, he has been crying a lot so I have been staying with him. We have found out, that we need to move, so he will be in a new ward/nursery starting May 1st. In our new nursery, do you think it is better for me to stay with my son until he does not cry, or should I try the cry it out again.

What can I do next?

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Sorry, I haven't had the chance to read the other responses, but here is my two cents. My son goes to daycare, and I find that he really picks up on my response to the teachers. There are two I REALLY like and one that bugs me. Whenever I leave him with the one that bugs me I hear him crying all the way down the hall. With the others, he may cry for a minute or two, but then is okay. When I made an effort to be really friendly to the one that bugs me, he did better, not great - she may bug him too, but better. When I go to drop him off, I spend a few minutes getting him settled and get some toys and then I say goodbye and leave. If you act like it is a bad thing to be leaving him, or extend out the goodbye, it will be worse for him. Just say goodbye and leave...it is easier. He will get used to it. (it's actually harder on you than him)

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What I did when I put my babies in the nursery was to sit in there with them, but not interact with them. The first day I interacted with them and showed them the toys, etc. But I told the nursery worker that I would sit in but that they were going to take care of my child. Then I would sit in a chair so that they knew I was there, but then whenever they started to cry or needed anything the nursery worker would take care of them. Then I would move my chair closer and closer to the door until I was sitting outside the door. My kids knew I was outside the door...I would sit there for a few minutes and then sneak away. It took maybe 2 to 3 weeks and they would just go into nursery.

That's a tough one. I would talk with the new nursery leaders and see how they feel about letting him cry it out. You may want to stay with him the first couple of weeks then let him cry it out. I would make sure you and the nursery leaders are on the same page. My twins cried lots when they went to nursery and the nursery leaders we had at the time would not let them stay in and cry. I had discussed with them about just letting them cry but with in five minutes of my dropping them off they would bring them out to me. I understand how frustrating it can be. You may want to talk with the primary president also. Most wards are more than willing to work with you in helping your little ones adjust to nursery.


I am a nursery leader in my ward. Since you have been staying with your son in your old ward, I would suggest that until your son gets to know that other children and the leaders, you should stay with him.

I would suggest that you talk to your son more about him being able to stay there without you. Point out to him that other children's parents are not there with them.

With my whole heart, C.

It helped our daughter if we invited some of the kids in nursery over to play during the week. We did it often enough that she recognized them and wanted to go to nursery to play with her friends. I think you can have a balance with the crying though. We stay with them but when we leave we always say goodbye so that they aren't paranoid that if they turn their back or get off our lap then we will leave. So that seems to help.

You have received a lot of good advice. I am currently a nursery worker. I found the children who were best transitioned to nursery, who were clingy to their parents, was the parents made extra effort to have their child get to know the nursery leaders outside of church. Invite the nursery leaders over for dinner. In part these little ones are probably thinking, that were leaving them with strangers and how can mom leave them with strangers. Therefore, if you allow your child to bond with the nursery leaders outside of the nursery, they will want that extra special person they will be seeing every Sunday. Also, don't be afraid to ask one of the nursery leaders to be your babysitter everyonce in a while, of course make sure you trust the person first with your child. Anyhow, I hope this helps. It did help my children, when they transitioned to nursery.

I have worked in nursery in three wards. My son will turn 18 months next Sunday. yahoo

Give him a hug, tell him you are going to your class, you will come back when his class is over, maybe let the nursery teacher talk about what their schedule is between when you drop him off and pick him up, just general, play, clean up, snack, lesson, books, songs, bubbles, what ever and then you will come back to get him.

Make sure to tell him good bye

Let him cry. It will only be a minutes, you can always ask another parent to peek in and see how he is after a few minutes, and ask when you come to get him how he did.

Good luck with the move.

Mom to Kai

helping educate parents on toxins in the home
and helping moms work from home

I liked someone elses comment about having the nursery leaders over for dinner, its usually a newly married couple and they always like to be invited over for dinner anyway and what better way to meet people in your new ward. Moving is hard enough on little guys, having the extra security of knowing who they are going to be with is an added bonus when it comes to nursery, it will give him some security. I would definitely stay with him for the first few weeks so that he can adapt to his surroundings and make a few friends. Then slowly remove yourself from the scene, but who knows you may get called as a nursery leader... and then you won't have to worry about it:) Follow his lead he'll let you know when he's comfortable. I always stood outside the door for 5 minutes just to see if they settled. They almost always did and if they didn't someone would come and find me.

Best wishes in your move and in your new ward.

Please stop staying with him. As someone who's worked with nursery for a lot of years, I can tell you that you are driving the leaders nuts. If you are in there, who's in charge of him? You? The teachers? If you are constantly in there, he will never think of nursery as somewhere that he goes without you. It is SO awkward to try and help a nursery child when you're not sure what your role is as a teacher because the parent is there. Yes, he may cry for awhile. I PROMISE that if it is too much for the teachers, they WILL bring him back to you. Don't hover outside the door, just go to class. Get him used to this now, or you'll be sitting on a teeny chair with sunbeams later and when does it end?

You already have some great advice. I have had a lot of nursery experience, plus my mother was a nursery leader for about 7 years (more if you count when we were all kids). Anyway, the best advice is to prep him before hand. Get him excited to go. Start doing this early in the week. Tell him what to expect. Tell him that he is a big boy and that you will not be staying with him, but that you will be coming back to get him after HIS class is done not yours so that he feels that he is not being left so you can go do something without him. In my experience, the new situation may be a good thing because it will be like starting all over, clean slate. Like many others have said, the leaders are prepped for crying kids and probably will have a routine for getting him involved with something to distract him. Don't linger cause that just makes it worse. The first time, take him in and introduce your son to the leaders, tell them where you'll be, give a quick hug if you like and then leave. It may be a little tough the first couple of times, but he will get the message. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. Good luck, and stay strong, you won't regret it!

Hey G.! I know it's absolute torture to hear your child cry, especially when you're dropping them off. I am a nursery coordinator - we have 3 nurseries, 4 services and hundreds of kids that come through our doors. I have regular lead teachers in each room, so they get to know the kids and what helps each child as well. They are God's little treasures and we want all the parents to be able to be fed spiritually up in service without distraction, but we want it to be a great experience for the children as well. If a child is not doing well after exhausting all tools to help them feel comfortable, we call parents down using our number system. It does help to have something special from home to feel connected and to have that reassurance that mom and dad are only upstairs and wouldn't leave without them - they're loved way too much! We also have a stoplight in the room that let's us know where they are at in service upstairs and that really helps our toddlers. Toys, snacks, distractions, conversations, being "helpers", the environments, and especially amazing volunteers all help! And lots of time, step by step, week by week. I can look around a nursery room and name a couple kids each weekend who used to cry, but are happy and playing and interacting with those around them now. Be patient and let the nursery workers do their job and be sure to communicate with them and your son! They should contact you if they need you and can't calm him down and just keep trying!!

I'm not a fan of letting a child "cry it out" -- however, in this situation, your staying in the nursery with him even once perpetuates his inability to adjust. When you make the move, I would from the very beginning establish a FUN routine for the drop off at the nursery and stick to it each and every single time no matter what.

Perhaps make up a special song about how much fun he'll have that day. Only sing that song as you're leaving home and he realizes where you're headed. I'd sing it some in the car and especially as you're going inside for the drop off.

At the end of the last round of the song, perhaps give him a small special treat -- my kids eat food-based, "gummie" style vitamins which they love, so those work well as a small, healthy treat instead of candy.

I make up songs for everything, so here's a quick one I threw together in case it helps:

" You'll have fun today while I'm away. You'll make new friends and play. I'll miss you and I'll see you soon. Now let's say, Hooray! "

Encourage him to do the "Hooray!" part with you each time --show him to be silly and wave his arms in the air when he says it. It's hard to be in a bad mood when you're acting silly.

So you can sing a song like this to your son over and over again each morning at drop off and also talk about some of the fun things he could explore at the nursery that day. Then just before you leave and finish the last "Hooray!" together, he gets to have his treat as you say goodbye to each other.

I realize this may sound silly to some, but kids love music and singing; it could become a fun distraction he may actually look forward to. It could help him associate the drop off with a fun time singing with Mommy instead of the "tragic abandonment" he connects it with now.

Good luck -- hope this helps!

I don't know about this age of children, but I work at a preschool (3 year olds) and we invite the parents the first day to stay so the child can get used to a new situation. After that it is much easier to just let them cry a few minutes, and they are usually fine if the parent explains before that they will be back and don't stay long when dropping them off . The kids get used to the situation a lot faster that way. I realize this is hard for a lot of moms though, it is hard to see your child crying as you leave. But if you have good nursery leaders it will be okay soon enough.

I have had the same issue with all of my children and have seen many others have it as I have served both in the Primary and Nursery. In my experience if you have the support of the nursery leaders the cry it out method works for most kids in only a few weeks. Yes, it's hard, especially that first week. The only thing I've seen work better (and the success of this is rare and depends greatly on the child) is when the parent stays with the child at the beginning to help make them feel comfortable and safe and then slips out once the child is occupied and distracted enough to forget, but most of the time the child does not forget and this just results letting them cry it out. Or you could do what I did with my first child, which I DON'T recommend,and plan to attend nursery for the next year until he is older and does not to want you there any more. But here's a warning: My child expected and needed me to do the same thing when he went into Primary and Kindergarten and it took him years stop needing Mom to stay with him. At some point kids need to gain independence in this way and it might be easier to start when they are younger.
Also, pray for good nursery leaders because that could help greatly. Good luck.

For a couple of my children we found that the crying was worse if I took them than if dad took them. In our situation, it was easier if dad takes them, as I have to play the piano for Relief Society and our block is reversed (we have RS first, Sacrament last). So maybe trying having dad take him and see if that helps. I have also found that if we stay long enough to get them engaged then sneak out, it doesn't matter to them. I know that isn't the recommended way to do it, but it worked for us. But most of the time your nursery leaders are going to be compassionate enough to not mind the crying portion. If it gets too out of hand they will say something to you. They might even have some suggestions that work too. If you can too, invite the leaders over to your home, to meet your son before he actually has to be in nursery, so he can get to know them on his own turf.
J.--SAHM of 6

ok to be fair, I have not yet gotten my daughter into nursery (she's not old enough yet)! But I have a good friend in the ward who is having the same problem and she started having her son go to the nursery leaders house for an hr or so a week so that he would get comfortable with them.
Moving is really going to complicate things... I'm really sorry for you this is a tough situation!

In our ward, it is preferred that the parents not stay...at least not the whole time. We understand if it is a new ward / location, and you maybe want to stay to make sure WE are okay. But it is easier for us if you are not there...that way your child learns to trust us. Sometimes it takes a couple weeks, sometimes a couple months. :) Our ward also does a thing where they let you come in on Saturdays and view the rooms,. and if you bring him on Releif Society nights and he gets to be in there that helps familiarize him. HTH

invite one of the boys over to play with your son. You talk to the mom while they run all over the house playing. They'll both do better at church.

G. I hve had this problem with more than one of my kids they didn't want to go to nursery but when we would go to a different ward they went with no problem. I would begin how you want the day to go if you don't want to go to nursery then don't, why continue it. Let know that this is his class not mom or dad's and you'll see him later. That is what we did with our now 3 1/2 year old when she was in nursery she would be mad for a few minutes but then things were good. Who knows the new one might help him want to go. Good luck

You can stay, but it is NOT mom/child playtime! My children suffered terribly transitioning into nursery at first. We learned the following:

My hubby or I would take them to nursury, but we DID NOT PLAY WITH THEM. I did not hold them, encourage them to play, etc. I was silently there. If/when my child came to engage me, I told them they need to go play and follow teacher. I later on told my child I would leave and come back, AND I CAME BACK!!!! then would draw out the time I was gone for. It worked pretty good! If I didn't come back at some point though, after telling them I would, my kids caught on and we were back to square one again. I could slip out and it wouldn't cause them so much stress.


Consider getting to know the nursery leaders outside of church. Maybe they also have children and you can schedule a play date at the park, or have them over for a family home evening and make cookies with them, or some other activity so your child knows them and associates them with fun.
It's actually pretty reasonable for a nursery-age child to be wary of a new situation and unfamiliar people in charge. The more you can remove the "unfamiliar" part, the less stressful it will be. Talk about it all week as an exciting upcoming adventure--mom goes to class, dad goes to class, and YOU go to class, too!
I'm not a fan of cry-it-out methods. My husband always takes my kids to nursery, and that makes it easier, since they are use to saying goodbye to him when he leaves for work. I tell the nursery leaders that if my child cries for five minutes, they should come and get one of us immediately--I am not comfortable with fighting any kind of emotional war of attrition with my child. If they need me, they can have me, and we will sit in the foyer until they are ready to have fun at nursery again. But I don't want to torture my child or the nursery leaders with ongoing crying--it's hard enough to manage a room full of toddlers without having several who are spreading anxiety and misery. My two chidlren who are done with nursery were suspicious of it at first and had some anxiety for the first month or so, but then warmed up to the nursery leader and looked forward to going. (My middle boy cracked up the whole ward and totally embarrassed me once, when, right after the sacrament was passed, he stood up on the pew and said loudly, 'OK, I'm done. Let's go to nursery!') I think transferring some feelings of attachment to the nursery leader is the key to success.
Most skilled nursery leaders will have immediate distractions available--bubbles were always a hit when my mom was the nursery leader. If yours don't have tools or ideas yet, talk to them or the Primary president and consider donating bubbles or a CD of Primary music or favorite books to help with the transition for all the children.
Consider going to the public library story time and other toddler-oriented events so your son can start to have fun a short distance away from you. I think the more secure he is in your presence, the more comfortable he can be seperating for short times.
You might like the chidlren's books "Mama Always Comes Back" and "The Kissing Hand," and "Llama Llama Misses Mama."
Hang in there!

We went through this. Our son actually had no problems in nursury in our first ward, but we moved when he was about 23 months. In the new ward, he started crying when it was time to go - a new experience for us! It was pretty much that he was in a new place with new people and it was a little scary. So for the first few weeks I stayed with him, encouraged him to play, then hung back and let him interract with the leaders and other kids. Within a couple of weeks, I was leaving after 5-10 minutes. He would cry, but apparently settled down quickly. It took a couple of months before we were back to the drop him off and go routine.
Since your son is already having some of the separating anxiety, I would expect it to be stronger right after you move, and then probably take a bit longer for it to settle down. Some kids just want mom around all the time at this age. It's ok - nothing wrong with the child. You just want to decide how long to stay with him and at what age you're going to start leaving him (I would before Kindergarten - as a former Kindergarten teacher, I've had kids with major separation anxiety then, and it's rough on everybody. But you've got quite a while before he gets to that point.)

I had the same problem with my daughter once I was removed from working in church nursery, (also LDS) but I started letting her take her blanket. So you may want to let your son take a blanket or a toy, just mark his name on it.

Having worked at a Parents Day Out program, I can tell you from experience that it is better to leave and let him cry! Kids at this age mostly cry for Mom's benefit, in hopes that they can convince you to stay. Many will quit crying as soon as Mom is out of sight. It induces guilt in many moms. But unless you have some reason not to feel comfortable with the workers in the new setting, you will only be delaying the inevitable. And the more you cave, the longer and harder the process will be! Trust me, most nursery workers prefer you to leave and allow them to comfort and bond with your child. He will be fine, and all the better for learning this new level of independence and that Mom always comes back! Good luck!

Talk to your son about the change, explain when its time to go to the new class, that mommy has her own class to go to. Drop him off, give him a kiss and reasure him you will be back, then leave. The more you stay, the more he will get used to it and expect you to stay or be even more upset that you left. If he only cried for a few minutes before, thats normal. If you stay with him, or come back when he cries, he will begin to think, "If I want mommy to stay, I just cry and I'll get my way" Good Luck

Kids definitely feed off of your reactions. If you act like it's going to be a problem, your child is more likely to have a problem. If you seem troubled at all, it will be for difficult. So I would recommend putting on a happy face - however hard that may be. But I would also recommend not making a big deal of it - don't make a big deal of how great nursery will be either. Just tell him it's time for nursery, mommy loves him & you will come back. Spend as little time as possible there - the longer you stay, the more it drags out the drama. Just take him, give him a hug and walk out calmly. There's no problem with a kid crying for 5-10 minutes - as long as the nursery leaders are okay with that. My bet is that he'll cry the first few times and then each week, he'll get a bit better. But if you go & stay with him, you will only drag out the problem and hinder his adjustment. It's tough - I know! I just got my 3rd kid used to nursery - he's 19 months old. The first few weeks were ugly, but last week, for the first time, he had no problem. Good luck!

I think if you wait you're just pushing off the inevitable. He'll cry when you leave him later on. I know it's hard but he'll get used to it and it's good for him to learn to be with other people. I've heard of people who say they can't go anywhere because their babies won't let them leave them anywhere. I think children learn to trust that mom will always come back. And in the end become more confident and independent. And for your sanity you need to help him learn to become so. Tough love.

Nursery can be so hard. I know it was a battle for our son.

I don't have a lot of great advice, but I thought I'd wish you good luck and remind you that there's lots of support there for you, too, from all of the other mothers in the ward who have gone through it, also. Nursery is such a hard stage.

I, personally, went with my son to nursery in our new ward the first time or two, for myself more than anything. I wanted to let my son know I was okay with him being there, and it let me get to know the leaders, meet the other parents, and see who the other kids his age were, too . Once I felt comfortable with it- I asked the nursery leaders how they would prefer I leave him if he was resistant. Then, I'd sneak out.

My son is 5 now, and I still, on occasion, will sit through primary with him if he's having a rough week (behaviorally or otherwise). But, overall, just asking for advice and assistance from those that are in the ward and know the system helped a lot. If they're comfortable with him crying a few minutes to see if he recovers, that's okay with me! I, personally, am not on board with the "crying it out" thing for more than a few minutes. I kind of feel like that establishes a feeling of being "forced" so he'll hate it. That's just my opinion for my kiddo, though. It's also SO hard on the poor primary workers, too.

When all is said and done, it comes down to the fact that it's your child, and you should do whatever you feel is best for him.

Good luck! Moving to a new ward can be so exciting, sad, and intimidating all at once!


I agree with Dad taking them. That has worked well for us on hard days. Also, if your son has a special blanket or something, that has helped us. I'm not a big fan of a security blanket going everywhere, but we have made exceptions for nursery, especially when it's a new situation. I don't think the blankie has ever made an appearance other than when our son has gone to sleep. If I stay with a child, I usually try to help in anyway I can. Last time, I ended up holding 3 different babies as well as chasing down a parent whose beeper wasn't working. The extra set of hands was greatly appreciated. After a while, your son will adjust and be just fine. The distraction technique works for many kids with no problems since it's not an everyday occurrence. The biggest thing is to not give in and just not send him. Once you start that, you'll never win the battle. I don't think crying for 5 minutes is all that bad, though. GL! I hope he transitions well.

Hi G.! Let me tell you what we did - we had a similar situation and had to move then get my son used to the new nursery. He would absolutely throw a fit and would not go if I was even near him. So, my husband would take him to nursery while I stayed just around the corner.

Now, here's what he did: The first day, he put our son down and said, "I'll be right back." He walked out one door, then walked immediately back into the other door, and let our son know he was back. He did this a couple of times, and started extending the time between walking out and in the door. First a minute, then two, then five, then ten. By then he was used to it, although he still wouldn't get up and play. We also let him keep his stuffed tiger with him for comfort, and for the first few months, he would lay curled up on a blanket, underneath a table, with his tiger clutched in his arms.

When, he understood that Mom and Dad would come back, he did awesome! Now, we just have a problem with getting him to go to Primary instead of Nursery! :) Good luck!


I have taught nursery many times over the years, and in my experience having a child "cry it out" is not the best idea. The child becomes fearful of nursery and soon crys at the very sight of the classroom! One child crying in nursery will often trigger many of the other children to start crying as well. Nusery is not daycare and the teachers have lessons and activities to attend to, they should not be expected to have to hold a crying child the whole time. Your child needs to feel safe and loved at church and in Primary. If that means that mom or dad have to stay in nursery for a while, that is an acceptable solution. Enjoy the time that you can spend with your child in the nursery! Parents can be such a big help in the nursery, and you will get to see your child learn to get along with his classmates and listen to lessons about Jesus, it is a very precious time. You can try some trial separations for a few minutes at a time, you can say "Mommy needs to go to the bathroom, I will be right back" or "I'm going to go and check on your big sister in Sunbeams, [or whatever] I will come back soon." You can then gradually spend less and less time in the nursery unitl you child is happy to have you leave for the entire time. Good luck!

Sorry, I haven't had the chance to read the other responses, but here is my two cents. My son goes to daycare, and I find that he really picks up on my response to the teachers. There are two I REALLY like and one that bugs me. Whenever I leave him with the one that bugs me I hear him crying all the way down the hall. With the others, he may cry for a minute or two, but then is okay. When I made an effort to be really friendly to the one that bugs me, he did better, not great - she may bug him too, but better. When I go to drop him off, I spend a few minutes getting him settled and get some toys and then I say goodbye and leave. If you act like it is a bad thing to be leaving him, or extend out the goodbye, it will be worse for him. Just say goodbye and leave...it is easier. He will get used to it. (it's actually harder on you than him)

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