Young children at mass

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This topic contains 21 replies, has 19 voices, and was last updated by  vinnyslady 9 years, 7 months ago.

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    Any tips on keeping young children (ages 2 & 4) engaged during mass? Our church doesn’t have a crying room – and there just aren’t many young families with children that attend mass, so their loud singing / occassional talking is frowned upon by those around us. 😳 My boys are good – but typical young boys, and our hour & 15 minute masses are a bit much for them.

    Would love to hear how other families handle it. When they were infants it was easy ; ) And, then I started attending alone, but a family crisis has made us WANT to attend as a family each week.






    Where you sit in the church might have a lot to do with how the children behave. We have found that if we sit close to the front the children behave better. Pew 4 is comfortable for us. Close enough for the children to see what is going on, yet not right up front, so dh and I don’t feel… well… you know. Seating position might help with the 4 year old.

    You know the old saying… divide and conquer. We have found that our 2 yo and our 4 yo behave much better during Mass if they aren’t sitting directly next to each other. One sits between my hubby and myself, generally the 2 yo and the other sits on my other side. I’m usually holding the baby as well, he’ll be 3 months old tomorrow. Then, there are our two nine year olds. They like to see what is going on at the Alter.

    We have also found that the closer you sit to the front, the fewer distractions there are for the children.

    Good Luck! It will get better.



    Thanks, Lynn, for the reply! We actually do sit very close to the front – often 1st or 2nd row. Last week, DH & I decided to sit in different pews – each taking a child, and that worked well. I feel strongly about attending as a family – so I didn’t want to fall into the habit of me going, then DH going to a different mass.




    I also have two boys ages 4 and 2. It gets pretty crazy sometimes. They each have a bag that have books and a couple of toys in it. This way there is little fighting over what somebody took. We do make our 4yo participate as much as he is capable of….standing/sitting/kneeling, some of the prayers, passing the basket, a simple pryer after commuion.
    We do get lots of looks seeing that our two year old gets a little loud sometimes. My view is that Jesus said “Let the children come” so mine do, and our family goes as a family. Who knows maybe there are people around you who can learn something from those cute little ones! It won’t last forever, I’m proud that you continue to go. I too know how easy it would be to give up.



    We also don’t use the nursery/cry room at our church. (Unless dd2-16 months is having “one of those days” 😉 ). Both of my girls have a “church bag” that we keep things to keep the occupied at church. DD1 has a couple of “easy readers” full of Bible stories. She also has a wooden rosary and a few other items. DD2 has some Bible story board books and a baby doll. We don’t pack “active” toys, or things that make noise. I do usually bring a baggie of cheerios for dd2, only b/c her snack time is right in the middle of mass. I’ve tried feeding her before, but she is definitely a creature of habit.

    If people give you “dirty looks”, just smile at them and wrap your arms lovingly around your children. After all, they are gifts from God, and they belong in his house!



    We’re blessed to have a very family-friendly Parish! It’s wonderful, and our Priest always reminds us how much he loves to see families at Mass together. He has said numerous times that we are a big Catholic family, and children are a blessed part of that. He also tells us not to worry about “children noise.”

    DH and I believe that children should learn the importance of Sunday Mass from as early an age as possible.

    When they are old enough to understand, DH and I whisper to them about what’s going on throughout the Mass. They are always fascinated by it. “Look at what Father is doing now….do you know what that is?”
    Helps them learn a lot, too. DD could name most of the Saints on the stained glass windows at an early age (because she asked and we explained.)

    We once attended a late Sunday Mass at another church in our town, however, where it was actually suggested that parents should keep their children home, because they were disturbing the older parishioners! They even had it printed in their church bulletin! How sad. We make sure to never attend Mass there, as our large brood surely did not feel welcomed! As a matter of fact, we haven’t been there again. To be fair, the Parish is mostly older people – few families – maybe that’s why?



    Hello. I can completely relate to this. While my 8 year old is fine ( maybe a little squirmy ) my 22 month old is AWFUL! I have to stand in the lobby ( we do not have a cryroom/nursery ). I just recently purchased a little booklet called Catholic Etiquette for Children at Mass by Kay Lynn Isca. I ordered it from It was only a $1.50 or something like that. I have not read it yet. Like I said, I just got it, but I hope it is helpful. I will let you know. Erica



    Hi, I can totally relate to your situation! Our 6-year-old is really good, now. It’s the 2-year-old that makes us crazy during mass! We actually do have a cry room but we really don’t like using it. We can’t hear a single thing that the priest is saying and it’s really loud with lots of crying kids! So, we separate our kids. Each one sits on either the right or left. My husband and I are together in the middle. We bring a ziploc bag of crayons, a pad of paper, a few books, and of course, some little snacks. We do have to take the little one once in a while and walk around with him – one of us does this – like way in the back of the church. After he gets the “squirmies” out of his system we bring him back to the pews. I know it’s hard, but thank God it’s only a temporary problem! Hope this helps.



    My husband and I were having a really hard time with for awhile — especially after last summer when our church started renovations and the metal chairs they put in when they took the pews out scrape the floor everytime you breathe!

    One thing that worked for us was I got “Bible Tails with Holy Moley and Harriet.” Very cute worksheets that are lectionary-based. Comes with a one page story related to the gospel and then a worksheet with very simple related activities. I would read the story either at home or in the car (if we were running late!) and during the homily, give the girls crayons and the worksheets. My littlest can’t read but she like to scribble/color anyway. It keeps them occupied at least through the homily.

    Then during the rest of Mass I try to cue them into what’s going to happen next. Either tell them a song is coming up, or to listen for the bells. That sometimes works. My husband’s trick is to tell them if they sit quietly he’ll scratch their back — they love that!


    Thought I’d add that I get the worksheets from



    We don’t have a cry room at our parish, don’t have a nursery either. We do have Preschool education during 11:00 mass (we attend this mass anyway), but you need to be 3 by like August or something to go. My son is 2 and won’t be 3 until December 31 and daughter is 7 months. We take him a car that has rubber wheels and his notebook (little mini doodle pad). But lately he has been sitting and listening.

    Have you ever seen the little books by St. Joseph’s Press? They are very old, but explain the mass to kids with pictures and everything. I have some from my SIL but she found them at used bookstores and library sales.

    Let your kids sing!! They are rejoicing to the Lord just like you, who cares if they are loud? Maybe you think they are loud because no one else is really singing, except your boys?



    😀 Hello everyone at Catholic Moms…thank you for this web site…here goes my first post… This can be a tough one…young children at Mass. I used to take my 4 very young ones from babies to very young girls to church by myself. The best advice that I can give is pray to the Holy Spirit & their Guardian Angels to help them behave. You’d be amazed how those quick prayers helped. People used to comment on how well behaved they were. Of course, they get sick & cranky at times, but they’re just babies/young….what can you do… Also, I know a sweet parent at our church who takes her 4 (from baby to elementary school age)with her to daily Mass. They get used to it & no one seems to mind their occassional outbursts. When the youngest 1 or 2 become(s) loud, she may just walk to the vestibule or bathroom with them & the other 2 stay in the pews & participate in Mass. It’s astonishing! Also, there are a few of us in church who no longer have the young ones,(mine are all teens) & we offer to hold the babies or busy ones sometimes. It’s a treat for us & a break for the young moms. Maybe someone at your church is just dying for you to ask them to hold one of yours for a little while. The people at daily Mass are mostly seniors, however, I think they look forward to seeing the young ones. We are fortunate at our church. I think that the more people bring in their young ones on a regular basis, the more some of the fussy people get used to them & come to expect that we’re all one big family… our Church is One big Family of God. After a while they get used to them & miss them when they do not come in…They smile so much when the young ones come in, now. They really are a joy. OOOPS…sorry for going on so much… I should have at least waited until my 2nd post. Thanks again for this wonderful website.



    Oh, boy! I know. It’s tricky. We actually attended one parish in our neighbourhood where the priest is a FABULOUS speaker and the music is good, but Fr. doesn’t really care for children until they’re about 8 or 9 and can sit still. He kept saying, “If they cry, you can leave.” No crying room, and several mums offered to host a crying room downstairs if he’d put in a speaker so we could hear the service. No reply. Nothing. I found that really insensitive. I know several mums who have started going to fundamentalist churches because they have nurseries, children’s programs, mums can have pagers if they’re needed, and on and on and on. They might not return to the Catholic faith after a few years!

    I then discovered that nearby on a First Nations reserve is a lovely parish. We can walk – it’s actually closer. I just hadn’t realized that it, too, was Catholic as it’s only a few blocks from the other parish. And they’re very welcoming and much more embracing of children. We still get some looks if they are full of beans (and my boys are 5, 3, and 23 months, so you just know that happens!! haha). Fortunately, we have more young families coming and now one of the DADS started hosting a children’s liturgy. Our wonderful Oblate priest allows us to traipse past the altar to the sacristy – he’s even allowed us to rearrange so there is more space. It’s an old parish so there is no crying room either. We have a great time and it’s all ages – babes to preteens. The hall is downstairs and it was decided (because of our rainy winter weather) that it’s not safe to take the children down the slippery cement steps. I’m so happy that a dad is the teacher and is a male role model of faith because my husband only comes to Mass occasionally – I go weekly with the boys.

    The other week one of the First Nation elders got up and said, “Let your babies and children laugh and cry. They’re welcome here. A few years ago we were praying for young families to join us again, now look around.” We had tears in our eyes over in the Cheerio aisle – we all tend to sit to one side with kiddies and snacks and toys.

    I guess sometimes the priest really sets the tone. If the Church wants us to be open to having babies, aren’t we supposed to still go to Mass???? I’ve been to some really fabulous Children’s Masses back east – boxes of musical instruments for the children to “make joyful noise unto the Lord” at different times in the service, homilies said for little ears (short and often interactive – one memorable one had the children helping with a Jesse tree). In the meantime, I’m so thankful for our parish and always try for a pew up near the front and the side. I’m on my own with the boys usually, so I sit on the aisle and then they can’t escape (well, okay, they’ve discovered they can actually crawl under, but we’re working on that one!!). haha. Lots of snacks and I try for quiet activities. But you know, my 3-year-old sure made a racket with a rosary one time!!!! And then you’re thinking, do I take it away, or will that make for a big fuss???? Ack.

    Anyway. Good topic. How can we get more priests to see that often it’s the women in the family who take the children? If they welcome us, it keeps the faith going….



    sadly i say bribe them. my 4 1/2 yr old son is very squirmy in church. so we make “deals”. he knows he has to behave in church and why…so if he is good for the mass i will take him bowling or to the pool (in the summer) or he will get something in return. and hey it works.



    I am a “newbie” and have been going through lots of questions, and this one caught my eye! Having 5 children ages 14, 12, 8, 5 and 2 (the 3 youngest are boys), this is a subject near and dear to my heart. Children belong at mass, and will NEVER learn how to have “church behavior” unless they are brought to church….same applies to eating out, family gatherings, play dates, etc. They learn by experience. That being said, there are many wonderful suggestions that have been posted and I’d say pick the ones that apply to the personalities of your children, always be flexible, and it’s never a bad idea to read the readings ahead of time so that you will really be able to keep one ear on the lectors and one on the kids! We are blessed to have been in a VERY family/kid friendly parish for the last 9 years, but mind you, I drive 25 minutes, 3 towns away to get there. I found my former parish a bit stoic w/regards to children and noise, and that just wasn’t for me. We have a professional music ministry, over 80 ministries all together, 2,600 registered families, and the parish is very vibrant and family friendly. However, the 4:00 saturday mass is definitely more quiet, as is the 8:00 and 9:30 on Sunday, but our 11:30 mass is FULL of nursing babies and toddler noise, and it’s just fine. Our priests regularly commend parents for bringing children to mass, and folks tend to mind the boundaries of “if they start to get high pitched, make a run for the back!”

    I would suggest writing a letter to your pastor, or associate pastor, or someone on the pastoral council, and explain your feelings and views. Tell them that you would prefer to always bring your children to mass, and if there is no cry room, it would certainly help if the pastor could periodically “set the tone” by reminding the congregation that families and children are a vital part of parish life and that they should remember to be tolerant of the unavoidable sounds and sights of children. I know every parish is different, and there have been times when I’ve had to pass through the big double doors and couldn’t hear a word of the readings or homily. But Our Lord is there, and he comes with his angels in all His Glory, and brings us the graces we need as parents to teach our children. To be near Him in the presence of His most precious body and blood is a grace that we should never avoid, so I say do whatever you can to ensure your children are at mass…even if it means changing parishes, changing mass times, juggling schedules a bit, or having to leave the main sanctuary, etc. I always prefer to go as a family, but we have done “the mass juggle” a few times just to make it easier. Bottome line, we all go to mass and all holy days, and try to go to confession 4 times a year (would like to make it monthly, but haven’t gotten there yet!) Also, at our parish, once they make their first holy communion, they can become altar servers (we have about 60!!!) so now I’m down to the 5 yr. old and 2 yr. old….while the others serve.

    God bless all of us for bringing our babies to mass, from the time they are conceived, through their baptism, and all the messy, noisy, grumpy and joyful times thereafter. 😀

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