Be intentional in your plan to teach young children, not just care for their physical needs. Post prayers in strategic places around the room that volunteers can pray over babies as they rock, feed, or care for them. Encourage volunteers to pray over a child’s bottle just as they would a snack for a toddler. Show babies a Bible or Bible storybook each week, and remind them that it is God’s Word. Lovingly remind babies that, “I love you, and God does too!”
Purchase a photo album and fill it with pictures of every infant and toddler who comes to the nursery. Also include action shots of their brothers and sisters and of the nursery volunteers. The toddlers will enjoy looking at their very own pictures and pictures of those they know. As you look through the book with them, say the name of the person in each picture. Point to that person if he/she in the room. Talk about the ways that God made each person special.
As babies become toddlers, they will enjoy simple Bible stories and finger plays. Have a dedicated place in the nursery to bring them each week as you teach them a short lesson (a special rug, table, etc.). Young children learn best when their five senses are involved, along with movement. Allow them to taste, see, hear, or touch items related to the Bible story. Encourage appropriate movement during their learning time. Above all, make this an exciting and fun time to learn about Jesus, not a time to just sit still.
Also, playtime can become a teaching moment. Have toys that allow you to naturally talk with children about God and the Bible. For example, toy animals open up a discussion about creation. Dolls or a kitchen provide a great opportunity to remind children that God gives us families. Even toy cars and trucks and be “driven” to church on a play rug. Books should include wonderful illustrations of Bible stories or stories with a lesson. Resist the tendency to provide toys and books that include the latest popular characters. Instead, use basic toys that can point children toward God.