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What I Learned at Church Today: A Lesson in Nursing On Demand

Going to church on Sunday is such a great way to feel refreshed and uplifted before I start my week all over again. But going to church with a baby, I’m learning, is an entirely different occasion.

My ward (or “service” if you’re not LDS and have no idea what I’m talking about) meets for three hours every Sunday. The first hour is for Sacrament Meeting, the second hour is for Sunday School, and the third hour is kinda a continued Sunday School but the men and women split up for Relief Society and Priesthood (the kids go to Primary).

Last Sunday I missed about 80% of church. Why? Because she wanted to eat every hour. We’d sit down for the meeting, and after a short while she’d start fussing. So I’d take her out to the nursing lounge, feed her, burp her, check her diaper, to then take her back out. Repeat five times.

By the third hour I decided to just stay in the mothers lounge so I wouldn’t disturb people getting up and down.

Today it started the same way. She’s get wiggly, and noisy, and sometimes just outright grab my boob. But after I fed her twice I decided to put my foot down. She had eaten twice and she could go an hour or two without eating. She had to be able to. She’s four months old and to the age where she should be able to gobble up her meal and be set for a few hours instead of taking sips here and there. It wouldn’t kill her (or in my opinion even hurt her the slightest) to wait an extra hour.

She fell asleep nursing the second time I fed her, but she ate a lot before then. She likes to be awake, alert, and in the middle of it all and seems to hate sleeping in public. So when we sat down for the last hour and a half of church I knew she wouldn’t be long before she woke up, which she did like clockwork, only about 20 minutes after she fell asleep. Just as soon as it was time for the last class.

I sat in the back and put her in my lap as I normally do. She made faces at the women beside me, and in front of me, but didn’t whine. She tried to grab their songbooks, but I tried to keep her from getting a papercut. Note to self: Bring one of her board books next week.

After the song and prayer though she had had enough.

My instinct was to take her to the mother’s lounge and feed her again but I decided to try something else.

I took a toy out of my bag and handed it to her. She grabbed it, shook it, and chewed on it for a few minutes. Then she dropped it over and over and watched me hand it back to her. Then she had enough of that.

I then took a pacifier out of my bag and stuck it in her mouth. She actually took it! She’s not a huge paci fan so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it entertained her nonetheless. Until she dropped it out of her mouth.

I watched it hit the floor in slow motion and sighed as I reached for it under my chair. Why didn’t I buy those binki wipes? I thought to myself. I know some moms put the pacifire in their mouth to, I dunno, wipe off the germs, but to meet it just seems like you’re adding your own. Not that I’m a germophobe, in fact, if other people weren’t around I probably would have just dusted it off on my pant leg and popped it back in her mouth. –You know that’s what you’d be doing by the time you have your fourth or fifth kid anyway!

I reached in the bag and found another pacifier and stuck it in her mouth. Same deal, she was interested for a few minutes. This time I kept my hand propped under her slobber-drenched chin to catch it when she spit it out. It was like we were playing a game and finally she beat me and managed to spit it out just when I had reached for something else. And pacifier number two hit the ground.

I grabbed yet another one from my bag–surprised I had so many of these on me. But by then she was bored with the binkies. I looked at the clock. Twenty minutes left. We could do this. She really shouldn’t need to eat right now.

I tried to hug her against my shoulder, sway her back and forth, cradle her, but she wasn’t having it.

She was interested in the jacket my neighbor was wearing since it was a black and white zebra design. Lil’ J played with her for a few moments before she started whining again. My friend thought maybe she had gas. So I laid her down on my knees and did a move I learned in our yoga class that helps relieve gas. I pulled her legs down toward me, then pushed her legs up towards her chest. In the middle of the second rep she let out a toot. And another one, and laughed. She thought it was funny.

I started making faces at her and tickling her and she kept smiling and laughing the entire rest of the class period, without another moan or whine.

It was then I realized it wasn’t her fault I kept feeding her every time she whined, it was mine. I just assumed she was hungry every time when in fact she just could be getting bored.

Feeding on demand doesn’t mean every time my daughter cries she’s hungry, I just sometimes assume that’s what’s she wants. I thought she wanted to eat every hour when in fact, I was just offering to feed her every hour and of course she’d eat. It’s one way to pass the time when you’re bored! She’s a growing human being a had a big variety of wants now, including time to play.

Even though I wasn’t in the mother’s lounge the last hour of church missing Sunday school class, I instead missed the lesson because I was busy laughing and playing with my baby. Either way, there’s a season for everything. I’m learning this season of my life may just mean missing a few (or a year and a halfs worth of) church lessons. But at least today I learned my own personal lesson: My daughter sometimes, just wants to play.


Gena says:

awww! She is at a good age to start leaving in the nursery if you are comfortable with that. It’s what we do. Our services are 2 hours. If I don’t get him fed before we leave for church then I generally leave the first service and feed him. Then I leave him there and go to the main service. If I do get to feed him before we leave, then I usually put him in the nursery and go to feed him mid service. I feel comfortable with the rest of our members to leave him with them during services. I know he is well taken care of. I also get to enjoy the lessons. Good luck!

Sonia says:

Aww.. she’s so cute! Good Luck with attendance now that you have a little one. My attendance had dropped because 1) we use public transportation & 2) yes.. it is difficult to have a routine and get out the door with a baby. V slept most of the time during church and would always wake up afterwards. It wasn’t until she was 4 months old that people actually saw her awake! Now that she’s eating solids, it’s going to be a bit more difficult on both of us.

ps.. I miss having a mother’s lounge.. you should see the mom’s in my RS.. all breast feeding their babies in the back of the room!

Maria says:

We didn’t start taking my daughter to church services until she was almost two and could sit quietly. We did start taking her to Sunday School at around a year old, and now she & my son both go. I think it will be a few more months before I try church with my son again, LOL. When he was *really* little he would fall asleep but at just a few months old, he was far too loud, and I spent the whole service trying to keep him happy!

melissa says:

I totally feel the same way. I love going to church, but it just seems that I always end up in the 2 yr old classroom with my daughter Abigail, the 1yr old room with my son Joseph, or now the nursery with 6week old James. Its not very ofteni get the opportunity to hear our pastors sermon. I keep going though, hoping one day my kids can go to Sunday without me.

@Gena, our nursery doesn’t allow babies in until they’re 18 months! Crazy huh?! I think it’s cause Mormons have so many babies the nursery would be overflowing if they let them all in earlier. haha. But youd’d better believe, on her year and a half birthday she’ll be there!

mo mcd says:

Yay! Good for you . . . and for her! This might help with nighttime too. 😉 I wish our RS tolerated BFing in there! I get “the look” for nursing in the mother’s room w/o a cover! LOL!

Mrs. K says:

LMBO at your above comment. This is such a cute post. Life’s little lessons! 🙂

[ker-AND-uh] says:

It took me awhile to realize that as well. Austin was content if I fed him all the time, but I was getting frustrated. Once I started paying attention, I realized he would eat and then just sit there with me in his mouth. Totally just playing around. Our church has a nursery. At that point, we started taking him there. I’ve only been to an LDS church twice, but never thought of needing one there. Do they have anything like that?

Liss@Random says:

At our church we actually have a baby room at one end of the balcony, with a big plate glass window on two sides and speakers inside, so parents can listen to the sermon, and the kids can eat, play, sleep, whatever and parents won’t miss so much of the sermon, and don’t have to worry about disturbing others with the baby crying, laughing, screaming, etc.

Also, because the baby room enters and exits from the balcony, if the parent wants to hear better and the baby’s sleeping, they can go sit out in the balcony next to the baby room (there’s a window on that side, too) and not worry about disturbing people with getting up and down. It’s the second sanctuary we’ve had (the current sanctuary being a complete renovation and expansion of the first), so this baby room was specifically made with parents and babies in mind.

YUMMama says:

Yes, babies and church often don’t mix. Moo would always start out so well and then end screaming like somebody was killing her about an hour into the service. At first, I got embarrassed because people stare at you like why can’t you shut her up. Eventually, I stopped feeling bad just because she was tired of sitting still.

Moo’s almost two and there are still some Sundays she can’t sit through the complete service. We just get up and hang out in the kids’ room and she colors. God understands and that’s all matters. Like you said, everything has a season.

Lindsey says:

Oh my goodness, this is SO one of the reasons I…

1. Didn’t go to church every Sunday while nursing in the beginning – I spent most of the time nursing her in the nursery and missing out on the service anyway.

2. Persuaded my baby to take a pacifier – she loved to comfort nurse and finally I decided I wasn’t going to let her use ME as a pacifier any longer, lol. Course now I’m having to break her of the paci habit at 2 1/2. O_O

I feel for you! hehe You have one of those babies who knows they have you wrapped around her finger. 🙂 Ah, mommyhood!

Quiana says:

We started taking Nia when she was exactly one month old. There is a mom’s area sectioned off in the lobby outside the auditorium for moms to nurse and it has a feed on a TV so we can listen. When I can I sit in the service with her and she likes the music. I do usually have to step out to feed her. I’ll start leaving her in the nursery at 6 months old.

I think it’s great that you take your daughter to service. I remember going as long as I can remember and the things I’ve learned as a child are some of my fondest memories!

braids says:

LMAO, this post is hilarious. Sounds like you had your hands full. Lil J is so cute.
This post is rather insightful though I’m not a mummy yet but nevertheless, note to self: just because a baby cries does not mean their hungry.

Oh my goodness she is SO cute! I feel like I’ve missed every church service for the last three years 🙂 I did finally get to sit through a whole service last Sunday and it was wonderful!

Oh she is so cute. That is a hard lesson to learn. As a nursing mom it is so easy to pacify your baby by nursing. I think we are also insecure because we never know for sure how much the baby has eaten.
The worst though is when, as a mom, you start to get in a rhythm of knowing when your baby wants to eat and just wants to play, or is unhapy for another reason, but everyone else around you tells you she must be hungry and you need to feed her!! Ugh!
Good luck to you!

Summer says:

And then you hope and pray she will go to nursery just fine! My two year old STILL has a tough time going, so my husband and I are STILL missing a lot of meetings! Guess it’s just a lesson in being obedient and doing what we are supposed to do! 🙂

Jess says:

I admire you for trying with church- I’m dreading toting a baby along. Although my priest always jokes around that no mass is complete without a screaming baby- it reminds him that our church is ever growing and full of new life. But STILL. The people sitting next to you probably aren’t as understanding.
And thanks for posting this. It’s interesting and made me think. I’ll keep it in mind once the babe is here and we start breastfeeding!

Thanks for sharing. I found myself guilty of the same thing. We got to stake conference today ended up in the very back on the stage with a bunch of other noise kids, way too many chairs packed in there, etc. Another family came and squeezed in I turned to my husband and said, “Are we going to learn anything?” I ended up in the halls of course, and that’s how it is almost every Sunday! Oh well, family first!

S. Belle says:

I can relate! Since I’ve had children, I just do not go to church as often. I just end up frustrated because I want to hear what the pastor has to say, but I end up out in the church foyer with one of my children and I can’t really hear.

My children are 3 and 2 and you would think it would be better. My 3 year old used to be really fidgety in church and would whine when I wouldn’t let him roam around. Now he sits quietly. But, my 2 year old? . . . different story! She’s super active and does not want to sit through an entire church service.

I would love to go to church every Sunday, but it’s too frustrating and embarassing when she cuts up. In a few weeks though I’m determined that she will learn to just sit quietly and play with something while at church.

We’ll see how that goes.

PVDela says:

I had the same problem with my first, until I realized the same thing and started paying closer attention to what he actually wanted and needed, which is harder with the first but gets SOOOO much easier with the second and so on. I ended up keeping a few things with me in a bag that really helped me to be able to catch at least half of the lesson if I sat somewhere that I could put him down on the floor, in the bag I had something he could munch on, at her age you could put tiny pieces of fruit leather in her mouth, then I’d have one soft toy, one hard toy, and two books. That generally kept him busy enough for the 3 hours.

Good luck

Gena says:

Jenn that is crazy. I didn’t know that. My grandma has a large congregation (not LDS) but they have a nursery for 0-24 months. Then a 2 year class, 3 year class, etc.

Do they broadcast the services in the mother’s lounge? My Grandma’s did. It was really nice. Our church is small but we have a speaker in the nursery so we can hear the services too.

melifaif says:

My gosh…I never can get past her cuteness. I always HAVE to comment on that first. I know a momma does not mind! 😉 And I had to learn that too. For me, and Layla, it was the gas. Boy, it was the gas!!!!!

Rania says:

Babies can teach us a lot can’t they 😉 I think your epiphany of she doesn’t want to eat she just wants to play is something that just hits you like ton of bricks. I remember when I went through the same thing with my first. All I could do was laugh at myself like “huh! Looky there. It was my fault all along.” hahah

Looks like she’s also entering the next baby phase. Her science lessons of sorts: actions vs. reaction. You’ll catch on to that trick soon enough. Babies can play this game all day. I’d invest in a binky keeper or you’ll lose a small fortune. hahah

Nice post, Jen!

Karen says:

I’m also guilty of shoving a boob in my daughter’s mouth every time she’s fussy. That used to be all she wanted. Now she’s 10 weeks old and interested in the world. If she’s fussy she’s usually just bored.

Kitty Catie says:

Hello! I’ve been following you since I found out I was pregnant, about a year ago. My little boy is about 2 months behind Lil J!

This post was unbelievably helpful! After reading it I realized that I’ve been doing the exact same thing. Every time he starts to fuss I assume he’s hungry and tried to feed him. Now I try to stimulate him with toys or a book for a while first and he seems completely content! Hopefully it won’t feel like I’m feeding him all day anymore!

Thank you for opening my eyes!

michi41 says:

I’m not a churchgoer but I have the paci problem with my little one. She loves to drop it in the most random place and usually it’s somewhere gross. I bought these http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3977485 at toy r us and no more paci’s on the floor!

Alex says:

I used to nurse IN church. I got sick of always getting up to nurse and so I just put my nursing cover on and slipped him under. No one seemed to mind at all.

Kitty Catie says:

Hello! I’ve been following you since I found out I was pregnant, about a year ago. My little boy is about 2 months behind Lil J!

This post was unbelievably helpful! After reading it I realized that I’ve been doing the exact same thing. Every time he starts to fuss I assume he’s hungry and tried to feed him. Now I try to stimulate him with toys or a book for a while first and he seems completely content! Hopefully it won’t feel like I’m feeding him all day anymore!

Thank you for opening my eyes!

michi41 says:

I’m not a churchgoer but I have the paci problem with my little one. She loves to drop it in the most random place and usually it’s somewhere gross. I bought these http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3977485 at toy r us and no more paci’s on the floor!

Sonia says:

Aww.. she’s so cute! Good Luck with attendance now that you have a little one. My attendance had dropped because 1) we use public transportation & 2) yes.. it is difficult to have a routine and get out the door with a baby. V slept most of the time during church and would always wake up afterwards. It wasn’t until she was 4 months old that people actually saw her awake! Now that she’s eating solids, it’s going to be a bit more difficult on both of us.

ps.. I miss having a mother’s lounge.. you should see the mom’s in my RS.. all breast feeding their babies in the back of the room!

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Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget

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I'm a former journalist, and lifelong creator striving to make the world a better place. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day by cherishing our individuality and celebrating our differences.



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