A Starting Point for the New Nursery

Section of plan showing nurseryKathy Sheridan’s experience provides a valuable starting point for describing what we’d like in our nursery; she worked for the State Department of Human Services licensing and consulting with clients who were planning child care centers, preschools, and family child care homes. What follows is Kathy’s vision, based on her experience both professionally and personally; the Christian Education Ministry will also discuss requirements for the nursery.

We may need, ultimately, to make some compromises based on resources and interdependencies with other parts of the plan, but it’s helpful to have an ideal to aspire to. Kathy’s reference point is sometimes licensing requirements; as a church nursery, we aren’t required to be licensed, but those standards provide an objective starting point to be aware of.

Having the nursery visible from the parking lot entrance is a real plus in making parents see where to go and to feel confident about nursery care. The door to the nursery is likely best placed at the end of the hallway past the new chapel. A lovely nursery is part of making young parents feel comfortable coming and returning to Hope Church. We have, in effect, two objectives: to provide a safe, comfortable place for toddlers and infants; and to assure parents that we’ll take good care of their children in a clean, well-considered, non-institutional place that shows that we care about them.

We want to plan the nursery to be neither too big nor too small. At the size currently shown on the plan, licensing rules would suggest we can accommodate 12 to 14 children; 8-12 is the number Kathy thinks is likely optimal for us.

We may want to consider an external exit door; that would be required for evacuation if we were to be licensed and is likely a good safety feature. If we had an external door, there could be some outdoor play with appropriate toys for toddlers. We wouldn’t need to enclose the outdoor space, but could add a low fence (like a white picket fence) to delineate the area. Outdoor play space is often an indicator of a quality child care facility.

Since the outside wall has windows, planning them low enough (but without ledges, which are 2 inches or deeper) for toddlers to look outside is helpful. The natural light is a good thing for both children and adults. Can lighting is preferable to fluorescent fixtures, because they can be directed.

Having a tiled area in the nursery is helpful for snack time and art activities; the balance of the floor can be carpeted. A heated floor is optimal, but possibly beyond our budget. Adjacent to that could be a double sink and refrigerator for snack preparation and arts and crafts. The sink would be used primarily for bottle preparation or cleaning; some counter space is helpful on either side of the sink. Cabinets in that area can store snack and art or craft supplies. A dishwasher isn’t needed for food preparation, but can be extremely helpful for toy-cleaning.

The plan shows two bathrooms, one a family bathroom that can be accessible from the hallway. Ideally, the nursery restroom would include a child-height sink, perhaps a trough sink that can support both hand-washing and water play. It’s ideal but not required to have a child-sized toilet. Including the diaper-changing station in the toilet room keeps all of the hygiene tasks in one place; that would mean including the changing table, hand-washing sink for adults, and storage for paraphernalia required for changes. A mirror on the wall or ceiling to help the baby stay entertained during changes is helpful.

Furniture would include a child-sized table and chairs for snacks and arts. A sofa or love seat and a couple of upholstered rockers would enable the adults to sit with one or more children to read. Lamps provide accent lighting and make the setting home-like and comfortable. Active toy storage should allow toddlers to pull out baskets or bins of toys to play with.

It’s recommended that the sleeping area is in the main room; Kathy says it doesn’t have to be dim for infants to sleep. The objective is to have infants in view the entire time they’re in care in the nursery. We can use child-care cribs, which are small and portable (Christian Education members note that we don’t currently need cribs, given the time of day and number of children typically in nursery care). If we were licensed, at least one would be an “evacuation crib,” meaning it’s on wheels and can be rolled out the door. It’s likely we’ll need just two cribs.

The plan shows a quiet room for nursing, adjacent to the nursery. It doesn’t need to have a close-able door; it could use a screen instead for privacy. Furnishings would include a table for personal belongings and two upholstered rockers for nursing, with a table in between for supplies. The sound from the sanctuary may be made available in this room.

Kathy recommends a soothing, serene color scheme; she’s seen facilities that over-stimulated through use of multiple primary colors. To convey calm, security, and cleanliness, the color scheme might be light grey and white with pops of yellow. Kathy has heard about a nursery that included quotes on the walls, including Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you….” Two questions to consider:

  • If the nursery will be used throughout the week for purposes other than childcare, other arrangements may need to be made for storage or other furniture may be required.
  • Currently licensed child care centers are required to have a lock-down policy that controls visual and physical access. Considering what level of safety we choose to provide will help us make good decisions about window coverings and entrances/exits.

Christian Education also notes the need to update the procedures at the appropriate time so that everyone is aware of the take-cover plan for people in nursery.

This page represents conversation in process; the Christian Education Ministry will build on this starting point and Hope Church members are welcome to add their perspectives. If you subscribe to this blog, please look online for the latest version of any post.

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