Cradle Roll, It’s Not Just Babysitting


parents-kissing-babyHave you ever observed what goes on in the cradle roll class?  Are you familiar with the term?  Cradle roll refers to the class made up of babies ranging from newborn until around 2 years old.  Some start when a baby is old enough to sit up and some even earlier.  Some have children moving up to a 1 year old class and others keep the babies until their second birthday.  The classroom usually has a special kidney shaped table with inset seats just the right size for this age.  The teacher can sit on one side and reach each child. For younger infants not yet sitting up, infant seats may be strapped onto a regular chair and pulled up to the table.

So if you haven’t observed or participated in cradle roll, you may not know what goes on there.  You may have the mistaken notion that it is a babysitting service or a glorified nursery.  I’m here to assure you that is NOT the case when it is done properly.  There is a curriculum specifically geared toward meeting the attention span and interests of these little ones.

There are usually a very limited number of lessons taught that revolve around the things God has made such as families, animals, and babies.  Included are concepts that the Bible is God’s special book and we love to go to church. Whatever the lesson, it is repeated week after week for a quarter, six months, or longer.  It may get old for the teacher, but the babies NEVER tire of it.  They love the predictability, the enthusiasm of the teacher who presents it, the sensory experiences and the activities.

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Most of the lesson is taught through song and the use of toys.  The teacher sings very simple songs with a recognizable, repetitive tune that fits the lesson.  Each baby has a small basket of toys that go with the songs. Some examples are:  The teacher sings a song about how we all get ready for church while each baby has a soft hair brush and wash cloth that they use.  With a song about driving to church, each baby has a small plastic car that they hold and move.  When singing about how God made our ears to hear, the teacher makes sounds such as ringing a bell or using a “See & Say” to make animal sounds.  There are songs about God making our mouths, eyes, hands, feet with props such as plastic food, plastic animals, small baby dolls, etc.  In a single unit of “God Made Me”, there may be 10-20 songs related to the lesson.  There’s NO time for babies to get bored!

Babies are little sponges just waiting to be filled.  They absorb everything they are hearing and experiencing in class. It is so much fun to watch them grow during that first year of cradle roll.  In the beginning, they are sitting and taking everything in.  Later on, they are fully participating by doing the motions to songs, trying to sing along, patting their Bible, and anticipating everything that the teacher does.

Babies learn many foundational lessons in the cradle roll class.  Here are a few lessons and then comments made from the baby’s perspective:

  1. Church/Bible class is a wonderful place to be.  (My teacher is so excited to see me.  She smiles at me, sings fun songs, and takes care of me).
  2. Respect for God’s word. (The Bible is God’s book and I should take care of it.  I will learn to pat the Bible gently and not eat the pages)!
  3. God is the Creator of the Universe.  (God made everything.  He made mommy, daddy, food, animals, homes…..)
  4. Reverence for God.  (When my teacher says that we are going to talk to God,  I fold my hands and bow my head).
  5. God loves me and I am special.  (I will thank him for my eyes to see, nose to smell, ears to hear, hands to touch, feet to run)!
  6. Compassion for others.  (When my friend cries, I’ll cry with them.  When I cry, there’s friend beside me who will share their Cheerios with me)! 🙂

Don’t let your babies miss out on the great learning experiences of the cradle roll.  It can really set a foundation for learning principles and loving Bible class!

Comments 6

  • Thank you, for this post. I have believed, for over 55 years, that babies learn fastest –when exposed to teaching from birth! Time has taught us this truth, just watch some of the videos on Facebook!

    Parents (and adult teachers) learn more completely the Word of God, when they teach it on the child’s level. They are not afraid to ask why- if they do not understand.
    Often it takes an adult searching more deeply into the scriptures to fully understand the “why”, hopefully and prayerfully we all learn in the process.

  • Great post!it really is great to see the babies who come into a class all squishy and unsure, leave months or a year later loving and anticipating all of these God-centered activities and teachings.

  • I have taught cradle roll classes for 40 years and have loved every minute of it. Now my daughter is teaching with the help of her daughter. I pray they will continue the lessons for a long time. Watching the babies as they grow and learn is amazing. By the time they leave they know “God made…” They know what the Bible is and they know how to sit in class among other things. They are anxious to go to “church” every week. The biggest challenge is convincing the new parents that it is a good thing. Once you have overcome that challenge the rest is easy.

    • Thanks for your good comments. I am working on a follow up article now on promoting our cradle roll to new parents. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

  • If parents can observe some classes, they can see how wonderful cradle roll is for the children. Sometimes they need to be in a class other than the one their child is in to avoid their child being distracted by their presence. I have been teaching for 39 years with the same team of ladies. We enjoy every class and always experience something new or different from the children. We work with the babies who are turning two and learning how to talk and sing, so we never know what will come out of those precious little mouths, but those happy smiles make our day!

    • That is wonderful that you’ve been doing it so long and have a great team to work with. I know lots of places where they seem to have to beg for teachers. It is also great for the little ones to have familiar faces so there isn’t as much adjustment with each class change. Thanks for your comments!