09 Aug

The Church Bag

Posted by Jenna, Under baby

The best church bag would be one full of people interested in playing with my baby and entertaining him while I actually get something out of church. This is why women live close to their mothers!

It’s time for me to put together a good church bag. Snacks are something I feel like I have a handle on.

  • Bean dip spread (which I swear I’ll post a recipe for soon) and a spoon
  • Slices of cheese
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Raisins/currants
  • Dried mangoes
  • Yogurt
  • Lots and lots of milk
  • Sippy cup

It’s really important to me that we avoid processed foods like crackers and puffs (because we don’t like eating them anyway) and this has made it a little more difficult at times because it’s hard to find dry/non-messy things to feed him. If you have any great ideas I’d love to hear them!

Even more than that though, I’m interested to hear what quiet toys you are using to keep your kids entertained. I’d like to avoid branded things (no Disney characters please) but bible-specific toys aren’t required. I do have a Little Kiss I made with pages that look like this:

 

And I’d like to make him another with pictures of our family members so he can learn who everyone is.

But what else to add? I think if I were better prepared, I’d enjoy Sundays more. Right now they feel a bit like a crazy whirlwind that I just want to get through, and that’s not the attitude I want to have.

41 Comments


  1. There is no such thing as a quiet toy. :) The ones that don’t make noise, my baby just bangs together, lol. Books are definitely a good choice, I’d bring several along. Only problem with those, is then they “read” to themselves, which isn’t very quiet. :)

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  2. What about cut up pears? Or any fruit cut up? My friend used to bring all types of cut up fruit and veggies to church for her son (cucumbers and pears being his favorite).

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    Jenna Reply:

    I tend to avoid fruit because it’s usually messy? And eating seasonally makes it hard when they are young and apples are all you can get. But I bring it along when we have it!

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  3. I roast up chickpeas with a bit of salt and olive oil (and cayenne pepper, but I can’t imagine T1 likes things hot!), and they become dry and crunchy. I roast them at 450 for 30 minutes or more (sometimes a lot longer, there seems to be a lot of variation), until they’re golden and crunchy on the outside. Yummy and portable, although they’re not as crunchy the next day.

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    Jenna Reply:

    Genius! I can see this becoming a new go-to snack for us.

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  4. Natures Path makes organic brown rice puffs the only ingredient is brown rice, they also have quinoa puffs, corn puffs, millet, and other grains. Do you dry your own fruit?

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    Jenna Reply:

    Another fantastic suggestion. I’d never heard of these but they sound perfect.

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    alli Reply:

    my 10 month old LOVES the brown rice puffs. arrowhead mills makes them, too. they are perfect because they don’t crumble.
    i love that quiet book and will have to copy the idea!!

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  5. Nana of 10 says:

    I would recomend pipe cleaners, duplo blocks (just maybe 5 of the huge ones)small boxes(like the altoid containers,you can modge podge photos on the outside and inside for him to look at, and also cut some out and modge podge them to let him put in and out of the box) and as a mother of 2 boys and nana of 6 boys… NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT A HOTWHEELS CAR in your bag !

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    Jenna Reply:

    Pipe cleaners is such a cheap and easy idea. Thanks!

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  6. What is your reasoning behind the no “branded” toys?

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    Erin J. Reply:

    curious too…

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    Courtney Reply:

    I avoid them too. I don’t really want my daughter to turn into a walking billboard/advertisement for Disney/Nickelodeon/etc.

    It’s pretty hard to avoid- she’s always getting gifts that are Elmo or Disney Princesses, etc.

    It’s bizarre how kids’ stuff is marketed. My daughter wears Dora the Explorer swim diapers because that’s all I could find! Even the kids toothpaste is Dora or Cars or something. It’s bizarre to me.

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    Mary B. Reply:

    My personal feeling is that branded toys lead to other branded items: diapers and pull-ups, those alphaghetti-type canned pastas (blech!), first-aid products, and the list goes on and on. If kids don’t play with the toys, they’re less likely to buy into the other more ridiculous forms of branding. I don’t need to advertise Dora or Sesame Street, nor do I want to.

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    Jenna Reply:

    Well I agree with the other women, that branded things are just marketing junk overall, but I like to avoid them specifically at church because I don’t think it’s a place to be thinking about Toy Story or Dora. I’d like to focus on the idea that we leave the world behind and turn to Christ during that time.

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  7. Eli has always been loud in church (even when being “good” he is just LOUD), so this is something we’ve struggled with. The only toys that we have found any quiet success with were mini automoblox, and magnets. If we sit on the metal chairs, he has some Thomas train magnets that are flat and quiet that he will stick and re-stick all over our chairs and that keeps him busy for a while since it’s not something we do otherwise.

    The mini automoblox would definitely depend on your kid because the wheels could be choked on/swallowed, Eli just never put things in his mouth so it wasn’t a big deal. At first we would sit and take apart and put together these cars over and over again together throughout the meeting, but now that he’s older he sits and does it himself. I think these are awesome toys in general, we have some of the big ones too, but I wish we had instead just bought more little ones because he has more fun with them and they’re less expensive.

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    Courtney Reply:

    My daughter always gets loud at the quietest parts of mass. I have to constantly whisper in her ear to get her to be quiet!

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  8. This probably works better if you have older siblings for the young one to emulate, but we always just got notepads and pencils. We only got them for the second half of service, once the sermon started, and it occupied my younger brothers when they were toddlers.

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  9. You can make a lot of stuff into chip like things- like dried carrot/beet/apple slices, or corn kernels. What about popcorn? Nuts?

    I let my daughter bring her own church bag- half the fun/entertainment factor is taking things out of it and putting them back in- over and over and over again.

    Here’s what’s in her church bag- little Pet Shop figurines (I’ve picked up a bunch of random little things a tag sales), an old cell phone with no battery, several board books, a tiny stuffed dog and a burp cloth (she likes to wrap the dog in the cloth and carry it like a baby), and a random Matchbox car that we found.

    Sometimes I just let her go through and empty the diaper bag, read the church bulletin, flip through the missalette/hymnal, etc.

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    Jenna Reply:

    This is smart, making it a separate bag that he has control over (though that will wait until he’s older, right now he’s a little young for that)

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    Courtney Reply:

    Well her’s is tiny (she’s 19 months old). Maybe a little kids backpack or a lunch bag with a little handle? She does like to carry her “purse” hooked on her arm, but it’s just nice to have something I can give her in church and not worry about what she’ll take out of it!

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  10. how about a quiet book. If your a whiz at sewing or hotglueing, it wouldn’t be that hard. You can personalize your own and even put print pictures of your family on fabric and include those as pages. The book itself would be quiet, but T1 would probably be excited and make some cute noise when he sees mommy and daddy’s faces :)

    http://quietbook.blogspot.com/

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    Jenna Reply:

    Thanks so much for think link! Very helpful.

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    This Mom Reply:

    This is the quite book I got my ideas from to make my quiet book. I’m pulling from other sources as well and making a few that are age appropriate. One with just colors for little ones. One with tie, button and zipper for T1′s age; and maybe one with tell the time letters type stuff for a little older.

    I can make you one if you want it personalized.

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  11. How about mushed fruit snacks like:
    http://www.amazon.com/GoGo-appleapple-Applesauce-3-2-Ounce-Pouches/dp/B002E0S4UW

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    Jenna Reply:

    I actually have some of that, but I’m not a fan of feeding him fruit without the fiber from the skin. I think the body treats it like a sugary treat :(

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  12. my husband and I make wooden toy cars and trains. My little boy takes those to church and he LOVES to drive them around the benches. If you are interested email me and I can send pictures and info. WE sell them at craft fairs during the holiday season. I actually live pretty close to your parents…maybe you could put a bug in their ear for christmas?! (tiffanyjoy83 at hotmail dot com)

    also snack wise I pick a snack that my kids only get on sunday’s. Like my kids would eat fruit snacks all day everyday if I let them. But i don’t let them because let’s be honest fruit snacks aren’t good for their bodies or their teeth. BUT i know that one day a week won’t kill them so that is what they get in there church bag. So maybe pick one snack that T1 loves and only give it to him at church then it won’t get boring and it will be something special! good luck. it is hard with little ones!

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  13. I highly recommend a Magna doodle, for some variety bring along a few other magenta for him to try with it too. Also I love the little plastic animals that come in tubes or better yet the Schleich ones but they are pretty pricey. Either way though it is something they will use for years. I like toys with “extension” activities so for example with the animals you could print out pictures of them and show him how to match them or make a felt play mat with a blue lake some green grass etc. Felt in general is great, get a board and glue some felt on it then cut out a bunch of shapes in different colors and show him how they stick. As he gets older he will start sorting them and making pictures out of them. I also think you can’t go wrong with a little car or two!

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  14. How about plastic animals that aren’t too small? I see a lot of parents in my ward whip out the Gospel Art Book during sacrament meeting for their little ones to look at. I always carry a couple of crayons and a small notebook in my purse for the times when I sit next to friends with children.

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  15. You could try something like these.. http://theprincessandthetot.blogspot.com/2011/07/toddler-busy-bags.html

    You can make a few and bring them. That way he has options when he gets bored with something.

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    Jennifer Reply:

    Yes! Love the toddler busy bags. I just came across this website myself. Great find and excellent idea for church!

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  16. do you have a dehydrator? you can make all your own dried fruit. I personally love banana chips! and apple slices, you can also do jerky if your up to it.

    as for quiet books i have a couple felt books.

    each “page” is an image printed on felt and there are also felt characters, and scenes and such that you cut out and stick,

    i have a house one and there is a mom and dad and brother and sister and you can move them into each page.

    im pretty sure they have lds ones with people from the BOM

    ive also seen little scavenger hunt type things in a bean bag. T1 might be a bit young but there are little buttons and spools and litte nicknacks all in with rice and you have to find all the objects on the list. if that makes any sense?

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    Maranda Reply:

    http://www.time4felt.com/lds.html

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  17. I have a 2 year old boy and a 1 year old girl. I’ve scoured the internet for quiet toys for church. I made quiet books and velcro books (which are much louder than you would think), pipe cleaners (they love those), crayons and paper (not too interested yet), books (Dex reads them to Veda… very cute but not so reverent), everything. Sometimes they are wonderful and play quietly all through Sacrament meeting. Sometimes they get through most of it and then one of them is just done. It is amazing to me that my little toddlers can make these things sound like I gave them a train whistle to play with. We just keep trying every week.

    We recently started having Dex bring his own bag and we have toys and activities he only plays with at church and we rotate them every week. Since then the times we’ve had to take either of them out have been very short and towards the end of the meeting. Oh, we also bought 2 packs of some animal flash cards and they both sit and look through them. Dex likes to match them and put them in the box which he calls the Ark and Veda likes to empty the box again.

    It’s a hard thing to balance, trying to teach your kids to be quiet and reverent and also not wanting to bother anyone else. Obviously most people are very understanding and encouraging but I still feel incredibly guilty if we are having a bad day and I keep giving the kids a chance to play quietly and it just isn’t happening. Velcro Sunday was especially bad. (Sigh.)

    Sorry this was so long and I didn’t even give you any advice! Side note: my little boy LOVES roasted chickpeas. We have to cook them so they are a little on the softer side because he shares with his little sister who has very few teeth. I prefer them very crunchy.

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  18. How about dried fruit? We get backs of dried bananas and pineapples and such from Trader Joe’s and they’re great.

    Also, for Sunday we have our bag of “special toys” that only come out on Sundays. They include some of Henry’s favorite books and his “Quiet Book.” (Here’s a link to it if you want to see, I did a post on it some time ago: http://www.fromsingletomarried.com/2010/02/04/the-quiet-book/ ) I realize not everyone has one of these books (my mom made ours) but it’s great because Henry loves playing with it, especially all the little pieces that velcro. :)

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  19. my daughter loves her travel doodle pro (got ours on Amazon) and that keeps her busy in doctors offices and waiting rooms, etc. She also loves paper and crayons (she is 20 months old), and an old cell phone with the batteries removed. I like to also give her a hard bread roll, and she takes a while just holding it and gnawing on it.

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  20. I grew up on my parents (organic) farm so I’m used to eating a lot of food storage recipes and in season veggies and fruits; what worked for me as a child was some fruit leather or homemade whole grain crackers (there are recipes for whole wheat animal grahams and cheesy fish crackers on the web, if you want you can just make squares or circles)…I LOVED fruit leather as a child, even more than those fruit rollups or junk food like that. And when we saw that other kids had certain food we wanted them so my mom would always make homemade versions.
    Homemade trailmix is a good option too with bits of dried fruit (or freeze-dried)and roasted nuts or chickpeas and puffed cereals or homemade granola.
    My mom’s oatmeal fruit bars were the best treats! Or you could make mini muffins like my sister does (her kids are used to eating between 11 and 12 every day and our meetings go to 1, so they are starving otherwise when we’re done)
    Frozen bananas are also really delicious (freeze then smash into bitesized pieces).

    Milk and yogurt is actually really hard to clean out of the chairs and carpet in our chapel (do you have upholstered chairs or plastic?)…so make sure you pack them in no spill containers and that your sippy cup won’t leak if tipped over.

    One of the best distractions I remember were friends our ages (I have an older sister and 2 younger), we would sit together with another family or two and quietly color or play with paper dolls. I remember my older sister pointing out each line from the hymns or the scriptures and whispering them into my ear as we sang/listened. You might show him which stories are being talked about using the art book or a manual’s pictures.

    Being an adult now this is what I see that works:
    - paper in pads or notebooks and washable crayons or pencils. Don’t pack markers or pens or loose paper, it just makes a huge distracting mess. If you have plastic or wood seating stick to pencils only (triangular chubby ones are good for small hands)…everything else takes massive amounts of toxic cleaner to remove from the chairs.

    - the Gospel art book is awesome if your child is ok with whispering the stories to you or you to them…but if you can, get it laminated pronto (it gets colored on and torn).

    - felt boards, magnetic boards or boxes, paper dolls, matching shapes/cards, or sewing cards are all quiet activities.

    - dollar store board books and puppets are cheap and good to rotate in and out (basically you want the Sunday Bag to always be interesting and different from everyday toys)…cars/trucks can be VERY loud if your child wants to make engine noises. Same for animal toys. And fabric/felt is always better than plastic or wood if there is a possibility of hitting toys together, or hitting you, others, chairs, wall etc.

    - I was a nursery leader for 3 years and baby dolls are the best! I would tell the children that is was nap time for the dolls and we’d get them ready and be quiet while I read for 15 minutes and then quiet music for as long as they’d stay down…if anyone got up or got loud I say the “baby” dolls were waking up and they would tip toe back…so cute! And I’ve seen it work in Sacrament meeting too.

    - playdoh, beads, paint markers, anything with glitter, balls, anything he likes to throw or kick are all bad ideas I’ve seen tried. Anything that lights up or makes noises, even if you turn that part off they will scream and beg once they see it doesn’t anymore.

    - something that I don’t think is often thought about: have a plan for when he does fuss or is naughty. Decide what is ok, for how long (how many warnings), and what is NOT ok…I think some moms and dads are scared if they pull their child out of a BAD situation immediately that others will judge them so I’ve seen a sibling beat the other over the head with a truck till the parents are hoarse with whispered threats and all the little ones are screaming. Also going into the hall shouldn’t be a reward (I’ve seen running wildly up and down or even fake crying/tantrums just to go out). Others might not agree with this but my parents would take us out and make us sit…no toys or getting off lap/blanket/chair til we were calm, pretty soon church was way more fun then the hallway (of course this was started when we were toddlers…can’t punish a baby for crying because it’s hungry or dirty!)

    Ok I’ve rambled enough…hope you got something good out of all this!

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  21. here’s the recipe for the crackers

    http://smittenkitchen.com/2011/03/whole-wheat-goldfish-crackers/

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    Jenna Reply:

    Thank you so much for all of these ideas!

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  22. What did you finally put in your church bag?

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      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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