The Adam-friendly Crying Room

church books

Adam at a quiet moment in the pew…the Church happens to be empty

Should we Cement-In all Crying Rooms?

There have been times when I have banished myself to the crying room. Particularly with a tiny infant when my breast-feeding attempts were pretty awkward…and about as discrete as Adam eating chocolate cake. I was just grateful to catch a few words while attracting as little attention as possible.

Aside from those infant weeks and months, I have not found the crying room too useful. I recognize that if we build it, they will come…and indeed our own little parish once-gift-shop-turned-crying room (with a big window that starts 3′ up) is usually filled. The problem is that kids can only see the back of the heads of the people sitting in the last few rows, if they stand on a chair looking out the window.  For all intents and purposes, it’s an overflow room of pews for our over-crowded Church…it’s a playroom for toddlers and just isolated enough to condone poor behavior by older kids, if they’re let loose.

I think the only way the crying room would work for 3 year old Adam is if it had seatbelts, theatre-volume SOUND, a big-screen-size close-up view of the sanctuary …and maybe Toopy as a translator,  relaying the text of the Mass, readings and homily.

It’s true that these features might reign him in a little, but would still do little to train him to be quiet and reverent at Mass as he becomes old enough to do so.

I agree with Kendra over at Catholic All Year…banishing people to an isolated room does little to encourage good behavior at Mass.  I also agree that we should all be welcome at Mass…whether we are restless or lively toddlers or cranky, complaining old people looking for the same quiet that they have at home.

St Clare Church

As a member of our little Parish’s Expansion Committee, I haven’t seen crying rooms in our research of new-or-renovated Churches in our Diocese.

There are side altars and adoration chapels… and even large glass-doored bright and spacious foyers… but none of them offer the perfect solution for my little noise maker.

Merciful Redeemer

The not-so-easy conclusion is that raising good little Catholics isn’t easy.  At times, both good-intentioned parents and cranky old people will wish lively toddlers were someplace else. Sometimes we may all suffer a  little more distraction than we hope, as we pray at Mass, but maybe our perseverance and patience are just what it will take to turn distracted, busy toddlersand ourselves into Faithful Catholics.

So…to answer Kendra’s question: Should we cement-in all the crying rooms?

No, I don’t think that they are a waste of space… I think they might even make Mass possible for some parents if they are properly designed, but cry rooms shouldn’t be used as playrooms…or as justification for banishing those earnestly trying to train their kids to participate and behave well at Mass.

Adam happy

As for Adam?  We will keep bringing him to Mass, loaded with little Saint books and other Catholic picture books…or our latest version of the Quiet Bag for Mass.

We’ll start each Mass in the pew…(why do people insist on sitting at the end of the pew?) and we’ll just do our best to keep him as quiet and reverent as possible.  If that fails, we’ll take him out to the foyer, bringing him back in time to receive a blessing at Communion.

Four of our five kids behave quite well at Mass…we can only hope that Adam will get there too.


Read about surviving Mass with Adam in our series The Catholic Toddler Letters between Adam and Catholic All Year‘s Frankie!

This post is linked up to Catholic All Year‘s post Why I Would Like to Fill All Crying Rooms with Cement.



  1. I agree that’s all about making them and using them correctly. I love the idea of putting a monitor in the cry room so everyone can see mass just as well as if they were sitting up front! I’ve definitely witnessed the phenomena of children (and adults) behaving worse because they are in the cry room and try to stay out of it as much as possible, though with a 1 year old who’s learned to walk and likes to escape I have found it very useful for things like going to adoration and being able to focus without worrying where she’s running off to, and when I was at All Saints Day mass with the kids by myself and things just weren’t working out. Of course during both those times it’s typically me and the kids alone in the cry room with no other families.

  2. There is a church that we attend once in a blue room that under a past priest had the very back pew designated for families with little ones. The Church didn’t have a cry room. The ushers directed us to this pew and it was horrible. The little ones could not see anything that was going on. We stopped attending that church as our back up church.

    • Thanks Erin,
      I recently heard about another Church that encouraged young families to sit in a certain section of pews…and it was understood that other Moms/adults who were more than happy to hold a baby would also sit in there! Babies were just passed around, frazzled moms with fussy babies would get a much appreciated break, babies enjoyed the distraction and moms who maybe missed having a tiny one to hold, could get a turn and feel helpful. Maybe spreading the distraction around a little bit (and I know this might not be perfect for prayerful participation in Mass), but kind of sounds like a win win win. =)

  3. Theresa Marx says:

    The parish that I belonged to when my son was first born didn’t have a crying room. Instead they had a Quiet Room. It had dimmed lights, a one way window, a changing table, and rocking chairs. It was a very soothing place. There was a sign on the outside that stated it was to be a place of quiet not play. The room was very helpful for breastfeeding and for that overwhelmed and over tired toddler. That just needed to be rocked to sleep.

  4. I completely agree with you Monica! Thank you so much for sharing this. This is an amazing article! It’s really difficult to take a toddler out with you to a mass and expect him/her to behave the whole time. I love your idea of the little Saint books and Catholic picture books. I think it’s great! 🙂

  5. I sit at the end of the pew to elevate and rest my arm as I have brachial neuralgia.

  6. Love this article! I really appreciate some of the content of this article. I agree that when they still a child you must encourage them now to read saint books or bibles. So that in time they grew god is with them already. fabulous article!

  7. Love it. I think your perspective on cry rooms as being from a moment in time (church-time-wise!) that’s largely over is really true, and noteworthy. The priest who gave us a hard time went on about how all churches have cry rooms and it’s just not true! Only churches built over a period of a few decades have them. They feel like a failed experiment to me. Thanks for linking up!

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