Here I discuss how to Introduce the Catholic faith to toddlers. It’s never too early to start teaching your little ones about the Catholic faith. However, you may be wondering what are the first steps to teaching. This post will have practical advice I have obtained from experience.
At church, my kids often receive compliments from other parishioners since they are generally well-behaved for their age and they know to genuflect. By no means am I an expert on the subject and, no, my kids aren’t perfect. However, I want to share some things we do routinely as a family that helps our kids take baby steps towards a prayerful life.
According to Pew Research,
“Catholicism has experienced a greater net loss due to religious switching than has any other religious tradition in the U.S. Overall, 13% of all U.S. adults are former Catholics – people who say they were raised in the faith, but now identify as religious “nones,” as Protestants, or with another religion.”
This is why it is important to begin to instill the faith as early as possible. The more truth your child is shown about the faith, the more likely they will grow up to remain Catholic.
#1 We pray the Rosary every evening before bed
So, it’s 8:30 in the evening. We’ve already put on pajamas, read books together, and the children are snuggled on their beds. The last thing we do as a family before saying ‘goodnight’ is to pray the rosary. Our daughters both have their own rosaries. We have a rule to not play with the rosaries. As soon as we see one of our kids playing with the rosary, we let them know if they continue it will be taken away. Since they love their rosaries, they usually don’t play with them anymore. My oldest loves to take her Rosary everywhere with her. She’ll even take it with her to the playground near our home. She is so sweet and loves Mother Mary.
It wasn’t always like this though.
When we first started praying the Rosary as a family, my youngest would yell “nooooooooooooooo” every time we started praying. It wasn’t because of the Rosary, it was more because, after a few times, she realized that this meant she was going to bed soon. Toddlers usually don’t like going to bed. On the other hand, my oldest wasn’t fond of praying either. She would insist on reading more stories. She loves books and could the same ones over and over.
Although, as time went by our children got used to the routine. Even though we still have our off days when the kids will be running around while we’re trying to pray, it’s much easier now on most days.
Don’t expect to pray like monks the first time – or the first 500 times. We’ve been doing this since 2019 and some days still aren’t perfect. However, we’ve built some beautiful memories of our family praying and that is worth everything.
#2 We watch Catholic movies together
My daughters love the movie, Mother Teresa, on Formed. We’ve also been enjoying watching, The Chosen. Although, The Chosen, is a series and not a movie we treat it like it is since they are very long. There are many movies you can watch as a family. We enjoy watching the Nativity Story during Advent. For young children, you can watch The Saints and Heroes Collection. In our home, we make pizza and enjoy movie nights on weekends. Our kids enjoy it and it’s a great way for them to learn about the faith.
#3 We live liturgically
Our kids love to help out in decorating our home. We go all out for Advent and Easter. However, those are not the only times we decorate our home. During ordinary times, we celebrate our favorite saint’s feast days.
#4 We read bible stories to our kids
Not everything in the bible is suitable for young children. However, you can start reading some bible stories when you are young. There are different Catholic children’s bibles you can get for them. Ascension Press has children’s bibles that are appropriate for different age groups (ages 1-3, ages 4-7, and ages 8-12).
#5 We attend Sunday Mass
Sounds simple enough, right? Nope. You’ll be shocked to find how few Catholics actually attend Mass on Sundays. Our priest shared a story of a mother who missed Sunday announcements, when he asked her why she missed the announcements she said, “oh because our family only goes to Mass once a month.” You should’ve seen his face of shock. Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated situation. Many people who identify as Catholics aren’t practicing their faith. They are not attending weekly Mass and actively seeking out the Sacraments.
“But my kids cry and want to play in church”
Our church does not have a crying room. This means lots of kids are fussy during Mass. And that is okay. Let me repeat: that’s okay. It’s no big deal. If you need to step out and walk around the church, that’s also okay. What I do with my kids is that I take them out to the grotto outside to visit Mary.
Here are five things you can do to better your experience at Mass:
- Pick a time and a specific church for weekly Mass. We picked the closest one to our home and early morning after breakfast. This way my kids know what to expect each week.
- Talk to your children about Mass. Answer questions like: Why does it matter to you? How much does it matter to you? You don’t have to get fancy or too specific. You can say, “church matters to me because I love God and I want to spend time with God,” and “it matter’s to me so much.” It’s very simple but I remind, my children, often and in as many ways as I can. I want them to know that I take my faith seriously and I love God.
- Take bite-size snacks that aren’t messy. I carry around sippy cups with water and tiny bite-size cookies. I try not to give my kids snacks during Mass but in a pinch, they are a great way to calm them.
- Take religious children’s books or children’s missals. My youngest daughter loves her children’s bible and my oldest daughter loves to carry her Saint Joseph’s children’s missal. During Mass, they love to look at all the pictures. It’s a simple way to keep their minds busy.
- When all else fails, visit Mother Mary. Most Catholic churches have a kneeler in front of a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our church has a beautiful prayer grotto a short walk away from the church. If our children get too fussy, we just take them out to pray with Mary. This doesn’t happen often but when it does, it’s okay to step outside.
Here’s a great video by Matt Fradd regarding children at Mass:
If you’re looking for more inspiration be sure to check out my Catholic Parents guide for more ideas. Thank you for reading.