You have just brought home a precious new baby. When should you start teaching him or her about God? As strange as it may seem, teaching your baby about God is a great way to start helping him or her build a strong faith foundation.
Science is constantly learning more about what babies might understand. Because they aren’t verbal yet, it’s almost impossible to know for sure. Many early memories are more like photos – visual since they haven’t learned words yet. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if these early visual memories and the first words they understand are about God?!
Babies and toddlers aren’t ready for complex ideas. Since much of faith is abstract, they may not fully understand even the things they can repeat about God. That’s okay. What is important is that they are hearing them regularly. These early concepts about God should be almost as familiar to them as basic information about themselves or their families.
So what are some of the things you should teach your baby or toddler about God?
- God made everything. You can repeat this general statement as well as pointing out some of the many things God created one by one. Don’t forget, God also made the materials and gave people the intellect and talents to make the things we often call man-made, too.
- God loves us. Everything in Christianity revolves around the idea of God’s love for us.
- The Bible is a book with the things God wants us to know in it. Toddlers are a bit young to begin learning more details about the Bible. Those concepts can be introduced as they approach the preschool years.
- Basic Bible stories. You can use a baby or toddler “Bible”. These reduce basic Bible stories to a few sentences. Some encourage toddlers to make movements to accompany the stories. Continue reading through these stories over and over. Repetition is important to help toddlers begin to remember some of the basics of these Bible stories.
- Prayer is how we talk to God. Prayers with babies and toddlers should be short and simple. Rote prayers are fine, but it is also good to pray for things that are impacting your family in some way.
- The Church is made up of Christians. We meet together to worship God and learn more about Him. Christians are a family of God’s people. It is important to begin teaching children from very young ages that the Church is the people, not just a building. They need to also regularly hear that Christians are a family of God’s people. It is also good for them to learn a couple of the basic purposes of our worship services.
- God is good. God is the very definition of goodness. Children should hear that regularly from the youngest of ages.
- Jesus is God’s son. Yes, the trinity is more complex than that. At this age though, you can begin introducing Jesus to them as God’s son.
- God is smarter than any person. Many of the spiritual problems people have as they get older start with a lack of humility. They may not say it, but they think they are smarter and wiser than God. Teaching children from the very beginning that God is smarter and wiser than humans, can perhaps encourage them to remain humble as they grow older.
- When we disobey God, it makes Him sad. Obviously, the concepts of sin, repentance, forgiveness and grace are much more complex. The first concept for them to understand is that our sins make God sad. For little ones, it is easier for them to understand obeying and disobeying than the idea of sin.
- Our family loves God and wants to worship and obey Him. If this is true of your family, your baby or toddler needs to hear it regularly. Eventually, he or she will make an independent decision about whether or not he or she wants to become a Christian. In the meantime, they need to understand that just like Joshua’s family, your family follows the Lord.
Can a baby or toddler really understand all of these basic concepts about God? We may never know for sure. What we do know is that the more a child hears about God at home, the more likely he or she is to grow up to become a Christian. It’s worth making the time from the very beginning to teach your precious little one about God.