Many parents decide to christen or baptize their babies, particularly if they’re members of the Christian or Catholic faith. This ceremony typically happens when the baby is quite young, typically just a few months old. It’s a treasured memory for the family, but the baby at the center of it all will likely be too small to remember any of it. From invitations to photographs and christening gowns to keeping baby comfortable during the ceremony, here are some important things to consider
Preparing for the ceremony
If you’re a member of a congregation or faith community, your church likely has a protocol for how they conduct baptism or christening ceremonies for babies. Ask your minister or church office about getting on the schedule. Do they conduct it during a regular service? Or do they have a special time apart from services where they conduct these ceremonies for babies? Ask what role you, as your baby’s parents, are expected to play in the ceremony and discuss your preferences with your partner. Will you offer a prayer? Hold your baby while a minister baptizes her? It’s always good to know what to expect.
Once you’ve settled on a date for your baby’s big event, make sure to let the important people know. You might choose to keep it small, just inviting baby’s grandparents, or you might want to let all your friends know. You could communicate the pertinent information with a simple phone call, text or email, or you might choose to go more formal with a printed invitation. The benefit of having a printed invitation is that you’ll have another keepsake to commemorate the big day.
Keeping baby comfortable
Your baby is the main focus of the christening ceremony, so it’s important to think ahead to try to keep her as comfy and happy as possible. Having a ceremony in an unfamiliar place will be a disruption to your regular schedule, but you can take steps to help ensure that she goes with the flow.
Try to schedule the ceremony for a time when your baby is typically awake. A ceremony that happens to occur during her regular naptime can be a recipe for a cranky, groggy little one.
Churches can be chilly and drafty, so make sure to pack a warm wrap. Traditional christening gowns (or special ones passed down through generations) can be less comfortable than your baby’s regular wardrobe of soft onesies and cozy sweaters, so consider a trial run with the special outfit to see if you need to make adjustments.
Try to feed baby a half hour or so before the ceremony, so she’s not hungry and has been burped to lessen the likelihood of a spit-up explosion.
Pack spare burp cloths and give her a diaper change right before the ceremony begins so she’s fresh and ready to go.
Commemorating the occasion
Photographs and videos of your baby’s christening will be some of your favorite keepsakes; they’re also a way to share the experience with your baby when she’s old enough to understand. Some families choose to hire a professional photographer or videographer for the day, while others opt to have friends and family take photos. If you don’t hire a pro, ask specific guests to take and share photos on their phones or digital cameras with you. With people sitting around the chapel, you’re bound to get a lot of different perspectives. If there are certain snapshots you want (such as you, your partner and baby’s grandparents), be sure to ask a specific friend to take them.
While the main event is the ceremony itself, many parents opt to make their baby’s christening an excuse to have a celebration afterwards. Since most church christenings happen in the morning, you could opt for a brunch reservation at a favorite local restaurant or a party at your home after the service. If you have a gathering at your home, you could hire a caterer to serve snacks or a meal, or you could choose make-ahead dishes such as charcuterie platters, brunch casseroles and fruit salad. Whatever you pick, make sure you create an environment that will allow you and your family to enjoy the experience.
Whether you’re a religious family or not, christening your baby can be a memorable milestone to celebrate with friends and family. Though christening and baby baptism is usually associated with Christianity and Catholicism, some parents from other faiths or none may still want to have a ceremony to commemorate the birth of their child. You could have a gathering at your home or in your yard where you read some meaningful readings or poetry. You might also choose to symbolically celebrate your child by planting a tree in her honor or say a blessing over her. It’s up to you!