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What do Catholic Babies Wear to Baptism?

A baptism ceremony is a special event for any Catholic community, and it serves as a great way for everyone to come together and show their love and support for the person being welcomed into the faith. Young or old, there are some considerations to be made regarding the dressing code during these events. While there are no hard rules in this regard, many people lean towards following traditions in some form. 

Let’s take a look at the typical clothing conventions surrounding baptism while highlighting some of the questions you might have regarding the Catholic institution of Baptism.

christening gown

(the Penelope Christening Gown is an exquisite christening gown with ivory and champagne lace)

What Should Babies Wear to Baptism?

There is a rich history behind the christening clothing worn by babies during the baptism ceremony. Going back centuries, it was accepted practice for babies, be they male or female, to put on a type of christening gown that would reach down past their feet.

This white gown, in older times, would typically be passed down as an heirloom from one generation to the next for use in the baptism ceremony, adding an extra layer of significance to the proceedings.

In modern times, however, tradition has given way to some extent, with parents nowadays having plenty more freedom when it comes to deciding which outfit to pick out for their young ones. Many people still prefer the traditional white gown in quality fabrics such as pure cotton or silk (these materials are visually more elegant and turn out better in photographs). For boys, classic christening suits are becoming increasingly popular. 

It’s ultimately up to the parents to decide what their baby should wear for their baptism, depending on their preferences. For the most part, however, it’s considered proper to have it be something white and tasteful, reflecting the joyful solemnity of the occasion. 

 boy girl christening ideas

 (the Owen Convertible Christening Gown for boys on the left and our new Violet Christening Gown for girls on the right)

Why Should Baptism Clothes be White?

As with many aspects of the Christian faith, the preference for white baptism attire is based on symbolism. Wearing white is taken to symbolize a number of things. For one, white represents innocence, which is relevant in the baptismal ceremony. The person being baptized is having their sins washed away, thereby becoming ‘clean in the eyes of Christ and the church. 

Secondly, it is taken to signify the person’s acceptance into the body of the church. Many will also interpret it as symbolizing the eternal light of Jesus Christ that now resides within the person being baptized.

white baptism outfits

(Our Elijah Christening Suit is an all-white boys baptism suit. The Ella Romper Dress is a gorgeous cotton and lace christening dress in white.)

What Should Adults Wear to a Baptism?

The baptismal ceremony, even though celebratory, still retains the full solemnity of the church service, if not more so. For this reason, adults attending such ceremonies should keep their clothing modest and respectful

For most adult males, this might translate to collared shirts and a pair of pants, whether a jacket is incorporated or not. Jeans and T-shirts are generally not recommended for such an occasion, even if they might be acceptable during regular services. 

This goes for both sexes. Women are advised to wear modest clothing that might involve skirts, nice pants, and a good sweater or blouse. 

There are plenty of options, but a good way to stay on the safe side is to avoid tight-fitting clothing, low-cut tops, and skirts whose hemlines do not go past the knee. Your top should cover up your shoulders, and any jewelry or makeup should be understated and conservative rather than flashy.

Fathers and mothers might want to dress up a bit more than the guests, but the general guidelines will apply. 

What Should Children Wear During a Baptism?

Children attending Catholic baptism ceremonies should typically wear their normal church clothing, although they may dress more formally for the occasion. Suits are not a requirement, but they are entirely acceptable. Boys suits are a popular choice for many.  

A polo shirt, long pants, and optional jackets are good options. For young ladies, dresses paired with shoes and socks. They may put on a pair of pants, although shorts and jeans are not recommended. Spaghetti straps and lowered necklines are discouraged - ensuring that their shoulders are covered up.

lola lace christening dress

(The Lola Lace Christening Dress comes in sized up to 2-3T)

Do Roman Catholics Practice Baptism?

Yes, they do. In Roman Catholicism, baptism is considered the sacrament of regeneration coupled with initiation into the Catholic church. This tradition was incepted by Jesus Christ when he let St. John the Baptist baptize Him. He went on to instruct His Apostles in the name of the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). It is for this reason that the modern Catholic church continues to uphold the practice of baptism.

At What Age are Catholics Baptized?

The Sacrament of Baptism is administered to candidates of all ages, ranging from babies to grown adults seeking to join the Roman Catholic church. The issue of infant baptism is a common point of contention between non-Catholics and Catholics, with Catholics believing that baptizing infants holds no spiritual significance.

In their view, only those who are old enough to understand what’s going on around them can make such an important decision meaningfully. The Catholic Church responds to this contention by referencing the actions of the Apostles. 

According to scripture, the Apostles would baptize ‘whole households’ after Pentecost, including children and babies. 

In addition to this, there is documentation describing the baptism of babies taking place as early on as the 2nd century BC. Infant baptism is considered a vital sacrament due to the belief that all people come into this world marked with the stain of the Original Sin. 

The Sacrament of Baptism is meant to wash away this sin, thus allowing the individual to live in a state of grace. 

According to Catholics, the sooner that this can happen, the better. The Catechism of the Catholic Church seeks to address the reservations of non-Catholics concerning infant baptism by acknowledging the fact that infants cannot fully understand the mysteries of their faith, but further stating that neither are 13-year-olds or even 50-year-olds for that matter. 

It is why instruction in faith and catechesis is meant to be an ongoing process throughout one’s life, allowing individuals to grow in their faith and understanding throughout their lives. In short, the Sacrament of Catholic Baptism is not a destination but a starting point.  

a newborn ready to be christened

(a newborn ready to be christened in a soft christening layette)

What’s a Good Present for an Adult Getting Baptized?

An adult Catholic baptism ceremony is an occasion to be celebrated, and such occasions are worth commemorating by giving the individual a gift. Whoever the person in question is to you, there are plenty of gift ideas you might consider in order to make their special day even more memorable.

Study guides, for example, make for thoughtful gifts for the newly baptized. They might own and know much about their Bibles, but they don’t know everything. Study guides help students understand the lessons contained within the Bible. 

Jewelry also makes for a good gift, with cross pendants, brooches, necklaces, earrings, and so on being good ideas, although you should try and get a sense of the individual’s fashion sense before selecting a gift for them. Religious-themed home decor items, Bible accessories (monogrammed carrying cases, bookmarks, etc.), and so on will also put a smile on the face of whoever you have in mind. 

Final Thoughts

The Roman Catholic Church has long held the institution of Catholic baptism to be a sacred and vital element of a person’s spiritual life. While the ceremony itself might be considered a time for celebration, it’s essential to uphold the seriousness of the occasion, and maintaining a modestly appropriate dress code is part of this. 

However, if you decide to dress your infant, remember that the point of the ceremony goes far beyond dress codes and will influence their spiritual wellbeing for their entire lives. 

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