Infant Baptism, Christening, Baby Naming Ceremony and Baby Dedication

The arrival of a new baby is the most wondrous event in a family. This arrival is made more special by the ceremonies being held to welcome the child to the family, to society and to religious communities. Find out the different infant celebrations, why and how they are done. Take note of the things you may need to prepare as a parent, godparent, relative or family friend.

Baptism is a sacrament common to all Christian traditions. It is the symbolic application of water to the head or immersion of the body into water and resulting in admission of the recipient into the community of Christians. It is a ceremony by which one is initiated, purified or given a name. Two forms of baptism are in use today; believer's baptism and infant baptism. Believer's baptism is when adults or older children are baptized, usually immersed fully in water, upon their confession of faith that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. This affirmation declares they have become "born again."

Infant Baptism (by Holger.Ellgaard)
Infant Baptism (by Holger.Ellgaard)

Infant Baptism

Most Christians practice infant baptism. In the Catholic Church, infant baptism is one of the seven sacraments wherein the original sin is said to be forgiven and washed away through ceremonial pouring or sprinkling drops of water on their foreheads as they are baptized by the priest in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Through infant baptism the child becomes members of the body of Christ, which is the Church. But because babies cannot express their faith yet and cannot make their vows, parents or godparents make baptism vows for the child, waiting for his coming of age when he can personally confirm those vows...his "confirmation."

The baby's name is used and mentioned, however it is the rite of claiming the child for Christ and his Church that is celebrated. Christening by definition is the Christian sacrament of baptizing and naming an infant. It has become synonymous and interchangeably used with infant baptism to denote dedication to Christ.

Parents would need to submit a copy of the child’s birth certificate to the Parish Office and give the names of the chosen godparents when they file their request for the ceremony. Upon confirmation of the date of baptism, they may distribute invitations to relatives and friends whom they would want to witness the baptismal ceremony of their child and celebrate the occasion with them.

During baptismal ceremony, parents should be ready with candles (if not provided by the church) to be lit from the flame of Easter candle by parents and godparents to symbolize the flame of faith…the light that darkness cannot overcome…the light that will allow the child to see things through the eyes of Jesus Christ. Although it is not a requirement, parents and godparents choose to dress the baby with a white christening gown for the baptismal ceremony. Christening gowns often become mementos or treasured keepsakes that can be handed down through generations. It symbolizes the child’s new life in Christ. White speaks of life, purity, newness and innocence.

At the end of the ceremony you will be asked to sign the parish Baptismal register and you will be given a Baptismal Certificate. Your baby's baptism will be recorded in the Parish Baptismal Register. Be sure to keep the certificate carefully as it may be needed before the child receives the sacrament of Eucharist and Confirmation and when you enroll your child in a catholic school.

A reception follows in another venue to celebrate the occasion. Gifts are given to the child by godparents, relatives and guests. Please check the gift suggestions below. Souvenirs prepared by the parents are then given to all attendees to show gratitude for sharing that special day and for them to commemorate the occasion.

Baby Dedication

A baby dedication is a ceremony in which believing parents, and sometimes entire families, make a commitment before the Lord to submit a child to God's will and to raise that child according to God's Word and God's ways. It is a relatively new practice that has evolved within some churches of Christ in recent years. They practice baby dedication instead of infant baptism.

Having said that, we should understand that there are differences between a dedication and baptismal ceremony. Main difference is the lack of water pouring or dipping ceremony in baby dedication. The ceremony doesn’t make the child a Christian and a committed church member. The focal point of the dedication service is when the prayer in Jesus’ name for God’s blessing is done on the child. The parents, together with the leader of the church, commit themselves to provide the framework at home and in church that will give the child the best opportunity to grow towards faith in Jesus.

Baby Naming Ceremony

Baby Naming Ceremony is not a religious practice like baptism or christening. Secular Christening is another term for it. It is an occasion to welcome the child into the world. The occasion recognizes the responsibilities of the parents as they may publicly share their commitment, hopes and wishes for their child. Family relationships are deepened because it is part of the ceremony to also recognize grandparents, aunts, uncles or especially chosen sponsors/mentors/guardians who will declare their support alongside the parents. Many Christians who do not believe in infant baptism choose this civil celebration and leave the child free to decide for his own baptism later in his life. Godparents are also chosen but more often referred to as sponsors, mentors or guardians.

Naming ceremonies date back to ancient Rome when naming a child gives the rite of passage. The ceremony gives recognition and acceptance to a child as being the son (or daughter) of the father. Jewish baby girls are given baby naming ceremony to officially present her with a Hebrew name, usually honoring a loved one who has passed away. It is believe that the name of a person is closely related to its essence. In Hindu tradition, giving a name to the child is called Nama Karana Samskara wherein the father officially and publicly declares the name of the child for all to know and use. In this case, name giving ceremony becomes more of a religious tradition rather than mere social because it becomes the rite of passage of the child to Hinduism...the first religious ceremony that the child attends after birth.

Most ceremonies are performed in or around the home. This is a relatively informal event, except for the Hindu name giving tradition, and activities would depend on how the parents designed it to be more meaningful. Music is always an appropriate accompaniment to a baby naming ceremony. The basic format common to these ceremonies is as follows:

  • Introduction and welcome remarks by the celebrant
  • Acknowledgments of special people in the child’s life other than parents
  • Recognition of siblings (if any) and their inclusion in the ceremony
  • Readings and/or poems
  • Special symbolic rituals (eg. candle lighting, wishes card/box, tree planting)
  • Promises by parents
  • Grandparents and/or Guardians introduction, expectations and promises
  • The Naming of the child
  • Signing of the Naming Certificate
  • Signing of the Grandparents / Great Grandparents / Guardian Certificates
  • Presentation of the Certificates
  • Final good wishes and closing remarks by the celebrant
  • Presentation of the child for kisses and cuddles

The celebration will never be complete without good food to share. Simple foods are prepared like barbecue (if it falls on a summer), sandwiches, fruits and salads or anything easy to eat. Gifts are also given to the baby. Below are some gift ideas to help you find a special present for that special little one.

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belliott profile image

belliott 6 years ago

Great information. I know people get mixed up when they hear the different terms. Thanks

Invites profile image

Invites 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

Great article. Very informative!

Lita C. Malicdem profile image

Lita C. Malicdem 5 years ago from Philippines

Well, if I know, baby christening or baptism among us, Roman Catholics, has been institutionalized as an occasion that requires careful preparation, as it involves preparation of a big party for the sponsors and family visitors- like food- lots of food!

It can even be compared to a wedding party! This often times results to the holding in abeyance of the baptism until the couple have saved sufficient funds to spend. Or the worse is- not holding any baptism at all- for lack of funds. That's very lay Filipino! Good work here, Mama Sez!

Trisha 5 years ago

Is there any kind of fee for these services? i know dumb question..

chevyssbowtie 5 years ago

Infant baptism is unscriptural. The Bible says for those that are to be baptized that they must repent of their sins first, they must be able to acknowledge their sins and turn from them. A baby is in the stage of innocence and has no understanding of anything, how can they repent? And infant baptism is not going to protect a child from future sins.

Therefore baptism is for those that are able to make a conscious decision to repent, and turn to God.

babynology profile image

babynology 3 years ago from New York

I actually enjoyed reading through in this posting. Many Thanks

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