Preparing For Your Child’s Baptism

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preparing-childs-baptism

I am a planner/list maker. If you could see the lists I made before baby #3 was born, you would either be impressed or nauseated at the level of detail involved. One of the first things I start to consider as I get further along in my pregnancy, is the baby’s Baptism. In fact, I usually start planning the Baptism before I even think about delivery. If planning for sacramental celebrations (like baptisms or first communions) or even a birthday party causes a cold-sweat, you will want to pin this article and save it!

The Essentials (Before Birth)

There are several items that are vitally important to a Baptism that can be dealt with before the baby is even born.

Godparents

During our pregnancy, we spend a lot of time considering who we want to ask to be Godparents. Keep in mind, that if they may take their responsibility as godparents seriously, they will be involved in your life for the next 18 or more years. We STILL invite my husband’s Godparents to almost all family functions & parties.

Name

Traditionally, Catholic children are named for saints. If you have your heart set on a more unique name, make sure the baby’s middle name is a saint. It helps if you know who his patron saint is, too. Sometimes the priest asks and there is usually more than one Clare or Theresa or what have you.

Church

Even if you’ve been attending a Mass regularly, you are required to be a member at the church where your children receive Sacraments. Usually, you are required to fill out paperwork identifying you as a member of the parish and a Catholic. In addition, you are traditionally required to contribute to the church regularly (they will make sure you get envelopes) in money and/or time.

Requirements

Call the parish to find out about any requirements, timelines, etc. Generally, you will need to take a class from your parish. Classes from other parishes don’t usually apply, but if you have done it at that church before, they don’t typically require you to take it again.

The Blessed Event

Date & Time

Pick a date & time. Traditionally, the Baptism has been the first outing after the birth of the child. I never have my stuff together in time for that. In fact, I don’t even usually hit the 30 day guideline our current parish suggests. In our church, it’s usually after Mass, though I’ve heard of them being during Mass, as well.

Friends & Family

Decide how big a deal it is to you. You might just include the godparents & grandparents. Or you could do it big & invite all the extended family & friends you can think of, like we do.

Clothing

Traditionally, babies wear white to be baptized. Do you have an outfit or need to borrow one? A family heirloom, perhaps?

Photography

Do you want photos or video taken? It’s best to line up a friend or family who is in charge of pictures or video. We neglected to do that with our second child and everyone was SO involved in watching the baptism, that no one in attendance got a single good photo. No one. So, if you want them, remember to put someone (or more than one someone) in charge of taking photos.

So, if you are a new Catholic or are having your first baby, these are a few things that I think about for the baptism of each of my little ones.

If this is all too overwhelming, remember that you don’t HAVE to do any of this.   A baptism is primarily is about the Sacrament and so if all you have energy to do is coordinate the Godparents and the priest, it will still be a beautiful and intimate event.   But if you have the energy or desire to do a little more, I hope that these tips help make it a little less stressful.

Do you have any Baptism preparation tips?

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9 Comments

  1. I heard on Catholic radio that it’s actually a requirement of Canon Law that parents bring a child to be baptized within the first month after birth. I’m sorry I don’t have a better reference than that! But Canon Law or not, it’s a very serious duty to make sure your child is baptized. I just want to cry when I see it being put off for months. Heaven forbid that a child were to die of SIDS or an accident without Baptism because the parents wanted a big party.

    • Mary,

      My priest was also insistent on having the baptism within the first month. It took us MONTHS to find people who were both willing and able to be Godparents. We started looking before he was born and it still took months. Plus I barely moved for a month after the delivery.

      I agree that party planning should not be a reason for the delay, but sometimes several months is as quick as it can be done for many reasons.

  2. Great article for people like me who are *not* so good at planning, haha!

    I think it’s articles like this that can really help someone figure out the essentials so that they don’t feel so much of a dilemma after the baby’s born when things get extra crazy anyway. That’s not to say that it’s okay to prolong a child receiving the sacrament just to have a big party, like Mary pointed out, but God only knows, I was NOT in my right mind at times after having my baby, and I was really grateful to have had so much planned and set prior to her birth.

    I can only imagine for some parents out there going through all kinds of troubles after a child is born that having a template like this might help them navigate things a little better and prevent a prolonged time period before the child’s Baptism.

  3. Thank you for the excellent and timely article. I’d love a follow up post on appropriate gifts to give the Godparents to thank them for playing such a special role in our children’s lives! 🙂

  4. Pingback: Throwing a Baptism Party…Without Losing Your Sanity! | CatholicMom.com

  5. I move to a different country to follow my husband so for my baby baptism in the Catholic church none of my extended family could come. Except family from my husband side and other guests (protestants/ not catholic) basicly it would be just me the priest altar boys/girls if any (soon my baby) are catholic. The service will be also in French not available in english – hardly understand french. please advise arrangement or tips I could do. Hopefully the day not going to be awkward. Big chance Its going to be only me receiving communion. New place non catholic friend 🙁

    • Dear Cece, I hope that the day will still be a joyful one for your family in spite of the obstacles you mention. Regarding the language, could you ask the priest ahead of time if there is a translation available so that you can follow along? Letting him know that your French is limited but that you want to be able to participate is not complaining but showing that this is very important to you.

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