Ettiqutte for Baptism of older children

My husband and I were both baptised as infants. Through various unfortunate events, neither of us remained active in the church, or received first communion, etc.

We recently miscarried a baby and were called to God. We have joined a wonderful church and now plan to have our children baptised the end of this month.

My questions are these. One daughter is 16 months and the other is 7 years. What is the ettiquette for their gowns and ceremony being older children? I am a nervous wreck. I am so worried because I don’t know what to expect and this is very important to us.

Would our girls wear their gowns before the ceremony? Would our 16 month old be emmersed? Any other advice or help as to what we should expect? Thank you so much!

I’ve never been to a Catholic Baptism where anyone was immersed in water. The priest will probably just pour a little bit of water and oil on their heads. I’ve also never seen an older child be Baptized.

Your little one could certainly wear a gown if you like, but I don’t think it would be a good choice for your older daughter. I think a nice Sunday dress appropriate for the season would be a better idea for her, and maybe it would be nice to dress them in similar outfits to make it sort of special.

Why don’t you ask the pastor or the director of religious education what would be appropriate? What a wonderful celebration you have ahead of you!

This is nothing to be nervous about. It happens all of the time, and parishes are quite used to answering these questions. For most places, the children wear whatever you think appropriate. Sacramental preparation classes or meetings is normally where you’d have these kind of questions answered. Generally speaking, though, baptism pouring the water over the head is still the most common. If baptism by immersion were the norm in your parish, and not simply an option you could ask for, I’d think someone would have told you by now. (Our kids were immersed as infants, but it was an option.)

There is no etiquette that says they must (or must not) arrive for their baptism in particular kinds or colors of dresses. (You wouldn’t dress either like a tart, of course, meaning, in imitation of immodest grown-up females whose clothing is chosen specifically to transmit loose morals, but I hope that goes without saying…)

No matter what either child (or even an adult) wears to church for the occasion, the parish normally provides a ritual “white garment” that is put on over the regular clothing for the purposes of the ceremony. In our locale, this is typically a white tunic made of handkerchief-weight cotton or linen. These are very simple, and if the fabric used does not tend towards fraying, they are sometimes are not even hemmed at the edges. Because of this, it doesn’t matter if the candidate for baptism comes to church in white garments or not.

I hope that when you say “we plan to have them baptised”, you have a date with the parish already, and not just an idea to have it done on short notice at a regularly-scheduled monthly baptism. At parishes in our archdiocese, for the younger child you and the children’s godparents would typically need to attend either meetings with the pastor or his designee or else go through formal pre-baptismal classes for parents having a first baptism. The older child, though, having reached the age of reason, so that this is her decision would typically be received into the church through RCIC (Rite of Christian Inititation for Children). Whether she would receive her First Holy Communion on her baptism day or waits to make her First Holy Communion with the children her age doing it this spring or next depends on where you are and consideration of what is best for her particular case by your pastor, but I would expect she would normally do so on her baptism day.

Sometimes, Catholics who have not received any sacraments except baptism also go to the same classes as catechumens (that is, RCIA). In our parish, some receive First Reconciliation during Lent and then Confirmation and First Holy Communion on Holy Saturday. (At some places, Easter Vigil initiates catechumens only, and the baptised finishing initiation are taken care of at another time.) Again, it depends on local custom, the number of initiates, and your pastor’s sense of what best fits your case, but I am surprised that you were not highly encouraged to have your own initiations finished immediately when you asked to have your children baptised. How do you raise your children in the faith, when you have not been fully initiated yourselves?

In any event, it is nothing to get in a wreck about. Do your best to have this done as early as the parish will let you, and you will be OK.

I would ask your parish. My children were baptized at ages 4 and 2. My son wore a suit (black) and my daughter wore a dress (looked similar to a first communion dress). The did have the white cloth for each of them. Now the parish I attended more recently, they required white for baptism, for all (including adults). Both had water poured over three times, no immersion. Have you seen any infants immersed at your parish? I have only been to one Catholic parish that practiced immersion, and all were immersed, including adults.
Finally, welcome home!!! :thumbsup:

I have often times seen older children baptised at Easter Vigil…it’s just around the corner :smiley: and your older daughter would likely be baptised with other kids near her age.

In our parish, while it is not “full immersion” you do certainly emerge from it looking as though it was. Everyone wears different clothes going into the baptismal font, and changes to dry nice clothes and returns.

have you already contacted your parish to arrange baptism? have they scheduled parent - sponsor classes for you and the godparents? that will answer a lot of these questions. Short answer, they can wear whatever you decide. The “white garment” which is presented as part of the rite is usually provided by the parish, as is the candle. if you need to purchase something they will tell you.

Your 7 year old is on the borderline, as it is about this age that they begin to be considered adults for the purposes of the sacraments of initiation, in which case she will join an RCIA class with children of school age who are also preparing for Baptism and the other sacraments. Probably too late for EAster this year so hopefully for next year, or the time determined by your bishop. Here is is supposed to be 3 years.

Please make an appointment with your pastor or the person he delegates for baptismal preparation. Make sure he also knows if you or your husband still need sacraments, such as confirmation, or convalidation of a civil marriage.

Welcome Home!

It is general up to you, you could

  1. Schedule a private baptism, where you invite whomever you would like.

  2. Ask for a baptism during Mass, some priests will jump with delight, while another may frown

  3. Join in on the Easter Vigil (Saturday night before Easter Sunday) Baptism which is a regular event.

Generally adults dress nice and put a black smock on until baptism and then a white smock after baptism, which is symbolic of them coming into the spiritual light. I would think of your children as babies and generally dress them in white and have the short private Saturday service with family and friends (generally called a christening). The priest or deacon handles the work EXCEPT you need to have a “sponsor” for each (commonly called a godparent). Those people must be catholic and in communion with the church.

Hope that helps

Thank you all so much. My mind is much more at ease. I guess I should have mentioned that we do, indeed have their baptisms scheduled and have a Baptism Instruction the night before. Our pastor has said he can answer questions then. I am a planner and I’m always worried about things I’m not prepared for so that’s why I asked. I just didn’t want to unknowingly do something I shouldn’t.

I think what makes me especially troubled is that I haven’t been an active parishioner and my daughters weren’t baptised as infants. Thank you, EasterJoy for your (name removed by moderator)ut. We were encouraged to take adult classes with others like us who have not been fully initiated. That will follow.

I haven’t actively attended or raised my children in faith as they should be. I definately have guilt that I need to deal with, but that is another topic.

I certainly appreciate the support and advice I received. I am also extremely grateful to have found this forum. :):):slight_smile:

In our parish we would expect your children in regular clothing for the baptism during which they would be presented with a white garment which you would provide, at least for the toddler. If you didn’t wish to buy a white garment for the older child he/she would be presented with an alb at that time. I have to admit that I’ve never been in a parish that provided the white garment for infants. We have the godmothers bring the baptismal garment with them to the Font and present it at the appropriate time then the children are taken to be dressed and then return for the Presentation of the Light & the Ephpheta Rite.

We offer parents the choice of immersion or pouring. About 40% of those with infants opt for immersion; older children are usually baptized by pouring. The 7 year old would get to decide for him/herself.

I tell the kids I have taught getting ready for First Reconciliation that guilt feelings are like a smoke alarm. They have exactly one purpose: to get you to ask yourself if you have anything to be guilty about. And just as there is no gain in the smoke alarm continuing to blare while the fire is being put out, there is no point in wallowing in guilt over things you have done. There is no good in wasting time making excuses for yourself, either. Confess and make amends, mend your way of doing things, avoid this occasion of sin in the future, but do not waste time with wallowing in either guilt or shame nor in rationalization. That is the devil’s use for the gift of guilty feelings, not God’s.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His Mercy endures forever!!

PS You can catch your pastor after Mass with those few questions you have whose answers will be less than useful if not obtained until the night before the baptism, like instructions for relatives travelling some distance, that kind of thing. You might ask him if he would be OK if you just ask the parish secretary about those practical details.

One thing to keep in mind is that children who are 7 or older are considered to be adults by the Church, since they are at the age of reason. So they answer the questions themselves, and they are also to recieve Confirmation and Holy Communion at the same time as the Baptism.

Can. 866 Unless there is a grave reason to the contrary, an adult who is baptized is to be confirmed immediately after baptism and is to participate in the eucharistic celebration also by receiving communion

\I’ve never been to a Catholic Baptism where anyone was immersed in water. … I’ve also never seen an older child be Baptized.\

I’ve seen both.