How soon should I baptise my baby? This is a question often wondered by new parents. There are so many life changes when you come home with your new baby and organising a baptism can seem overwhelming, and even more so if you’re not a regular church goer.
If you believe in Jesus and want to have your baby baptised and raise them in faith then the best age to baptise your baby is as soon as is convenient for yourself, your church and your baby’s godparents. I found the best age to baptise/christen my children was around 3 months old. The average age for christening a baby now is around 3-6 months old, compared to around 6 weeks old in the 1980’s.
Best Age For Baptism – From a Mothers Perspective
From a purely personal perspective I found the best age to baptise a baby is around 3 months of age. This is when all my children were baptised. This was for a number of reasons:
- the main reason for me was due to the demands of a newborn and lack of sleep that comes with it. Things started to get better around 6 weeks which is when I started to look at dates to get my baby baptised.
- For my first child we weren’t regular church goers so we had to first find a church and meet with the pastor so that took a little extra time.
- 3 months was a good age in terms of baby behaviour – they still sleep a lot so they aren’t so noisy in church and by that stage they can last a whole service without needing to be fed. Some people are comfortable breastfeeding in church, but I wasn’t so much.
- 3 months was also ideal for fitting into the christening gown that had been passed down from when I was baptised. Of course there is plenty of choice in how you dress your baby for their baptism. I’ve written a complete article all about choosing a baptism outfit for boys and choosing a baptism dress for girls where I outline all of your choices and look at different trends and considerations when deciding on the christening outfit and extra accessories you may need.
So these are some of the practical and personal reasons for choosing the best age to baptise my children, but I’m sure it will be a bit different for everyone.
I have noticed that a lot of friends and family’s babies have been baptised at a similar age. However when I was baptised as a baby I was only 7 weeks old and I think that was a common age to get baptised back then. Things seem to have changed a bit over the years.
It’s also not uncommon for children to be baptised around 1 year or older, especially if it’s the first child and the parents are still deciding exactly how they want to raise their child.
Finding a day that suits your family, the church and godparents can sometimes be tricky in itself. Don’t stress if it doesn’t all come together as soon as you’d like. All denominations and even each parish will have a slightly different view. Let’s see what the bible has to say about it.
What Does the Bible Say About Baptism Age
Let’s look at the facts in the bible:
- Jesus was dedicated/circumcised at 8 days old – When Jesus was 8 days old his mother took him to the temple/church to be offered to God (Luke 2:22-39) as that was the law passed down from Moses, but this is no longer required as instructed by Paul.
- Jesus was baptised around age 30 – When Jesus was about 30 he travelled to Jordan where his cousin John was baptising people in the river. Jesus asked John to baptise him and so he did. When Jesus came out of the water God’s spirit, which looked like a dove, came down and landed on him (Matthew 3).
- After Jesus died and rose again he said the following about baptism: “Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved” Mark 16:16
- “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
- After Jesus said this he ascended to heaven. Peter, one of his closest followers went to share the news and told people: “Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away—whomever, in fact, our Master God invites.” Acts 2:38-39
- In the bible people were often baptised as soon as possible after they believed in the message of Jesus. Sometimes whole households were baptised together.
The Bible Doesn’t Mention Baby Baptism Specifically
There is nothing I’ve read in the bible that says when to baptise a baby. Babies aren’t mentioned specifically like they were in the old testament regarding circumcision. Therefore different denominations have taken on different views on when people should be baptised.
The emphasis I see in the bible is on faith in God and believing what he says. Also to follow (as best we can) and instruct our children in what Jesus has taught us.
From reading the whole bible we know that God is just and fair, slow to anger and rich in mercy. He shows this many many times. He looks at the heart not on outward acts or appearance.
Our faith and trust in him are the most important thing.
Baptism Age: Views by Denomination
As the bible doesn’t specifically say anything about baptising babies different denominations have taken different views on the matter.
The main difference in view depends on what they believe about baptism.
If they believe baptism is absolutely necessary to go to heaven then they will be more insistent on baptizing as soon as possible incase the child dies young.
However, if faith and belief in God are the most important things then baptism for babies isn’t as urgent. There are 2 main groups of belief:
- One group baptizes babies because the parents believe in Jesus and promise to help their child to know God and teach them about Jesus.
- The other group believes that baptism should only occur when the child is old enough to decide for themselves that they believe in God.
The table below looks at the different views by denomination:
|Denomination||Best Age to Baptise||Reason|
|Catholic||Baby – as soon as possible||Baptism is necessary to be saved.|
Baptism is available to all who believe including young children of believing parents.
|Baptist||11+ to 18+ depending on church ||Belief must come first.|
Baptism only for those who give credible evidence of faith
|Lutheran||Baby to adult||Baptism is available to all who believe including young children of believing parents.|
|Anglican||Baby to adult||Baptism is available to all who believe including young children of believing parents.|
|Methodist||Baby to adult||Baptism is available to all who believe including young children of believing parents.|
|Pentacostal||7+ ||Baptism is only for believers |
(Babies are dedicated and blessed instead)
|Orthodox||Baby to adult||Baptism is available to all who believe including young children of believing parents.|
Denominations that offer baptism to babies and children often have the opportunity for these same children to confirm their faith in Jesus when they are older (13+).
To make things even more confusing there may be slightly differing views between individual churches.
By the way, the word christening and baptism are often used interchangeably, both meaning basically the same thing, however the word baptism is used for all ages, but christening normally refers to baby baptism. I was surprised at the history behind the words christening and baptism, it’s not what I thought, I’ve given a quick overview here.
What to Do When Obstacles Are in Your Way For Your Baby’s Baptism
There are many things that may extend the time that it takes to get a date set for your baby’s baptism. Some of these things are:
- Maybe you believe in Jesus but don’t attend church regularly so when it comes time to baptise your child you also need to find a church. I’ve been in this boat and have written a detailed article on getting your child baptised if you’re not a church member, where I outline a step by step process based on my own experience.
- Many churches arrange a home visit to discuss specifics of the baptism and to get a feel if you are baptising for the right reasons
- Some churches will require you to take a class, or be members of the parish first
- Maybe your baby is sick or premature
- Sometimes godparents are living overseas at the time which makes it harder to arrange a date. I’ve been to a Catholic baptism where a godparent wasn’t at the baptism as they lived overseas. And sometimes that may need to happen.
If things are taking longer than you had hoped to get your baby baptised just remember that God is fair and just. He looks at the heart not just at outward acts. Jesus does instruct us to be baptised if we believe, but he is also very compassionate.