Choosing what to dress your baby boy in for his christening/baptism often requires a little more thought than what a girl would wear. Basically you will need to decide if your baby boy will wear a christening gown or christening outfit (pants and top or romper).
Historically (for the past 300 years) baby boys wore white christening gowns for their baptism. However, recently, in the last 30 or so years, baby boys also commonly wear a christening outfit, such as white pants and shirt or romper. Either is acceptable and both are still used today.
I’ve seen baby boys baptised both in christening gowns and little outfits and both have looked great. Whether you choose a christening gown or outfit will depend on a few factors. We’ll look at these in more detail below.
Please note that a christening and baptism are mostly the same thing. Different groups of people use different names. Churches are more likely to use the word baptism and the general public often use the word christening. I’ll use these words interchangeably. For a more detailed explanation see here.
Christening Gown vs Christening Outfit
A christening gown is a long dress often with lace or embroidery detail. A traditional christening gown is around 60-90cm (23-36 inches) long. If your baby boy is baptised around 3 months old, then he will be around 61cm (24 inches) long on average (head to toe), which means that the gown will drape down around 10-40cm (8-16 inches) past your baby boy’s feet. This looks beautiful when the baby is being held during the service and for photos.
A christening outfit can be pants or shorts, a top or shirt or maybe a romper (short sleeves and legs) or coveralls (long sleeves and legs) and some baby boys may also wear a vest or tie. There are many different options when it comes to choosing a christening outfit for your son. But I think there are 3 main types of christening outfits that you could choose from:
- A cute cotton shirt/top and pants/shorts or cotton overalls in a white or light colour. This is normally purchased from any shop that you would buy baby clothes and it is something that your son may wear again.
- A cotton romper or coverall designed specifically for a baby boys baptism. These are quite cute and can be purchased from most shops that specialise in christening clothes. These can either be a cotton knit or cotton fabric. Cotton knit would be warmer to wear in winter.
- A satin or silk outfit which can include pants, shirt, tie, coat, cap, overalls or romper. This type of outfit normally looks a lot more formal due to the shininess of the fabric.
Personally I think boys look better in cotton or any material that isn’t shiny, but it depends on your own taste. I think if you do choose satin or silk you will need to be careful to pick an outfit that fits your baby nicely. I’ve seen pictures of baby boys with shiny christening outfits that are way too big and boofy and it doesn’t look great. So that’s just something to be careful of. I know it’s hard to get the right size as babies grow quick and you definitely don’t want it to be too small.
I love these christening outfits for boys. They are super cute, practical and reasonably priced.
Some christening outfits are made from polyester. This is often a cheaper, but the polyester material doesn’t breathe like cotton or wool. Where possible I would try to choose cotton for your baby boys christening outfit. I think cotton would be more comfortable for baby and I think it looks nicer too.
Why Do Boys Wear Christening Gowns?
Maybe it seems a little weird for a baby boy to wear a christening gown, but historically baby boys often wore dresses up until the age of 3-5. It wasn’t until the early to mid 1900’s that baby boys started to wear pants or rompers. The reason for putting dresses on baby boys is thought have been to help with nappy changes and toileting. I think maybe also because putting a dress on is easier and also cheaper as babies grow so quickly so you can cut costs if both your sons and daughters can all wear the same thing when they are young.
So it used to be totally normal for a baby boy to wear a christening gown prior to 1950 as baby boys wore dresses most of the time anyway.
Now days the only time you really see a baby boy in a dress is when he is baptised in his christening gown, so it may seem a little strange and we often question weather we should put a christening gown on our son or not.
Do Boys Still Wear Christening Gowns?
It is quite common for baby boys to wear a christening gown for their baptism. Just look at Prince George, Prince Louis and their cousin Archie. All these royal babies baptised in the last 10 years wore the same beautifully intricate, long silk christening gown that Princess Charlotte wore. It is perfectly fine for a baby boy to wear a christening gown.
Our son was baptised around 3 months old and wore the same woollen christening gown (see christening gown photo above) that his Dad wore when he was baptised as a baby. He actually wore a singlet underneath on the day, but I didn’t get any photos of him in his gown on his baptism day as it was a stinking hot day, so I dressed him in the christening gown a couple days later to get some photos but forgot to put his singlet on, so you can his skin underneath in the photo.
I’ve seen many other baby boys wearing christening gowns. Of all the christenings I’ve seen I’ve probably seen about half wearing a christening gown and half wearing a pant and top outfit.
Are Christening Gowns Unisex?
Most christening gowns are unisex so that the same gown can be used for both baby girls and baby boys. A christening gown is only worn for 1 day in a child’s life and the gowns are not usually cheap so it makes sense to find a unisex gown that isn’t too feminine. Some are more feminine than others.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Christening Gown and Christening Outfit
There are a few factors to consider when deciding what to dress your baby boy in for his baptism.
Your Baby’s Age
If your baby boy is under 6 months then I think a christening gown or romper/overalls would work best as they will fit baby better and it will be easier for you to handle your baby.
If your baby boy is older than 6 months then I think a christening outfit would work best. The reason for this is that babies older than 6 months are often sitting and starting to crawl and could get tangled in their long gown. Also, pants and shorts will fit better and therefore look better on an older baby rather than a really young baby.
Christening Gown Heirloom
If there is a christening gown in the family then many parents may choose to use the christening gown for their son’s baptism. We choose to dress our 3 month old son in a woollen christening gown that his great grandma knitted.
However, I probably would’ve bought a little white outfit if we didn’t have a christening gown in the family, but it made sense to use what we had.
Some people may prefer not to use a family christening gown on their baby boy though and that is absolutely fine.
Different people have different tastes in clothes and this will often reflect on what their baby boy wears on his baptism. Some people like to dress up and some people prefer a more casual approach.
Often I see that when the parents are dressed up for the baptism, wearing suits, ties and formal dresses, then their baby boy will often be dressed in an intricate christening gown or shiny outfit.
Similarly when the parents have a more casual approach, wearing maybe pants, shirt and casual dress for the baptism then often their baby boy will be wearing a more casual white/light coloured cotton outfit (unless they have chosen to use a christening gown passed down to them).
Church – Modern or Traditional
Another thing you may want to consider when deciding what your baby boy should wear for his baptism is the style of the church where he will be baptised. Is it a traditional Catholic or Orthodox church? Then maybe you will want to choose a christening gown and dress up a little more.
But if it is a contemporary church service held in a building or hall then maybe a more casual approach would be better, like a cute cotton outfit.
Obviously you can wear the style that you prefer, but I know that I feel more comfortable if I’m dressed in a similar style to others around me and that match my surroundings.
Whether we chose a formal dress or more casual style will only really matter to us and those around us. God accepts us no matter what. He is much, much more interested in your heart and soul than what you or your baby are wearing.
Why do Babies Wear White for their Christening?
White is usually worn for christenings/baptisms because it represents God washing us clean through the water of baptism. Historically the white gown was only worn after baptism by immersion in the water, but now it is worn throughout the baptism as water is only sprinkled on the baby’s head.
Before the water part of baptism we as parents confess our faith in God and renounce the devil on behalf of the child.
Baptism is a way to mark that we belong to God.
Through faith in Jesus; who he is (God’s son) and what he’s done (took the blame for all of our selfish and sinful behaviour) God brings us to himself and sees us as pure and holy – just as he sees Jesus.
White represents purity and holiness.
For more detail about what baptism is see here.
Do Baptism Outfits have to be White?
Baptism outfits don’t have to be white, but most commonly people choose to wear white or a light colour to remind them of the specialness of the day. God will love you regardless of what you or your baby wear.
It’s similar in a way to a bride wearing white on her wedding day. She doesn’t have to wear white but most brides choose to wear white or off-white.
A white christening blanket is a great addition if your baby boy is being baptised in the cooler months. It is a great way to wrap him and warm him up but still looks really beautiful in the photos.
Our children didn’t need the christening rug that was part of the christening gown set that was handed to us as they were baptised in Spring and Summer, but we still used the christening rug to put the baby on for photos.
Christening rugs are often knitted or crocheted, but can also be a cotton or bamboo fabric, which would be wonderfully soft on babies skin.
You can find some beautiful christening rugs here.
Footwear for Baby Boy Christening
What to put on your baby boy’s feet may be one of the last things you think about. I know it was for me.
The options for footwear are:
- white booties/slippers
- white socks
- bare feet
- white shoes if the child can walk/toddle.
Our children were all baptised around 3 months old. Our 2 girls were baptised in the Spring and wore white socks with a little lace around the top. Our son was baptised on a super hot day in the middle of an Australian Summer so bare feet was the best option for him.
Headwear – Bonnet or Cap
There are two main choices of headwear for a baby boy for his christening:
- Bonnet – a bonnet will commonly come with a christening gown and may also come with some christening outfits and will be the same material as the gown/outfit. You may choose to use it or not. Our children didn’t wear one, but it may be a good option if your baby is baptised in the cooler months.
- Cap – a white fabric cap/hat is sometimes included with christening outfits that you might buy from a shop specialising in christening wear. You can also buy a white cap/hat separately.
Two factors to consider when deciding whether to put a bonnet or cap/hat on your baby boy for his christening is:
- will he pull it off? Babies over around 6 months often don’t like things on their head and will try to pull them off. Under 6 months you should be fine – they can’t really reach up to their heads yet anyway
- will it need to be taken off for the actual baptism? The pastor will sprinkle/pour water on the top of your baby’s head when she is lying flat. The bonnet and cap will need to be taken off for this. This is something you might want to discuss with the pastor beforehand.
Other Accessories You May Need
The fact of the matter is that babies throw up a lot, well all 3 of my children did anyway. And it’s best to be prepared, especially when they are wearing a beautiful white christening gown or outfit and will be centre stage in many photos. Normally you can just change baby into another outfit if they get their clothes messy, but not this time. Be prepared.
Some things other accessories you may want to take with are:
- bib – a white bib to match colour with their christening gown/outfit and not stick out. You baby won’t wear this when up the front of the church but maybe during the other parts of the service depending on your baby. There are little christening bibs you can buy but I personally wouldn’t bother and just grab any white bib.
- burp cloth – any white burp cloth will do. Just something to catch those unexpected baby throw ups.
- spare nappies/diapers, wipes and change mat
- chew toy or other silent toy if you baby is teething or a little older.
It’s good to work out your baby’s feeds and make sure they are well fed before the church service.
Outfit for After Christening Service
Some babies may wear their christening gown or outfit most of the day. We changed our baby boy out of his christening gown and into a white top and light blue cotton short overalls after the church service. We had a small gathering with family at our house for lunch after the church service.
If your baby boy is wearing a cotton christening outfit then you may want to leave him in it. If he’s wearing a romper or shorts and shirt/top then he will be pretty comfortable anyway.
If you are planning to change your baby after the church service it’s a good idea to pre plan what outfit you will put on your baby. It just makes the day easier and run smoother. I found it really hard to think straight after the church service, so pre-planning an outfit really helped with that.
Whatever you choose to dress your baby boy in for his christening please remember that it is the outer garments that people see and look at, but God looks at the heart. He loves a heart that is honest and open to him.