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Christening your child is a very special event and takes a bit of organising to make it all happen. This is often a time in a new mothers life when she is most busy and tired, taking care of a young baby. Just take it step by step when the time is right for you.
On average babies are christened between the ages of 2 months to 6 months old. It is best to start planning your child’s christening at least 1 month before in order to secure a suitable time with the church and to book a date with your child’s godparents.
Organising your baby’s christening one month beforehand should give you enough time to book in the 2 most important things: the church and the child’s godparents. If booking a reception venue for after the service then you may need to book this further in advance depending on how busy the venue is. Similarly if the church requires you to attend classes before the christening this may also take extra time. There are other things that you will need to organise and we’ll talk about them in more detail below.
What is the Best Age to Baptise a Baby?
All of my 3 children were baptised between 2.5 to 3.5 months old. I found this age to be ideal as they were still young enough to sleep during most of the service but old enough to not need feeding so often, and I had caught up on sleep a little by that time as they were sleeping longer through the night.
However, everyone will have a different age that is best for them. My sister’s first baby was baptised at 1 year old. I’ve seen young children being baptised, sometimes together with their younger sibling. And when I was a baby it was common to baptize babies at around 6 weeks old. So really it depends on your circumstances as to when is best for you.
An important thing to consider is that when you bring your baby to be baptised you are committing to bringing them up to learn about Jesus; who he was, what he did and what he taught. This question will be asked when you stand in front of the church. I believe that sharing faith in Jesus with your kids is most effectively done through everyday conversations at home. Read bible stories to them, play christian music (see my recommendations here). Also read the bible yourself (this audio guide is brilliant, funny and really interesting) to help you know the deep love God has for you and your child and to help answer questions they have about God. Reach out to God, talk to him honestly and openly, nothing will shock him. He’s there ready to listen and help. I know I need his help everyday in treating my kids with a glimpse of the love and kindness that Jesus has shown to me.
How to Schedule a Christening
The first thing to do is to contact a pastor at a local church where you would like your child to be baptised.
If you don’t have a local church that you attend, you might like to attend a couple nearby to see if it would be somewhere that you feel comfortable bringing your children. Look up some online and get a feel to see if they are family focused. I’ve seen some that even have a special room for nursing mums where they can see and hear the service but not worry about their baby crying and disrupting everyone. I think this is a fantastic idea. I was often worried about my children making too much noise in church. So have a look around and find one that you are happy with. Then enquire with the pastor about getting your child baptised there. See the difference between a christening and a baptism here (hint: they’re basically the same thing).
Depending on the church you may need to do a class before getting your child baptised. We just had the pastor visit us at home to ask us a few questions. See this post for more detail if you’re looking to get your child baptised but not a member of a church.
When we baptised our kids our pastor gave us a few dates that were suitable and also some suggestions on choosing godparents. Then we checked with godparents if there were available on those dates and then we settled on a date that suited us, the church and both godparents.
There may be another baptism on the same day like there was for our first child, which was kinda nice to stand up the front with another family. But our other 2 kids were the only baptisms on that day.
What Else Needs to Be Booked/Organised for the Christening?
So you’ve booked the church and the godparents – these are the most important things to get booked in. After that there are a lot of optional things that you may need to book. We had a casual reception at our house with just family and godparents over for lunch after the church service. Being a new mum you will likely still not be getting sufficient sleep, so take it easy on yourself and don’t overdo it. The most important part of the christening is your child being marked as God’s own. Take time to let that sink in. Choose the things that really matter and forget the things that don’t.
Other things you may like to book and organise early are:
- Reception venue – may need to book early if having a reception out somewhere. (We just ordered take-away rotisserie chicken, salad and chips the day before from our local chicken shop – super easy).
- Cake – if getting a cake made you may need to book this in (we didn’t have cake, just other sweet treats made by grandparents).
- Invitations – if getting invitations professionally made you may need to organise this early (I just sent a text message to family for the invite).
- Family – let them know the date asap so they can save the date
- Christening Gown/Outfit/Dress – 2 options are to either use a christening gown handed down from grandparents, buy one new, or use light coloured clothing that you already have. Both boys and girls can wear a christening gown, ours all did, or the girls can wear a white/light coloured dress and boys can wear a light coloured outfit. Either go with something you already have or buy something new. I’ve written a complete guide on what to dress your baby boy or baby girl in for their christening, based on what I’ve seen and noticed at other christenings.
- Dress/Outfit for you, the mum! Things often don’t fit as well as they did pre-baby so it might be good to look at possible outfits for you to wear a few weeks before the christening. If you are breastfeeding remember to look for something that will make feeding easy as you will most likely need to feed your baby while in your outfit. There are some really discreet folds they put on dresses and tops to make feeding easy without bearing too much skin. Or you could invest in a nursing cover. I love the colour and pattern on this 100% cotton nursing cover. I used one periodically when my kids were babies and I’d recommend doing some feeds at home to get comfortable with it before using it out and about.
How Long Does it Take to Get Christened?
The christening part of the church service goes for about 10-15 minutes. The actual baptism with water only takes a few minutes, but then there are other things that are said and done while you are standing at the front of the church. For a complete breakdown of what happens at a baptism see the article I’ve written here.
You will most likely be sitting in the front row and it is expected that you will stay for the whole service (1-1.5 hours). When our children were baptised the baptism was at the start of the service after the first song.
You will need to get to the church early and may need some time after the service to take some photos at the front of the church with the child, parents and godparents (it makes a great memento gift for the godparents). We were also advised not to rush off but to be available for a short time after the service to speak with congregation members that wished to talk to us (mostly just to congratulate us).
Do we Need to Pay the Church for the Christening?
As a general rule you do not need to pay the church for the christening. The christening is normally part of a regular Sunday church service, so it doesn’t incur extra costs. However, churches usually pass around an offering plate during the service to collect money to cover church costs. Putting money into the collection plate is purely voluntary and people give different amounts depending on their situation. But since covid there may no longer be a physical offering plate passed around and a lot of members have setup regular electronic donations to their church. So it might be a good idea to ask your pastor about a way to donate to the church as a way of saying thank you, I’m sure it would be appreciated. It doesn’t need to be a big amount, God purely looks at your heart when you donate, not the size of the donation.