Exactly What Is a Baby Blessing?

With all the terms you hear about the ceremonies to welcome children into the world – christenings, baptisms, thanksgivings, baby naming ceremonies, and baby blessings, they all seem to become jumbled up! But a baby blessing sounds good; exactly what is it?

A thanksgiving, church or baby blessing is a ceremony where the newborn is welcomed as part of the Christian church but not being fully committed as with baptism. This is usually done when the usual practice of the Christian sect is to schedule the baptism when the baby is older, usually when they are old enough to understand and fully accept what it means to become part of the church.

While a baby naming ceremony is purely a secular ceremony, the baby blessing is still rooted in the church. Normally, a pastor or minister of the church is asked to perform this ceremony, although there is some leeway where the parents are sometimes allowed to insert a part of the ceremony that has a special significance to them, or write part of the blessing.

The usual setting of the baby blessing is outdoors, at the church, or at home. Normally, parents choose to have it at home since it doesn't upset the baby that much.

Once the minister is contacted and the date and time are set, the preparations begin. The house is prettily and simply decorated with flowers and candles, but of course streamers and balloons can be added where the meal will take place. In the area where the baby blessing will be held, a table is usually needed for the minister's things, as well as comfortable chairs for everyone.

The ceremony usually starts with the minister giving a reading, and then the parents pledging to love the child and bring him or her up properly. At this time, inspirational poems are usually read, like those from Desiderata or Kahlil Gibran. Then the grandparents and godparents are invited to say a few words about the baby.

When the speeches are done, a common symbol used at baby blessings like flowers, usually roses, are employed. Everyone present is asked to take a rose petal and say a prayer or blessing on it. The petals are put in a bowl of pure water and that may be used to christen the child either immediately or later on. Or, each person is given a rose as they arrive and before they speak, they are asked to put it in a vase filled with spring water to symbolize life.

After the ceremony is over and the certificates are all signed, the family and guests get together for a small celebration.

A light meal and a cake are usually served. Sometimes the celebration is more lavish and can include an all-out barbecue or dinner party. What is important to remember here is to keep the celebration on the same scale as the baby blessing. A simple baby blessing calls for a simple gathering afterward.