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What Conditions Must Parents Fulfill in Order to Have Their Children Baptized?

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Many Christian parents choose to have infants and young children baptized into the faith before the children are old enough to understand the commitment or meaning of the sacrament. Therefore, parents take the vows, promising to raise the child in the faith and to be godly parents and role models. Similar promises are made by any godparents, sponsors or other family members. The requirements parents must meet before a child can be baptized vary by denomination.

Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Episcopalian Faiths

Contact your local priest and express a desire to have your child baptized. Agree that it is your intent to raise your child as a member of the faith and to live as an example of godly behavior before your child. Select a date for the baptism and begin preparation for the sacrament. Some churches only allow baptisms to occur on specific religious holy days, and other churches allow them throughout the year. Most priests require that at least one parent be a member of the church where the baptism will be performed.

Attend a class that explains the meaning of baptism, what the bible has to say about baptism, the parents' spiritual responsibility toward children and what happens during the service. Some classes could include a rehearsal for the service. Parents could also fill out an application of baptism during the class. Most classes require both parents attend.

Appoint godparents for the child. Provide the necessary verification documents that the godparents or sponsors are members of a Christian faith to the priest a few weeks before the baptism date. Ensure that the godparents understand their responsibilities toward the child, as a role model of Christian behavior and as a commitment to help raise the child if something happens to the parents. Catholics and Greek Orthodox churches require a male and female godparent for the child; this is optional in the Episcopalian faith.

Attend any additional classes the priest requires prior to baptism.

Show up in church on the appointed day with the baby, godparents or sponsors and any items required by church policy. Items could include a baptismal candle, towels, baptismal cross and chain, olive oil and a white baptismal outfit for the baby. Approach the priest at the appropriate time and participate in the service. Answer all the questions the priest asks you, such as whether you plan to raise the child in the church and live as a godly example before your child.

Protestant Faiths

Call the church office and ask to speak with the pastor about having the child baptized, if your faith baptizes children -- some denominations do not. Answer any questions the pastor has about your family and your beliefs. Schedule a date.

Attend any class required by the pastor. Many Protestant churches do not require a special preparation class for parents, especially if you are members in good standing of that congregation.

Review the service as it appears in a church hymnal or baptismal pamphlet. Be willing to recommit yourself as a Christian to holy living and godly parenting.

Attend church on the scheduled date with the baby and any family members who also commit to help raise the child as a Christian. Advance when requested with the child and family members and participate in the service.

Items you will need
  • Baptismal application
  • Letters of verification for godparents or sponsors (optional)
  • Baptismal candle (optional)
  • Towels
  • Baptismal cross and chain (optional)
  • Olive oil (optional)
  • White baptismal outfit (optional)

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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