Celebrating Baby's New Beginning
On a Sunday morning, the average baby is happy to have a lazy nursing session and a long nap. Getting dressed up in a lacy white dress and having a strange man dribble water over your head? Not so fun. But while babies don't know what's happening during baptism, this ritual is a meaningful one for Christian parents. Baptism marks the beginning of a person's life as a Christian. (While anyone can participate in this sacrament, it's usually infants who are baptized.) Even if you're not religious yourself, celebrating the occasion is a gesture of your love and support for the child and her parents.
Do I Have to Bring a Card?
If you're invited to a child's baptism, you may decide to bring a small gift, especially if you have the honor of being named as one of her godparents. But no matter your role in the celebration, it's customary to bring a card. No, the baby herself can't read it, but her parents will likely save all the cards she receives and show them to her when she's older.
If you do want to buy a gift, you can take one of two routes: religious or secular. If you're Christian too, you may want to buy a framed Bible verse to hang in the child's room, or pick out a stuffed animal or children's book that has religious significance. It's customary for close relatives like the godparents and grandparents to buy more personal or extravagant gifts, like a piece of engraved jewelry or a beautiful children's Bible. If you feel uncomfortable buying religious gifts, stick with a stuffed animal or give money to put toward the child's education.
What Should I Say in the Card?
Because it's usually a baby being baptized, some people feel silly addressing the card to her. In that case, feel free to address the card to the child's parents. Write a message that thanks them for including you in the special day and shares your wishes for the child's future. "I was so touched/honored/blessed to be present for (baby's) baptism. May she know God's love all her life. I wish you all a lifetime of joy."
If you're comfortable addressing the card to the baby, write a slightly different type of message. "(Name), your birth was a blessing to all of us, and it is an honor to celebrate your baptism today. I look forward to watching you grow in your journey as a Christian. May God always be with you, and may you always feel comforted by His love."
What Should I Write if I'm the Godparent?
As the child's godparent, you may want to add a little extra sentiment to the message you write in your baptism card. Agreeing to be a godparent means you agree to support the child in her spiritual development. Use the card to make some promises about the role you intend to play. "Dear (name), I feel so honored to stand with you and your parents today. I promise to always be here for you and to provide any guidance, comfort and encouragement that I can. You are a blessing in my life, and I hope I can be a blessing in yours."
Grandparents and other close relatives may want to make similar vows of love and devotion.
What If I'm Not Religious?
Your religion, or lack of one, shouldn't affect your ability to write a genuine message of support for the baptized child. Focus on your secular hopes for the child's future. "(Name), I feel so lucky to have been included in your special day. I wish you a lifetime of love and happiness, and I can't wait to watch who you become as you grow up. Congratulations on your baptism."
Kathryn Walsh has more than 20 years of experience working with children and has been writing about children and parenting topics for more than 10 years. Her work has appeared on sites including TheBump, Working Mother and Mamapedia.