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Do Babies Have To Wear White For Christening?
The color white is a token or symbol of the purity and the innocence of a newborn baby.  Pure white also represents the cleansing and sacred purpose of christening and baptism. As a symbol of purity, white has been the standard color for baby christening and baptism clothing for centuries to honor the Holy Spirit and God. If the christening is being held at a traditional church then white is highly recommended. An alternative to white is a very light color like off-white, gray or baby blue for a boys baptism outfit or pink accent or creams for a girls christening gown or dress.

baptism gown

(The Ella baby girl dress on the left and the Ingrid cotton christening gown on the right with cream accents)

Baptisms are an important milestone in the early life of your baby. Around the world, families celebrate the spiritual rebirth of their children, welcoming them into their community. At the ceremony your child will be introduced to the people who will surround and support them as they grow up. A baptism is the one of the first and most important milestones in your baby’s life. It’s a wonderful reason to dress up, gather as a family, and capture the day in photos that will last a lifetime. Dressing your baby in white baptism outfits is more than just a beautiful statement, it is a symbol of all the purity and innocence of childhood.

Traditionally, babies arrive at the church in normal clothes, and during the baptism itself, the child is changed into a white baptism dress. Many families may also decide to dress their baby in the baptism gown before the ceremony to take pictures, while others choose to take all photos proceeding the baptism. As is the same for Western wedding gowns, the color white has historically symbolized purity, youth, innocence, light, new beginnings, and oneness with God. As the garment is draped around your baby, the moment marks a transition into a new life of spirituality.

boys christening (an example of a traditional boys baptism outfit on the left and a modern baby boy suit on the right)

Baptisms have been a tradition for centuries, with styles and customs slowly evolving through the ages. Baptisms themselves began taking place around the second or third century AD, with babies being tightly wrapped in “swaddling bands” that kept babies warm after being submerged in the water (surely helpful in the chill of a medieval church), but they also greatly restricted a baby’s movement. 

It wasn’t until the 18th and 19th centuries that the vintage lace christening gowns became closer to what we know them to be today. Throughout the Victorian era, the most popular designs of the white baptism dress were modeled after women’s dress designs; though of course, simplified to suit even a newborn baptism dress.

white baptism gown

In certain cultures, such as the Irish tradition, there are three white dresses in a girl’s life that are most important: her baptismal gown, her first communion dress, and her wedding dress. Each is carefully preserved to be passed onto her own daughter, and sometimes even some fabric from her own wedding dress is sewn into the baptism outfit of her daughter. At Baby Beau and Belle, our baptism outfits are of the highest quality, made of the most beautiful fabrics and designed with timeless style to be passed down. While it is historically traditional to dress your baby in a pure white baptism dress, modern designs often include baby boy suits with pastels such as gray, pale pink or blue or sweet baby girl dresses with a touch of cream or pink. Baptism outfits most commonly are decorated with lace, trim, embroidery, or silk ribbons to further symbolize the significance of your baby’s baptism. 

boys modern baptism suit(a boys baptism outfit in gray, an acceptable alternative to white for baptism.) 

What does the christening gown symbolize?
    • The christening gown symbolizes a rich history of tradition and family. It marks the first step a child takes in their spiritual upbringing, worn on the day they are welcomed into their family’s religious community. Your baby’s beautiful white baptism dress will be treasured as a living memory and memento of the special day. 
    • You may be wondering, just how long should a christening gown be? Traditionally christening gowns will measure past the baby's feet, but  the style has evolved over the centuries. Today, your family may choose to honor tradition with a dress whose skirt flows past your baby’s toes in a cascade of fabric. Or you can choose a dress that ends before the toes.  Many people now opt for a shorter dress style rather than the gown, and both are beautiful depending on your specific style. Unique baby girl baptism dresses such as the Ingrid collection are traditionally full-length, but made with a light airy  cotton and natural embroidered detailing.
      baptism history
    • Today we appreciate both vintage lace christening gowns as well as modern boys baptism outfits. You can truly choose your style. Princess Diana and Jackie O. are both shown here cradling their child dressed in an elaborate lace gown.
    • Modern baby boy christening outfits range from the customary full-length skirt, sometimes with touches of blue ribbon, to handsome, three-piece suits in a variety of whites or pastels. Baby boy outfits can also include a hat and booties; each are sweet touches to an already beautiful baby boy baptism outfit.
    • On the day of your baby’s baptism, a special receiving blanket is a necessary addition to the baptism outfit. Christening blankets have been in use even before the christening gown as we know it emerged. Before the christening gown became the standard, christening blankets, or bearing cloths, were wrapped around the child after submersion in the water. They serve a double purpose: to keep your baby warm as well as signify purity.
Why is infant baptism important?

For many families, a baptism is the first step in their choice to raise their child within their church community. Jesus himself was baptised by John the Baptist in the River Jordan, marking the beginning of his ministry. In choosing to baptise your baby, you choose to follow the same path as many generations of devout believers. It commemorates the welcoming into a community of family and friends who will support him as he grows and develops within his community. As is stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "Baptism therefore constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn." Whether you and your family are deeply invested in your church community or you are simply choosing baptism as a family tradition, the ceremony is a memorable milestone and a special day to celebrate the addition of a new family member with loved ones. 

baptism blanket

(A personalized baptism blanket for boy. A great christening gift for baby boy)

What to wear to a christening after party?

After the baptism ceremony is completed, it’s customary to hold an “after-party” with friends and family to celebrate the momentous occasion. Some choose to host an up-scale event at another venue, some may decide to have a small reception in another room of the church with simple refreshments, and some may plan a fun, potluck gathering at their home! Depending on the mood of the celebration and the time of year, you can plan your baby’s outfit accordingly. There are many options for an after baptism outfit for girl. Some white baptism dresses, such as found in our Emma collection, are made with a detachable-skirt design, allowing you to easily remove the full-length skirt to reveal a cute jumper that is perfect for the proceeding reception. Some families may choose to purchase a dress that is similar to their full-length, white baptism dress. For example, the Poppy dress comes in both styles, allowing for a seamless transition. Thirdly, you may choose an entirely different dress that would be perfect for a more casual gathering such as a sweet cotton sun dress.

For your baby boy, dressing him in a suit for the baptism ceremony would allow for an easy transition to the reception. Additionally, if your family is opting for a traditional, full-length dress, you can choose a removable-skirt design such as the Oliver romper. However, if you want to be certain his keepsake outfit stays perfectly stain-free, it may be smart to be prepared with another baby boy suit or even a simpler outfit such as the Sand Trim Wrap Top and Pants.

after christening outfits

(a few options for after christening outfits for boy and girl)

FAQ: What do you wear to a christening 2021?
As either a friend or a parent, understanding the dress code for parents can be daunting! On baby’s special day, the most important thing is that focus remains on the ceremony itself. 

“Can you wear black to a baptism?”

  • Because it is a day of celebration, many choose to dress in light colors; however, wearing black or other dark colors may fit the season appropriately. 
“Can you wear jeans to a christening?”
  • In general, one should avoid overly casual outfits such as jeans and a t-shirt. If you are unsure as to the level of formality, be sure to reach out to the hosts of the ceremony and the reception.
“Can you wear leopard print to a christening?”
  • It’s necessary to avoid certain colors and designs that may be distracting, such as any attention-grabbing patterns like leopard print or graphic designs. Opting for a dress or a pant and top in solid colors or a simple pattern is appropriate.
What should you not wear to a christening?”
  • In short, as long as your outfit is clean, appropriately formal, respectful, and not distracting to the focus on the ceremony, you’re good to go. If you choose to wear a dress, it’s typically suggested that it reaches at least the knee. 

baptism gown baby


Preparing for your baby's baptism can be as intimidating as it is exciting. With the ceremony, the baptism outfits, the guest list, and even the food there are plenty of reasons to be overwhelmed. We have one tip: try and take a moment to slow down and remember that this is an incredibly special day for your child as well as your loved ones. Years from now, photos of your baby dressed in a beautiful baptismal outfit with his smiling family around him will be treasured forever.

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