Shop Now & Get Fast & Free Shipping on all US orders of $200+


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.

the Aris baptism gown

(The Aria Christening Gown is an heirloom  dress fitting for the importance of the baptism tradition.)

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

1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.

traditional christening gown - Elizabeth

(The Elizabeth Christening Gown - a true work of art. Photo by Oksana Mink Photography)

    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. 

    white baptism accessories

    (The Grace Lace Bib on the left and our beautiful christening sweater on the right). 

    baptism blanket

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

    Why do Boys Wear Baptism Gowns?

    It's mainly rooted in tradition! In the past, both boys and girls wore the same baptism gowns as it was practical, economical and an easy way for the baby to slip in and out of the garment. The gowns simplicity in all-white also represented the purity represented in the ceremony. Many families today may choose to baptize their boy in a baptism gown out of family tradition. 

    Baptism represents the spiritual cleanliness and purity that comes from God washing the child’s entire body. In the past, baptisms would involve dipping the whole child’s body in Holy Water, but many people do things differently today. Instead of the entire body, many ceremonies will only see the child’s head sprinkled with Holy Water, and this development has made it more practical to dress your little one in stylish baptism outfits. 

    There are no hard and fast rules regarding the choice of Christening outfits - parents have the final say. Whether you choose to baptize your boy in a modern christening outfit or a traditional baptism gown comes down to personal preference.

    boys baptism gown and romper set

    (The Owen Baptism Gown Set can transition seamlessly between a baptism gown and romper. Easy-peasy!)

    Toddler Outfits for Boys

    Your little man should always be well-dressed for a Christening service, whether they’re the center of attention or a witness. Boy’s rompers and 3-piece suits have come a long way, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see how many boys baptism outfits for toddlers are available today. Our baby boy suits come in sizes from newborn up to 2-3T. Depending on your budget, what type of Church you attend, and personal style, you'll find an outfit that's sure to please. 

    Remember that you can decide to have a wardrobe change during the proceedings if you want something more modern like a baby boy suit for the photo shoot and something more traditional for the service itself, like a boys baptism gown. At the end of the day, it's all about making sure you and your family have a memorable day. 

    boys baptism suit - Braden

    (The Braden boys baptism suit - an example of a handsome boys baptism outfit.)

    Do Boys Get Baptized in Dresses/Gowns?

    Yep! You may be wondering what your boy should wear during the christening service? Baptism gowns and dresses are still used for boys (just look at the English royal family!). The choice to baptize one's child in a baptism gown comes mainly out of respect for family tradition and personal preference. Baptism gowns for boys are generally unisex, as they're simple, with minimal adornments and plain white - easy for boys and girls to wear them without issue. 

    Unisex clothing like a simple baptism gown can be both elegant and practical and be used for both your son and daughter. That said, many parents today choose rompers or suits for their boys baptism as they're modern and look oh-so-cute in pictures!  

     boys baptism gown - rowan

    (The Rowan Baptism Gown for Boys)

    Traditional Baptism Gowns for Boys

    Many parents wish to stick to their Catholic traditions when picking out baptismal clothes and choose a gown for their boy. The Owen Convertible Romper and Skirt Set is a baptism outfit that can effortlessly ease between a gown and romper. Just remove the skit and you've the romper underneath. Practical and stylish! Perfect so it can be used for both the ceremony and the after-christening party!

    The Rowan baptism gown is a modern style gown with vintage inspired details. This boys christening gown is made with our soft linen/cotton blend in ivory trimmed with blue silk ribbon and luxurious lace. Other options aside from the standard baptismal gown (you might have spotted only in old family pictures) are simple rompers and boys baptism suits.

    The principles of respect, purity, and community are at the heart of every Christening ceremony. Therefore, it's important to dress your boy appropriately for the occasion! You can't go wrong with either the choice of a gown or a suit. If in doubt ask your church or contact us and we will be happy to help you in finding the right outfit. 

    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 2023?

    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.



    Leave A Comment

    Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

    • Hitway Clothing

      Great Blog post, Thanks for sharing such useful posts.

    • Shayna "Krissy" Israel

      Very thorough and detailed. It was inspiring. I wanted to hear more from where you got your Victorian era research and the tidbits from the second and third centuries of the swaddling of babies to keep them warm after baptism. Christening is different than traditional baptism as in the Protestant churches, the child does not get baptized. But the child does get godparents and rededicated back to Father God.