For many couples, a baby dedication is an essential ceremony that welcomes new life to the Church. Our baby dedication guide should help you learn what to expect when it comes to Biblical Scripture and prayer during the process.
Churches offer a number of ceremonies and traditions that involve the family. While baptism and communion are easily recognized as the most popular church ceremony, a baby dedication is also important.
It is one of the nicest traditions in churches and it usually involves the baby, the parents, the pastor, and the congregation. Everyone loves babies and this gives the church an opportunity to share in the joy of new life.
Deuteronomy 11:18-19 Remember these commands and cherish them. Tie them on your arms and wear them on your foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are home and when you are away, when you are resting and when you are working.
What Is A Baby Dedication
A baby dedication is a bit of a misnomer. While the ceremony itself is the moment when we dedicate a baby to God, the purpose of the ceremony is to dedicate ourselves to raising up the child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Dedicating a baby is a time when a pastor and parents stand before the congregation, hold the child, pray over them, and ask for God’s guidance as he or she grows. It is a meaningful moment in the life of the family.
It is a public promise to the rest of the church (and to God and to the child) that the parents will prayerfully teach and lead the child in a Christ-like walk. By publicly showing their intentions, they are held accountable by all those who watch (also ready my article on Salvation Prayer For Kids).
In the case of my family, the church we attended offered baby dedications and the pastor asked us to walk to the front of the church with our child. We stood together with a few other families and the pastor talked to each family. He read some meaningful words to us and the congregation, held the baby, and prayed over us.
We were given a lovely card with our daughter’s name embossed on it as a reminder of the ceremony.
As the years went by the number of families with babies increased and the dedication groups become larger. The pastor had to allocate less time to each family, and he prayed a more generic prayer for the group of babies instead of praying individually for each.
Over time, our pastor must have noticed it was becoming less personal and the process was improved. This meant smaller groups came to the front more often with individual prayers for each child again.
If extended family wanted to be involved, relatives were allowed to come up to the front with the parents and baby. I relatives became involved in the process because they also wanted to assume some responsibility for teaching and being an example for the child.
I have to say, however, that the best baby dedication ceremony was at my daughters church a few years ago. The ceremony was for our grandson and it was much different than I had ever experienced prior.
This particular church fully expected to have the congregation participate. We were given an insert in the bulletin with responsive readings which we would read after the pastor. As he read different exhortations aloud, we would follow along, and speak words of promise and encouragement to the parents and to God.
It was a bit like marriage vows but this was a vow to love, serve, and support this new family as it endeavored to raise a child in a godly home. The pastor’s prayer was a blessing over the baby and while he was praying he held our grandson high in the air so all could see him.
It was a wonderful expression of the seriousness and beauty of the moment.
What Age Do Baby Dedications Occur
It is normal for a baby dedication to take place when the child is an infant or a toddler.
Keep in mind that this is different from infant baptism. I am not familiar with infant baptism so I won’t speak about that ceremony in this article. Also, I am not sure if denominations that practice baby baptism also have baby dedications but if they do they are likely the same as most others.
>> Also read: How to teach kids to pray
If the parents are both Christian and wish to raise their children in a godly home I believe that they will want the dedication as soon as possible after birth. However, if the parents are only recent converts and their children are already a bit older, it’s really never too late to have a dedication.
Are Baby Dedications Common In All Christian Denominations
While I am not an expert when it comes to each denomination, I have attended a variety of churches and most have taken the time to celebrate the dedication of children.
From my experience churches usually have the ceremonies twice a year and often around Mothers Day. Larger churches may have them more frequently compared to smaller churches.
A Guide For Baby Dedication – 7 Steps To Expect In The Process
The following list are common questions and concerns that some parents may have regarding a baby dedication.
1. Must I Be A Member Of A Church?
I believe that most churches would expect the parents to be members of the congregation or at least regular attenders. The reason for this is that the dedication is not just for the baby but for the family and all who attend the same church.
The congregation are considered participants in the life of the child as they grow and learn about God.
2. Contact The Church For A Dedication – How Far In Advance?
Church offices are the place to start. It would be hard to know when the next baby dedication ceremony will be unless you call ahead.
I am sure most churches leave it up to the parents how soon to do this and likely a parent would just let them know if they want to be in the next group or the one after that. Remember most churches have the ceremonies two or three times a year.
3. Counseling and the Dedication
Meeting with the pastor may be optional since most of the dedication ceremony covers the expectations of the families to God and the child. It’s likely that the new parents have watched other baby dedications so they know what they’re getting into.
One reason a pastor may want to meet beforehand, is if he doesn’t know you personally. Not that you need references to participate but he may need to know a little bit more of your own faith and sincerity.
4. Preparing For the Big Day – Arrival and Appearance
The normal practice is for all the parents and new babies to sit in the sanctuary and before the sermon they are called to the front. As soon as it is over they typically go to the nursery (babies don’t normally sit quietly for an hour).
As far as clothing, most folks just look nice because they understand they’ll be standing in front of a crowd. Be comfortable because you may be walking up and down stairs or navigating speakers and microphone cords.
Depending on your church culture, dress expecations may be very casual or a bit dressier.
5. When The Pastor Calls You To The Front Of The Church
Baby dedications normally take place before the rest of the service – mainly because of baby schedules or crying incidents.
Hopefully, the babies and toddlers enjoy the time in front but if they don’t most people in attendance are understanding. Pastors usually just keep going since there isn’t much to do about an unhappy baby except keep them away from the microphone.
6. What Actually Occurs During The Baby Dedication?
This depends on the pastor. Most pastors say a few words privately to the couple before getting on the microphone.
They will announce the name of the child, his or her age as well as the names of the parents. The pastor normally holds the child and prays for and with the parents.
If water is involved it would be considered a baptism so that likely won’t happen at a traditional baby dedication. I have seen oil applied to baby heads and in that case, it would mean a “setting aside” for God or having a special purpose.
I know that it’s not routinely done but in some denominations it may be the preferred method.
Parents are then given a card or certificate with the event details. I liked to frame mine and hang on the wall.
7. Follow Up: What Happens After The Baby Dedication
Immediately after the dedication, everyone leaves the front of the church and heads back to their seats or out the door to the nursery.
I suppose it would be a very good time to have a family dinner to thank all the relatives who stood with you and who have committed to helping. And it is always a good idea to frame the certificate of the day and hang in the bedroom.
Following up with your pastor is also advised. A “thank you” note (my article on a thank you) is appropriate in this situation as is a follow up with the church office to see if there is anything further that is recommended.
Baby Dedication Scripture
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go and even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Mark 10:16 Then He took the children in His arms and placed His hands on their heads and blessed them
Matthew 19:14 But Jesus said "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven."
Jeremiah 1:5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; and I appointed you a prophet to the nations."
3 John 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
A baby dedication is important for the family. Christian parents make a promise to God to raise their children in the knowledge of God, His Word, and in prayer.
Discipline, morality and training in godly things are all part of this lifetime endeavor. There is no higher calling than parenthood and we all want to do it right.
There will be obstacles of course and many times we are the main obstacle. Once we dedicate our child and ourselves to God’s purpose for our family, it is important to keep our own priorities right with him.
Different churches have different methods of planning the ceremony and I have described a few different approaches. I would like to encourage you to offer suggestions to your pastor if there is a particular thing you would like to have included.
Most church pastors would be open to personalizing the experience, especially if it deepens the spiritual meaning for you and your family.