Baptisms put your baby in the spotlight, presenting him or her to the entire church as a member of God's family. Everyone involved--the baby, parents, godparents, siblings and guests--all need to wear clothing appropriate for the event.
Your Baby's Outfit
Your baby is the center of attention at baptism or christening. This focus, combined with the very special meaning behind the occasion, justifies more formal attire. The traditional choice here is a luxurious, full-length christening or baptismal gown, regardless of your baby's gender. If you do not subscribe to tradition, however, a fancy dress is fine for a girl, while an infant suit is appropriate for a boy. The only two caveats are that the gown or outfit should be white, symbolizing innocence and our status as a "new" creation in Christ (this symbolism shows up in christening gifts, too), and that it should be comfortable and sensible for your child. In consideration of the latter requirement, some people opt to accessorize with bonnets, hats, bibs, booties and so forth, but these are really "extras."
Siblings or Other Young Family Members
Brothers, sisters, cousins and other youngsters at your baby's baptism should look put together for the occasion, but they are not the center of the event. Subsequently, you can go a little more casual for their look, especially since most kids aren't comfortable in suits and tight, pinching shoes anyway. A nice, button-down shirt with crisp khakis is fine for boys, while a summer frock (with or without a sweater) works for girls.
Parents, Godparents/Witnesses and Guests
When you have your baby baptized, you, your partner and your godparents/witnesses accept an enormous responsibility to ensure that the child learns about God and knows Jesus. Whatever you wear needs to reflect that you understand the seriousness of this awesome and imposing task. Don't wear anything you'd lounge on the couch in--that includes sandals and jeans! You also should avoid clothes you'd wear to a bar or club, as well as anything that is too "evening," like a full-length gown or coat with tails.
In general, in a more formal church, this means that a father should wear a suit and the mother should wear a dress or a blouse with a skirt. Hats aren't needed. If the church is a little more laid back, a dad might get by with a collared shirt and dress pants, while the mom could wear a pant suit if desired. One consideration here is that, if you're the mom, it's okay to go slightly more relaxed so it's easier to feed your baby or so you aren't in pain. Your godparents or witnesses and your guests should match your dress or follow the dress code for general members of the church.
Just like you don't wear white to a wedding (it takes attention off the bride), you should avoid wearing white to a baptism. Brighter colors are wonderful, reflecting the joy of the event. To this end, black is classic and actually quite acceptable if you pair it with a little flair, such as a pale blue scarf.
In general, babies being baptized require a special, white outfit for a baptism, although it need not be a formal, traditional christening gown. Everyone else can aim for colorful, semi-dressy to dressy outfits, keeping away from anything that looks too casual, provocative or ultra-formal.
Courtney Clower, a church secretary of a few years, is always on the lookout for ways to help new parents adjust. An avid writer and grandmother, she enjoys blogging online. Look for her posts on many websites and blog sites today.