A Catholic baptismal font
A Catholic baptismal font

Baptisms in the Catholic Church are joyous occasions steeped in rich traditions. A person who is baptized becomes a child of God, no matter what their age. Whether you are celebrating your own adult baptism, taking your young child to be baptized, or attending the baptism of a friend or family member, you should make sure your clothing is appropriate for the occasion.

Clothing Rules for Babies Being Baptized

Both boys and girls often wear long white christening gowns when being baptized.
Both boys and girls often wear long white christening gowns when being baptized.

Babies can be baptized by immersion (the baby's body is placed in water) or by pouring (water is poured over the baby's forehead). The choice is made by the parents. For immersion baptisms, the baby wears normal clothes to the ceremony and white garments afterward to signify purity and the washing away of original sin. During a pouring baptism, the baby wears the same clothes throughout. While it is traditional for both males and females to wear white christening gowns, it is not required. A simple white nightgown or onesie is fine, and even colored outfits are now acceptable. Bring a towel to wrap the baby and a change of clothes for an immersion baptism.

Clothing Rules for Adults Being Baptized

A collared shirt (for men) and a blouse that covers the shoulders (for women) are good choices.
A collared shirt (for men) and a blouse that covers the shoulders (for women) are good choices.

Some churches provide baptismal robes for adults who are being baptized, while other churches will want you to wear your own clothing. Check with your priest or church staff in advance. You should also find out if you will be baptized by immersion or pouring. If your church is providing a baptismal robe, you'll need to wear something comfortable underneath, such as shorts and a T-shirt. You could wear long pants, but you may be uncomfortable when wet. Bring a change of clothes for after the ceremony. If you will be wearing your own clothes, modesty is key -- don't wear anything tight, revealing or sexy. You'll be fine in what you normally wear to Mass on Sunday, but feel free to dress up. You may want to look your best for this special occasion.

Clothing Rules for Adults Attending a Baptism

Dress modestly when attending a baptism.
Dress modestly when attending a baptism.

If you are an adult attending the ceremony, you will probably feel most comfortable in pants and a collared shirt, with or without a jacket (for men), and skirt or nice pants and a blouse or sweater (for women). Stay away from jeans. Women should dress modestly when attending Catholic church. Be careful not to wear clothing that is tight, low-cut or with a hemline above the knee. Keep your shoulders covered. Jewelry and makeup should be conservative, not flashy.

Clothing Rules for Children Attending a Baptism

Family dressed appropriately for baptism.
Family dressed appropriately for baptism.

Children can wear their normal church clothes or more formal outfits. A suit is fine for boys, but certainly not necessary. Long pants, a polo shirt, and possibly a jacket are appropriate. For girls, a dress with socks and shoes (no flip flops) is a good choice. Girls can wear pants, but not shorts or jeans. Make sure the shoulders are covered -- no spaghetti straps or low necklines.