Making the decision to hold a christening for your baby is quite a momentous one. And once the decision has been made, you will have plenty of spiritual, catering and administrative tasks to organise before the christening day arrives. But once you’ve planned the service and the event, don’t forget to think about the person at the centre of the christening: your baby.
It is still the case in the majority of christenings, that baby is quite young – often no more than a few months old. Because your baby may well miss the whole christening – and is not likely to remember it – do make sure you keep a few mementos from the christening as keepsakes for your baby. Photographs are an important part of marking your baby’s christening too.
The very youngest of babies can be very portable, although an older baby may be affected by the break in routine that a christening brings. But often, the person hardest hit by the demands of the christening will be the new parents, in particular, the new mum. When you are sleep-deprived, perhaps still recovering from birth and trying to master breastfeeding, hosting a formal function like a christening, with a new baby, is going to take on gargantuan proportions.
Any stressful event will generally become less pressured when there is good planning. You can take the pressure off on the day that you are christening your baby, by making sure as much as possible has been done in advance.
Take a tip from the production managers of huge corporate functions, and draw up a “running sheet” (or “call sheet”) for the day. Write a list in chronological order which details what is supposed to happen, what things are needed for it to happen, when they will happen – and who is responsible for doing each thing. Having a very clear idea of what must be done also makes it much easier to delegate discrete tasks to family and friends.
On the day of the christening, there’s not much hope that you will manage to get through the day without baby’s routine disrupted. However, with some judicious planning, you can minimise the stress of the christening on your baby.
Churches can be chilly and draughty places, so make sure that you have a warm wrap for your baby. Traditional christening gowns can be quite uncomfortable too – it’s worth having a trial run with the outfit that baby will be dressed in on the day of the christening. Perhaps you can put a soft outfit on underneath that will make the christening gown more comfortable?
There’s nothing more distressing at a christening service than trying to look after a hungry baby – particularly if you are breastfeeding. Try to feed baby or give a top-up feed about half-an -hour before the christening to avoid the potential hunger meltdown.
If you have a particularly chucky baby, make sure you’ve got plenty of mopping-up cloths spare, too.
If your baby is breastfed but you would like to try having a bottle on hand for the christening, do have a couple of trial runs beforehand. It’s really common for breastfed babies to refuse a bottle. At least if you’ve given it a trial run, you know what you’re dealing with and if you need to feed baby during the service, you’ll be prepared!
Get a trusted friend or relative to stay close by with a nappy-bag with all the essentials you’ll need so that you’re not rushing off looking for things at the last moment – or part-way through the service.
These can be the nicest christening keepsakes of all! Photos of assembled family members and friends at the christening of your baby can be wonderful memories. It’s also a great way to keep track of the changes in your extended families over time.
Some families go all out and hire a professional photographer for the day. If you don’t have a photographer arranged, perhaps you could ask someone to take on that role for the day. These days, with camera phones and digital cameras so popular, there’s bound to be lots of guests taking photos. Ask amateur photographers to email photos to you after the occasion – you’re bound to get a great lot of perspectives.
In many families, Christenings are one of the big life events that bring people together – along with weddings and funerals. Although it can be a bit stressful sometimes, try to take a few moments to enjoy the significance of the occasion of the christening of your baby.
This article was written by Fran Molloy, www.ultraverse.com.au, journalist and mum of four