The traditional boy christening outfit was a very long white gown made of fine linen or cotton. It was usually trimmed with lace and decorated with fine white-work embroidery. A matching bonnet was traditionally worn by the infant. Both infant girls and infant boys wore similar gowns.
The gowns often became cherished heirlooms. They were worn only once, during the ceremony, and were sometimes passed down from one generation to the next...a new baby girl might wear the same gown worn by her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
The traditions have changed in many churches. Some Roman Catholic and other orthodox churches keep the same traditions, but many others have created their own ceremonies. As the ceremonies have changed, so have the garments worn by the infants or children.
One of the changes that occurred around the 19th century was that the gowns were shortened. The longer gowns could not be worn by toddlers and many parents had decided to delay the christening until the child was old enough to walk. The shorter gowns were made of similar fabrics, but they were simply more practical.
Today, a popular baptism outfit for boys is the white romper. They are made from various materials including cotton, satin and silk. A hat or cap may come with the outfit. Like the traditional gowns, these boy christening outfits are usually worn only once and are kept as family keepsakes.
Choosing the right garment has much to do with the age of the child. Infants are not christened in all churches. Baptisms may be performed only after the child is old enough to say that they believe in and have faith in Jesus.
An older child might wear any garment that is comfortable for the baptism and is acceptable in the church. If the church has specific policies concerning the appropriate baptism outfit, the parents are told about the policy ahead of time. In some churches, a robe is placed over the child’s clothing.
As you can see, traditions vary greatly from one church to the next. Even the ceremonies used during infant christenings vary. In some churches only a few drops of water are placed on the child’s head. In others, the child is briefly but fully submerged in a bowl of water.
Choosing a boy christening outfit is only complicated when you are not sure about the traditions of the church. If you’re new to your church, ask questions to find out what is appropriate.