If you’ve been invited to attend a baby blessing and you’re feeling a little unsure of what to wear and what kind of gift to bring, don’t worry at all. I’ve been to hundreds of Mormon baby blessings and I can steer you in the right direction.
A baby blessing is a very happy day for your Mormon friend, and they’ll really appreciate having you there to celebrate with them.
What to Wear
Since baby blessings are held during the main meeting of the church (called “Sacrament meeting”), we usually dress nicely, but not super fancy or lavish. Men usually wear a white button-up shirt and a tie with slacks, and women usually wear a skirt and top or a dress. Both men and women dress modestly to cover down to the knees and the shoulder.
Not everyone has a dress shirt and tie or a modest dress. That’s okay. There are usually a few people at every sacrament meeting who come wearing Jeans and a nice Polo shirt or something like that. Everyone will just be glad you’re there. It’s not disrespectful at all to go without the normal attire. Everyone understands that there are lots of visitors to the church, those who are traveling and don’t have normal church clothes with them, etc. Not a problem whatsoever.
Just wear something nice and modest. Nobody dresses all fancy or flashy. We just dress up a little to show reverence for our relationship to God. It’s not a fashion show.
Gift Ideas for a Baby Blessing
Generally, gifts aren’t given at a baby blessing but it wouldn’t be inappropriate either. Since the baby blessing will be held during church, you could bring a small gift for them to open at a later time if you like. But baby blessing gifts aren’t super common among Mormons. We give gifts often for the birth of the baby, but not really specifically for the baby blessing. There is no reason NOT to, but it’s just not common.
However, it would be nice to just give a normal baby gift. A little baby outfit or something like that would be a kind gift.
What Happens at the Baby Blessing
Baby blessings are occasionally held in someone’s home, but almost always they are held in the church during a Sacrament meeting. Sacrament meeting is the main meeting of the church and it lasts 1 hour.
When you enter the church, you’ll walk into the main chapel area (it’s huge–you can’t miss it). There are usually teenage boys at the door handing out programs so you know what will happen during the meeting. You can sit down wherever you like, but you’ll probably want to sit by the friend who invited you.
Songs such as “Nearer, My God to Thee” or other common religious hymns will be played on the organ or piano as attendees walk in and take their seats. There are usually between 150 and 400 people in a sacrament meeting.
The meeting begins with one of the local church leaders (like a pastor) standing up and welcoming everyone and announcing the program. There will be an opening prayer and a song. You don’t have to sing, but there are hymn books at all the seats if you want to read the words or sing along.
The baby blessing is usually right at the start of the meeting. The bishop will announce the family who is blessing their baby and the father or another close person to the baby will bring the baby to the front of the chapel along with several other men who hold the Priesthood and have been invited by the family. They’ll gently hold the baby and they will give the baby a blessing.
The purpose of a baby blessing is to recognize the birth on the official records of the church, ask God for special blessings for the baby, and for the family to celebrate their new addition. The Priesthood blessing is a sacred and special time for a Mormon family. You can simply bow your head and fold your arms during the prayer as a sign of respect. The actual baby blessing only lasts a minute or two.
After the baby blessing, one of the local church leaders will stand and give any announcements, and then the sacrament is passed. The sacrament is a ceremony reminiscent of Christ’s last supper in the Bible. A small piece of bread and a little cup of water is passed to all in attendance. The purpose of the sacrament is to remember Jesus Christ and to remember the promises Mormons make when they are baptized.
Since you haven’t been baptized, when the tray with the bread and water comes, you can just pass it on to the next person. No big deal. Not everyone takes the bread and water.
After the sacrament is over, there will be a few speakers. These are not professional speakers–but members of the congregation who stand and share things they are learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Often there will be a teenage speaker at the beginning and then two or three adult speakers.
At the end of the meeting, there is another song and then they have someone pray and then the meeting ends. After sacrament meeting, you can choose to go to the two more meetings if you’d like–but don’t feel obligated. During the second meeting, you’d be with other adults learning from the Bible or the Book of Mormon. For the last meeting, you’d be with either the men (if you’re a man) or the women (if you’re a woman) studying other gospel topics.
Proper Etiquette at a Mormon Baby Blessing
There really isn’t too much to know about etiquette. The only thing I can really think of is that we don’t clap during church. It may seem a little strange if they have a special musical performance that nobody claps at the end, but the reason is that we like to keep the meeting reverent and not to turn into a rock concert 🙂
Your friends will be so glad to have you come to the baby blessing. Seriously, we Mormons sometimes are sad that friends think weird things about us and don’t want to come to church with us. To a Mormon, our relationship with Jesus Christ and serving God is the central part of our lives, and you coming to show support to a baby blessing is really awesome.
At the end of your visit, you can congratulate your friend and then go home. If you aren’t interested in learning more about the church right now, then no one will pressure you at all. However, if you are interested in learning more, please ask your friend questions–even if it’s just curiosity. We love our church and few things are more exciting to us than having the opportunity to share it with someone.