By Anne Metz
Baptism is the sacrament where we welcome new members into our church. It’s a beautiful ritual filled with grace, symbols, liturgy, and tradition. Because of this, it might feel overwhelming to explain Baptism to kids. But, by keeping it simple, and by taking the approach that you can add more details over time, explaining Baptism to children can be fun and easy.
The best way to explain Baptism to kids is to go to a Baptism! Most Catholic churches celebrate Baptisms on Sundays after the Mass is concluded. Most attendees are family members. However, you can contact your parish to see if it would be possible for your family to observe a Baptism. In my own parish, the first-grade students get to attend a Baptism watching from the choir loft.
Before you attend, spend some time learning about what Baptism is. Baptism is the first Sacrament of Initiation. In Baptism we are birthed into new life in Christ and become members of the Body of Christ, the Church. Simplify this for your child by simply explaining that in Baptism, a baby is welcomed into the church family. For a child-friendly video explaining Baptism, check out the Brother Francis Video: Born into the Kingdom.
Another fun way to teach your child about Baptism is to play Baptism at home! Grab the materials that you need for a Baptism kit: a baby doll, a white outfit (or a simple white cloth will do), a bowl of water and a shell or a spoon to spoon water of the baby doll’s head, a jar to represent the holy oil chrism, and a battery-operated candle.
If you have older children, you might go through the entire Baptismal rite, simplified of course. But for younger children, you might just reenact the pouring of water over the baby doll’s head. As your child plays with the Baptism kit, explain what all the pieces represent,
Water: Through water we are reborn in Christ and the water purifies us from Original Sin. (Catechism of the Catholic Church ((CCC)) 1217 &1263)
White clothing: The color white symbolizes that a person has put on Christ. (CCC 1243)
Chrism: Anointing with this holy oil signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit (CCC 1241)
Candle: The baptismal candle is lit from the Easter candle and signifies that though Baptism we are “the light of the world.” (CCC 1243)
Once you’ve spent some time learning about Baptism at home, it’s time to attend a Baptism in real life. During the sacrament, you can quietly explain what is happening. Bring along the baby doll and the Baptism kit and let your child play with that during the actual Baptism.
The sacrament of Baptism is beautiful, steeped in tradition, and full of symbols, and you can study it for years and still keep learning more about it. But for younger kids, it's importnat to keep it simple. Remember, this is just the introduction to the sacrament of Baptism. You can teach more and more about it over time. So have fun playing with the Baptism kit and teaching your child about the beautiful gift of Baptism.
Anne Metz is a freelance writer and digital content manager at Growing Catholics.