One of the most popular new baby occasions in church alongside baptism are dedication services, a dry alternative to infant baptism for parents who want to dedicate their child to God.
During a dedication service, parents present their child to the church and before God and commit to raise them in the Church community. They will often invite their friends and family to take part in this, and a great way to demonstrate your promise of support is a special gift or card to mark the occasion.
Here at Cheerfully Given, we have a range of christian gifts that are perfect for giving as dedication presents, whether it's a personalised Bible verse print, a piece of textile art.
We also have lots of beautiful cards featuring encouraging verses that parents can keep as a memento of their baby's special day. But what is a child dedication?
We've put together this ultimate guide to a baby's dedication service, including why parents get their children dedicated, the difference between dedication and baptism, and then some ideas for Bible verses to put in a dedication card.
Interspersed with this, we've included some of our favourite dedication cards and gifts so that you have all the inspiration you need to get just the right present for your friends' baby!
We also have a wonderful range or personalised cards and gifts that you can add the dedication date and the baby's details to, making them a lovely suitable for giving on the occasion of a dedication, so scroll down to find out more.
The word "dedicate" means to devote or surrender, or to commit to a sacred purpose. When a new baby enters the family, Christian parents may choose to have a baby dedication service in lieu of a baptism. It's a commitment to God made soon after a child is born, and is a tradition popular particularly in Baptist, Assembly of God, and some non-denominational churches.
The service is a ceremony that allows new parents and family members to thank God for the safe arrival of the new baby, ask Him for help in raising their little one, and to make promises about raising the child in the Christian faith.
The idea of "dedication" comes from the story of Hannah and Samuel in the Bible. Hannah was infertile for a long time, and after weeping and praying to God, He blessed her with a son, Samuel. Hannah's response was to dedicate him to God.
Some of the responsibilities that parents make a vow to uphold include teaching and training the child in God's Word, demonstrating an example of godliness, and praying for the child.
Whether you're a grandparent, auntie, or family member, whether you're going to be a godparent, or whether you're a family friend, sending a dedication card to the new parents and their baby can be a lovely way to let them know you're praying for them.
A personalised dedication card could feature the baby's name and the date of the dedication service, or you could choose a card with a special Bible verse on it to commemorate the day.
We've included some great Bible verses to put inside dedication cards at the bottom of the page, so scroll down if you'd like some inspiration!
Here are some of our favourites:
During a baby dedication service, parents acknowledge that their baby belongs to the Lord, and express their responsibility before God to raise their child in His way. The church congregation will also join in commitment to be a supportive faith community, and to pray for the parents and child.
Some parents believe that baptism is making a decision on behalf of their children, and they choose dedication to show that they will do their best, with God's help, to raise their baby to be a follower of Christ while respecting that each individual makes their own commitment.
Many Christian churches use dedication as their primary celebration of a child's birth into the community of faith, but it varies widely depending on what church you go to.
Child dedication services have always been a part of Jewish culture, coming from the Hebrew word "Chanach". This word is used in Proverbs 22:6 "Train up or dedicate children in the way they should go, and when they are old they will not turn from it."
In more recent history, dedication services became popular in Protestant traditions after the Protestant churches split from the Roman Catholic church during the Reformation. Some traditions (such as Anabaptists) rejected the idea of baptising babies, and would only baptise those who had made a conscious profession to follow Christ. This is known as Believers' Baptism.
Dedication services became popular as a way for parents to dedicate their children to the Lord when they were born, and it's a practice that is still popular in many churches today.
The New Testament doesn't include any specific instructions regarding baby dedication, but there are a couple of main examples in the Bible of parents entrusting their children to God the Father.
- Hannah and Samuel in 1 Samuel 1
- Joseph, Mary, and Jesus in Luke 2
- Moses' teaching on raising children in Deuteronomy 6:5-9
Here is a bit more information about each example of baby dedication:
Hannah and Samuel
One example is Hannah, who we've already mentioned, who promised to dedicate her child to the Lord and His work if He would give her a son.
"And she vowed a vow and said, 'O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.'" - 1 Samuel 1:11
God blesses her with a son, who Hannah names Samuel, and later in the same chapter we see Hannah fulfil her promise to God with these words:
"For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” - 1 Samuel 1:27-28
Joseph, Mary, and Jesus
Another example is Joseph and Mary in Luke 2:22 -- they took Jesus to the Temple after forty days for a dedication, which was a common practice under Jewish Law as we mentioned above. It also involved a sacrifice, but Mary and Joseph presented Jesus to the Lord.
"And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord" - Luke 2:22
Dedication is not a sacramental part of church life, whereas baptism and the Lord's Supper are. Churches that dedicate children will then baptise them when they become teenagers or adults and can make their own decision to be baptised.
Moses' teaching on raising children
Lots of parents who get their baby dedicated are inspired by the passage in Deuteronomy 6:5-9, where Moses communicates God's plan for families raising children:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." - Deuteronomy 6:5-9
With so many lovely Bible verses talking about the blessing of children, there are lots of options to create a special, personalised baby dedication gift.
Whether it's a custom piece of textile art from Ellen at Faith in Fabric or Cherith at Cranberrylime, or a piece of custom Christian wall art from Wonderful Prints, CasaMia Designs, or GingerTwentyTwo, this type of gift makes a special keepsake that can decorate the child's room as they grow and remind them that they are dedicated to God.
Alternatively, you could get a piece of jewellery such as a necklace or a bracelet, which may be something they can wear as a smaller child until they decide to get baptised themselves to remind them of the fact that Jesus loves them enough to have died for them.
There are other personalised dedication gifts such as hand-painted cushions from Handmade Just Wright. If you'd like to get a special keepsake gift, but you also want to get something the child can use as they grow, CarysAnnCreative has some beautiful Bible verse baby vests, or perhaps a colouring book from Ali Marriott Stationery.
As dedication is a public sign that parents are committing their children to God, and to raise them in the community of the church, then people who want to get their children dedicated should be committed Christians. They should also be people who understand the importance of church community, and they should be committed to raising their children in the Christian faith.
In the run up to a dedication service, your church leader may spend some time counselling you so that you fully understand what dedication is, and your responsibility before God to bring your children up in the way of Jesus.
Although it's standard to buy a card or a small gift for the baby or child being dedicated, you might want to bless the new parents as well, and encourage them as they start a new season of life with their little one.
A popular Bible verse for families is part of Joshua 24:15 "As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
It's a lovely piece of Scripture to celebrate a dedication, so you could gift the family a personalised print featuring the verse, or perhaps get the new mum a necklace that will remind her of her dedication to serving the LORD with her family.
Another lovely gift idea is a matching set of Mummy and Daddy Bear mugs from Mug Shoppe.
Alternatively, why not buy a Bible verse greetings card from one of our sellers for as little as £2, and write a letter of encouragement to the new parents?
Services can vary from church to church -- sometimes it can be a small, private ceremony, and in other instances it might be part of a normal church service involving the whole congregation.
Usually, there will be a Bible reading or two from relevant passages, and the church leader will ask the parents and godparents if they will make particular affirmations and commitments to bring up the child in the way of Christ. The child is presented to God to ask for His blessing on their lives, with thanksgiving for their safe arrival.
The minister or pastor may anoint your baby's head with oil during this part of the service. The congregation may be asked to make a verbal commitment to encourage the parents and to be responsible for the child as the wider community of faith.
The service will finish with the church leader (and maybe some of the leadership team) praying for the parents and child, following which they will be presented with a gift (such as a children's Bible) and a certificate.
Some common Bible passages that are read at child dedication services include 1 Samuel 1, which is the story of Hannah and Samuel, as well as Deuteronomy 6 and Psalm 127.
There's no expectation to buy a gift or a card for a dedication service, as it's a celebration of God's goodness in the life of the parents and the new baby. If you've already bought a new baby gift, don't worry about having to buy anything extra! Your friends will just be glad to have you celebrate the occasion with them. You could put your best wishes in a dedication card to encourage your friends as they start a new season of parenthood, and you can find a range of cards specifically for dedication services in our Dedication Cards section here.
If you would like to buy a gift, then think about what kind of thing you might buy for a christening or a baby's baptism service -- those are the closest celebrations in terms of comparison. Personalised gifts are always treasured by parents, and especially personalised gifts that feature a relevant Bible quote. You can find some ideas in our Dedication Gifts section here, or we've linked some of our favourites below. If you'd like some help with choosing a gift, please pop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'd love to help you.
The difference between a dedication service and a baptism service is that dedication is not a sacrament of the Christian faith. Dedication is a way of giving thanks for a child and of making a commitment to teach the child the Christian faith as they grow.
Infant baptism is a sacrament involving baptising the child in water as a sign of union with Christ in His death and resurrection. It's a sign of inclusion in Christ and in His family, the Church. It speaks of Christ's commitment to the child and to the household of which the child is a member, and it marks the baby out as a member of the gospel community. The proper response to the grace shown to all of us in baptism is faith in Christ.
A dedication service is a great opportunity to bring your family and friends together to celebrate your new baby. Why not send them a dedication invitation to let them know when the service will take place?
Wording on a dedication invitation might read: "Please join us to celebrate the goodness of God for the new life of our daughter, Rosalie Hope, as we dedicate her to Him."
Babies are usually dedicated to God before they are toddlers, and generally in the first 6-10 months of their lives. People believe that children are capable of making a personal spiritual decision to follow Jesus from around the age of seven, so that is seen as the maximum age for dedication.
Godparents are commonplace at children's baptisms, but they're not necessarily part of a dedication service. Sometimes, parents will nominate Christian friends or family members to act as godparents -- people who will support and pray for the child as they grow.
Godparents will often encourage the child with cards and gifts, and will support the parents practically. They will make a commitment to demonstrate an example of godliness and encourage the child spiritually so that as they grow, they learn more of who Christ is.
"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." Deuteronomy 6:4-7
"For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord." 1 Samuel 1:27-28
"Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger." Psalm 8:2
"Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court." Psalm 127:3-5
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:13-14
"Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1:5
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11
"See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven." Matthew 18:10
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honour your father and mother’– which is the first commandment with a promise – ‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’ Father, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:1-4
"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." 3 John 1:4
For further gift ideas for children and babies, click here to go to our Baby & Child page.