Invitation: Welcome your family and friends and invite them to participate in blessing and dedicating your baby to a happy and healthy life. Your community's presence in your lives is a blessing on your family.

Setting the Context: Explain that all children are important and that you will work to make the world safe for all children. Discuss the promises that will be made and go over any family or religious traditions that will enrich the ceremony. Your child is a wonder because all children are wonders and because you love this baby so much.

Parental Vision and Promises: Make promises about what's important in your life. Promise to be the best person you can be. Recommit to your marriage vows. Promise to be clear and loving parents. Your determination to grow as a parent and to deepen your relationship with your beloved will be the best gifts you can give your new child.

Grandparents: Promise to take delight in this new baby and to see the world with eyes of wonder. Your promises to this child are so different than your promises to your own children. Let them worry about discipline! You will contribute to this child's well being by letting them know how much you love your life and by letting them share that enjoyment with you.

Godparents, Spirit Guardians: Claim a special privilege in the life of this baby. You have a way of living and looking at things and a vision of adulthood that is so different from the parents'. It is an amazing gift to be an intimate part of a child's life. A promise to a child is a promise for a lifetime.

Family Promises: Name the family who are present and will make promises to the baby. Older children have special roles. Are they old enough to make promises yet? Do you want to make promises in their names? How do we make them feel special as well? Can their Godparents make promises for them? Are there aunts, uncles, cousins who have special roles? Is family local or spread throughout the country or the world? What work will the family do to remain an important part of this child's life? Allowing your family to know what your expectations are provides you a much better chance of having your hopes met by them!

Community Involvement: Ask the extended community to play active roles in loving your child. Ask them to be playmates and models and teachers. Let them know that you cherish the gifts they offer you and your family. The more involved we are with other children and families, the greater our dedication to creating a safe world for children everywhere.

Parents' Hopes and Dreams: Recount your hopes for this baby on this day of celebration.

Blessing of the Child's Name: Explain your child's name and tell why was it chosen. How do you wish your child to grow into its meaning? A name is a blessing that will guide a person's life, consciously or unconsciously, forever.

Family Prayer: Join together in a prayer of blessing that can be the basis for your family rituals for the rest of your life. There is power in prayers that are repeated. There is power in prayer that is said by many. Allow that power to be a rich and regular part of your life.

Family Prayer: Use songs, poetry, stories, a community offering in writing to enrich your blessing. Ask your friends to recount their gifts and talents that they will share with this child. Instead of "washing the baby clean," do a hand-washing ceremony where those of us approaching new life cleanse ourselves from life's struggles before celebrating the baby's place in our hearts. Have the community stand in a circle around the family and create a web of ribbons celebrating our connections.- Plant a tree for each of the family members. Any or all of these will make this ceremony richer and more memorable as they are placed throughout the ceremony.

Other Ritual Considerations

Adoption: If your child is adopted, you may want to thank the birth mother and officially close that relationship. If adoption is open, you might mention what role she will play.

Blended Families: If you are getting married, you may want to have a ceremony for the children from both families and allow them to promise to be family. If there is to be a new child that is a product of the new family use ceremony to help all the children find their place and their gifts in this new entity.

Older Children: If you did not have a ceremony for your older children, you may wish to have a blessing and a community dedication which allows them to both accept and make promises.

When a baptism or a bris isn't the answer, and you're unclear how you want to celebrate your baby, let Ann Keeler Evans of A Rite to Remember, guide you through these ten steps for celebrating babies. And create a ceremony your child can grow into forever.