Baptism after death of baby question


Our son and his wife are 14 weeks expecting their 2nd baby. A couple of weeks ago, the baby was diagnosed with some severe developmental problems and not expected to live. Many prayers going up for this family. Today during a check, the baby’s heartbeat had stopped and she will deliver the baby this evening.

We asked our son, to ask someone on the hospital staff to baptize the baby. He, of course, is going to do this, but I think he could also do this himself. I know this is likely a dumb question, but…here goes…Is this ok to do after the baby has died?


I don’t know the official answer but as a mom, I would want it done. I know at one time reading about anointing of the sick and the priest doing it even if the person was recently deceased, so, I would anyway.
The Church has funeral rites for children who have died in the womb.
I am sorry.
I am not sure how they would consider the child, baptized or not. I do believe God knows your and your son’s desires.


A priest I know always baptized road accident victims who had just died. He told me that the church has no official teaching as to when the soul leaves the body after death and it was licit to baptize the recently deceased.
Any harm? No. Any gain? Perhaps. Do it.But do not forget the Baptism of desire. My view is that all unborn babies who die in the womb or aborted, will be offered the opportunity to be welcomed by a loving Father that creates us and sent His only begotten son to die so that all men would be saved. Why would he exempt innocent babies from this loving sacrifice so universally offered?
My your grief be softened by the reassurances of our loving God and the solace of His Holy Mother for all suffering mothers.


May God give you and your children consolation in this time of grief.

Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1256 In case of necessity, any person, even someone not baptized, can baptize, if he has the required intention. The intention required is to will to do what the Church does when she baptizes, and to apply the Trinitarian baptismal formula. The Church finds the reason for this possibility in the universal saving will of God and the necessity of Baptism for salvation.

1257 God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.

1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,” allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.


Thank you so much for your answers and support. My husband has told him to find a staff member to baptize. Now we are praying . All prayers appreciated for this baby and family.


Sacraments are for the living, not the dead in the words of Archbishop Sheehan.

God is merciful, and while I would urge a baptism of water God is merciful, and must be able to detect intent that the child would be baptised had of if it is possible.


Your son himself can perform the baptism if an ordinary minister is not available.


i don’t relaly tink it’s necessary in this case. imo, baptizing after death is a little on the superstitious side but i don’t know the official answer. praying for you and your friend


By all means, baptize the baby. You should also pray the Divine Mercy for the infant’s soul.


First, my condolences on the passing of your grandchild.

Second, as it pertains to your question, sadly, you cannot baptize someone who has died. The Church forbids this, in fact, assuming you are certain that the person has died. For instance, if there is any doubt as to whether or not someone is still alive, the person should receive the Anointing of the Sick. The same logic would apply for a baptism. So, if your son is certain that his baby has died, he should NOT baptize her. And, in fact, he CANNOT baptize her. Certainly if he is certain she is alive, he SHOULD baptize her. If there is any question (honestly), he should baptize her. But, if the baby’s heart has stopped beating, it sounds, tragically, like the child has died. Again, my condolences.

I realize this does not seem like the most “pastoral” approach to the situation. As a priest, I’ve had a few cases where this has happened, and it is hard explaining to parents why I cannot baptize their babies. But, the sacraments are not there to help us feel good about ourselves. And, as someone said, we don’t want to tend towards superstition. Remember, the sacraments are not magic. We simply must trust the child to the mercy of God, who is Mercy Himself.


These links may be of some assistance:

Blessing of parents after a miscarriage or stillbirth

Order for the Naming and Commendation of an Infant Who Died Before Birth


The Archdiocese of Boston says in this situation:

  1. Should we baptize infants who have died or are stillborn?

Particular care needs to be given when a child is stillborn or dies shortly after birth. Parents will ask, often with sad persistence, that a priest or deacon baptize the child. In their loving concern, the parent’s underlying anxiety is really asking, “Is my unbaptized child with God?” Pastoral caregivers can confidently recall the words from the Catechism:

“As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: ‘Let them come to me, do not hinder them’ allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without baptism.” (CCC 1261)

The words of Pope John Paul II may be a source of solace to mothers feeling guilty over their aborted baby’s eternal fate: “ You will come to understand that nothing is definitively lost and you will be able to ask forgiveness from your child who is now living with the Lord” (The Gospel of Life – 99).

Baptism is a sacrament for the living. But we need to seek and find other rites that express the comfort of faith when infants die before baptism.


If the baby is undoubtedly dead, do not baptize.

If there is doubt as to whether the baby has died, then baptize conditionally (“if you are still alive, then I baptize you in the name…”)


Thank you all. I have read all your responses through out the night and day. Baby was delivered early this morning. The funeral is being planned. I thank each of you for your very considerate answers at this difficult time. There was no baptism.


Do not be afraid, for He has risen.


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