Sitting in mass today watching the catechumens undergo their first scrutiny. There was a boy in the group…maybe 12 or 13.
I wondered…a baby is automatically baptized, no questions asked. A toddler likewise would/could be so baptized. So - at what point does the Church require classes before baptism?
As others have stated, instruction and consent is required before children who reach the age of reason are baptized. And the age of reason has traditionally been considered to be around the age of seven years.
That said, it would be prudent for any child over the age of three or so to be given SOME kind of instruction, if for no reason other than to encourage the child to cooperate with the baptism. The consent of a very young child is not needed but it’s convenient if you have it!
A few years ago two of us accepted the task of leading twelve 7-12 year olds throught the full RCIA process. My colleague got the older half and I got the younger including one little guy whom I would have described as "hyper’ but my wife, now retired after 40 years of teaching, says I should say “had difficulty centering himself.” Anyhow, five were baptised and all twelve received the sacraments of Confirmation and First Eucharist at the Easter Vigil along with the adults.
From then on I have worked strictly with the adults.