"For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light..."

Baby Blessing

by Lowell Bangerter

baby blessingThe blessing of infants is normally performed during a fast and testimony meeting. The father who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood, or another bearer of that priesthood selected by the family, usually pronounces a name and blessing upon a child within a few weeks after its birth. Either may be assisted by other Melchizedek Priesthood bearers. Older children may be blessed at the time of the conversion of their family. Under special circumstances children may be blessed at home or in a hospital.

The precedent for blessing children was set by the Savior in both Palestine and the New World. Both the New Testament (Mark 10:16) and the Book of Mormon (3 Ne. 17:21) describe Jesus blessing little children. In a revelation concerning the government of the Church, the Prophet Joseph Smith received specific directions on this ordinance: "Every member of the Church of Christ having children is to bring them unto the elders before the church, who are to lay their hands upon them in the name of Jesus Christ, and bless them in his name" (D&C 20:70).

The blessing ordinance thus described is neither the infant baptism performed in many other Christian churches nor simply a christening and prayer on the child's behalf. Instead, the priesthood bearer seeks to exercise his right to receive revelation from God in the child's behalf. The fixed portions of the ordinance are the addressing of Heavenly Father, the invoking of the Melchizedek Priesthood authority by which the blessing is spoken, giving the child its name, and closing in the name of Jesus Christ. The giving of the name formally identifies the child on the records of the Church as part of what may become an eternal family unit.

The blessing itself is to be given as dictated by the Spirit and may contain prophecy concerning the child's future, a statement of gifts or promises, and instruction or promises to the parents or siblings of the child.

Regarding the blessing of babies and children, Joseph F. Smith taught:

In accordance with the rule of the Church, children born to members of the Church are taken to the monthly fast meetings in the several wards, and are there blessed and named by or under the direction of the bishopric. It is usual on such an occasion for the bishop to call upon the father of the child, if he is present, and if he be an elder in good standing, to take part with the bishopric in the ordinance. This is in every way proper for the blessing so pronounced is in the nature of a father's blessing. Record of the ordinance so performed in the ward meeting is made by the ward clerk.

However, a father holding the higher Priesthood, may desire to bless and name his child at home, perhaps at an earlier date than would be convenient or possible for mother and babe to attend a fast meeting in the ward. Many elders desire to perform this ordinance within the circle of their own families on or about the eighth day of the child's life. This also is proper, for the father, if he is worthy of his Priesthood, has certain rights and authority within his family, comparable to those of the bishop with relation to the ward. Too often amongst us the head of the family, though he holds the higher Priesthood, fails to magnify his calling as the spiritual head of his household. It would be better if every elder who is a father rose to the dignity of his position, and officiated in his holy office within his family organization. He may call to his aid any others who are worthy holders of the requisite authority in the Priesthood, but it is his privilege to stand as the head of his household, and to perform the ordinances pertaining to his family. The question arises, and has recently been presented in specific form, if an elder performs the ordinances of naming and blessing his own child at home, is it necessary that the ordinance be repeated in the ward meeting? We answer, No. The father's blessing is authoritative, proper, and sufficient; but every such case must be promptly reported to the bishop of the ward, who will direct the clerk to make full and proper record of the matter, entering the name of the child, with date of birth and blessing, and all data as to parentage, etc., on the books of the ward. It is the duty of the teachers and priests in their house to house visitations among the people to see that all such reports are fully and promptly made.

The repetition of the ordinance of naming and blessing children tends to diminish our regard for the authority and sanctity attending the father's blessing within the household.

But let it not be forgotten that if the child be not blessed and named by due authority at home it should be taken to the fast meeting of the ward on the earliest possible occasion, there to receive the blessing and to have its name duly entered on the books of the Church.—Juvenile Instructor, Vol. 38, January, 1903.

Gospel Doctrine, p.292

Joseph Fielding Smith taught the following related to baby blessings:

A faithful father who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood may bless his own children, and that would be a patriarchal (father's) blessing. Such a blessing could be recorded in the family records, but it would not be preserved in the archives of the Church. Every father who is true to this priesthood is a patriarch over his own house. In addition, children may receive a blessing by an ordained patriarch. A father blessing his own child could, if he received the inspiration to do so, declare the lineage of the child.

Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.3, p.172



Smith, Joseph F. "Blessing and Naming Infants." Gospel Doctrine, 12th ed. pp. 191-92. Salt Lake City, 1961.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.1, Children, Blessing of


Web LightPlanet

Related Links

Recommended Books