Congratulations, you’ve just had a baby and you’re filled with so much emotion for this tiny creature! You’ll be getting used to a new way of doing things and there’ll be much to learn in the future!

Amongst the feedings, dirty nappies, sleepless nights, questions, doubts and excitement, you might be wondering, what next? If you’re not practising any religion then the tradition of a baptism or christening for a new born won’t be available to you. However, just because you’re not religious doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the ritual of a naming ceremony and welcome your new born into your community!

This article will inform you of your choices as well as allow you to understand the beauty of a naming ceremony!

What is a naming ceremony? A naming ceremony allows you to formally introduce baby into your community – your family, friends, neighbours and even work colleagues! The ceremony has all the elements designed to welcome baby – appointing guide parents or mentors, giving baby their name/s and making promises to baby to be there for the rest of baby’s life!

Who is it for? Anyone, regardless of their religious or spiritual beliefs, can enjoy a naming ceremony! My experience has shown that this type of ceremony crosses any belief system and all who’ve attended have been touched by the content.

What’s involved? The ceremony will include the introduction of baby’s full name and the meaning behind the parents choices for baby’s name. Parents will make their promises and other key members such as other siblings, grandparents and guide parents will also express their intentions to be there for baby in the future.

What are guide parents? Some parents may want to choose special people in their lives to be appointed as baby’s guide parents. This role is to act as support for the parents and more especially for the child to have someone to count on as they grow older.

Can anyone become a guide parent? Why not! A guide parent can be family or a close friend and the only requirement is a desire to be a positive influence on baby’s upbringing.

What else happens during the ceremony? Music is always an inspiring element to include during a naming ceremony. Perhaps one or both parents play or sing and this can be very special if they perform for their baby! Readings can also be done and the more touching ones will be written by the person doing the reading, such as family members or the guide parents.

Are they any rituals involved? Each family is different! Some parents who have been creatives have included some type of art process such as painting stones to gift to baby. Candles can be lit too such as unity candles whereby parents and other key figures light these together. In my opinion, the ritual of gathering in love is often enough!

How long does the ceremony last for? In my experience, a good length is no more than 30 minutes! However, the rest of the celebration could go on for hours!

What next? Set a date, find a place to hold the ceremony and subsequent celebration. This could be a village hall or a park or your back garden. You could offer a lunch or afternoon tea or even ask everyone to bring a dish to share. Then choose a celebrant to prepare your ceremony. If you ask me, I’ll ask you some questions – about your relationship as parents, your reasons for choosing baby’s name, what qualities inspire you about the other and what do you notice about baby’s character already! With all that you tell me, I shall prepare a ceremony that will meet with your approval and then it will be time to celebrate!

See you at the altar!