A baby dedication may be religious or secular. This ceremony can be another name for a baptism, or it may replace a baptism for non-Christian parents. It also may be a naming ceremony or some other cultural or religious ritual. It is both a celebration and a way of introducing a baby to its community and welcoming the new child.
If the baby dedication is a religious one, it is in keeping with the ceremony to give a religious gift of some kind. In faiths with holy texts such as the Bible, Quran or Torah, it is appropriate to give child's versions of these texts. You might engrave a religious symbol with the child's name, or give a religious-icon piece of jewelry or a framed photo of the baby with an appropriate religious verse or quote. Other tasteful nonreligious gifts are acceptable as well. Remember, religious gifts only are appropriate if the ceremony is religious in nature. A good way to determine this is if the ceremony will be held at a place of worship or be presided over by a religious leader.
If the child's parents have elected a secular ceremony that is not tied to a particular culture, it is appropriate to give gifts that mark the occasion. Avoid gifts normally given at baby showers, such as teething rings, clothing and baby accessories. You might choose a gift that adequately welcomes the child into the community and marks the occasion, such as a rattle engraved with the date of the ceremony; a special book that marks the day and holds significance to you; a piece of jewelry with the child's birthstone; a wind chime or other decorative trinket with a meaningful quote on it; or a preserved and framed birth announcement.
If you are attending a baby dedication ceremony for a new child and the ceremony is traditional in a culture with which you are not familiar, try to learn what is appropriate, or ask someone closer to the new parent(s) what is expected. For example, in traditional Chinese "red egg and ginger" parties, which are the naming and welcoming ceremony for Chinese infants, it is customary to bring tiger-themed clothing or money in red envelopes.
Expectation of Gifts
Many times, gifts need not be given at baby dedication ceremonies. In some instances, it is only close family who gives gifts. For new parents, gifts of a home-cooked meal delivered to their door, or an offer to clean the house or do the laundry usually are welcome. If you're not sure whether to bring a gift to the ceremony, it is acceptable to inquire of a friend closer to the new parents, or bring a small, tasteful gift and err on the side of generosity and celebration.
Godparents always give a gift to the new child, and these often are religious in nature but can be some kind of keepsake for the child to treasure when she is older, such as a piece of jewelry or an engraved baby utensils. Parents also present the godparents with a gift at a religious baby dedication; this is most often a photograph of the child in an engraved frame. If a secular dedication is honoring adults with a similar role to that of godparents in a religious ceremony, they also should be given a gift.