From a deacon:
I was wondering how safe it is to assume that water flowing over the hair along with the correct words constitutes a valid baptism. I ask because there were just 12 babies baptized in my parish and some of them didn’t get it on the forehead (some kind of just on the crown of the head). I assume they are valid because babies don’t have that much hair anyway!
I wrote on this issue here.
To recap and address the immediate question, in baptism conferred in the rites of the Latin Church water must touch some part of the the head, even if it runs only on the hair.
If it runs on the hair of the head, the baptism is valid.
That said: Perhaps bishops would do well to quiz priests about how to baptize. Some might find this insulting, but I have heard some pretty crazy things. It may be that men trained – this includes permanent deacons, by the way – in certain places in certain years cannot be assumed to know how to baptize properly.
I mean … how hard is it, guys, to do it right? To do it in such a way that there can be no doubt in the minds of those watching that it was valid? How hard is it?
For all love, if priests and deacons can’t do these basic things right, say the black and do the red, they should be sent to some… I dunno… remedial summer camp.
No air-conditioning or screens on the windows until they can demonstrate that they know the words and actions.
Puir Slow-Witted Gowks!