Does a stillborn baby have to be baptized? A friend just gave birth to an 8-month stillborn baby who died in her womb early yesterday morning. What is the procedure before burial? Would appreciate your help.
Firstly, my condolence for their profound loss.
We are all in God’s hands and we entrust our loved ones, no matter how small, to His merciful loving care.
Shifting to the immediately practical, if the child was stillborn after death which occurred yesterday, then, lamentably, it is too late for baptism. [More about length of time in relation to Sacrament of Anointing HERE.] The child should still be given ecclesiastical funeral rites. Canon 1183, §2 says that permission of the Ordinary is required, HOWEVER in many places, pastors have been given blanket permission to do so.
May I also suggest that this is a good moment for the mother to request the Church’s beautiful rite and blessing we sometimes call “churching”? The Church has in the Rituale Romanum special blessings for expectant mothers and for mothers after childbirth. The rite is lovely and consoling, expressed thanksgiving to God, and has been traditionally done also when children were still born or who died without baptism.