Buying baby bereavement gowns can be a very trying and emotional task that needs to be done after an infant dies. It's not something you would normally plan for, but unfortunately, if you do need one, this style of gown is not difficult to find. Baby burial gowns are worn by infants or young babies who passed away before, during or after birth. They are usually white, and very similar to Baptismal or Christening dresses. They are made for both boys and girls and come in a variety of sizes, styles, and patterns.
Choosing Baby Bereavement Gowns
Depending on how old the baby was when he or she died will make a difference as to what type of gown you will purchase. Older infants will fit into regular-sized gowns, and those who died before reaching their full gestational age will need smaller, more specially designed outfits. For some babies who have died, this is the only gown they will ever wear, so the decision to find a perfect one can be emotionally overwhelming.
If the baby died during a hospital stay, there is a chance a bereavement gown may have been provided by a grief counselor or chaplain. Volunteers sometimes donate gowns to hospitals for use in these situations. These are simply crocheted, knitted or sewn white dresses with very little detail. They are made in many sizes, including those for micro-premature babies whose weight is less than one pound at birth.
Limited time may also be an issue. If a baby dies suddenly, you only have a few days to find a bereavement gown. In these cases, you can purchase a simple Christening gown or outfit. Families can also choose to use an heirloom Christening gown, or a previously purchased outfit, in which to bury the baby. However, if the baby's death is anticipated, as in unfortunate cases where he or she has a fatal anomaly diagnosed before birth, you may have more time to find just the right gown, either at a local religious or department store.
Finding Baby Bereavement Gowns
You can find gowns locally or through various online catalogs. Again, it all depends on what style and size you want and how soon you need it.
Gowns for Premature Babies
Babies who were born too soon, for whatever reasons, need a specially sized bereavement outfit in which to be buried. Gowns for babies under three or four pounds are hard to find at local shops. Your best bet may be to find a baby boutique in your neighborhood and inquire about its inventory. If you have time to shop online, here are a few places that sell preemie and micro-preemie bereavement gowns:
- Pink Holly Bush Designs offers free Wee Care/Preemie sewing patterns to use.
- Warm Hearts Warm Babies organization offers a preemie burial gown and bonnet pattern with sewing instructions.
- Preemie Store & More has christening and burial gowns and outfits in preemie sizes.
Gowns for Full-Sized Babies
Normally, if the child wasn't premature but the size of a fully grown baby or larger, a Christening gown would be the best bet as a burial outfit. Local stores may carry gowns but online you can find burial or Christening gowns at:
- Angel Christening Gowns has quite a few boys and girls gowns available in various styles and sizes. Overnight shipping is available.
- Toddler Girl's Lace Gown: Amazon offers a lace and rhinestone toddler christening gown.
- Though selection varies, Etsy artisans offer handmade gowns and outfits appropriate for bereavement.
Making Infant Bereavement Gowns
Many volunteer organizations create resting gowns for many Neonatal Intensive Care Units. Here are a few Websites where you can find a pattern and also get information about donating the ones you make:
- Bev's Country Cottage has a pattern for crocheted preemie or newborn burial gowns.
- Melinda's Patterns has directions for crocheting burial gowns. This site has measurements available for the different sizes of babies, ranging from one to 11 pounds.
- BBC, in England, has a knitting pattern on its Website for a delicate burial gown.
- Newborns in Need has a sewing pattern for a burial gown and lined bonnet. Pattern pieces and directions can be printed.
Bereavement Gowns Made From Old Wedding Dresses
Donated wedding gowns are put to good use by those with sewing skills through various non-profit organizations. Some of these organizations donate the gowns directly to hospitals to give to grieving families.
The Emma & Evan Foundation offer Angel Gowns to families who don't have access to bereavement gowns. The organization takes donated wedding gowns and volunteers follow specific patterns to sew the gowns.
The Littlest Angels Gowns
The Littlest Angels Gowns turns donated wedding gowns into infant burial gowns. The organization provide infant burial gowns to hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Units to give to the families grieving.
Angel Wings Memory Gowns
Angel Wings Memory Gowns provides baby bereavement gowns made from donated wedding gowns upon request from hospitals and individuals. Requests can be made via email, phone, or the organization's Facebook page.
Donating Resting Gowns
Check with the volunteer services department, at your local children's hospital, to see if there is a need for burial gowns, caps or blankets. All sizes, styles, and colors are usually accepted. Take a look on the internet to find a charitable organization that will accept these same homemade items. You can also inquire at a nearby funeral home for information as well.