It’s not always easy to know exactly what to wear to a funeral. Proper funeral etiquette goes a long way towards supporting the family and making sure everyone knows what to expect, but how does funeral attire etiquette to babies or kids?
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Should a Newborn Baby or Infant Wear to a Funeral?
- What Should a Toddler Wear to a Funeral?
- What Should a Kid or Teen Wear to a Funeral?
- What Should Kids and Babies Avoid Wearing to Funerals?
- Tips for Dressing Children for Funerals
Children aren’t always held to the same standards as adults when it comes to formal events. While it’s important for adults to dress a certain way, typically in black or dark clothes, to funerals, what should kids wear?
Your clothing choice and your children’s clothing choice reflect the occasion. It’s a way to honor someone’s life and show respect to the bereaved family. In this guide, we’ll explain what babies and kids should wear to funerals—as well as what they shouldn’t.
While it’s up to you to decide what clothing is best for your needs, take this opportunity to dress appropriately. You don’t need to worry excessively about your children’s clothes, but their dress shouldn’t cause any distractions at the same time. Like with all things related to funerals and grief, be kind to yourself.
Tip: If you'd like some additional help with the complexities of losing a loved one, from choosing your child's funeral attire to finding grief support, check out our post-loss checklist.
What Should a Newborn Baby or Infant Wear to a Funeral?
While what to wear to a funeral certainly matters, it matters significantly less for newborns and infants. Most guests won’t pay close attention to what a very small baby is wearing, so don’t get too worried about wearing the “right” thing or overdoing it.
The key to funeral attire for newborns and infants is to choose something comfortable. Uncomfortable clothing could lead to fussiness or excessive wiggling, which could interrupt the service or cause other challenges.
Comfort is key. However, skip any brightly colored onesies or clothing that could be too distracting. The only exception to this is if the family of the deceased or the deceased person themselves would have enjoyed seeing the little one in a particular outfit.
Virtual funeral tip: If you and your little ones are attending a virtual funeral, hosted with a service like GatheringUs, the same rules of attire still apply. Comfort comes first, and bright or distracting outfits should usually be avoided.
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What Should a Toddler Wear to a Funeral?
Again, when deciding what a toddler should wear to a funeral, comfort is everything. Toddlers are notorious for pulling at their clothes and making a fuss. Dressing them in something they’re familiar with that brings comfort will keep them a lot more focused during the event and prevent any unexpected outbursts.
For toddlers, any clothing will do as long as it isn’t flashy or distracting. Many toddler clothing has sparkles, bright colors, or silly characters. While this is fine for a regular day out, it’s not appropriate for a funeral.
When in doubt, choose something neutral or solid colored. Avoid bright prints and fabrics. Nobody expects a toddler to wear a fancy outfit, so don’t worry about making sure they’re wearing their “best.” As long as they’re comfortable and won’t be a distraction, it’s the perfect funeral outfit.
Bring backup clothing
A change of clothes or backup clothing is a must with toddlers. They’re prone to stains, spillage, throw-up, and so much more. A change of clothes gives everyone peace of mind that there won’t be any accidents.
If your family plans on holding anything informal after the ceremony, consider bringing a change of clothes for them to play in. Changing into play clothing or more casual wear after the funeral gives them the ability to run around and play without anyone worrying about stains or tears.
What Should a Kid or Teen Wear to a Funeral?
For younger children, there isn’t a high expectation when it comes to what they wear during the funeral. Many younger children can get away with wearing jeans, short-sleeve shirts, and other informal clothes that might not be appropriate for an adult to wear.
That being said, older children (10+) and teens are held to similar standards as adults. That being said, kids don’t still need to wear black funeral attire. Finding black clothing for kids, especially younger kids, is difficult and sometimes impossible. It’s not necessary.
There’s also no need to run out and buy an entirely new outfit for the funeral. With kids growing so quickly, this could be a waste of money and time. Instead, focus on dressing them well and with their comfort in mind.
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What should boys wear?
Young boys can follow many of the same funeral attire “rules” as men. For a traditional, formal setting, young boys and teens can wear slacks and a suit. This doesn’t need to be black, but it should be in a neutral color.
For a less formal event, they can wear dress pants in a neutral shade like black, gray, navy, or khaki. This can be paired with a dress shirt that’s either a polo, long-sleeve, or button-down.
It’s best to stay away from shorts, casual shirts, and sandals. Otherwise, don’t worry too much about how “professional” or “formal” their outfit is as long as it’s respectful.
What should girls wear?
For girls of all ages, avoid bright colors or prints. This can be a simple dress, though avoid any sparkly holiday dresses or anything with too many embellishments. Simple skirts or pants are also a good option as well. These can be paired with button-up blouses, plain shirts, and a sweater or cardigan.
What Should Kids and Babies Avoid Wearing to Funerals?
While babies can definitely get away with more flexibility at funerals, it’s best to be respectful no matter the child’s age. Kids, babies, and teens should avoid all of the following regardless of age or gender:
- Sparkles or glitter
- Bright colors
- Flashy prints
- Cartoon designs
- Sports logos
- Excessive holiday attire
- Bare shoulders
- Casual sandals
Other than the above, don’t feel pressured to purchase an expensive, new outfit for your children. Nobody expects them to have all-black funeral clothing at the ready, and these are hard staples to find for children.
When in doubt, opt for neutrals. Put their comfort about other factors, making sure they’re able to sit through the service respectfully. If they’re particularly affected by the death, feel free to ask them what clothing would make them the most comfortable. This time is about them as well.
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Tips for Dressing Children for Funerals
While there’s a lot of debate around children at funerals, it can be an important experience to include them in. Whether or not you choose to bring your own baby, toddler, child, or teen to a funeral is entirely up to you.
No matter what you decide, these tips will help you dress your child for this occasion at any age:
- Less is more: Don’t feel pressured to go above and beyond to ensure your child looks their best. There’s no need to accessorize or buy anything new. This is a day for reflection, not outward appearances.
- Talk to your child: If your child is old enough, talk to him or her about what they might want to wear. They might have opinions about what’s meaningful to them.
- Soft fabrics: Soft, natural fabrics are the best choice to avoid anything scratchy or uncomfortable.
- Hairstyles: Keep hairstyles minimal and pain-free. Pulling your child’s hair away from their face keeps them looking polished without a lot of effort.
- Wardrobe staples: Stick to wardrobe staples like solid pants, a solid shirt, and a sweater. There’s no need to overcomplicate things, and other guests will be understanding.
- Wrinkles and messes happen: Lastly, remember that wrinkles, stains, and other messes happen. They won’t ruin the day or impact the service. Keep on with the show.
When attending a funeral with a child, make sure you consider your plan before the service. Have someone (or yourself) who can step outside for a moment if the child is restless or needs a break. Bring a change of clothes and entertainment for them just in case. Be mindful of other guests and their grief, but also be willing to express your own feelings on this difficult day.
Dressing Children for Funerals
As long as you keep your child’s clothing subtle and understated, you’re ready for the day. Don’t underestimate the power of clean clothing and shoes in making kids look their best. These youngest guests might be attending this funeral for the first time. They’re not expected to know proper funeral or wake etiquette right away, so don’t be so hard on them or yourself.
Children at funerals can be a beautiful thing. They’re a reminder that life and death are natural, and that the next generation will continue our legacy even after we’re gone. Sharing this moment with your little ones can be a powerful form of healing.