"Baby-linen—for babies then wore robes of state—afforded still another possibility of toil and emolument"
A seventeenth century bearing cloth
Creative Commons AttributionA seventeenth century bearing cloth - Credit: Victoria and Albert Museum, London
A woman carrying a bearing cloth at a baptism ceremony
Public DomainA woman carrying a bearing cloth at a baptism ceremony - Credit: Otto Piltz

Though babies typically wore plain linen smocks for most of their infancy, baptism was a different matter. For this occasion, new-borns were wrapped in special “bearing cloths.” These were made of luxurious fabrics, such as velvet, satin or damask, and were bordered with gold or silver lace, or with lavish embroidery, often in the form of passages from scripture. The money and skill lavished on these articles allowed parents to demonstrate their wealth and social standing in a way that was normally off limits.

Public DomainBaptism - Credit: Lucas Cranach the Younger