Q. 1. How soon should a Catholic baby be baptized?
A. 1. Regarding the baptism of infants (babies), the Canon Law of the Catholic Church states:
Can. 867 §1 Parents are obliged to see that their infants are baptised within the first few weeks. As soon as possible after the birth, indeed even before it, they are to approach the parish priest to ask for the sacrament for their child, and to be themselves duly prepared for it.
§2 If the infant is in danger of death, it is to be baptised without any delay.
The question here is, what does "within a few weeks" mean? When looking up the word in the dictionary, "few" is defined as "not many, but more than one." Another definition is, "Amounting to or consisting of a small number."
In the mid 1900's, it was the practice of the Catholic Church to encourage parents to have their babies baptized within a few days, even hours, after being born because of the high mortality rate. Thankfully, the vast majority of babies today are born healthy, and parents can decide when a baby should be baptized. Some parents prefer to wait a week or two after the birth of their child to allow sufficient travelling time for relatives who live at a distance.
It should be noted that many priests will no longer baptize infants/children unless the parents have participated in the baptism preparation program. Therefore, as soon as the mother knows that she is pregnant, she and her husband should contact the local parish to sign up for the next program that will be offered.
A parent should never risk delaying the baptism of their God given gift, a child, a soul. Many parents are tormented by the fact that they never thought their baby would suddenly die from SID (Sudden Infant Death), unexpected illness, birth defects, etc... There is no reason to delay the baptism of a baby for weeks or months.