A reader asks, “I’m a new mom to a baby boy, and my partner and I are both Pagans. A friend of mine keeps telling me I need to hold a Wiccaning ceremony. I’m not sure what this means - first of all, I’m not Wiccan, so I don’t know if it’s appropriate for me to have a Wiccaning ceremony for my son. Secondly, shouldn’t I wait until he’s old enough to make his own decisions, so he can choose for himself if he wants to be Pagan? Is there a rule that says I have to do this while he’s a baby?”
Let’s break this answer down into a couple of different parts. First of all, your friend probably means well, but may not realize that you’re not Wiccan - which many people assume is the default setting for all Pagans. The term “Wiccaning” is used to describe a ceremony in which a new person - often an infant or child - is welcomed into their spiritual community. It’s the equivalent of the Baptism that your Christian friends do with their babies. However, you’re right - if you’re not Wiccan, there’s no reason for you to call it a Wiccaning. In some traditions, it’s known as a saining, or if you’d prefer, you can just have a Baby Blessing ceremony, or even hold a Baby Naming ritual. It’s entirely up to you and your partner.
That said, sure, many people believe in the idea of letting a child decide on his or her own path as they get older. However, a naming/blessing/saining/Wiccaning ceremony doesn’t lock your kiddo into anything - it’s simply a way of welcoming them to the spiritual community, and a way of presenting them to the gods of your tradition. If your child chooses later on that he’s not interested in a Pagan path, then the fact that he had a ceremony as an infant shouldn’t impede his way at all.
If you like, if he decides to follow a Pagan path when he gets older, you could perform a coming of age ritual, or a formal dedication to the gods of your tradition. Much like a lot of other issues in the Pagan community, there are no hard and fast rules about any of these things - you do what works best for your family, and what falls in line with your beliefs.