A funeral for a baby or a child — Your questions answered

Small coffin with candle and teddy bear (Good Funeral Guide photo set)

When a child or baby dies, families are often overwhelmed and exhausted. As parents or carers, you might not have organised, or even attended, a funeral before.

At Poppy’s, we support families at every step in planning a funeral, to enable you to celebrate a life and grieve a loss in a way that’s right for you.

This blog answers some common questions about funerals for babies and young children, but if you want to ask anything or find out more, do get in touch with us on 020 3589 4726.

How can Poppy’s help with a funeral for a baby or child?

From the moment you get in touch with us, until the funeral itself, you'll have the support of the whole Poppy’s team.

1. Collection and care

We’ll collect your baby or child and care for them in our light and airy mortuary. We'll always let you know the names of the people on our team who are collecting and caring for them.

You are welcome to visit and spend time with them in our friends and family room. This is your time to use however you wish.

You can cuddle or hold your child, read favourite stories or play music that makes you feel close to them. You can also wash, dress or wrap them in a blanket, if you would like. You can read more about visits here.

You do not have to visit and many families choose not to. Instead, you may prefer to leave a blanket for us to wrap them in or to choose clothes for them so that we can dress them for you.

If you would like to bring your baby home before the funeral, we can also enable this to happen.

Whatever you decide, you can be confident that we will look after your child for you while they are with us.

If you want to include anything in the coffin with your baby or child, such as a favourite cuddly toy, letters or photos, you are very welcome to do so. We can place these with your child or you can do this yourself.

2. Meeting and supporting

Your Poppy’s funeral director will meet with you, either at one of our warm and welcoming offices in Tooting or Sheen or at your home, depending on whereabouts you live. It’s up to you.

If you’re not sure about the choices you have, or even what questions you need to ask, we will listen, help and guide you.

We will also complete any necessary paperwork with you and arrange everything you would like for the funeral.

One of the first things you will need to decide is whether to opt for burial or cremation. With cremation, you can have your child's ashes at home with you, scattered in a special place or buried, or a combination of these options.

With a burial, you will have somewhere you can visit in the future. This could be a local cemetery, a natural burial ground or a cemetery anywhere in the country which is significant to you.

3. Finding a venue

A typical crematorium or a traditional cemetery might not feel right for a baby, child or young person’s funeral.

We can help you find an alternative venue for a service. It could be a less traditional crematorium with more greenery, a natural burial ground, or an event venue, like a hotel or community centre.

An alternative venue can set a more welcoming and informal tone. It also allows you to take more time over the ceremony and not to feel rushed.

4. Planning the ceremony

There are many beautiful and meaningful ways to remember the life of your child and to express your love for them through the funeral ceremony.

If you would like, we can match you with a funeral celebrant who has experience in children and babies’ funerals, or one who shares your child’s interests or background. They will create and lead a personalised service for you, your family and friends.

Some families choose to include a naming ceremony for a baby, or involve siblings and friends in the funeral service for an older child.

5. Transport to the funeral

We will use our discreet Poppy’s vehicle to take your child to the funeral. If you wish, you can travel with them in our vehicle, or use your own family car instead. You can also select an alternative hearse for an additional cost.

6. Coffin choices

The type of coffin is your choice. It could be traditional or modern — there are beautiful, crafted options available in wood, willow or wool.

Any coffin up to £300 is covered by a government grant from the Children’s Funeral Fund for England. If you choose a coffin with a cost price over £300, you will need to cover the additional cost. We can advise you on your choices and we are always clear and open about what the costs are.

7. Preparing for the funeral

Natasha from Mortlake Crematorium shares how she helps families prepare for the funeral for their baby or child — from visiting the chapel in advance, to being able to decorate the service space, to adding a leaf to the memorial tree in their beautiful gardens. Read Natasha’s blog.

We can also answer any questions before the day itself, and will call you the day before to run through any final details.

Why does Poppy’s charge for children and babies’ funerals?

Poppy’s service costs £680 for babies and children under 10 years old, and £1,280 for children aged 11 to 17 years old.

Not all funeral directors charge a fee for children or babies’ funerals. You can approach any funeral director to find out about their policy and the service they offer, or your hospital may be able to help you explore your options.

It’s also important to check that there are no hidden costs. For example, some funeral directors do not charge for the funeral itself, but later charge for other services.

At Poppy's, we do charge a fee because we acknowledge how important this work is. However, this fee is much less than the usual Full Flexible Support costs for an adult.

We want to ensure that we have the right people in place and that we’re able to spend the time and care that we need to on supporting you. The level of support we offer enables you to have as much flexibility and control over the funeral planning as possible.

The cost of the cremation or burial itself is covered by the Children’s Funeral Fund for England. Read on for more sources of financial support.

What financial help is available for a child or baby’s funeral?

As your funeral director, we apply to the Children’s Funeral Fund for England on your behalf. This fund can pay for the burial or cremation costs (and the cost of the doctor’s certificate) for a child under 18 or a baby stillborn after the 24th week of pregnancy.

This fund is not means-tested — what you earn or how much you have in savings will not affect what you get.

Additional help is available for families in hardship. The Child Funeral Charity has funding available for elements of the funeral which are not covered by the Children’s Funeral Fund for England, such as flowers or orders of service.

React, a charity which supports families with terminally ill children, will also consider applications for funeral and memorial expenses.

Read our detailed blog about sources of support to help pay for a funeral.

Can you have a funeral for a baby that has been miscarried?

Yes. We can arrange a funeral for a baby who has died before 24 weeks’ gestation, or you may be able to arrange something directly with the local crematorium or hospital.

In either case, you do not need to register the death, but your hospital midwife will give you a form to fill in. The crematorium may need a copy of that form. The paperwork can vary between crematoria, but we can support and guide you through it.

Sadly, unlike other funerals for babies and children, there is no government funding available. However, some crematoria and cemeteries will waive or reduce their fee in this situation. We can help you choose the right place for you.

It is now possible to request an optional certificate of loss in memory of your baby. This is issued by the government and is not a legal document. Find out more here.

What paperwork do I need to complete for a baby or child’s funeral?

There is slightly different paperwork to complete depending on whether a baby has been stillborn or has taken breath, and depending on which cemetery or crematorium you choose.

For a neonatal death, where a baby has died after taking breath, you need to register the birth and death within five days.

You need to register a stillbirth within 42 days and will be given a single stillbirth certificate, instead of separate birth and death certificates.

We know this can be confusing, so we will walk you through all the paperwork you need to complete and make sure everything is in hand.

What bereavement support is available for families whose child has died?

There are many amazing charities and peer support groups for parents and carers of children who have died, but also for their siblings, friends and extended families.

We know grief affects people in different ways and at different times, and that not everyone needs or wants the same kind of support, so there are plenty of options available.

Download an info sheet with links for charities, helplines and support groups specifically related to babies and children or find a full list of grief and bereavement resources here. Please do share these with anyone you think would find them helpful.

Do contact our team at Poppy’s to find out more. We’d be happy to answer any of your questions.

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