Memorials for children
There’s no easy way to cope with the loss of a child. For some parents, a memorial can be a place to reflect or a way to keep your memories of your child close. You’ll find there are many different ways for you to commemorate your child’s life, including traditional headstones, keepsake bears or dedicating a plaque in a memorial garden.
In this article, we’ll look at your options and some rules you need to know. We’ll also look at how you can find help to pay for a child’s or baby’s memorial.
Bear in mind that you’ll probably have a lot of choices. So remember that if you’re not sure, you don’t need to rush your decision. You can always take your time and choose something once you know what feels right.
Choosing a child’s headstone or urn
Children’s headstones come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. They can be as simple as small, flat grave markers or they can be large and ornate. The main shapes are the same as adult headstones, though they tend to be smaller. The main shapes are:
- Flat headstone: this is a small, inscribed plaque that rests flat on the ground.
- Slanted headstone: this is similar to a flat headstone but is cut at an angle.
- Upright headstone: the most common type of headstone. An upright headstone is tall and sits at the top end of a grave.
- Kerbed headstone: this ornate style includes an upright headstone, as well as a stone border that marks the edges of the grave.
Children’s headstone designs
While adult headstones tend to be quite simple and have only a few decorations, child headstones can be colourful and very detailed. Children’s headstone designs often feature carved teddy bears, angels and other reminders of childhood.
You might also see headstones decorated with popular cartoon characters, such as Mickey Mouse, Spongebob Squarepants and Bob the Builder. Choosing a headstone like this can be a good way to remember your child and the things they loved.
If you have a special design in mind, you could even ask a memorial mason (headstone maker) to create a bespoke headstone. Keep in mind this will be a lot more expensive than choosing an existing design.
You don’t have to choose a colourful headstone. If you want to keep things simple, that’s fine too. You should also bear in mind that some burial grounds have rules that mean you can’t have a colourful or ornate headstone. So it’s a good idea to check what’s allowed before ordering the headstone.
Children’s headstone inscriptions
An inscription is the words that are carved into a headstone. Most of the time, you can choose any inscription you like – as long as it fits on the headstone. Though some religious burial grounds have rules about what inscriptions are allowed.
Many parents choose a short poem or quote as a headstone inscription. You’ll find a few ideas in our list of short funeral poems.
Memorial masons often charge by the letter, so keep this in mind if you need to keep within a budget.
If your child is cremated, you can scatter their ashes, have them buried or keep them at home in an urn.
There are lots of options for children’s urns. You could choose a traditional design, which looks like an ornate vase. Or you could choose a modern design. You can find children’s urns shaped like footballs, teardrops and decorative boxes, among other things.
Another option some parents choose is a keepsake bear. This is a teddy bear that features a special compartment for storing ashes.
Children’s headstone prices
Child and baby headstone prices can vary a lot. What you’ll pay depends on the type of memorial you want – a large, elaborate gravestone costs much more than a memorial plaque. Your choice of material and inscription will also affect the price.
As a starting point, here’s a price guide for different types of children’s memorials:
- A small, inscribed stone or sign: £15 to £40.
- A larger stone plaque: £40 to £300.
- A simple upright headstone: £70 to £1000.
- A headstone with a special shape or design: £600 to £2100.
- A large kerbed headstone: £1000 or more*.
Can I get help paying for a child’s headstone?
Several charities can help you pay for the cost of a memorial:
- The Child Funeral Charity can help fund a small memorial plaque. Applications must be made through a funeral director and before funeral arrangements are complete.
- Rocky Lee’s Little Feet specialises in funding headstones for stillborn babies if families can’t afford the cost.
- Together for Short Lives runs The Butterfly Fund. This is a one-off payment that you can use for any funeral or memorial costs.
You might also qualify for a fund from the government. This can help pay for various funeral costs but it doesn’t cover headstones or memorials. The rules are different depending on where you live, so read our guide to arranging a child’s funeral for advice.
Choosing a burial plot
For a child
If you’ve chosen a burial or you want to bury your child’s ashes, you’ll need to pay for a burial plot. This could be at a council cemetery, private burial ground or place of worship. Ashes can also be buried in a crematorium’s memorial garden – often with a small memorial plaque or sculpture.
Different burial grounds have different rules for children’s headstone designs. Some don’t allow photographs, bright colours or certain shapes. There might also be rules about what inscriptions are allowed. Make sure to check before you choose a memorial.
For a baby
There are several options available for baby burials. What you can choose depends on how you arrange the funeral. If you have help – from a hospital, for instance – your options may be more limited.
A shared burial
Sometimes, babies are buried in shared graves. This is the most affordable type of burial – and some parents take comfort in the thought that their baby isn’t alone.
However, if you choose a shared burial, you probably won’t be able to choose a headstone. Some burial grounds do allow small memorial plaques on shared graves.
An individual burial
Another option is to pay for an individual burial plot. This is more expensive than a shared plot, but it means you can have a headstone or another type of memorial. It also means you have exclusive rights to the grave, so nobody else can be buried there for a certain amount of time.
Many burial grounds have areas set aside for individual baby burials. This can be quite comforting, as it feels like a special and peaceful place just for grieving parents.
If your baby is buried in one of these areas, you might have to choose a memorial that follows certain rules. These rules are different depending on the burial ground, so be sure to check.
A plaque at a garden of remembrance
As with older children, babies’ ashes can be buried in a crematorium’s garden of remembrance. You’re usually allowed to choose a small plaque or headstone to mark the grave.
Other ways to remember a baby or child
Baby memorial gardens
Baby memorial gardens are places that grieving parents can visit to remember a lost baby. They’re often located in quiet parts of cemeteries or parks and may feature special sculptures or inscribed stones.
Memorial gardens don’t always allow burials. However, you can scatter ashes in the garden and you may be able to ask for a plaque to be inscribed in memory of your baby. This can be especially comforting for parents who have suffered a miscarriage, as sometimes there are no ashes left behind when a baby dies during pregnancy.
The charity Sands has helped set up lots of baby loss memorial gardens around the UK. You can find your local Sands garden using this interactive map.
Many parents find that a memorial keepsake helps them cope with their grief. It means they’ll always have something to cherish that reminds them of the child they’ve lost.
Popular keepsakes include personalised plaques, pieces of jewellery and memory bears – special teddies made from a child’s clothing. There are even companies that can take plaster casts of a child’s hands and feet. These can be turned into unique metal ornaments.
You could also keep a child or baby memorial box. This could include photographs, drawings, small toys or things you collected during pregnancy. Sands offers free memorial boxes for parents who have lost a baby in the UK.
Help for families who have lost a child
- Sands: a charity that offers support for families when a baby dies. Sands runs a free, confidential helpline for people who need advice or just want someone to listen.
- Child Bereavement UK: a charity that provides bereavement support for children and for parents who have lost a child. It has a free, confidential helpline and live chat service.
- Childhood Bereavement Network: this charity specialises in helping children who have lost someone close to them, including siblings.
*Memorial prices based on a range of online memorial providers, January 2023.