Baptism was said to be essential to salvation in the Middle Ages and was therefore performed as soon as possible after birth. After the Reformation, the Book of Common Prayer recommended that baptism should be performed on a Sunday or holy day, unless it was feared that the infant would die. According to David Hey’s Oxford Companion to Local and Family History, “the interval between birth and baptism often varied from parish to parish and over time, but was normally only a few days and rarely more than a fortnight”, but I would disagree. In my experience – which undoubtedly is nowhere near as vast as David Hey – parents can often wait weeks or even months to have their child baptised, or even save up several children and have them all baptised at once.
Some people were not baptised until they were grown up and my advice would certainly be, if you cannot find the baptism you want in the year of birth, search forwards.
Can anyone beat the record of Matilda Fanny Wayman, nee May who was baptised on 20 March 1903 in Peckham St Andrew having been born in February 1841?