Early Baptists continued the Church of England tradition of "Infant Baptism" which came from the Catholic Church. This began to change with John Spilsbury, a Baptist minister who set up a Calvinist Baptist Church in London in 1638. Not only did he believe in believers baptism but asserted in his 1943 Treatise Concerning the Lawful Subject of Baptism the following: "That any other baptism is not baptism at all but a faulty cornerstone that would "bring down the church." He said that Protestants, therefore, who retained infant baptism kept themselves 'in the company of Antichrist.'" (Wikipedia: John Spilsberry, Baptist minister) He was very influential in establishing what Baptist believe concerning baptism.
Likewise, the way Baptism was done began to change. There is no doubt that early Christian baptized by immersion because it symbolized the death and resurrection of Christ. But the Catholic Church allowed baptism by pouring or sprinkling of water, no doubt, dictated by changing circumstance such as baptism for the sick and dying or the great number of people to be baptized. Baptist believe in "Scripture Alone" is the basis of belief. Since they could not find in Scripture references to baptism by pouring or sprinkling, they decided that this method of baptizing was unlawful. Likewise, if salvation comes about by" by Faith Alone", the profession of faith becomes primary and the actual baptism of water becomes merely symbolical.
Baptist Church in Albany states that they
1) Believe in baptism by immersion
2) That the two ordinances (Baptism and the Lord's Supper) are not sacraments but symbols by which we participate in for the purpose of publicly identifying ourselves with Christ and His church...." Baptism as such is not considered by many Baptists to confer the grace and salvation or a remedy for Original Sin. Confession of faith is primary, and if this is so, some Baptist churches have members that confessed Christ but were not baptized with water.
However, the (Second Baptist church, Catskill, NY) do baptize infants by pouring of water. Eritrea Jackson, (right in photo) had her six month old child baptized.
There are Baptist churches that Baptize infants (The Book of Religions - John Hayward) tells us why.
Baptism takes the place of Circumcision of the child because
Christ came to fulfill the law, not to destroy it.
2) Like Circumcision, Baptism dedicates the child to God and makes him or her a member of the Church.
The New Testament indicates that children, being part of families, were baptized.
Baptism originated with the Apostles.
4) It was not likely that Baptism by immersion was practiced in the case when Paul baptized the jailer family at night nor is it likely the 3,000 baptized on Pentecost were baptized by immersion.
Consider the following:
In the Didache, or "Teaching of the Twelve Apostles", which was discovered in the 19th Century states:
"Now about baptism: this is how to baptize. Give public instruction on all these points, and then baptize in running water, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit... If you do not have running water, baptize in some other. If you cannot in cold, then in warm. If you have neither, then pour water on the head three times in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Further, all the Fathers of the Church tell us that it is lawful to baptized infants.
We read in Acts, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit. For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call." (Ac 2:38-39)
The Catholic Church teaches that Baptism brings about what it signifies "ex opere operato". The sign is "washing" or "cleaning". Of what? Not the body but the soul from Original Sin.