As I’ve discussed previously, I can reach no other conclusion, given the current state of magisterial teaching, except that prenatals, infants, and young children who die without baptism receive eternal life in Heaven. But do they go directly to Heaven? Perhaps they go to the limbo of Purgatory first, and then enter eternal life. As explained in my book Forgiveness and Salvation for Everyone, I believe they go to Purgatory first.
Before death, in the last moment of life or earlier, these young souls are given a baptism of blood, by reason of their impending deaths. The grace of this baptism is from Christ himself dying on the Cross, and it is much like the baptisms given to the Holy Innocents. Thus, they die in the state of grace.
What type and degree of happiness can a prenatal who died at the age of a few days or less have in Heaven? What would their bodies be like after the general Resurrection?
These problematic questions are solved by a temporary stay in the upper level of Purgatory, where there is no punishment, only instruction. For Purgatory is, at every level, a place of learning. These young souls would learn about God and about our Lord Jesus, who died for our salvation. They would learn about humanity, family, and the Church. They would gradually increase in understanding, just as infants and young children do.
And then they would be able to love God more fully, once they enter Heaven. For they would have learned about God first. This upper level of Purgatory, then, functions like the womb of the Church for prenatals who died before birth. It functions like the nursery of the Church, for those who died after birth, at such a young age.
Finally, at the general Resurrection, they would fittingly be given the bodies of children, as they will have grown up sufficiently before entering Heaven. At that point in time, they would have souls that are fit for the bodies of persons that age.
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian