Taking the baby’s first footprints and handprints is a traditional way to preserve them as a keepsake for many parents. Mainly in Asian countries like India and China, it’s a widespread belief that these prints will bring good luck and fortune to the family. With time this tradition is getting even more popular in Western countries like US and UK.
The simplest and safest way to take those first 2D impressions of your newborn’s hands and feet is to use baby-safe inkless wipes, ink pads, or non-toxic kid’s friendly paint on paper.
There are also kits available that allow you to create a plaster cast of your baby’s feet and hands. Since these kits are usually made of non-toxic clay they are much safer to create 3D prints without causing skin irritation or other issues.
Further in this article, I will cover some more exciting information and unique ways to take your baby’s first prints as a keepsake, along with all the safety concerns you need when choosing the inks, paints, or other products. So, if you still feel motivated and excited as a to-be parent, get ready to welcome your fortunate child to this new world.
What’s the Tradition Behind Baby’s Footprints?
For those who don’t know, I would start the topic by briefly introducing the tradition.
Its often believed that taking the first footprints of your newborn child will bring good luck and fortune to the family.
In fact, in countries like India, many people believe that the first footprint of a newborn girl child is believed to be a sign of goddess Laxmi’s blessings. If you keep this stamping on a piece of gold or silver and worship it, your family will never face poverty.
In China and many other Asian countries, it’s believed that if you take this stamping on paper and keep it in your wallet, it will bring good luck and fortune. Another popular belief is that if you take the first impression of your baby’s foot on a piece of paper and keep it under your pillow, you will have sweet dreams.
So, if you believe in those traditions or want to keep the first prints of your infant as a memory, sentimental keepsake, or even birthday gift for new parents, there are several DIY ways you can do it. Let’s have a look at them…
How to Take Baby’s First Footprints with Baby-Safe Ink?
The most common way to take the first footprints of your baby girl or boy is to use baby-safe ink on paper. Avoid using any kind of scented or perfumed products on your baby’s skin, as they may cause irritation.
If you can’t find them in the market, you can make your own baby-safe ink at home. All you will need is a non-toxic black or blue ink pad and a white piece of paper to get the stamping.
When you are ready, here are the steps to follow…
Step 1- Clean Yourself
First and foremost, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Dry them with a soft cotton towel. Also, if possible, change your clothes and wear something that will be comfortable for your baby upon touch. You may need to sit on the floor or ground with your baby in your lap to take the prints, so dress accordingly.
Step 2- Settle Your Baby Comfortably and Clean
It’s important during the project that your baby is comfortable and not crying or squirming around. To make things easier, it’s good to take help from another person in your family.
Once your baby is settled, wipe your baby’s feet and hands with a soft, damp cloth or baby-safe wipes to remove any dirt, milk, or food, as they may interfere with the ink.
Step 3- Press the Ink Pad Gently Against Your Baby’s Foot
Now, take the non-toxic mess-free ink pad in your hand and gently press it against your baby’s foot – be extra careful here as you don’t want to hurt your baby. If your infant feels uncomfortable during the process, pick him/her up and try again later (maybe when your baby is sleeping).
Remember that your newborn may have sensitive skin that’s prone to rashes and allergies. So, it’s always better to do a patch test before using any ink or paint on your baby’s skin.
Step 4- Place the Paper on a Flat Surface and Imprint
Next, place the piece of blank white paper on a flat surface and gently press your baby’s foot on it. Ensure that you use premium quality paper so that the footprint you receive is clear and doesn’t fade away with time.
You can take multiple prints of your baby’s foot on the same piece of paper. Or, if you want, take the prints on multiple papers just in case the original one gets lost or damaged.
Step 5- Clean up the Foot and Hands of Your Baby
Using a baby wipe or a soft, damp cloth, clean the foot and hands of your baby to remove all the ink and residues. Pay special attention to parts like between kids’ toes. The black ink you used may get stuck there and be difficult to remove later after it gets dried.
After cleaning, use a cotton ball dipped in baby oil to moisturize your baby’s skin. Also, don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water once you are done.
Step 6- Hang the Print to Dry Completely
Once you have taken the hand and footprints, hang the paper using clothespins or paper clips for an entire day. You will need to make sure that the paper is completely dry before getting it laminated, framed, or stored.
When storing it’s astute to label the paper with all the important information like your baby’s name, date of birth, time of taking the print, etc. This will help you to look back at the memories and cherish them for years to come.
Step 7- Store and Preserve Your Baby’s Foot Prints
If you plan to laminate the paper use a laminator, self-sealing laminating pouches, or a ziplock bag. Then preserve the paper in a safe place, out of reach of your baby or other family members.
Laminating and glass framing the print using a readily available picture frame and hanging it on the wall is also a great idea. This will also protect it from moisture, dust, and other elements that may damage it.
You can also consider scanning the print to keep a digital copy on your computer or hard drive. Over time, the original paper copies may be deleted, destroyed, or fade – you will never lose your digital copy if you have one.
If you feel like displaying it, you can also use a digital picture frame or a shadow box frame to keep the print on your bedside while still allowing you to see and cherish it every day. But be careful that your baby or other family members don’t harm the frame since they might break it if easily accessible.
Is Acrylic Paint Safe for Newborn’s Skin – And to Create Stamp?
Other than baby-safe inks and dyes, you can also use paints to take the baby’s first footprint.
But when using paint for your newborn’s skin, ensure that you go for natural and organic options.
The ideal paint you can choose for footprints and handprints keepsakes is water-based, non-toxic, and hypoallergenic paints specially formulated for sensitive skin. Since these paints comprise water bases and pigments (without any harmful chemicals or solvents), they are safe to take your baby’s foot and hand impressions that can be kept for decades.
Acrylic paint may be safe for some people, but it can cause skin irritation and rashes in others. So, it’s good to do a patch test before using them. Also, if you decide to use non-toxic acrylic paint for the first footprint of your baby, make sure to dilute it with water.
When you are ready, follow the instructions above. This time you need to use a paint tray (for squeezing out the paint) rather than an ink pad. Then take the print on a piece of paper or a canvas.
Paint Alternatives Safe to Use for Baby’s Footprints and Handprints
I understand there are many new parents who are concerned about using ink, dyes or paint on their baby’s little fingers.
For them, here are a few substitutes that can be tried to make foot and handprints without paint…
a) Homemade paint
A good homemade finger paint can be easily made by mixing a cup of flour or cornstarch with a cup of water. To this mixture, add food color or tempera paint to get the desired hue. The prepared mixture is 100% natural and can be safely used for taking your baby’s handprints and footprints.
b) Baby powder or coffee
Baby powder and coffee are non-allergic and can be dusted on the baby’s foot or hand and then pressed onto a piece of construction paper. The result will be a nice white print (or a lovely brown print with coffee) and a timeless piece of art that you can cherish forever.
c) Chalk print on black paper
You can directly rub the white chalk on your baby’s hand or foot and then press it onto a piece of black paper to get a lovely white print. If you use colored chalk, you can even get a colored print on white paper.
d) Organic henna and turmeric
Pure Red Alta Mehndi, Henna, Turmeric, etc., are other natural skin-friendly you can try. These items are safe and help in soothing and disinfecting the skin. These are more popular in countries like India, where they believe that getting the footprint of their baby girl on expensive purchases like a new apartment, car, or even a bike will bring good luck.
e) Washable kids’ friendly paint
Other than the above, there are also paints by Crayola and water-based, non-toxic, non-settling tempera paint that are ideal for making baby imprints. These are fast-drying and can also be easily washed off with soap and water if your baby mistakenly puts his or her hands or feet in the paint.
You can even use these kid/baby-friendly paints for craft projects that involve your toddlers or grown-up kids, like painting their lunch boxes, water bottles, or even canvas shoes.
How long will the baby’s footprint last?
The length of time that the footprint will last will depend on the type of paper, the ink/paint you use, and the storage method you will use to preserve it.
If you want the footprint to last a long time, I recommend using thicker paper, such as cardstock, and ink/paint designed to be permanent.
Thinner papers such as tissue paper or construction paper will not last as long but can still be used if you’re looking for a more temporary keepsake with baby paint.
Will it be easy to take the baby’s foot and hands stamp?
No, the process can sometimes be tricky if your baby is uncooperative. But believe me, it will be a fun experience for you and your little one.
Also, remember that taking the stamp of the foot will be relatively more straightforward than the hand. So, be sure you take someone’s help who can spread the baby’s hand out flat while you take the stamp.
What type of stamp should be used to make the footprint?
With so many different stamps on the market, it can be challenging to know which ones are safe to use.
Ideally, parents should look for a wooden stamp (with soft foam or rubber pad) made specifically for baby footprints. Avoid those made with harmful chemicals like lead or other heavy metals. These stamps can be dangerous if not used properly.
The bottom line
Creating a footprint of your baby’s first few months is a fun way to document its growth. And it’s a perfect way to show off their adorable toes. When kept as a memorable memento, imprinting your baby’s prints is a lovely way to commemorate their arrival into the world.
There are many ways to do this, but not all are safe. Irrespective of the type of stamp, ink, or paint you use, make sure you take a print on paper, a card, or any other surface that is safe for your baby. Also, keep in mind to clean your baby’s skin thoroughly after taking the print, as some inks and paints can be difficult to remove later.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.