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 way to take those first impressions of your newborn’s hands and feet is to use baby-safe inkless wipes, ink pads, or paint on paper.
Using these products to make 2D prints of your baby’s feet and hands is safe and will not cause skin irritation or other issues.
There are also kits available that allow you to create a plaster cast of your baby made of clay; those are much safer ways to create 3D prints.
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 to know about.
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.
It is believed that taking the first footprints of your newborn child will bring good luck and fortune to your family.
In fact, if it’s a newborn girl, the first footprint of a girl child is believed to be a sign of goddess Laxmi’s blessings.
In countries like India, it is said that if you keep the first footprint of your child on a piece of gold or silver and worship it, your family will never face poverty.
Another 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.
In China, it is believed that if you take the first footprint of your baby and keep it in your wallet, it will bring good luck and fortune.
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, there are several DIY ways you can do it.
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.
If you can’t find them in the market, you can even make your own baby-safe ink at home.
All you need is a non-toxic black or blue ink pad and a white piece of paper.
When you are ready, here are the steps to follow…
Step 1- Clean Yourself
First, 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.
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
It’s most important that your baby is comfortable and not crying or squirming around.
To do so, you can take help from another person.
Once your baby is settled, take the ink pad in your hand and gently press it against your baby’s foot.
Step 3- Clean Your Baby’s Feet and Hands
Wipe your baby’s feet and hands with a soft, damp cloth to remove any dirt, milk, or food, as they may interfere with the ink.
You can use baby-safe wipes for this purpose.
Step 4- 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.
You must be extra careful here as you don’t want to hurt your baby.
If your infant feels uncomfortable during the process, pick them up and try again later (maybe when your baby is sleeping).
Step 5- Place the Paper on a Flat Surface and Imprint
You need to make sure that you get a good, clear print of your baby’s foot.
To do so, 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 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 6- 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 any ink residue.
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 cleaning, use a cotton ball dipped in baby oil for a final touch. This will help to moisturize your baby’s skin.
Don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water once you are done.
Step 7- Hang the Print to Dry Completely
Once you have taken the footprints, let the ink dry completely before handling the paper.
Hang the paper using clothespins or paper clips for an entire day. Make sure that the paper is completely dry before you store it away.
Additional tips and warnings
First and foremost, 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.
Secondly, avoid using scented or perfumed products on your baby’s skin, as they may cause irritation.
Lastly, it’s important that you 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.
Storing and preserving the prints
Before you store the paper, it’s important to laminate the paper (using 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.
Another option is to frame the print using a cheap and readily available picture frame.
This will help to protect your print 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 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 Your Newborn’s Skin – Can You use Them for a Stamp?
When using paint for your newborn’s skin, it’s always better to go for natural and organic options.
Acrylic paint may be safe for some people, but it can cause skin irritation and rashes in others. So, it’s always better to do a patch test before using them.
Also, if you decide to use acrylic paint, make sure to dilute it with water.
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.
Follow the instructions above when you are ready with the non-toxic acrylic paint.
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.
Congratulations, you now have a timeless piece of art that you can cherish forever!
A Few Other Paint Alternatives that are Safe to Use for Baby’s Footprints and Handprints?
I understand there are many new parents who are concerned about using ink or paint on their baby’s little fingers.
For them, there 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. This paint can be used for taking handprints and footprints.
b) Baby powder or coffee
This 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 of your baby’s hand or foot.
This can be used in a similar way as baby powder. Just dust some coffee on your baby’s foot or hand and then press it onto a piece of paper.
The result will be a lovely brown print.
c) Chalk print on black paper
This is another excellent alternative that can be used for taking handprints and footprints.
You can directly rub the white chalk on your baby’s hand or foot and then press it onto a piece of black paper.
The result will be a lovely white print. If you are using colored chalk, you can get a colored print as well on white paper.
Some other exciting options
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!
Pure Red Alta Mehndi, Heena, 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.
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, we recommend using thicker paper, such as cardstock, and ink or 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 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 made specifically for baby footprints.
These stamps usually have a soft foam or rubber pad pressed into the baby’s foot to get a clear imprint.
When looking for a baby footprint stamp, avoid those made with harmful chemicals, such as those containing 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 more than a decade to serve the customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques that are being implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.
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