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How to get a clean stamp of your baby's handprint

Gina Roberts-Grey has contributed to more than 100 parenting, health and women's issue publications. She lived with her family in upstate New York, and can be reached be reached via her website:

Baby's 1st handprint

Those t-shirts and aprons emblazoned with little one's tiny handprints are adorable. But getting a clear and clean stamp of your baby's handprint can be as auspicious as finding the end of a rainbow.
Baby's 1st handprint
But, good news, we've got the goods on how you can achieve the ultimate handprint without covering yourself and the whole kitchen, in paint.

Stage your subject
Babies are notorious for making fists, and for putting those fists in their mouths - two things that aren't compatible with trying to stamp a handprint. But stamping his print while he's asleep can prevent him from rolling into the paint or splashing it everywhere. Before he falls asleep, get all your supplies ready.

You'll need:

  • A bottle of fabric paint
  • A few paper plates
  • A package of baby wipes
  • The item or items you want to stamp the print onto
  • A piece of cardboard (if the item is fabric)

What to do:

Set him down for a nap in his infant carrier, or transfer him to him carrier once he falls asleep. Place the carrier on the floor, or on a table as long as he's never left unattended. Spread your supplies around the carrier, all within your reach. 

Squirt fabric paint about the size of a large walnut on a paper plate and smear his hand in the paint. Make sure to get paint on each finger, but don't overload his hand or else the print will be a smeary mess. And don't worry if the paint gets under his nails. It's non-toxic and will wash off. Before pressing his hand onto the item you're about to embellish, try a test print on a piece of paper or another paper plate to make sure you've got the right amount of paint to achieve your desired effect.

Press the item onto his flattened hand and hold for just a few seconds. It doesn't take long for the paint to transfer to the fabric.

If you're making more than one baby handprint, you may need to reapply the paint, and make sure to wipe his palm and fingers clean before switching to a new color. And, if you're transferring his print onto fabric, stretch it over the cardboard to prevent the paint from bleeding through.

Another option

Instead of making actual prints of her twins' hands, Susan L. Carney of Hatboro, PA
traced their hands and made templates that she could trace onto flower pots, sweatshirts and other items. "I used paint to fill in the hands and could control the mess and clean-up much easier," says Carney. This method also allows you to paint while your baby is sleeping, or is safely in another room.

The added bonus to this method, says Carney, is that once you have the templates you have them forever and can use them to make things later on.  "I hope to trace their hands on each birthday," she says.

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