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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 first handprint art doesn't have to be a huge mess

Baby's first handprint art doesn't have to be a huge mess
Image: Steven Puetzer/Getty Images

Most parents would love to capture a print of their baby's tiny hands. Years from now, these precious little pieces of art will serve as a beautiful reminder of just how small your child used to be. But time is of the essence — and babies are notoriously hard models to work with — which makes creating the perfect handprint a little difficult.

More: Turn your baby's handprint into the cutest DIY Christmas tree ornament

If you follow a couple of simple steps and tips, however, getting your baby's handprint doesn't have to be super hard — or a disastrous mess.

Stage your subject

Babies are known 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 the print while they're asleep can prevent them from rolling into the paint or splashing it everywhere.

You'll need:

  • A bottle of non-toxic 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:

  1. Set baby down for a nap in an infant carrier, or transfer to carrier once they fall asleep. Place the carrier on the floor or table.
  2. Spread your supplies around the carrier, all within your reach.
  3. Squirt fabric paint about the size of a large walnut on a paper plate and smear baby's hand in the paint. Make sure to get paint on each finger, but don't overload the little hand or else the print will be a smeary mess. Don't worry if paint gets under nails — it's non-toxic and will wash off.
  4. Before pressing baby's hand onto the item you're about to embellish, try a test print on a piece of paper or another paper plate. You'll want to make sure you've got the right amount of paint to achieve your desired effect.
  5. Press the item onto a flattened hand and hold for just a few seconds. It doesn't take long for the paint to transfer.
  6. If you're making more than one baby handprint, you may need to reapply the paint. Just make sure to wipe baby's palm and fingers clean before switching to a new color.
  7. If you're transferring the print onto fabric, stretch it over 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 to make templates 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," Carney said.

This method also allows you to paint while your baby is sleeping, or is safely in another room. The added bonus to going this route is the templates last forever and can be used to make things later on.

More: Get your kids in the Hanukkah spirit of tradition with fun crafts

Before you go, check out our slideshow below:

Baby's first handprint art doesn't have to be a huge mess
Image: St. Clair Hospital

Originally published October 2008. Updated December 2016.

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