Whether you’re the scrapbooking type, or a less-organized but still sentimental parent, you may be considering how to get the perfect tiny newborn footprint onto paper. Maybe you’ll even be using it for a tattoo one day. This used to be an easy feat, since hospitals would automatically stamp your baby’s feet for identification purposes, but that’s become obsolete. That’s fine, because it’s totally possible and perfectly safe to get a clean stamp right at home — and have a little squirmy baby fun while you’re at it.
According to award-winning parenting author Kathy Fray, you should try to get the stamp ASAP after they’re born — because babies grow quickly.
“Babies typically put on 2 to 2-1/2 lbs in their first month, so I’d try to do it by Day 5 to 10 at the latest to manage to truly get their cutest, weeniest footprint,” Fray tells SheKnows.
Baby footprints in paint or ink?
When looking for paint or ink pads, ensure they are water-based and nontoxic. Many poster paints and finger paints fall under this category — including brands such as Crayola. You can also visit the Art and Creative Materials Institute’s extensive database for certifiably nontoxic kid- and baby-friendly products. While searching, look specifically for products with the Approved Product seal (which reads “AP” in a circle).
To help you out, here are a few suggestions:
“Purchase a no-mess do-it-yourself kit,” Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics, tells SheKnows. “Many ink pads are on the market and all are relatively easy to use so long as you can keep your baby still through the process.”
Another tip according to obstetrics nurse Chaunie Brusie is to make sure the pad is big enough for your baby’s foot — and have at least two for each foot just in case. She tells SheKnows other supplies to have on hand are alcohol wipes or another cleansing wipe for quick cleanup.
Before you start — especially if you’re using paint — it’s important to test the paint first, especially if your baby has sensitive skin.
“Put a little bit of paint on your baby’s arm, leave it for a minute, and then wash it off with soapy water. If your baby doesn’t have a reaction within 24 hours, the paint should be safe to use on their feet and hands. Even if your baby doesn’t have a reaction to the paint, you’ll want to clean them up thoroughly after you’re done crafting,” community safety expert for SafeWise Sarah Brown told Romper.
When it’s finally time to capture the print, a good place to set up shop is in the kitchen. “You can easily clean your child afterwards and also clean up any mess that may have been made in the process,” Backe says.
You’ll also likely have a squirmy baby — which means this could become a messy project, particularly if you chose paint. If you have a helper, Fray recommends having one person in charge of one leg for the printing and one in charge of cleanup. Backe adds that the longer you can keep the baby comfortable, the longer they will stay cooperative and quiet.
Another way to avoid mess is to try to get your baby’s footprint while they’re asleep. “Test their sleep state by gently lifting their arm and letting it fall back to their side,” says Backe. “Once you know the child is asleep, break out your kit and get the prints while the getting is good.”
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Tips to get that close-to-perfect stamp
While stamping, make sure you have something firm to place the foot on when you take the print — like a clipboard or a book.
“Grasp your baby’s foot around the ankle, with your thumb on top of the foot and the rest of the finger circling around,” Brusie says. “Use your right hand for the baby’s right foot and vice versa.”
To keep the baby’s foot relaxed, keep the foot firmly in your grasp and give it a gentle shake.
Then, you’ll want to roll from the bottom: “Place the heel of the baby’s foot on the paper first and then ‘roll’ the rest of the foot down so the toes hit the paper last,” Brusie says. “Quickly remove the foot so it doesn’t smudge. Wipe the foot and repeat the process on the other foot. Be confident and quick; you’ve got this!”
Lastly, Fray offers the most important tip of all: Don’t stress — and just have fun with it. This isn’t a newborn necessity, but something that’s nice to have if you can get it.
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A version of this story was published in April 2018.
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