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Baby Hand Prints

Painting your baby's first footprint or hand prints on pottery

I have been painting hand and foot prints on pottery since 2001 when I set up Pots of Fun.  At the start I had little or no experience of painting baby feet or hands, but since then I have painted literally thousands of hands and feet. Along the way I have learnt some great tips for creating your baby's first footprint or hand print.  My experience is based on pottery painting but these hints and tips also work for prints of your child's hands on thank you notes, canvases or the baby keepsake books.  Hand and footprints on anything make lovely keepsakes and mementos of a special time for you and your family.

Equipment Required

  • Sponge
  • Water based paints, do not use permanent paints or inks. I used an stamper pad when I did my daughter's feet for her baby book and she had black feet for a week!!
  • A plate or saucer to uses as a palette to put the paint on
  • The paper, canvas or items you want to paint the hand or footprints on. Avoid glossy or shiny paper or card as the feet and hands will slip.
  • Baby wipes or a cloth to clean the paint.
  • A thin book, to hold behind the paper or card to provide a firm surface

General Points

  1. Get all the equipment ready before you get your child.
  2. Make up your mind what colours and what you are going to paint each hand and foot before starting.
  3. This is a two person job, one to hold the child and one to do the painting.
  4. Pick a time when you and your child are relaxed. If anyone is stressed, children sense this straight away and the painting will be more difficult.
  5. Do one hand or foot at a time and clean the child's hand or foot and your hands before going on to the next hand or foot. If you have a number of items to paint, paint all of one hand or foot on all the items, clean up that hand or foot and then move onto the next hand or foot and add that to the items.
  6. If you want to paint more than one child on the items, do each child separately.
  7. If you want the hand prints or footprints for your baby book, I recommend that you don't try to print straight to the baby book.   Do a number of hand and footprints on a piece of nice paper then cut them out stick the best prints in the book.

First footprints (Generally easier than hands) - or hand prints on round objects like mugs or Christmas tree baubles

  1. Sit the baby on the knee of your helper facing the painter. The painter should hold the foot to be painted. The person holding the baby should also keep the leg not being painted and hands away from the painter.
  2. Put some paint on your sponge and dab it onto the foot, (or hand). Try to cover the skin but do not put loads on otherwise the foot or hand will slide on the paper and you will not see the detail of the lines on the feet.
  3. Keep hold of the foot with one hand and pick up your piece of paper with the book behind it and press the foot onto the paper. The book is there to provide some firmness behind the paper so you have something to press against. Bring the paper, with the book behind it to the foot and press gently. You do not need to get the child to stand on the paper.
  4. For items like Christmas Baubles or Mugs, just old the item with one hand and push the foot or hand onto the item. If you want to paint on both sides of these items wait until the first print is dry before putting it on the second print.
  5. Sometimes children curl their feet, just be patient, hold onto the foot and wait until they relax and then do the printing. Sometimes just tickling the back of the heel will make them uncurl their foot.

Handprints on Flat objects, like greeting cards, canvases and plates

  1. The technique is slightly different for handprints.
  2. Place the paper, canvas or plate on a table and get the person holding the baby to sit with the baby facing the paper as if it were sitting to eat their dinner. The painter holds the hand to be painted and the other person holds the child and all other limbs away from the painted hand.
  3. Again dab the paint on the hand. If your child's hands are so tightly clenched that you cannot get any paint on at all, give up and try again another day. You can always practice getting them to be relaxed about opening their hands by playing "Round and Round the Garden" or putting water on the palms of their hands in the bath.
  4. If you have managed to put paint on their hand put the heel of their hand on the paper and uncurl the fingers gently trying to avoid wiping off the paint.

With these techniques you can create entries for your baby record book, personalised greeting cards for Christmas,thank you notes or pottery items like first Christmas tree baubles.  Hand and foot print painting makes a great craft activity for toddler groups. 

Whatever you choose to paint your baby or child' s hand prints on make sure you have a fun time doing it.

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