A baby’s hand dipped in paint and pressed onto a piece of plain paper can make the cutest (and most cost-effective) art for your home. Plus, you get to look back at those tiny hands and feet once they've grown bigger than your own. It's also a super easy craft to make, as long as you have the right kind of paint on-hand. So, what's the best paint for baby handprints (or footprints)? You don't want to irritate your little one's skin or expose them to dangerous chemicals.
“Any nontoxic paint is fine to have on baby skin. This is assuming the paint will be on the infant's skin briefly and any excess paint wiped clean as soon as possible,” pediatrician Dr. Natasha Burgert, M.D., tells Romper.
If your little one is especially prone to putting their hands in their mouth (so, basically, all babies) you may want to be especially cautious and make your own edible finger paint using a recipe like this one from Learning4Kids, which is made using cornstarch, hot water, and food coloring. (Flour works, too, if you don't have cornstarch.) There are nontoxic stamp pads available, too, which may be less messy than paint, and these ink pads work especially well if you buy one big enough to fit your kiddo’s full hand or foot. As Romper previously reported, the label on nontoxic paint or ink will likely contain the word "hues," meaning the pigment does not contain heavy metals (which can be harmful for skin, per the Princeton University Office of Environmental Health and Safety).
If you're trying to take infant handprints, you might have a hard time getting them to put their palm flat against the paper because their natural reaction will be to close their hand into a fist (known as the grasping reflex). Try taking the print while they're in a deep sleep, per Hello Motherhood, and use a baby wipe or warm washcloth to remove the ink or paint afterward.
When it comes to removing the paint, “soap and water should do the trick,” Burgert tells Romper. You’ll likely want to remove the paint as soon as possible (both so your baby is comfortable and so your floors and walls don’t get destroyed). You can remove the paint with a warm, soapy washcloth, and if you're concerned about the mess factor, you can always take the craft party outside. Or you could finally put one of the large cardboard boxes left over from your latest online order to good use: Sit your kiddo in the box (maybe by pretending it's a rocket ship or a boat) and take their handprint while they're somewhat contained and can't run away with a painted hands. Just be sure to put a book or another hard surface under the paper or the canvas.
If you're going all in on the baby crafts, you may also want to make a plaster mold of your baby's hands or feet. These are safe, "as long as the parent follows the directions, which typically include applying a skin barrier prior to putting baby's hands and feet into the mold," Burgert tells Romper. You can also DIY this one by making your own play dough and then baking it in a 250-degree oven until it hardens, per Prep and Pantry.
As anyone who has ever supervised a kid's art project knows, their hands are going to end up covered in paint, ink, and the like... even if you're not making handprints or finger painting. For this reason, most kid craft supplies will most likely be fine to use on your child's hands or feet, just double check to make sure the label says nontoxic and washable (unless you're also going for tie-dyed walls).
Dr. Natasha Burgert, M.D., pediatrician and nationally recognized child health expert