Friday, 25 March 2011

How To: make a canvas with a baby footprint

Surely this is one of those things which really doesn't need a tutorial, right? Surely you just brush a bit of paint onto the sole of your baby's foot and make the print onto a prepared canvas, perhaps in a co-ordinating colour, with very little effort.


Good luck with that.

The people who think that clearly don't take into account the fact that the tiny person who owns the foot MOVES. They also don't tell you that the tiny person will move EVEN MORE if someone is tickling their foot with a paintbrush.

Here was my first attempt at recording the footprints of my newest godson.

4 toes on the left foot and 6 toes on the enormous right foot.

All was going well (and by well, I mean that the paint had stayed on his foot while he was kicking it about and all clothing was paint-free) as I was guiding the tiny foot towards the canvas. At the last minute, he moved. That was the left foot. Not quite as central as I was hoping. He was even less keen on helping me out with the right foot, which is how we ended up with this.

Our second attempt was better.

The winning formula:

Wait until the baby is comfortably sedated during a feed. Get the room to a comfortable temperate and remove trousers so that you're working with bare legs (bear legs are a whole other issue). Be aware that there may be a sudden kick of a painted foot, so move silk cushions out of the way. Have a few canvases on standby, so that there's not so much pressure to get it right first time. Apply the paint to ONE FOOT with a sponge. Do not use a paintbrush. Firmly guide the foot to the canvas (yes, while he's feeding) and be sure to press the toes down (unless you want a toeless foot). HAVE THE BABYWIPES ON STANDBY. Once the first foot is done, move the canvas out of the way and clean the foot with a babywipe. Repeat with the second foot.

Much better, don't you think?

Now, how about a hand?

The best formula we found for the handprint was to follow the formula from above BUT, it's all about which hand you choose and how sedated your baby is. The above print was one where he curled his thumb around (hence why we were unable to flatten his wee hand).

If your baby is feeding on his side with one arm reaching towards his mum's neck and his other arm flopped towards her belly, choose the one near the belly. Make sure it's spread when guiding the canvas towards it and be sure to press down the fingers. Clean it with a babywipe immediately. Unless you fancy getting paint on your clothes, sofa, blankets, cushions and hair.

Finish it off with adding the date and it's ready to go on the wall.

Of course, you could just wait until the baby is sleeping to do all of this.


  1. super cute! glad you go there in the end with much patience (can just imagine a wriggling baby)! and love that tambourine on your wall- at first i thought you made it then read your post properly haha. gorgeous! might be inspiration for me... hmm... anyway, hope you are doing well.

  2. It's impossible to do neat paintings even with an 18 month old. I tried doing green handprints to make the stems of a bunch of flowers, they looked like the Hulk's handprints! And when I tried to get him to do thumbprint hearts for a Valentines card I think I might have lost my mind at that point!

  3. What type of paint did you se?

  4. @Sas: Oh I wish I'd made that tambourine - such a great idea, huh?

    @Charlotte: Neat paintings with tiny babies are soooo much easier! I know what you mean about trying to get a hand print from an 18 month old. Love the mental image of Hulk's handprints!

    @Anon: I used acrylic, straight from the tube. It's much thicker than poster paint so it isn't as spoldgy! You need to make sure to wipe it away immediately though, as you wouldn't want the paint going near the baby's mouth.

  5. Thank you for the advice!!! I am doing this as we speak for my grandsons first birthday. I tried once and it was a disaster! Well wish me luck!

  6. Thank you for this post! I'm looking at doing something like this for a gift. I was wondering though, did you have to prime your canvas first before doing any of the prints on it?

  7. @Amanda: Nope, no priming needed. The (really cheap) canvases I buy are white and ready to be painted straight onto. If you wanted to try something different, you could paint the canvas in one colour and use white paint to print the footprint.

  8. OH, that's really cute! Can I share your idea in my blog? I like it a lot.