Babies · Crafting · Programs

Baby Art Playground: Footprint Art

Footprint Art for babies ages 0-14 @ librarybonanza
Footprint Art for babies ages 0-14 @ librarybonanza

Dress for mess! This messy sensory art exploration exposes baby to a variety of textures. Education toys provide further enjoyment, play, and exercise for developing senses. Siblings are welcome to help, but supplies are limited to the age-appropriate child.

Bring home a keepsake of your baby’s darling feet. Canvas and paint provided.

Everyone, please feast your eyes on an alluring yet potentially catastrophic craft program for babies: footprint art. Don’t worry–it can be done!

The motivation behind this program was purely product-based. I am slightly obsessed with process-based art (that develops fine and gross motor skills along with early literacy skills and brain development) so I felt a bit guilty as I put it together. But, the parents were ecstatic and signed up in droves and libraries are here to make the parents happy, too, right? We still had educational toys out for play but most of the space was dedicated to a potentially messy craft. Tarps lined the floor but the paint was miraculously well contained.


  • Fifty 8×10 canvases = $115.71
    • Note: I ordered these the cheapest I could through an outside company via Amazon but never receive 6 and had to go to Hobby Lobby anyways to get the total I needed. They were on sale at Hobby Lobby for about 50 cents more per canvas soooooo….
    • You could easily do this on paper, but I wanted the craft to be wall-ready to maintain its longevity and save parents the time of having to get it mounted.
  • 8 bottles of Sargent Art Tempera Paint = $15.92
    • All tempera paint is nontoxic and washable. If you want absolute certainty, check for the AP certified standard on the bottle that conforms to ASTM-D.
    • I chose paint over ink stamps because the stamps were waaaay too light for the canvas.
  • 10 Large Kitchen Sponges = $5.55
    • Note: I wanted to take the ease of ink pads with the results of paint. These sponges were perfect for fully and quickly applying the paint without tickling the sensitive feet (as a brush may have done). Staff prepped the sponges in advance and reloaded as needed.
  • 4 containers Baby Wipes (about 2 wipes per child) = $3.67 (on sale at Aldi, what what)
    • Note: These were a quick, baby safe way to immediately clean the foot once baby had stamped their footprint on the canvas.

Total Cost = $140.85

Attendance = 106 people, ROI = $1.33 per person

Overcoming Concerns for a Library Program

Two main concerns exist with this program:

  1. The fickleness of babies’ moods. Most all blogs discuss one-on-one footprint art where a caregiver is at home and they have an ability to control the environment or return back to the painting later when baby is ready. Not so in a time-sensitive program at the library. However, I encouraged caregivers to bring snacks, milk, or any other distractions for baby as they had something wet and cold slopped on their feet. I asked caregivers to pair up so that they could help each other press baby’s foot on the canvas while another held the baby, hopefully avoiding too much frustration from the caregiver (which radiates into baby). Lullaby music also played over the speakers. All in all, only 3 or 4 babies per class cried from the experience, but were quickly soothed.
  2. Messy, messy, messy. Remarkably not so if given the right precautions. Babies and caregivers were asked to sit on the ground atop tarps spread throughout the room. Paint was then handled by 1 volunteer and 2 staff members. A brief introduction to the craft was given including several tips for getting a decent footprint:
  • While you hold or another caregivers holds your baby, hold by the ankle and press firmly on the foot.
  • Bring snacks or bottle for distraction
  • Practice footprint on paper
  • Press heel onto paper and roll the toes or press them down
  • Lift quickly so paint doesn’t smudge

With baby wipes in ample supply, cleanup was quick and easy for caregivers, preventing the spread of paint over clothes and the tarps.

Tips for Next Time

I wish that I had written our library at the bottom of the canvas somewhere to remind parents where they made the craft.

Some parents were go-getters and created artwork from the footprints (such as a butterfly or a heart) but I wanted to avoid too many stipulations which may have caused nervousness for making the artwork perfect. It was nice to have it more open ended. As the patrons left, the canvases felt rather bland but I encouraged them to decorate them more at home when baby was sleeping or they had some “off” time.

Until the next round of Baby Art Playground in the summertime! I’m super stoked for natural taste-safe fingerpaints, teething rings, and mesmerizing mirrors!

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