When I first started training to become a labor and delivery nurse, there was one task that I dreaded.
It wasn’t the emergency c-section in the middle of the night or the call to the doctor that I knew would test my knowledge or even delivering the dreaded news that the anesthesiologist was running behind to the mother begging me for an epidural.
Instead, it was the seemingly simple yet surprisingly complicated task of obtaining newborn footprints.
Getting a picture-perfect footprint from a screaming, squalling, squirming newborn is no easy task, let me tell you what. But with so many adorable baby memory books and Pinterest crafts for capturing your baby’s footprints to cherish forever, it’s an important skill to have.
Eventually, of course, I got the hang of it and I was grateful to pick up a few tricks of the trade for getting the perfect newborn footprint:
Step 1: Assemble your supplies. If you buy a DIY kit, try to get the no-mess kind that won’t leave your own hands ink-stained. Make sure it’s a big enough pad for your baby’s foot and have at least two for each foot, just in case. Also have an alcohol wipe or other cleaning wipe handy for a quick clean-up before the baby kicks and gets ink all over.
Step 2: Get in position. If your baby is sleeping through the process, bonus points for you. Otherwise, position yourself so that you are facing your baby’s feet to make it easier to reach. Make sure you have something firm, like a clipboard or a book to place the foot on when you take the print.
Step 3: Support the foot. Grasp your baby’s foot around the ankle, with your thumb on top of the foot and the rest of the finger circling around. Use your right hand for the baby’s right foot and vice a versa.
Step 4: Coat and re-coat. Before you get to the next super-important step, take a minute to coat the bottom of the foot in ink–make sure the entire foot is covered, especially the toes–so there aren’t any missing spots in your print.
Step 5: Shake it out. This step is the real key. Babies tend to naturally flex and extend their feet a lot, or curl up their toes at the exact minute you try to take the print, so while keeping the foot firmly (but not too firmly, of course) in your grasp, give the foot a gentle shake. It will help the muscles in her little foot relax so hopefully those toes will uncurl!
Step 6. 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. 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 got this!
And voila! Admire your handiwork and your impressive baby foot printing skills.
Side note: Labor and delivery nurses are always more than willing to do baby footprints for you–feel free to bring extra stickers or your baby book into the hospital if DIY is not your style!