How to Create Keepsake Salt Dough Ornaments

Baby holding father's thumb

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There's nothing sweeter than a baby's tiny hands, so it's not surprising that making baby handprint crafts is a popular activity for parents of young children. These crafts also make excellent gifts for grandparents, daycare providers, and other special people in your child's life.

There are many different baby handprint craft ideas, but one of the most popular is the salt dough handprint impression. These ornaments can be hung on your Christmas tree or displayed in a window. If you wish, you can adapt the craft slightly by attaching a strong magnet to the back and using it as a refrigerator magnet.


Salt dough looks like Play-Doh but can be baked to preserve your creation. It is an easy and affordable alternative to crafting with an artist's clay.

Salt dough can be made with common ingredients from your kitchen pantry. You will need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 3/4 cup hot water

Combine the flour, water, and salt in a large bowl to make your dough. It will feel a bit drier than purchased Play-Doh, but this is completely normal.

Roll the dough into a flat circle, using a plate to create the desired shape. Gently press your baby's hand into the middle of the circle. If it takes you a few tries to get a clear impression, don't worry! One of the best things about salt dough crafts is that you can simply squish your mistakes back into a ball and start over.

Use a pencil or the tip of a kitchen knife to poke a hole in the top of your ornament so you will be able to hang it when you are finished.

When you're satisfied with your creation, place it on a plate and microwave for approximately three minutes. Use a potholder to remove the plate and wait for your baby handprint craft to cool.

If you don't want to use the microwave, you can bake your salt dough ornament on a cookie sheet with a silicone liner at 250 F to 350 F for 1 1/2 to 3 hours. Your design may brown slightly, but this shouldn't be a problem if you are planning to paint the project.

Some people like to simply air-dry their salt dough ornaments, especially those who live in dry climates. However, this is not recommended since it will result in an ornament that is more fragile and prone to breakage.


You can use acrylic paints to decorate salt dough projects. Paint the entire ornament one solid color or paint the handprint impression a contrasting color for a bit of extra interest. Write your child's name and the date on the ornament, then seal the project with a clear coat of protective polyurethane. Thread a ribbon through the hole for hanging.

Use a Footprint

If your baby is very young, you might have better luck making this project using footprints instead. Many children under nine months of age tend to have the urge to grab everything with their hands.

Making Special Memories

Crafting with your baby requires a bit of patience, but this is an excellent way to make special memories together while teaching your child about colors, shapes, and textures. Even if your project doesn't turn out quite the way you planned, the experience will still be a valuable part of your child's creative journey.