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How To Paint A Baby Helmet Design

Did you just find out that your child needs to wear a baby helmet or Doc band? We were in the same position and painted ours to add a little character. Because why be boring if you don’t have to be? Learn how to paint your baby helmet with our step-by-step tutorial.

baby wearing a painted baby helmet looking down.

Before You Start

Before I start to explain how I went about decorating my son’s baby helmet, you need to make sure that you are following the rules from your doctor about what is allowed.

Our Doc Band came from Cranial Technologies and they have great baby decorating tips on their website. Remember that a baby helmet is a medical device and should be treated like one. 

*We are not liable for anything that could happen to your baby helmet after you decorate it. I just feel like I have to say this here, again! It is just worth stating because at the end of the day, I am talking about how I painted a medical device). Read our full disclaimer.

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read our full privacy policy.

Why do babies need to wear helmets?

It is simply to correct the shape of their heads.

There are medical terms to describe everything, however, if you are reading this then you probably already know about torticollis and plagiocephaly.  My son had a flat spot on the side of his head due to a tightening in his neck muscles. 

Doc Band Decorating Ideas

I knew I would be painting something cool on my son’s helmet, but what? Honestly, I was a little scared and tired! 

Anytime my children need something new (like a baby helmet) I normally become a little overwhelmed. This whole baby helmet process has actually been pretty good so far.

 I googled and search for doc band helmet designs and how to decorate a doc band. There really weren’t too many detailed posts out there with different designs and ideas for painting these Doc bands.

As an artist, I tried to think of things that I thought would be simple enough to paint on a round surface. We thought about local sports teams, famous paintings, and general books and things our family loves.

Our Plan

My husband and I are huge fans of the book, Where the Wild Things Are. We decided to go with a wild one theme on our helmet. I also knew that I wanted to use my style of painting to make this baby helmet art my own.

10 popular baby helmet designs

  1. Fighter helmet cap
  2. Favorite character
  3. Monster
  4. Polka Dots
  5. Watermelon
  6. Simple Blocks of Color
  7. Decals with your favorite saying
  8. Construction themed with cute sayings
  9. Under the Sea
  10. Football helmet or inspired by your favorite sports team
baby helmet decorating ideas with in progress decorated doc band pictures

What kind of paint do you use on a baby helmet or doc band?

Acrylic paint is your best option due to its ability to adhere to the surface and dry in a plastic-like layer.

  • Most acrylic paints are low VOC and will have an AP (approved product) seal and this means it is a certified safe product to use (especially with children).
  • Acrylic paint is also water-based and can be cleaned or diluted as needed. It also has a quick drying time compared to other paint options.

If you would like more info on the labels on art supplies you can go to The ACMI Site for more explanation.

How To Sketch On Helmet

I wasn’t sure if my go-to drawing transfer technique would work. I have used this technique to help make a DIY wedding gift to lettering for a chalkboard wall.

Even though I wasn’t sure, I thought I would go ahead and give it a try.  I am happy that my simple drawing transfer technique worked to help me decorate the baby helmet.

Recommended Supplies

  • Paint Brushes
  • Acrylic Paint in the colors of your choice*
  • Pencil
  • Mod Podge
  • Foam Brush to apply Mod Podge
acrylic paint, mod podge, brushes, water container and foam brushes on shiplap.

*We used more expensive Liquitex paint because we already had it, but some people say that the cheaper acrylic paint works just as well.

How To Paint A Baby Helmet

Before: Clean helmet

Make sure your baby helmet is clean and grime-free.

Step 1: Create A Sketch On Helmet

First, create a sketch or find an image you want to use for inspiration.

Putting pencil on the back of drawing

After I printed images that I thought would work, I put the pencil on the back of the image, cut it out and tape it on the helmet where I wanted it

Use a sharp pencil to trace on top of the picture and push the scribbled graphite on the back. It actually worked better than I thought. The graphite did stick to the plastic coating of the outside shell.

sketch of monster on baby helmet.

Step 2: Begin Painting

Once my images were on, I simply began painting with acrylic paint. I used my artist’s acrylic paint.

However, according to the Cranial Technology website, regular acrylic craft paint will also work when painting a Doc band baby helmet.

Make sure you are using non-toxic paint as you want to make sure that you are being safe for your baby.

Now, this is where my skills come into play. I know everyone reading this may not be able to paint as I do. However, my drawing technique can work for a lot of simpler baby helmet designs.

hand holding baby helmet with wild thing monster painted on the side.

Baby Doc Band Painting Tips

  • Make sure the brush is almost completely dry when painting. You are adding paint to a plastic surface and if you have water on your brushes the paint will just puddle on there. 
  • Paint in layers
  • Always paint general to specific. For example, the eyes were done by painting yellow first, then adding the pupils, and then adding the “detailed” sketch or black lines
  • The good news with painting on plastic is that it can be mostly wiped clean if you make a mistake
  • I only had my paints end in a painterly way away from the edge so that I did not have to worry about the foam

Step 3: Wait For Acrylic Paint To Fully Dry

I was surprised at how fast the acrylic paint I used dried. I placed it outside to dry and also to get some sun inside the helmet.

After a month of us, the inside foam definitely has a little smell and I am told letting sunlight get to it helps. 

painted baby helmet in baking dish outside drying in the sun.

I placed my son’s Doc Band in an 8″ baking pan to support it outside while drying. I thought it worked perfectly!

Step 4: Add First Layer Of Mod Podge

After 45 minutes, I checked on my painted baby helmet. It appeared to be dry to the touch. Use a foam brush to put my first layer of mod podge.

Wet mod podge on baby helmet over painted design.

Make sure you use the original formula to seal and protect your painting. I used a brush to lightly paint it on in one layer. As you can see, the milky coat will turn clear when it dries. 

Step 5: Let Mod Podge Dry

Place the painted baby helmet outside to dry and also hopefully help get rid of the mod podge smell. After 30 minutes, check to see if my first coat was dry so that I could add another layer of mod podge.

baby helmet with painted boat and sky design in baking pan drying.

I left the Doc Band back outside in the sun. So my son was out of the doc band longer than the hour recommended that day.

However, only because we really wanted to let it dry and not become smelly. I think he did not wear his baby helmet for around 5 or 6 hours that day. 

How long should you wait for your baby helmet to dry?

For the best results, I would let your helmet dry overnight. When I was cleaning mine that night, my nail slipped and took one of the leaves out.

Luckily, it was not an important part. My son did sleep in his once I thought the smell of the mod podge was not too bad. He did not ruin his helmet or anything, but it may be best to let your painted baby helmet dry overnight.

Recommendation To Speed Up Drying

A mom in the Cranial Doc Band Facebook group recommended using a blow dryer on COOL to help speed up the drying process. I would just be cautious that you do not heat the band at all as I know that could cause problems.

I am so happy that I decided to finally get over my fear and just paint something on the baby helmet. It is so nice to see his smiling face with a cute illustration on it instead of the medical-looking white baby helmet.

How-To FAQs

How to clean a painted Doc Band baby helmet?

Cranial Technologies recommends using rubbing alcohol to clean the helmet. However, I believe I will now only be cleaning the inside foam with rubbing alcohol as mod podge is water-soluble and I think the rubbing alcohol will take the sealer off. I will be asking about this at our next appointment. 
Note: I didn’t realize there were different types of rubbing alcohol, but Cranial Technologies says you need to use this percentage of Isopropyl alcohol.

How did our helmet hold up?

About 6 months into wearing this helmet, I decided to add more acrylic blue into the sky of the helmet. At the beginning of this, I hadn’t added enough color. The Wild Thing never needed to be retouched.
Also, don’t be scared to clean and add an extra layer of Mod Podge after some time. It will only protect the design.

How did our son do in the baby helmet the first couple of days and nights?

My son slept in the band right away and really only tried to take it off initially. He got used to really quickly, even for being an “older” baby helmet wearer.

What if I decide I don’t want to paint my Doc Band myself?

There are a lot of fun decals you can buy. You will still have to use Mod Podge after, but there are a lot of cute ones on Etsy.

I hope you found these tips helpful on how to paint a baby helmet. Hopefully, all of our babies only have to wear these cool helmets for a little time!

painted baby helmet with Wild Things design and supplies used on shiplap.

Related Family-Friendly Posts

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Good luck decorating your baby helmet. You’ve got this!

baby wearing a painted baby helmet looking down.

How To Paint A Baby Helmet

Learn how to use acrylic paint and Mod Podge to decorate your baby helmet.
Print Pin Rate
Keyword: how to paint a baby helmet, painting a Doc band
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Active Time: 2 hours
Dry Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
Author: Erin
Cost: $10 (not including helmet)

Equipment

  • Paint Brushes
  • Small Water Container
  • Plate or paint palette
  • Foam Brush

Recommended Supplies

Instructions

  • Clean helmet to make sure it is grime and dust-free.
  • Optional: Tape out the inside of your helmet. You don't want to get paint inside on the foam.
  • Use a drawing transfer technique or sketch your design on your helmet with pencil.
    sketch of monster on baby helmet.
  • Paint the helmet with acrylic paint.
    hand holding baby helmet with wild thing monster painted on the side.
  • Allow paint to fully dry.
    painted baby helmet in baking dish outside drying in the sun.
  • Use a foam brush to apply one even layer of Mod Podge on the outside shell. Be careful to not get any inside the helmet.
    Wet mod podge on baby helmet over painted design.
  • Let first layer fully dry.
  • Paint a second layer of Mod Podge.
  • You can add a third if you want. Let helmet dry overnight.
    painted baby helmet with Wild Things design and supplies used on shiplap.
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Recipe Rating




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Amanda

Friday 27th of August 2021

Did you end up having to reapply the modge podge? Anything you would hVe done differently? My twins are getting their helmets next week.

Erin

Saturday 28th of August 2021

Hi Amanda. Good luck with your baby helmet. I ended up added a little darker blue to the sky of the helmet two months later, so I did reapply 2 more layers of mod podge. I really just did that because I didn't like the white of the helmet in my design. Good luck with your baby helmet, I know how overwhelming the whole process can be at first. Before you know it they will be out the helmets!

Jenn Summers

Saturday 23rd of November 2019

Great job Erin it is adorable! Our smaller twin wore a helmet as well. She thought she was indestructible lol. I hope your little guy's treatment works quickly.

Not sure what your helmet doc will say but ours had us wash it inside and out daily with rubbing alcohol (and wash her hair daily as well) and once a week with soap and water and we would change any extra padding then too. Every place is different though.

Erin

Saturday 23rd of November 2019

Hi Jenn. Thanks for the tips regarding the baby helmet. Yes, we have to use rubbing alcohol and wash our little one's head every day. Our padding does not come out in the inside of our helmet. I am glad he is wearing this Doc Band during the Winter and not the Summer!

Amanda

Friday 22nd of November 2019

Absolutely amazing! You are very talented and creative!! What a great idea. When people stop to look, it will be at the art, not the fact they are wearing a helmet. What a gift

Erin

Saturday 23rd of November 2019

Hi Amanda! That you for the kind words about his painted baby helmet. The good news is that baby helmets seem more common around here so people don’t even really ask what it is.

Jazmine

Friday 22nd of November 2019

This is such a gorgeous idea. Just the first paragraph of this article alone had me tearing up. You are an amazing mama and I wish there were more people like you in the world!

Erin

Saturday 23rd of November 2019

Hi Jasmine. Thank you for the kind comments. We all want what is best for our kids!

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