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.
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.
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.
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
- Fighter helmet cap
- Favorite character
- Polka Dots
- Simple Blocks of Color
- Decals with your favorite saying
- Construction themed with cute sayings
- Under the Sea
- Football helmet or inspired by your favorite sports team
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- If you think you will be messy, tape out the foam part (they recommend this on the Cranial Technologies site). Here is my favorite painter’s tape that I use for all of my projects like this painted nursery accent wall.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
How To Paint A Baby Helmet
- Paint Brushes
- Small Water Container
- Plate or paint palette
- Foam Brush
- 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.
- Paint the helmet with acrylic paint.
- Allow paint to fully dry.
- 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.
- Let first layer fully dry.
- Paint a second layer of Mod Podge.
- You can add a third if you want. Let helmet dry overnight.