Paint an Unfinished Toy Doll Cradle

Paint a toy doll cradle in colors as bright as a little girl's imagination!
Paint a toy doll cradle in colors as bright as a little girl's imagination! | Source

Doll Cradles for Little Girls


Even tiny girls enjoy having their own doll babies to play with in their make believe games. Adding a one-of-a-kind doll cradle to the mix enriches the experience they have when playing with their dolls. By copying their mommies' behaviors they can learn skills and concepts that help them grow up with confidence.

The cradle needs to be age appropriate, however. My first hub on painting a doll cradle includes an example of how to build a wood cradle for a toddler’s play time. It's not too tipsy and it rocks just enough. It is stable so it can also be turned over and used as a little bench.

The directions for making it are easy, only requiring simple supplies and a few tools (learn how in Build and Paint a Toy Cradle) but you’ll see some unfinished doll cradles for sale below. Either way, creating a painted design especially for a little girl you love is delightful stuff.

My husband’s pattern gave me plentiful surfaces to splish-splash my paint on and thinking about the smiles our granddaughters would have as they opened their birthday presents was quite motivating. Happy colors in artful designs made for a fun-to-paint project. Hope you enjoy seeing the process of this second one!


PrIme that baby doll cradle!
PrIme that baby doll cradle! | Source

Talking Primers...

Painting a Toy Doll Cradle


First, always consider safety issues, especially if you are working with or around children. Tool manufacturers, extension service programs, and even project supply stores offer information about being safe when building with wood and painting it.

To begin panting a wood project, a smooth surface is needed. A solid sanding of the raw piece to round off any sharp corners is important, then a light sanding will give a good surface for primer. After primer is applied, another light sanding provides a fine finish for applying paint.

Primer shouldn't be skipped. Bare wood needs to be primed to prevent any resins it contains from bleeding through your paint job and to prevent paint from sinking into the wood as the grain rises over time, ruining your design's effect.

Not priming results in a subpar finished project that will have to be refinished before long. I have had great success using products like Glidden brand's Gripper primer, as well as Kilz and Valspar primers. However, it's amazing to see the new products now on the market. You might like to do some research on them before starting your project.

Though getting to the pleasurable part of painting is a process, making sure the preparation for it is sound means that the piece will last. Sanding and priming are important steps and care should be given to doing them. Once they are complete, the fun starts!


Follow the Pictures to See this Project from Start to Finish:

After putting two coats of a pale green acrylic on the cradle it needed one more light sanding for a nice smooth finish, see photo 1 below.

Painting a Toy Doll Cradle

Click thumbnail to view full-size
1. Paint the primed cradle a base color.2. Cut strips of paper as a guide for vine bases.3. Add tendrils and leaves to the basic vine design.4. Use a darker green to add a few more vining tendrils.5. Begin filling in flower colors, planning carefully so that they look random but are laid out nicely.6. Finish the basic flowers with a complimentary color.7.  Use white and/or pale colors to add flower centers and highlight the petals.8. Use a pop of color to outline the flowers and highlight the vining designs with dots.9. A different angle of finished sides, but colors do not show real well.  10. Large flowers for the outside ends.11.  Smaller flowers for the inside ends.12.  Bright white makes a good base for big flowers.13. Bold colors from the sides' design pop the end flowers!14. Highlight the basic flower with coordinating colors and add a rocker design across the bottom.15. Details of the ends'  flowers.16. Highlighting the flowers with colors from the sides gives them dimension.17.  Layering white glaze on the cradle adds depth.18. Glaze softens sharp colors.19. Don't add too many layers of glaze!20.  This butterfly is as colorful as our granddaughter's imagination!
1. Paint the primed cradle a base color.
1. Paint the primed cradle a base color. | Source
2. Cut strips of paper as a guide for vine bases.
2. Cut strips of paper as a guide for vine bases. | Source
3. Add tendrils and leaves to the basic vine design.
3. Add tendrils and leaves to the basic vine design. | Source
4. Use a darker green to add a few more vining tendrils.
4. Use a darker green to add a few more vining tendrils. | Source
5. Begin filling in flower colors, planning carefully so that they look random but are laid out nicely.
5. Begin filling in flower colors, planning carefully so that they look random but are laid out nicely. | Source
6. Finish the basic flowers with a complimentary color.
6. Finish the basic flowers with a complimentary color. | Source
7.  Use white and/or pale colors to add flower centers and highlight the petals.
7. Use white and/or pale colors to add flower centers and highlight the petals. | Source
8. Use a pop of color to outline the flowers and highlight the vining designs with dots.
8. Use a pop of color to outline the flowers and highlight the vining designs with dots. | Source
9. A different angle of finished sides, but colors do not show real well.
9. A different angle of finished sides, but colors do not show real well. | Source
10. Large flowers for the outside ends.
10. Large flowers for the outside ends. | Source
11.  Smaller flowers for the inside ends.
11. Smaller flowers for the inside ends. | Source
12.  Bright white makes a good base for big flowers.
12. Bright white makes a good base for big flowers. | Source
13. Bold colors from the sides' design pop the end flowers!
13. Bold colors from the sides' design pop the end flowers! | Source
14. Highlight the basic flower with coordinating colors and add a rocker design across the bottom.
14. Highlight the basic flower with coordinating colors and add a rocker design across the bottom. | Source
15. Details of the ends'  flowers.
15. Details of the ends' flowers. | Source
16. Highlighting the flowers with colors from the sides gives them dimension.
16. Highlighting the flowers with colors from the sides gives them dimension. | Source
17.  Layering white glaze on the cradle adds depth.
17. Layering white glaze on the cradle adds depth. | Source
18. Glaze softens sharp colors.
18. Glaze softens sharp colors. | Source
19. Don't add too many layers of glaze!
19. Don't add too many layers of glaze! | Source
20.  This butterfly is as colorful as our granddaughter's imagination!
20. This butterfly is as colorful as our granddaughter's imagination! | Source

By the time the cradle is ready for painting, the design and colors should be settled. I chose simple elements with bright colors for this one.

Cutting edges of paper strips (a great use for junk mail) into varying curves (see photo 2) to use as a guide for evenly spaced, shapely lines was an easy way to make bases for flowering vines.

Free handing the drawing and painting of tendrils, leaves and flowers was simple work as shown in progressive photos 3-9.

While the vine design on the cradle's sides dried, I measured and cut out 2 paper flowers--one large size for the outside ends, and one slightly smaller size for the inside ends.

Making sure to turn the patterns as I outlined them onto the ends so that each drawn flower was in a different position, I did not outline them exactly, but only used the pattern as a guide to help me size the flowers. Rotating the patterns also helped give a random look to the design.

Once the flower's outlines were on I filled them in with a glossy white base color. Then I use the primary colors from the sides to paint inside the white bases, leaving a bit of white around the edges--see photos 10-13.

Photograph 14 shows the highlights created with coordinating colors, as well as the rocker design across the bottom edge of the ends. Note the same details in pictures 15 and 16.

Sponging on layers of white glaze gave dimension to the painted design--see photos 17-19.

I then added a surprise to the bottom. See photograph 20 for the brightest butterfly ever!

Once the glaze dried (always follow manufacturers' instructions) a clear polyurethane was applied in several coats to give the cradle a hard protective finish and that's all there was to it!


Getting that butterfly ready to fly was a process!
Getting that butterfly ready to fly was a process! | Source

Getting the Gift Ready for a Tiny Girl


I had high hopes that the little girl this cradle was intended for would find it intact on its arrival. Complete with a hand made blanket, pillow and pad under a smiling baby, I tucked bubble wrap around the doll and then wrapped the cradle's center with plastic wrap. Birthday paper around the whole was a trick, but doable in small pieces.

After reinforcing the box it was to be mailed in we taped it up and sent it to Alaska with a prayer for safe passage. Sound like a lot of trouble? I promise you, it was worth it. Video Chat allowed us to see her initial response and there are no words for the delight it gave us.

Have you ever made toys for little ones in your family?

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  • Not yet!
  • Never.
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All the toys in all the toy stores in the world could not have replaced the scene that unfolded before us as she pulled back the blanket and reached in for the doll, then set up the cradle in her bedroom so she could put her new doll to sleep. While we do purchase gifts for our grandchildren, buying toys definitely is not all it's cracked up to be!


More Creative Projects:

Felt Finger Puppets aren't just for Valentine's Day!

• Bright fabric sewn into a child's pillowcase gives sweet dreams!

• Baby blanket edgings crocheted with style.

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Do you think you will ever paint a doll's cradle? 30 comments

Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

What a great idea for a little girl. One could match the room with the colors. Too bad my daughter is too old for this. Shared for others to enjoy!


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey Author

Glimmer Twin Fan:

Thanks much for your feedback on this paint project!


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 3 years ago from Massachusetts

All great and useful information and so well explained and easy to follow instructions . Well done !


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey Author

kashmir56:

Thank you for letting me know that you found this useful and easy to follow! It really is an easy project, and best of all, lots of fun. :)


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from Maryland

Your finished project is so cheerful & sweet!


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