Sharpie your cell phone number on your kid’s belly

Jennfactor's comment — a practical alternative to personalized rubber bracelets as ID — was worthy of promotion to the front page:

When we go to crazy places like amusement parks and fairs, we just use a Sharpie and write on the kids' stomachs "My mom's cell # is…." The kids are all drilled on what to do if they get lost, and we have photos of them at Disneyland and everywhere else, flashing their bellies with the emergency plan.


  1. says

    I think you are repeating yourself! :-)

    You gave a hack of writing your kid’s name and your cell phone number out before, and my wife and I do it every time we go out to big events.

  2. Jill says

    For that reason I prefer the masking tape with cell number stuck on their backs from the previous discussion.

  3. Lee says

    Washable Crayola markers would work too. They wash off in the bath, instead of taking days to wear off.

  4. says

    Ed S.: there are various methods of getting permanent marker ink off the skin, including baby wipes, toothpaste, rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, eye makeup remover, coffee… It’s usually a matter of trial and error to figure out which method works best for one’s skin.

    Sanford, manufacturers of the Sharpie marker, do not recommend using them on skin.

  5. says

    Funny, I was writing up a hack about stuffing their pockets with my business cards, but hey, why not Sharpie them?

    Can I write other things?

    “Warning. His toots smell.” Things like that?

  6. hedra says

    I told this one to my mom, and she busted out laughing… she wishes she’d thought of it for the crew of us.

    Though with the sensitive skin in some of my kids, I’ll have to try just plain non-toxic washable markers… Unless I want them trying to read the phone number in hives form. ;)

  7. says

    > Can I write other things?

    Perhaps, “Reward offered?”

    I’d be more comfortable with the masking tape or the washable marker, but seems like both of those could come off if the child sweats a lot (which, when I think back to amusment-park days, happens in buckets).

    I like the idea that the label is semi-permanent, in case of kidnapping.

    My husband and I have actually been talking about developing an RFID-based system, where the child wears an RFID-chipped bracelet that would alert when the bracelet went outside of the border of the mall or amusement park. Of course, it’s temporary. The parent would remove the bracelet when the famly left the venue.

    – L

  8. Elana says

    We’re flying in a few days.  I picked up a self-sealing badge maker at an office supply store, and I am going to put his name, our numbers and my parents address on a piece of paper and clip that to the inside of one of his pockets.  We’ll use it each time we go out, and keep it in his backpack so if he loses that, it can make its way home.  

    As well, his allergy info is going on one and being put with his medications, so if someone doesn’t know, they’ll be able to administer it to him in case of an emergency.

  9. says

    This reminds me of the story I heard about the tattooist who, during the Blitz in London (city being bombed regularly, civilian deaths all around the show, high chance of being separated from child in panic of rushing to air-raid shelter) tattooed popeye on his eight-year old son’s arm. His rationale was that if he became separated from his son, asking strangers “Have you seen a small child, looks a bit like me?” wasn’t going to get anywhere – but “Have you seen a small boy with Popeye tattooed on his arm?” would. Under the circumstances, I think it’s a pretty reasonable response.

  10. Jill says

    for -L:
    The masking tape is to be stuck on the back of the child’s shirt- not his or her skin. This way it would be visible to the adult needing the number. I guess it could be done differently for children old enough to use the phone themselves.

    Washable markers would not survive sweat in a legible manner. I don’t suggest testing that method in an important situation.

  11. says

    I think the Sharpie idea is an excellent one!! I will HAVE to use that one whenever we go anyplace that is crowded! Yeah, it may take a few days to actually wear off of the children, but if an instance came up that you had a lost child, and it worked, it would so be worth it!!

  12. chefdad says

    Great idea! -Olive oil removes permanent ink from skin and assorted fruits!
    My son and I made photo IDs with our computer. They have all the important info+ recent pic. He and our family members have them for emergencies. And yes, he’s lost his a few times.

  13. says

    I first heard of this from a childbirth instructor who advised (in the case of baby born in the car, etc) to scrawl a big x on babe’s belly to alleviate hospital mixups.

  14. Dave says

    What a great tip. We were thinking alse how about those $#@# hard to remove hospital bracelets, or “party” tyvek bracelets? We found a site over here where they can be purchased:

    Let the toxic sharpie work on the bracelet, not the kiddos.


  15. Mieke says

    I *loved* this hack. And was all ready to use it this past weekend… until I realized my daughter is in her “dresses-only” phase. Teaching her to lift up her shirt to show just the belly is not a problem, but I don’t think I want to teach her to lift up her dress…
    I modified it to write it on tape and stick it on her back.

    chefdad: I like that idea too. Yes, they do tend to lose them, but you can print a stack, and put them in quite a few places (bags, pockets, etc).

  16. Jim says

    When our kids were a little older and more responsible, we gave them a piece of paper with phone #’s and addresses of where we were staying. At the end of the day, if they returned them to us, we gave them a dollar. By the end of the week, they could have enough to buy whatever little trinkets they wanted. During the week, whenever they said they wanted something badly, we simply told them to remember it and they could buy it at the end of the week with their money.

  17. Kelly says

    I think this is a good idea… for the most part, anyway. It seems that no one should be looking at your kid’s stomachs in the first place. So unless the child is lifting up his/her own shirt, I am wondering what’s really going on.

  18. says

    I have a very distinct memory from when I was 4 years old. We went to the circus in a large group and we each had contact information written in blue ball point pen on our arms. It took several days to wash off completely.

    I love the idea of the tyvek ID bracelet, those things are hard to remove and wont cause an allergic rx on my son’s extremely sensitive skin if I write on it with a sharpie.

    I think I’ll also print son ID info and put it in his backpack.

    Great hack, thanks! :)

  19. says

    We used a sharpie when we went to the zoo a few weekends ago, a blue sharpie to be exact. At the end of the day I checked their bellies, and I guess because it was a warm day, it melted off a bit onto the inside of their t-shirts. Now the t-shirts are permanently stained.

    I’m very disappointed.

    Next time I’m going to get some tattoo paper for our computer printer and make some fun tattoos out of it. I think they will be safer in the sense that less ink will be absorbed by their skin, and I won’t have to worry about it ruining their clothes.

  20. says

    LEGOLAND in Denmark already offers a GPS enabled bracelet that parents can rent for the day. The parents are given a phone number to dial on their cell phones, and approximate location is provided by text message.

  21. says

    Debbie – Do not put ink on the skin of a newborn. My sister, a nurse in a NICU, says ink can permanently stain a newborn’s skin like a tattoo.

  22. says

    This comment is two pronged: prong one is to inform people about what a sharpie is made with and why it should not be used to write on skin. Prong 2 is to let you know about an alternative that accomplishes the same thing.

    PRong 1:Excerpt from
    Wikipedia: “According to the manufacturer’s safety data sheets (MSDS), various Sharpies contain: n-propanol, n-butanol, diacetone alcohol, xylene, and cresol. The first of these, n-propanol, is commonly used in cosmetics. The other four, however, are industrial solvents, chemicals that should not be sniffed, eaten, or put on the skin. As solvents they penetrate the skin and fingernails, and do enter the bloodstream.”

    Prong 2: I am biased as i am the outsourced affiliate program manager for the Alternative.!YzEyMwBVAAAEWUEAAYm4
    The safetyTat allows your phone number to be placed on your child with out the harmful industrial solvents of a Sharpie.

  23. says

    My brother used to have his head shaved down the middle so that he had two mohawks. It was very handy if we were ever separated while we were out. “Have you seen a guy with two mohawks?” almost always got us a pointed finger in the direction he went. Of course, he was 15 by that time, so it wasn’t a huge emergency to be separated from him, but it works along the same lines as the Popeye tattoo. Give your kid something memorable to ask about.

  24. michelle says

    When my older daughter took my three year old daughter to the zoo, I wrote all critical info on her belly in permanent marker. If someone picked her up and everyone was looking for a little girl it would only take a second to take her to a restroom and quickly cut hair and remove any clothing that would identify her. (Along with her ID taped or written on the clothing.) But, someone trying to scrub info off a kid is going to draw attention.

  25. says

    I love the idea of the tyvek ID bracelet, those things are hard to remove and wont cause an allergic rx on my son’s extremely sensitive skin if I write on it with a sharpie.

    I think I’ll also print son ID info and put it in his backpack.

  26. says

    I *loved* this hack. And was all ready to use it this past weekend… until I realized my daughter is in her “dresses-only” phase. Teaching her to lift up her shirt to show just the belly is not a problem, but I don’t think I want to teach her to lift up her dress…