Instructions for an Origami Infant

Instructions for an Origami Infant

Tim O'Donnell


So you want to have a baby? Decades ago, your options were limited to biological reproduction or adoption. Depending on your age, you may have been born traditional or you may be the product of the first “paper babies.” If you are the latter, congratulations on carrying on the storied tradition and art of origami infants. If you are the former, congratulations on defying your parents and blazing a new and exciting path that no longer limits the biologically challenged to a life of sterilization or barren wombs. Ready that playpen and safety-latch the toilet seat because you are well on your way to becoming a proud parent.


Materials: Paper, Folding Table, Scissors, Straight Edge, Ruler, Pencil, Gender Bands, Rubber Gloves, Smock, Glue, and a high school understanding of trigonometry and geometry.

Step 1: Color should be of least concern when choosing paper with which to make your baby; in fact, the caliber of the paper is of utmost importance. Paper between 0.07 mm and 0.18 mm is best suited for printing funny email forwards or recipes from your aunt. Thin paper makes fragile children who excel in activities better suited to the lanky and awkward: objectivism, oil painting, ornithology. Adversely, paper beginning at 0.254 mm and up bears cumbersome youth, large-fisted and thick-necked with a penchant for Gaelic football or metalworking. Potential parents would do well to find a medium bond paper (32-68 lb) appropriate to both the mental and the physical, allowing for greater range of childhood potentiality, although this jack-of-all-trades mentality may lead to an adulthood of wandering and mercenary work. A pirate child. In accordance with ISO 216 guidelines, potential parents should only use A0-A2 format (this range being the optimal size for a newborn) unless parents are looking to alienate their child by folding them thin and tall like a sapling (any paper where the length is triple the width) or ridicule-bound squat (any paper where the length is one-third the width or greater). It should be noted that standard child folding kits are readily available at your local apothecary to avoid such tedious research. While choosing paper is important, it shouldn’t consume a great deal of your time. When in doubt, ask your parents (if they are still alive and used the Paper Method of Child Birthing) what they did to make you so unique and special.


Step 2: A clean worktable is paramount to a painless birth. Lamp bulb wattage should not exceed 100 (see Smell of Burnt Paper) or fall below 40 (see Properties of Cold Paper). Gardening gloves can prevent against birthing cuts but also hinder the precision of certain folds that may lead to imperfections in the final product. If your protection is important, if you feel the need to protect yourself from your potential child, thin latex gloves are your best bet. They also have the added bonus of that medicinal “birthing” smell, giving a certain “air” to your overall station as new parents. This way you can imagine you are in a hospital since you won’t have the pleasure of setting foot in an actual maternity ward (which, let’s be frank here, consider yourself lucky. L&D is a raucous unit of burnt out nurses wearing cartoon character scrubs. The stress alone is enough to put a real wrench in your perfect birth, which is why the Paper Folding Method is in vogue right now). Your worktable should be perfectly flat, have a grade of no more than 3°, and be at least four times the size of your chosen paper when laid flat. Keep all utensils (as listed above) on your dominant side. Always follow this rule: build a child with the hand you eat cereal with.

Step 3: Once the birthing area is prepared, take your paper and roll it carefully into a thin tube, no wider than a nickel. Bind the paper with a string denoting the wanted sex of the child (blue for boys, pink for girls, purple for hermaphrodites, beige for sexless, and yellow for a surprise). Not binding your paper will result in a pulpy miscarriage (see If You Can’t Follow Simple Rules, You Shouldn’t Be a Parent). Whisper secrets, thoughts, wants, needs, cautions, ideas, inventions, patents for said inventions, words of wisdom, advice, and/or personal ideologies into the tube as if it were a megaphone, your voice projecting into your future child.

Step 4: Allow the mother a comfortable bed with clean line of sight to a television. Insert the paper into the mother’s womb with either sterile tongs or gloved hands. Your ob-gyn can assist in this process if you feel uncomfortable or unsure of the proper insertion procedure. Note: The folding of Origami Infants by homosexual couples (even those using a surrogate) is ILLEGAL in several states and punishable by heavy fines and possible prison time. A strongly-worded letter to your senator may swing legislation your way in the future but maybe now just isn’t your time to be a parent.1 If you do take on the task, know that you are doing so at your own risk and that this guide is not responsible for any fines assessed.


Step 5: After insertion, your potential child’s body will soften within the mother, taking on eye and hair color, as well as traditionally congenital traits such as tuba playing and history of heart disease. To incorporate the father’s traits, sexual intercourse is encouraged to “fertilize” the paper, though this step is entirely optional. Care should be taken when engaging in intercourse after your child is inserted; papercuts account for 97 percent of all baby-making injury (Stetson et. al, 107). Studies have shown that one session of intercourse is adequate as further attempts do not give the potential child any more or less of the father’s traits, no matter how much he may want it to.

Step 6: After ten to twelve weeks of incubation, a nationally certified folding nurse (FN) or advanced folding nurse (AFN) should remove the paper infant. FNs can be recommended by your ob-gyn or hired from the Penny Saver. It is important that both parents participate in the “birth,” as this is as close as it’s going to get for you. This is it. Get your video camera out, make it a celebration, blow a whistle or bake a cake that says “IT’S GOING TO BE A (SEX OF BABY)!” in gender-appropriate colored frosting. It may seem premature to celebrate since, at this point, your “baby” is as sentient as a bag of nails. You simply have the raw ingredients, the primordial ooze with which to sculpt. Your baby is only a couple of folds away from cooing in your hands.

Step 7: Lay your paper down on your worktable (see Step 2) and carefully cut the gender string (see Step 3). Most new parents keep the string in a scrapbook. If you do not keep your gender string, it is recommended that the mother eat it at her first meal with your new child. If you do neither, maybe you should’ve thought harder about this “baby thing” you jumped into so quickly. If you aren’t going to do this with some gusto, why bother? Eat the string.


Step 8: With moist hands, unfurl your paper and gently smooth it out. DO NOT tack, tape, staple, nail, or otherwise constrain the corners of your child to your worktable! Using a wet sponge, dampen until he/she/it takes on a silky appearance. Generally, making a baby begins from the top down, but parents are encouraged to experiment with different techniques dependent upon your level of expertise, previous experience or ethnic background. Extensive regional folding technique books are readily available.

 Recommended Reading:

 Shinji Koji’s The Art of Folding Children

Darren Russell’s Brythonic Folds: An English Primer

Suzanne Carr’s Early American Child Folding: Vol. 1 & 2


Step 9: Now that your paper is pliable and fertilized, it’s time to start folding! Purists believe that folding should take place before incubation, but a recent Princeton study (Donner, 998) shows that “wet folding” allows for the precise curvature of heads, elbows, eyes, knees, bellies, ears, penises, testicles, vaginas, fingers, and toes. Internal organs, with their multitude of curves, are also easier to fold whilst wet. “Dry folding” results in a sharp-edged child that may be uncomfortable for the mother to take into her womb. Please note that if you choose to “dry fold,” you’ve come too far now. You should’ve started backwards or picked up another guide whose focus is the dry fold. It is suggested, at this point, to continue with your wet fold despite your personal feelings against it.

Step 10: The first and most important fold of any discipline is the centerfold upon which the spine is built. Fold your paper symmetrically. Pinch and cut two triangles about one-third of the way from the top of the paper (this will be the neck) and take the bottom corners and cut a larger triangle down the centerfold to begin making the legs. Do the same for the arms (albeit by turning the paper 90° clockwise.) By the end of this step, you should have six distinct zones:

Head, Torso, Left Arm, Right Arm, Left Leg, Right Leg

If you do not have the six zones above, you’ve made a grave error. You can either live with this fact, continue folding, and have a lame child (so long as the lost zones are Arm or Leg) or toss the whole project and begin from Step 1. If you do not have a Torso or Head zone, your child will not survive and to continue would be to fold a stillbirth.

Step 11: Looking at your potential child, at this soon-to-be thing, you get scared, you sweat, wipe your hands on your jeans, get a glass of cold water, take an ibuprofen, take a nap, wait out the shakes, do some arm exercises, some hand exercises, from the palms up through the knuckles to the tips of your fingers; talk with your spouse, mull it over, take a vote; rock, paper, scissors; best two out of three; go back to your worktable, take up your sheers, cut the corners off your child, the Arms, the Head, nip at the sides, keep cutting, watch flakes of your future rain to the floor, keep cutting, keep cutting.


1 The publisher of this guide would like to acknowledge that the publisher’s official stance on homosexual relationships does not reflect that of the guide’s author. Any and all complaints should be directed to the author’s agent or left on his doorstep tied to a brick.

Tim O'Donnell lives in New Jersey where he gets paid to do everything except write. He received his B.A. and M.F.A. from William Paterson University. His work has been published in 3:AM Magazine, Pif Magazine, and The Idiom.

All rights reserved to Tim O'Donnell.

Illustrations by Max Mose.

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