My Favorite Baby & Toddler Art Supplies
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Little ones absolutely love exploring new materials and tools which makes art one of my favorite activities to do with babies & toddlers!
Exploring and creating art with your baby or toddler is also a great way to get YOUR creativity flowing too- there's nothing quite like the process of just doing to get you feeling inspired.
Here are some simple ways that we explore art in our home - the key thing to remember is that introducing paints, crayons, markers, and more is not for the sake of teaching or accomplishing anything... it's truly about experimenting and having fun.
I've organized these activities and materials by medium and then I broke them down into the age that Alden was for a specific supply. I've also linked out some of my favorite products to make it easy for you to try it out with your kiddo!
Yogurt "Paint" (7 Months Old)
Babies love to put everything in their mouth which makes working with art materials a little tricky but with some creativity you can create taste-safe and even "edible" versions of your favorite art supplies!
One of my favorites was this edible paint "recipe" which is just yogurt mixed with food coloring.
To contain the mess try these paints while your little one is in a high chair or better yet, let them explore "painting" in the bathtub!
Taste-Safe (Edible) "Paint" Recipe:
Mess Free Paint (10 Months)
This is a fun and easy way to "paint" with your baby or toddler without any of the mess! All you need is a large ziplock bag, shaving cream, and any paint of your choice. You can use acrylic, tempera, or even food coloring or liquid watercolors.
large ziplock style bag
foam shaving cream
Just fill up your large bag with foam shaving cream and a few dots of your paint of choice. Tape your bag to the floor or a large window/door and let your baby smush the color around with their hands or a paintbrush.
Fun tip: You can put a piece of watercolor paper inside of the bag and create a marbled painting effect, just add a little more paint and when your baby is finished, remove the paper and scrape off the shaving cream to let the paper dry.
Acrylic & Tempera Paint (18 months+)
Eventually your babe will be able to start working with "real" paint. Most guidelines suggest ages 3+ for acrylic or tempera paint due to the whole "putting everything in their mouth" phase not really being over until then. But with some precautions and close supervision we had our son using regular paint by 18 months.
Some things that will make painting with your little one easier are an easel, a smock, and some spill-proof paint cups.
Drawing & Coloring (1 Year+)
My son starting "drawing" when he was 10 months old. His aunt was babysitting him at the time and gave him a pen to play with - he took to it right away and has been using pens, pencils, markers, crayons, and other drawing tools ever since.
Not every 10 month old will be ready to work with certain drawing tools, so be sure to follow manufacturer instructions and go with your gut. Stick with nontoxic options if your baby is still putting everything in their mouth and always supervise them closely when they are using drawing tools!
One way to avoid the mess while drawing/coloring is with this awesome drawing pad, it allows your kiddo to explore mark making without any of the mess or worry of eating their drawing materials! We always kept ours in the car/diaper bag which came in handy for passing the time.
Other great drawing tools for little ones are the obvious crayons and markers. Here are some of my favorite tools that I've used. While "baby" crayons are fun (and cute) I also think the reason our son loves to draw is because he was given a wide variety of drawing tools that required different ways of holding. Try a mix of materials to find something your little one really likes.
Stickers & Stamps (18 months+)
Stamps and stickers area favorite at our house. Even though he can't peel the stickers off the sheets by himself yet my son loves to point at the sticker he wants and I'll carefully peel it off for him to use. You can tell that he likes to be "in charge" by telling me which sticker he wants to use.
Paint dabbers and stamps are also a fun activity and less messy than paint. We actually brought a small baggie of mini stamps on a plane when my son was 18 months old and they kept him busy for a long time!
Some of my favorite places to find art supplies are the thrift store and the Target bargain section. Thrift stores often have big grab bags of crayons and markers and Target has great sticker books and smaller supplies that are usually in line with the seasons. I also pick things up at the Dollar Store - especially when I'm working on a theme or looking for supplies a certain holiday.
My last favorite thing to share with you is this wonderful book by Jean Van't Hul. It is full of amazing project ideas, insight, and even recipes for homemade art supplies. I borrowed this book from my local library a few times before I just had to buy a copy for myself!