Do you have a budding Picasso in your midst? If your toddler is showing interest in creating things with their hands, it might be time for art supplies. But don’t worry, you don’t need to go out and buy a fancy oil painting kit just yet.
There are several options for toddler art supplies — from finger paint kits to other crafts, there’s plenty to choose from. Let’s go over the benefits of art for tots and look at the best supplies available.
Benefits of Art for Toddlers
Not only is art fun, it also encourages your toddler’s development, and in ways you may not have even thought about before — like the growth of cultural awareness (1).
With young children, we put such a big focus on learning letters and numbers. It’s easy to forget about other important growth aspects.
1. Motor Skills
When your child is creating art, they’re required to reach for objects and hold them firmly in their hands. While they may not be painting the Mona Lisa, learning to grasp a paintbrush will help develop fine motor muscles, which are important for writing, fastening buttons and more (2).
2. Language Development
Art play can also help your child work on their vocabulary and object recognition. While your toddler is painting, playing with paper and glue or other art mediums, you can ask them different questions.
Even if your toddler isn’t speaking full sentences yet, talking with them will encourage them to speak more. 85 percent of brain growth happens between birth and age 3, so this is an important step (3).
3. Creativity and Self-Expression
Last but not least is perhaps the best benefit of art play: when you encourage your child to create art, you get a peek inside their brain. You can see pieces of their personality translated into something tangible.
This is true even with toddlers. Their art may not look like much, but you can tell how proud they are by their face when finished. Encouraging your child to be creative will help them be more expressive as they grow older.
Things to Keep in Mind
1. Age and Development
Your child’s age and where they’re at developmentally will tell you a lot about the supplies to buy for them. Are they still exploring with their mouth?
For young toddlers, non-toxic or edible finger paint and beeswax crayons are a safe introduction to art supplies. If your toddler has stopped putting things in their mouth, you can graduate to more complex projects.
2. Child’s Interest
Interest may be hard to gauge if the child isn’t verbal yet. However, by watching how they interact in daily life, you may be able to pick up on their budding interests.
This may entail using a trial-and-error approach. Luckily, art supplies for toddlers aren’t super expensive so you shouldn’t lose a ton of money in the process.
3. Is It Messy?
Toddlers are messy, we get it. Not all parents are down for the inevitable disaster that finger painting brings.
Steer away from paint and glitter, and stick to things like stickers or crayons, since these are much easier to clean up.
4. Non-Toxic Ingredients
This is perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind, especially if you’re looking at finger paints. You can’t expect your toddler to keep their hands out of their mouth when it’s a normal developmental action.
Some products may cause minor irritation to the eyes and skin as well even if they’re water-based (4). You’ll find that art supplies like paints and markers may have seals from the Arts and Crafts Materials Institute.
These seals will tell you one of two things:
- Approved product: These products are completely safe to use. They don’t have any ingredients that can cause significant harm to the body if ingested or placed on the skin.
- Cautionary label: These may have ingredients that can irritate the skin or cause harm if ingested. It will also list any ingredients that warrant this label.
If you’re all about practicality, find something that gives your child more than one use. Some kits only come with enough contents to make one art project. However, with supplies like crayons and paints, they’ll last longer if properly stored.
The Best Toddler Art Supplies of 2020
So what kinds of art supplies are best for toddlers? We’ve compiled a list of 13 products that are sure to impress your budding artist. From gel crayons to craft kits, we’ve given you a range of products to cover all interests.
1. NOYO Gel Crayons
These crayons come with a plastic covering. They’re also washable so you don’t need to worry about clothing stains or scrubbing their skin raw.
The set comes with 36 heavily-pigmented gel crayons that can be used one of three ways: as regular crayons, pastels, or watercolor. They also work well on light and dark paper, and even on wood.
This is perfect for versatility. Rather than buying a bunch of different art supplies, you can introduce your child to different mediums with one product.
- Three different ways to use them.
- 36 different colors.
- Crayon is washable.
- Can create smudged hands in the process.
2. Magic Doodle Mat
This mat lays flat on the ground with a blank center space for creations. It comes with a water pen for your child to color on the white part. You also get other markers, stencils, suction cups for hanging, and a drawing booklet.
The pens and markers are stored in the included carrying case. When the water reacts with the mat, it reveals a rainbow of colors underneath. The cool thing about this is that within 10 minutes, the mat dries completely blank again.
This is great for practicing hand-eye coordination as well as color perception. It’s large enough for two to three children to color together — ideal for families of multiples.
The mat is eco-friendly and non-toxic, doesn’t contain ink or paint, and the back is made of water-resistant nylon.
- Good for families with multiples.
- Non-toxic and eco-friendly.
- Reusable after a few minutes.
- Markers may be hard to unscrew initially.
3. My First Scribble Pad
If you want something sturdy and easy to take on-the-go, this is a good choice. It’s similar to a coloring book in that it has thick pages with doodles on them. However, it gives your child an outline of a drawing to finish.
This encourages your child’s imagination and introduces them to the concept of drawing. It comes with stickers too — a toddler’s dream.
- Good for traveling.
- Sturdy design.
- Encourages early drawing skills.
- Doesn’t come with accessories.
4. ALEX Discover Button Art
Not only is this one a good way to teach color matching, but it’s super practical as it’s reusable. With this kit, you pop the buttons in and out to finish the picture on each board.
It comes with 10 different pictures, 46 large, colored buttons, and a storage tray, which comes in handy for keeping all of the pieces together.
This is great for working on hand-eye coordination and fine-motor skills. It’s recommended for toddlers from 18 months old.
- Can be used over and over again.
- Great for hand-eye coordination.
- Easy to understand.
- No locking mechanism to keep the tray closed.
5. Melissa & Doug Jumbo Paint Brush Set
If you like the idea of paint but cringe thinking of the mess, these are a great alternative. This set comes with four different brushes with thick handles.
Their thicker handles make them easier for your toddler to hold with their little hands, making them the “next step up” from finger painting. They also come with a convenient storage pouch.
The brushes are easily cleaned with mild soap and water. They don’t come with paint, so you’ll have to buy that separately.
- Great for little hands.
- Convenient storage pouch.
- Easy to clean.
- No paint or paper included.
6. Fluffy Friends Paper Animals
This kit comes with four sticky collage boards, animals and paper to attach to it, and fun stickers. Your child is able to make a cat, bear, bunny, or chick.
It’s super easy to do as your child simply sticks the paper to the board. The stickers can then be put on after they finish with the paper. The boards have an adhesive on it, so no messy glue is needed.
- Good for animal lovers.
- Easy for toddlers to understand.
- Virtually mess-free.
- Each board can only be used once.
7. Crayola My First Fingerpaint
If you’re not afraid of a little mess, consider this finger painting kit for your toddler. It’s good for children starting at 12 months, so your young toddler will enjoy it, too.
The set comes with 10 sheets of glossy paper and four washable fingerpaints. The paint colors are red, green, yellow, and blue — a perfect yet not overwhelming introduction to the rainbow.
The paint is easy to open and it’s washable. They come in easy-to-squeeze tubes so no need to worry about cutting them to get the paint out.
- A great introduction to colors.
- Paint is washable.
- Tubes are easy to squeeze.
- Paper comes folded and leaves a crease.
8. GiBot Finger Crayons
If you’re looking for a way to gently introduce drawing to your toddler, check these crayons out. They’re specifically designed for young hands and can double as a stacking toy.
The pack includes 12 different crayons and they’re washable for your convenience. They’re non-toxic and completely safe as the actual crayon is hidden in the tiny hole at the bottom.
These do contain paraffin and soy wax, though. If your child is allergic to these ingredients, you’ll want to try a different brand.
- Easy for young toddlers to hold.
- Can be stacked for storage or play.
- Super durable.
- The coating makes first use difficult.
These sticks are actually just chunky beeswax crayons. They’re handmade in New Zealand and are made of 100 percent beeswax. This makes them safe for your child in case they end up in the mouth.
They don’t come with the potential mess that finger paint does, so that’s definitely a plus. These are available in a 12 pack, two packs of 12, or a 12 pack along with a coloring book.
- 100 percent all-natural.
- Wide variety of colors.
- Perfect for young toddlers.
- Beeswax makes transfer onto paper difficult.
These cling-style sticker pads are mess-free which is nice for on-the-go or when you need a break. There are several different themes, but the one we chose comes with two: vehicles and habitats.
The background scenes are full of color and glossy in texture. This one can really help with hand-eye coordination as well as fine motor skills and creative play.
The pads are recommended for ages 3 and up, but many parents have purchased these for their toddlers as young as 18 months.
- Different themes available.
- Mess-free activity.
- Great for fine motor skills.
- Stickers can be difficult to remove from the pad.
These washable dot markers are a fun activity for children starting at 24-months-old. The dauber-style markers can fit comfortably in their hands and are both non-toxic and non-leaking. This makes for easy cleanup and less of a headache for you.
They come in an eight pack with 10 different coloring pages. You can also find printable coloring pages on search engines like Pinterest or even Google.
Do they remind you of Bingo? They’re similar to the markers used in the game — you might find yourself borrowing these for an evening with your friends.
- Good for small hands.
- Unique option.
- Dry out quickly.
This choice is nice for introducing your toddler to a variety of activities. The kit comes with six different projects and is recommended for toddlers from 18 months. The peel-and-stick frame is a cool feature — no glue necessary.
The kit includes an easy-grip crayon, different textured papers, doilies, stickers, and tree and giraffe paper cut-outs. It’s perfect for encouraging imagination, developing fine motor skills, and of course, fostering creativity.
- Comes with a variety of supplies.
- Introduces texture, color, and more.
- One-time use per activity.
To finish off, we have one more option for our younger toddler friends. These crayons are ergonomically designed to best fit a toddler’s hands — they’re egg-shaped and come in six different colors.
These are AP certified non-toxic and are virtually mess-free. They’re convenient for throwing in your bag to keep your little one busy at restaurants or doctor’s offices as well. Easily washable, these crayons shouldn’t be an inconvenience.
- Ergonomically designed.
- Hollow shape may mean a short life.
Time to Hit the Studio!
Art play can have so many benefits for your toddler and it offers a great opportunity for you to bond with them, too. Even if it looks like they’re just slapping colors together on paper, it’s helping their little brain develop. They may learn confidence and the ability to express themselves through these fun activities.
Do you and your toddler make art together? What have you used on this list? We want to read everything in the comments!