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Best Toddler Art Supplies of 2021

Updated
Regardless of the mess, art is a great developmental tool for toddlers and we’ve found the best supplies for you.

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 on the market.

Our Top Picks

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Image
Model
Product Comparison Table
Features
Product Image of the NOYO 36 Colors Gel Crayons for Toddlers and Kids - Non Toxic - 3 in 1 Washable...
Most Versatile
NOYO Gel Crayons
  • 36 highly pigmented colors
  • Crayon is washable
  • Works on light or dark-colored paper
Product Image of the TECBOSS Water Drawing Mat, Kids Aqua Magic Doodle Mat Toys, Large Mess Free Kids...
Perfect for Siblings
Magic Doodle Mat
  • Eco-friendly and safe
  • 7 colors drawing areas
  • Water-resistant nylon mat
Product Image of the Alex Discover My First Scribble Kids Art and Craft Activity
For Budding Doodlers
My First Scribble Pad
  • Good for traveling
  • Sturdy design
  • Encourages early drawing skills
Product Image of the Alex Discover Button Art Activity Set Kids Art and Craft Activity
Months Of Reusable Fun
ALEX Discover Button Art
  • With convenient storage tray
  • Great for hand-eye coordination
  • Includes 46 colorful buttons
Product Image of the Melissa & Doug Jumbo Brush Set - 4-Pack, Paintbrushes in Red, Blue, Green,...
For Little Painters
Melissa & Doug Brush
  • Great for little hands
  • Convenient storage pouch
  • Easy to clean
Product Image of the ALEX Jr. Tots Fluffy Friends Paper Animal Activity
No Mess & Sure To Impress
Fluffy Friends Paper Animals
  • Good for animal lovers
  • Easy for toddlers to understand
  • Virtually mess-free
Product Image of the Crayola My First Finger Paint For Toddlers, Painting Paper, Kids Indoor...
Classic Art Fun
Crayola My First Fingerpaint
  • Great introduction to colors
  • Paint is washable
  • Easy-squeeze tubes
Product Image of the GiBot 12 Colors Toddlers Crayons Palm-Grip Crayons, Finger Paint Crayons Sticks...
Crayon Meets Stacking Toy
GiBot Finger Crayons
  • Certified non-toxic material
  • 12 basic colors
  • Super durable
Product Image of the Honeysticks 100% Pure Beeswax Crayons Natural, Safe for Toddlers, Kids and...
All-Natural Fun
Honeysticks
  • 100% all-natural
  • Wide variety of colors
  • Food grade pigments
Product Image of the Melissa & Doug Vehicles and Habitats Reusable Bundle Sticker Pad
For When Mom Needs A Moment
Melissa & Doug Sticker
  • Different themes available
  • Mess-free activity
  • Full of color, glossy in texture

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.

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.

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.

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 (2).

How to Choose Art Supplies for Toddlers

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.

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.

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.

Messy can be overwhelming but it’s ultimately how young children explore- invest in a craft mat to help you enjoy the process and not stress over the mess!
Headshot of Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC

Editor's Note:

Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC

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. 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.

Longevity

If you’re all about practicality, find something that gives your child more than one use. Some kits only come with enough contents to do one art project. However, with supplies like crayons and paints, they’ll last longer if properly stored.


The Best Art Supplies for Toddlers of 2021

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

Most Versatile

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 buy many different art supplies, you can introduce your child to different mediums with one product.

Pros

  • Three different ways to use them.
  • 36 different colors.
  • Crayon is washable.

Cons

  • Can create smudged hands in the process.

2. Magic Doodle Mat

Perfect for Siblings

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.

Pros

  • Good for families with multiples.
  • Non-toxic and eco-friendly.
  • Reusable after a few minutes.

Cons

  • Markers may be hard to unscrew initially.

3. Alex Discover My First Scribble Pad

For Budding Doodlers

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.

Pros

  • Good for traveling.
  • Sturdy design.
  • Encourages early drawing skills.

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with accessories.

4. Alex Discover Button Art

Months of Reusable Fun

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.

Pros

  • Can be used over and over again.
  • Great for hand-eye coordination.
  • Easy to understand.

Cons

  • No locking mechanism to keep the tray closed.

5. Melissa & Doug Jumbo Paint Brush Set

For Little Painters

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.

Pros

  • Great for little hands.
  • Convenient storage pouch.
  • Easy to clean.

Cons

  • No paint or paper included.

6. Alex Jr. Fluffy Friends Paper Animals

No Mess and Sure to Impress

This kit comes with four sticky collage boards, animals and paper to attach to it, and fun stickers. Your child can 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 adhesive on them, so no messy glue is needed.

Pros

  • Good for animal lovers.
  • Easy for toddlers to understand.
  • Virtually mess-free.

Cons

  • Each board can only be used once.

7. Crayola My First Fingerpaint

Classic Art Fun

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.

Pros

  • A great introduction to colors.
  • Paint is washable.
  • Tubes are easy to squeeze.

Cons

  • Paper comes folded and leaves a crease.

8. GiBot Finger Crayons

Crayon Meets Stacking Toy

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.

Pros

  • Easy for young toddlers to hold.
  • Can be stacked for storage or play.
  • Super durable.

Cons

  • The coating makes first use difficult.

9. Honeysticks Beeswax Crayons

All-Natural Fun

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.

Pros

  • 100 percent all-natural.
  • Wide variety of colors.
  • Perfect for young toddlers.

Cons

  • Beeswax makes transfer onto paper difficult.

10. Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pads

For When Mom Needs a Moment

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.

These are great for windows and mirrors- my kids have made huge scenes on our sliding glass door. Very fun reusable stickers.
Headshot of Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC

Editor's Note:

Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC

Pros

  • Different themes available.
  • Mess-free activity.
  • Great for fine motor skills.

Cons

  • Stickers can be difficult to remove from the pad.

11. Cameron Frank Dauber Dawgs

Fun Alternative to Regular Markers

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.

Pros

  • Good for small hands.
  • Washable.
  • Unique option.

Cons

  • Dry out quickly.

12. Alex Jr. Tots Art Start

Perfect for a Rainy Day

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.

Pros

  • Comes with a variety of supplies.
  • Introduces texture, color, and more.

Cons

  • One-time use per activity.

13. Crayola Palm Grip Crayons

Perfect for Little Hands

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.

Pros

  • Ergonomically designed.
  • Non-toxic.
  • Mess-free.

Cons

  • Hollow shape may mean a short life.

Headshot of Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC

Reviewed by

Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC

Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC is a cardiology nurse and freelance medical writer. Katelyn has 8 years of nursing experience inpatient and outpatient, primarily medical-surgical and cardiac. After having two children she has a passion for Women’s Health and Lactation teaching and support.

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