Updated on January 13, 2021 by Lyric Fergusson
Whether you’ve suddenly found yourself homeschooling your children or you’re just looking for a way to pass a rainy day, painting is a sure way to entertain you and your little Picasso. Painting is a great way to not only have fun, but also to help young children explore their creativity, learn their colors, and practice fine motor skills. There are endless choices when it comes to paint for kids, but one of the things that is important to us is that they’re nontoxic.
Best Toddlers Paints for All Situations
(Best value and most earth friendly — $$)
Why it’s great: We absolutely love this set because of the extra creativity it provides. Made with 100% natural ingredients, this set comes with six pigments that you can mix yourself. You get the basic colors with this set – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and brown – along with a paintbrush. Adding more water to these colors even gives you the ability to use them as watercolors which provides more flexibility for your little artist. You can refrigerate any paint that you didn’t use for up to two weeks which is perfect if you didn’t get all your painting done in one day. Not only are the paints natural and biodegradable, but the paints are made in the USA and their package is made from recyclable materials and biodegradable as well.
Keep in mind: You’ll need to have some old containers, like glass jars, for mixing the paints.
Good for: Older children who want to experiment with different colors and textures of paint.
(Big containers of bright colored fun — $$)
Why it’s great: Everyone knows the name Crayola, and they don’t disappoint with these finger paints. They come in a large squeezable container which is great so you can pour out tiny amounts for small quick crafts. We love the fact that the bottles are EZ squeeze to prevent spills. Cleanup is a breeze as the paints are washable. The liquid is thick which lends itself to finger painting more than brush painting, but also ensures that you won’t have any unwanted splatters when you’re working on your craft. Each of the bottles is a generous 8 oz., and a little goes a long way, so you won’t run out of these any time soon.
Keep in mind: You’ll need some containers to pour these into.
Good for: Better for finger painting.
(Most eco-friendly colors — $$)
Why it’s great: With 12 different nontoxic colors, these are great finger-paints for little artists. The colors are bright and the caps open easily. With a nice wide mouth, you don’t even have to pour these paints into another container to use. These would be great paints to use for handprints or, because they’re nontoxic, even dog prints!
Keep in mind: Even though they’re nontoxic, make sure that your child or pet never ingests paint.
Good for: Finger painting with young children.
(Best whole set — $$$)
Why it’s great: This set comes with everything your child needs to learn to paint. It has paints, a palette to put them in, regular brushes, foam and texture brushes and rollers, paper, and an apron to keep your child clean. It also comes with a case to store everything in, which also makes it easy to take with you wherever you go. The paints are all non-toxic and washable, so clean up is a breeze. Your child will love to paint and create for hours with this set.
Keep in mind: Even with the apron, your child may get paint on their clothes. The paint is washable, but it’s still a good idea to put your toddler in clothes that you don’t mind getting stained, just in case.
Good for: Kids that want to have everything they need to learn to paint.
(Least messy — $$)
Why it’s great: This is a fun and unique idea that leaves you with a lot less to clean up at the end of your child’s art session. These are tubes of paint and the head is a synthetic paint brush. Your toddler just squeezes the handle of the paintbrush and the paint works its way into the brush. They won’t have to dip into any paint, so you won’t have and drips of paint or palettes to clean. This also means that you won’t be wasting any paint that doesn’t get used, as it just stays in the handle with the lid on. The top screws off so that you can refill them when you run out of paint.
Keep in mind: If your child squeezes too hard, they will get splats of paint, so you’ll need to teach them how to control the flow.
Good for: Families that don’t want to waste paint or have a huge mess to clean up.
(Safest paints — $$$)
Why it’s great: These paints are really neat because they are completely made from organic vegetables. Not only are they totally safe for your toddler to use, they’re even edible! You won’t have to stress about younger kids who like to lick their fingers and put everything in their mouths. The vegetables used are also dairy, sugar, nut, preservative, and gluten free. So even if your child has allergies, these paints will be safe for your child to use. The set comes with a few different colors in a powder and your toddler can get creative and make their own colors by mixing them together.
Keep in mind: You’ll need a container for these and you’ll need to mix them with water to get them set up and ready to use.
Good for: Parents with children who are more likely to put the paint in their mouths.
(Best face paint — $$)
Why it’s great: We love that these are made with organic ingredients and mineral pigments, truly unique within the world of kids paints! These are made in Oregon and do not disappoint when you’re looking for face paints. They’re free of parabens so they’ll be sure to provide hypoallergenic fun all day. Reviewers say that they’re able to wash these off with just water even though they last the entire day without getting cakey or dry. That’s a win in our books! With six colors and three applicators included, this is a great set.
Keep in mind: Adult supervision is recommended for younger children.
Good for: Face painting for the whole family.
(Most original — $$)
Why it’s great: These finger paints are actually soap! Your child can paint the bathtub walls and their bodies as much as they want and it’ll all rinse off quickly and easily, leaving both cleaner than before. You get five different colors in the set and you can choose to use them one at a time or let them create with all of them at once. They’ll also create some suds and bubbles in the bath for extra fun.
Keep in mind: These are small, 3oz tubes, so they likely won’t last that long.
Good for: Children who love to paint and need an incentive to take a bath.
(Easiest to use — $$)
Why it’s great: These are paint sticks and are very easy for any child to use. They work almost like a marker, just with a bit of a thicker, more flexible tip. You get all the features of paint with the benefits and ease of using a marker. They dry quickly, in just 90 seconds, so you don’t have to worry about hanging up all the artwork outside in the sun. They’re non-toxic paints and hypoallergenic, which means they’re safe for body or face painting too. Plus, you’ll get 24 different colors, without all the hassle of pouring and cleaning up paint.
Keep in mind: These do dry fast, so they wouldn’t work for making handprints or trying to use stamps with them.
Good for: Children that love to paint, but struggle with regular paintbrushes.
(Best watercolor palette for beginners — $)
Why it’s great: If you have a budding Bob Ross, they will love this 12 color palette! It is lightweight and easy to hold, even for little hands, and has a built in paint brush. We love that the palette is durable enough to use long after the paints run out. The colors in the palette are super vibrant, offering more choices than a lot of other watercolor sets at this price point.
Keep in mind: These are not labeled as washable, so prep your area before use.
Good for: Recommended for 3 and up.
(Best for beginners — $)
Why it’s great: This set comes with 24 pages that are specially formulated to work with Color Wonder paint brushes. You get 5 different colors that won’t show up on anything, but this special paper. That means you’ll never have to worry about any mess or cleanup! These paint brushes are perfect for beginners who may not know what they’re doing. They can paint and create without splattering, dripping, or spilling paint all over the place. They’ll get a feel for the art of painting without all the hassle that normally comes with it.
Keep in mind: These paint brushes won’t work without the paper, so once you run out, you’ll need to make sure to buy Color Wonder paper again.
Good for: Children just learning how to color and paint.
FAQs about toddlers paints
1. What paints are best for my child?
Base your purchase on the age of your child and their current fine motor skills. For young toddlers just starting out, finger paints are ideal because they can be creative without having to worry about dropping a paint brush. Once your child has better hand control, you can try out tempera paints that can be easily used with a brush is ideal.
2. What supplies will I need to paint with my child?
There aren’t many supplies that you will need to start your painting projects, and what you will need is easy to gather together. A good smock like the one in our first recommendation is a fabulous idea, but if you don’t have one an old t-shirt of yours or your child’s will work well. A few different paintbrush sizes are a good idea as well as paint stamps or sponges which can make art time super fun. You’ll also need paper to paint on, some jars or cups to rinse paintbrushes, and it’s always a good idea to cover any surfaces you are painting on with either old newspapers, cardboard, or a plastic tablecloth.
3. What are the benefits of painting with my child?
Painting can be a wonderful creative outlet for children and adults. For the youngest artists, painting is a great way to learn the names of colors. For older artists, exploring colors with paint is a great way to do an impromptu science lesson about color mixing.
4. What other skills will my child learn from painting?
Painting is a fabulous way to help develop fine motor skills like brush control, as well as hand-eye coordination. Learning to hold a paintbrush and get the paint just where they want it is a great way for children to learn skills that will translate into writing later on down the road.
5. How can I turn painting time into learning time?
Painting with your child is a wonderful opportunity to talk to them and foster their love of learning. Even the littlest artists can learn how to make shapes and trace lines. For older painters, you can draw the alphabet or numbers on paper with a pencil that they can trace over with paint. Another fun activity is to look at famous paintings and try creating your own version of it.
Painting with your child can be a wonderful experience with the right tools and paints. Picking the right paint for the age of your child will make the experience much more enjoyable. Children younger than 3 often have trouble holding a paintbrush well so you might want to opt for finger paints or make sure you get very thick-handled brushes that they can easily grasp. Once your child is a little bit older, tempera paints offer a great texture for painting with a brush while still being easy to clean up, as they’re typically considered washable paint.
Painting can also be a wonderful way to preserve memories. There are plenty of creative ways you can capture handprints and footprints with paint. And if your refrigerator is quickly filling up with works of art, you can also think about turning your little one’s creations into one of a kind gifts for family and friends.
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