Babies and young toddlers are a fun, active bunch – constantly out exploring their world. As a creative parent, perhaps you’d like to start introducing your little one to art and making…but how? Many people think that babies are just too young, that art simply can’t be done with a little one who is so, well, little. Good new – baby + art CAN happen – you just need the right expectations, tools, and projects!
This article originally appeared in Inspiration for Creative Families – our weekly email sharing stories, tips, and inspiration on living an authentic and attainable creative life while raising a creative family. It’s free to join and gives you exclusive access to our full mini-magazine archive and new Creative Journal digital magazine. There’s no catch, we just really love connecting to folks interested in creativity! You can sign up here.
Recently we’ve had a lot of questions about how to get very small ones in on the art-making action. What tools to use, what projects to try, and what expectations to hold when introducing your little one to the wonderful world of creative making. Combine these inquiries with the fact that both of my children are turning another year older – always a time of sentimentality for me (where did my babies go?!) – I thought I’d take a bit of time today to highlight a few great articles and projects to help you be successful right from the start!
We know, of course, that babies are babies and unless they are eating or sleeping, they don’t tend to focus on one thing for more than a handful of minutes. So when you sit down to do art with your little one, be sure to keep this in mind! I think sometimes we as parents get so very excited for the project at hand – we have these beautiful visions in our head about what the experience will look like and feel like – and how long it will last – that don’t necessarily match up with reality. I remember getting SO FRUSTRATED when I’d try to complete a multi-step project with my first born as a baby and young toddler. Of course she wanted to play and explore, of course she’d see something else she’d like to investigate, I knew this was her nature and yet I’d still try. It was an exercise in futility. Once I let go and loosened up a bit (ok ok a lot!) we started really enjoying our creative making together, and as she grew older those times spent making did lengthen in time.
You can read more about how to balance your expectations HERE.
Alright, expectations are level and tools are gathered, it’s time to make some magic! Here is a list – in no particular order – of projects we’ve tried and enjoyed with babies and toddlers.
Salt Dough & Beyond – an easy to make recipe, is taste-safe for little ones who still mouth things, and comes with some ideas on what to do with your salt dough once it’s been made – FUN!
DIY Adventure Trail – includes a taste-safe chalk paint recipe that can be used outdoor or inside in the bathtub or on paper. Best of all, it easily washes away when you’re finished!
Glowing Lanterns – great if you have a little one and a big one, as we did this project 2 ways for different ages/stages. Take the main way of making the lanterns – attaching tissue paper to clear contact paper – to make sun-catchers or “stained” glass art. This is a mess-free project.
Contact Paper – This is a great tool that lends itself to tons of projects! Babies and toddlers can stick everything from paper to pom-poms to leaves onto the sticky surface for a quick, no-mess creative project.
Paint in a Bag – In a gallon size bag, place one sheet of paper and a couple squirts of paint. Seal the bag so that there is very little air inside. Set the bag down in front of your little one and let them squish and explore to their heart’s content while making a unique finger-paint picture!
Paint with Balls – (as seen in Explore Sound) put a piece of plain paper into a box, let your little one squirt in some tempera paint and add a small ball or two. Secure the lid then let your toddler SHAKE, SHIMMEY, and DANCE. Remove the lid to see your ball art!
Thanks for letting me walk down memory lane with all this talk about babies, toddlers and art. Do you have any pressing questions about art, crafting and kids? Let us know – because if you’re wondering about something, I’m sure someone else is having the same challenge!