Top Tips for Painting with a Toddler

Little Man’s totally into his art and painting at the moment, so I thought today I’d share with you a few of my top tips for painting with a toddler, as I know that the prospect of the mess can be off-putting and it can feel like a hassle. It’s now pretty simple to set up and do here, and no, I’m not one of those wonderful mums that I totally envy who just goes with the flow with their kids anyway; I’m organised, neat and I like to control! So here are my tips for ensuring that your little one can paint regularly without you stressing out over it!

Top Tips for Painting with a Toddler, for the mess-averse parent! These tips for painting with children should make it easier and less messy!



I find that the key is all in the preparation, and once you have everything, it won’t seem like such a big deal to get set up and painting. I’d recommend:

Setting up on a wipe-clean floor, if possible

We always paint in the kitchen, with it’s tiled floor and easy to clean table and chairs. If you’ve not got this, an old sheet would be your best bet, or a whole load of newspaper!

Washable paint (and remind yourself that it is washable as you see it go everywhere!)

We go for powder paints most often. Ikea do a fab set, with the paints, a little tray that contains a couple of pots to fill with water and the brushes. As the pots are placed back inside the tray to paint with, there’s no danger of them being knocked over and going all over the table!

We do have poster paints, too. When I use these, I squirt out a dollop of each colour onto paper plates, so they can just be thrown away after using.

Have several paintbrushes

After 10 minutes or so, Little Man’s brush resembles a chimney sweep’s brush rather than a paintbrush! It’s handy to have a couple waiting in the wings for him to carry on.

An apron, or an old shirt works well, too

If you skip this stage, just roll up their sleeves and be prepared to whip their tops off when they finish!

Use a bin bag

I find this easier to cover the table with than newspaper, as it clings to the surface and doesn’t move around as much as newspaper. It can be wiped down and used again anyway. If your child is quite small, you might want to pop them into their high-chair to paint, and if so, I’d recommend just lining the seat with a bin bag as it’ll protect it for you.

Plenty of sheets of paper, or better still, I’d suggest lining paper

Again, we get ours from Ikea, and it’s handy as it’s huge, so you needn’t keep getting more out, and it can basically cover their whole reach, reducing the chances of it going all over the table!

Ready to clean

Have baby wipes on hand, and the sink filled with warm soapy water, ready for the post-paint clean-up!

Focus on your little ones happy face as they paint

It’ll help you to ignore the paint that they’re putting all over the chair!

If you’re feeling brave enough, and you want to shake things up a little, you can experiment with different painting instruments. For example, finger painting, potato printing, cotton wool painting or painting fun without paintbrushes.



It takes me just a few moments to clear away after a painting session now, and the easiest way to do this is to have an activity or snack ready for when you finish, so you can clear up without a toddler underfoot.

Little Man is just coming up to 29 months old and he totally adores painting. He asks to do it every single day at the moment, and despite him still having a relatively short attention span for many activities, he will happily sit and paint for ages. The Husband’s good at art, so I can only hope that this is a sign that my son has inherited his talent, as mine is just woeful!

Do you enjoy painting with little ones? What tips would you add?

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33 thoughts on “Top Tips for Painting with a Toddler”

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    Great tips, I always have baby wipes to hand too and use a wipe clean table cloth set aside especially for painting and crafts on the table. It is so much easier to do painting when you are prepared like this. #Parenting-Pin-It-Party

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    Yes, yes and yes! when it’s warm I take the painting to our terrace and cover the floor with old shower curtain (big surface, easy to clean or just put in the washing machine for 5 mins cycle). My only problem is, after 10 mins she will mix all the colors into dark brown and she usually sticks to one part of the page (becomes soak wet).
    Do you just let your kids brush away whatever or do you sometimes direct them into painting/trying to paint “something” other than stripes and dots? 🙂

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      Oh yes, we paint outside in the tuff spot on sunny days, nice and easy! My son is very content just brushing away, though sometimes I’ll suggest he try things. My daughter loves to create her pictures now, at 5, and she always got on with it alone, so I’m assuming he’ll get there some day, too!

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    Brilliant tips – would agree with all of them. We cover the table with newspaper – I never thought of using a bin liner though, sounds like a much better idea and will be trying that next time (along with lining the highchair with one so that Sophie can join in). We have aprons for painting, wipes to take the worst off before we go and wash our hands. We also use paper plates and poster paints and if things get really messy, I just remind myself that it’s all washable. Outdoor painting in the summer is also good!

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      Thank you. The bin liner makes like a lot easier! Oh yes, we like outdoor painting, too. That gets very messy as they soon paint themselves – always ends up in a bath!

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    Baby wipes are a life saver. I always fill the bath first to chuck them in as soon as we’ve finished, it’s easier to clean off straight away before its had chance to dry in!

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    I totally agree about preparation being key and the baby wipes! We like to make cleaning up part of the activity as well. I sometimes bring the washing up bowl onto the table filled with warm soapy water to help contain the mess and to help avoid getting paint on the walls!

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    Great tips! We are lucky to have tiled floors because of the weather, and it really helps in cleaning up. We do most of our art projects in the balcony! Have pinned this too.

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    Haha, my top tip: Let them do it at someone else’s house 😀 Just joking, of course, but a mess free version is to give them a bucket of water and a paint brush and let them paint the patio. Amy loves it and could paint for hours

    Thanks for linking up with Monday Parenting Pin It Party x

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      Ha ha! Oh, if only, but my son wants to do it a lot, no matter the weather, so I have to come up with inside tips, too! Thanks for hosting x

  8. Pingback: 9 Indoor Activities To Do With A 16 Month-Old - The Reading Residence

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