Family & Days Out Kids Activities

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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32 Comments

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