The Best Art Supplies for Toddlers

Your Guide to the What and Why of All Things Art


In this article, we‘ll explore the best art supplies for toddlers, helping you to choose the perfect tools and equipment to fire up your little one’s creativity.

Art activities are more than just a way to keep your toddler entertained. Engaging in art allows them to explore their senses, express their emotions, and develop cognitive and motor skills.


best art supplies for toddlersToddlers love finger painting


I can’t promise that even the very best art supplies for toddlers will ensure your offspring is destined for artistic fame and fortune, but I can promise that providing the means to create art will give them an even greater gift – the joy and freedom of self-expression.

Whether your toddler is set to be the next Rembrandt or be destined to a life of drawing stick figures and very abstract designs like me, they will be forever thankful that you gave them the opportunity to be arty as a young child.

Table of Contents

The Benefits of Art for Toddlers

  • Fine Motor Skills
  • Cognitive Development
  • Language and Communication Skills

Choosing Art Supplies For Toddlers

  • Safety First
  • Durability

The Best Art Supplies For Toddlers – My Top Recommendations

  • Paper and Easels
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paints and Markers
  • Crayons
  • Clay and Dough
  • Stamping and Printing
  • Keeping Clean

Top Tips for Parents

  • The Art Space
  • Embracing Messiness
  • Encouraging Self-Expression
  • Self-Esteem and Confidence
  • Art Playdates



The Benefits of Art for Toddlers

Art activities offer a multitude of benefits. Here’s a quick look at the most important ones.


Enhancing Fine Motor Skills Through Art

Fine motor skills are crucial for your toddler's overall development. Art tools, such as crayons, paintbrushes, and clay, provide opportunities for your child to practice their hand and finger movements. The repetitive actions of holding and manipulating art materials strengthen hand muscles, improve hand-eye coordination, and refine their dexterity. These skills lay a solid foundation for future tasks like writing, cutting, and tying shoelaces.


Stimulating Cognitive Development With Art Activities

Art engages your toddler's brain on multiple levels. Through art activities, they learn to observe, analyze, and make decisions. Mixing colors, experimenting with different textures, and arranging shapes promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Additionally, art encourages concentration and focus, allowing your child to immerse themselves in a creative process that nurtures their cognitive abilities.


Boosting Language and Communication Skills through Artistic Expression

Art also serves as a powerful language for toddlers, allowing them to express themselves before they can verbalize their thoughts. By encouraging your child to create and discuss their artwork, you provide a platform for developing language and communication skills. Artistic activities inspire storytelling, vocabulary expansion, and the exploration of emotions, enabling your toddler to communicate and connect with the world around them.


toddler drawing on an easelGive them the freedom to explore their creativity




Considerations When Choosing the Best Art Supplies For Toddlers


Safety First: Non-Toxic Art Supplies for Peace of Mind

When selecting art supplies for your toddler, safety should be your top priority. Choose non-toxic, washable materials, ensuring that the risk of accidental ingestion or exposure to harmful substances is minimized. Look for labels that indicate compliance with safety standards and consider water-based paints and markers, as they are easier to clean and gentler on your child's skin.


Durability Matters: Sturdy Art Materials for Little Hands

Toddlers are naturally curious and explore their surroundings with boundless energy. Therefore, it's essentail to choose art supplies that can withstand their enthusiastic handling. Seek out products made from sturdy materials that can endure rough handling, such as chunky crayons and paintbrushes with thick handles. This way, you can ensure that your toddler's art supplies will last through many creative adventures.




The Best Art Supplies For Toddlers

- My Top Recommendations -


Paper and Easels

It’s important to provide your toddler with appropriate surfaces on which to create their masterpieces. Look for large, thick paper that can withstand a variety of art mediums, such as finger paints, markers, and crayons. Consider easels designed for toddlers, which provide a vertical surface for painting and drawing, promoting proper posture and wrist control.


My Recommendations



Art Paper Roll - perfect for everyday creativity

Enjoy hours of arty fun with this 1,200 inch roll of sturdy white art paper. This heavy-duty craft paper won't rip or tear, making it perfect for a wide variety of art projects. Cut it into any shape, use it with paint, crayons, markers, and more on a table, easel, or floor.



Art Paper Pads - ideal for special projects

High-quality, non-absorbant art paper for those special painting projects with fingers, brushes or sponges.




Art Easel - A great first easel for young artists. Double-sided with a magnetic dry erase board and chalkboard plus clips for paper. Sturdy and height adjustable with useful storage space. Includes markers, chalks and magnets.


Check out prices for the best art supplies for toddlers: Paper and Easels




Paintbrushes

Painting introduces your toddler to the world of colors and textures. Opt for brushes with short handles that are easy for little hands to grip. The wider the selection of brushes and other painting tools you provide, the more creative they can be. Give them brushes with bristles, sponge brushes, foam strip brushes, and foam rollers, and set their creativity free.

I highly recommend no spill paint cups for brushes and non-tip dipping bowls for wider tools to prevent spillages. Spilled paint can go a looong way! The bowls are also perfect for mixing paints when your toddler starts to explore color mixing.


My Recommendations



Paintbrushes - Set of 8 chubby toddler paintbrushes. Easy to grip giving great control. Round and flat paintbrushes for different painting effect. Easily cleaned with soap and water. Just what your toddler needs to get creative with paint.



Textured Paintbrushes - An excellent selection of fun painting tools including sponge paintbrushes, textured brushes and rollers. You also get a long-sleeved apron to keep your toddler clean.




No Spill Paint Cups - 10 piece set with brushes. These stable, no spill cups prevent spills and messes when your toddler’s painting. The air-tight lids also help to keep the paint fresh between art sessions. A must have.



Check out prices for all the best art supplies for toddlers: Painting Tools and Equipment




Paints and Markers

Colors stimulate your toddler's visual senses and ignite their imagination. Water-based paints in vibrant shades are ideal for introducing your child to the world of painting and can be easily wiped or washed off surfaces that get paint on them accidentally.

As an alternative to painting with paintbrushes, give your toddler washable paint sticks, dot markers, and finger paints, allowing them to explore different techniques and create bold, colorful artwork. With a wide range of colors at their disposal, your child's creativity will know no bounds.


My Recommendations


Crayola Washable Paint - A safe, non-toxic paint that’s smooth to apply, quick drying and easy to wash off. It mixes well for color blending and can be used on a wide range of surfaces, including paper, cardboard, clay and canvas. Six lovely bright colors.



Crayola Finger Paints - Six vibrant colors in 8oz bottles. Just the right size for little fingers. The easy squeeze bottles have flip-top caps to prevent spills. Simple to wash off skin, surfaces and washable clothes. Smooth texture that's perfect for smearing around paper.



Dot Markers - Mess free dot markers containing washable paint in 5 bright colors. Easy to grip bottles for toddler hands. Just twist the cap and get creating. Large sponges for good paper coverage that won’t dry out. Dab, paint, mix and blend for wonderful artwork without the hassle of regular paints.


Check out prices for all the best art supplies for toddlers: Paint




Crayons

Crayons are a staple in every toddler's artistic toolkit, offering a world of vibrant colors and endless possibilities. When selecting crayons for your little artist, look for options that are safe, durable, and easy for tiny hands to grasp.

Opt for chunky crayons that are difficult to break and don’t have paper to peel off as the crayon gets shorter, allowing your toddler to explore their creativity without frustration. Crayons with a smooth texture and strong pigmentation ensure bold and vibrant artwork. Consider washable crayons that can be easily cleaned off surfaces and clothes, making cleanup a breeze.


My Recommendations



Pure Beeswax Crayons - Made from natural, safe beeswax with food grade pigments for color. Their chubby shape makes them easy for little hands to hold and hard to break. 12 great colors for eye catching artwork, and they smell good too.



Check out prices for all the best art supplies for toddlers: Crayons




Clay and Dough

Playing with clay or dough is a fantastic tactile experience for toddlers. It enhances their sensory development, allowing them to explore different textures, shapes, and forms. Choose non-toxic, air-drying clay or dough that is easy to mold and manipulate. Engaging with these materials promotes hand strength, coordination, and imaginative play. Also provide your toddler with a set of modeling tools to help them manipulate the clay or dough into interesting shapes and designs.


My Recommendations



White Air Dry Modeling Clay - This clay is perfect for older toddlers who have a little more strength in their hands. The fine texture makes it easy for small hands to mold and sculpt. The 5lb bucket will last for ages, the clay staying soft in its sealed container. I recommend white clay rather than colored so that your toddler can have fun painting it when it’s dry.



Play-Doh Modeling Dough - You can’t go wrong with Play-Doh. It’s soft and squishy making it the best choice to introduce your toddler to modeling. With 10 colors in 2oz pots, your little one will be spoilt for choice as they squeeze, squash, roll and cut for hours of tactile fun. It’s non-toxic so no worries if they take a little nibble when you’re back’s turned.



Modeling Tools - A comprehensive collection of modeling tools designed primarily for use with dough but work with soft clay as well. The set includes 3 rolling pins with different patterns, 5 wooden stamping cubes, and 1 patterned wheel press. You also get 4 pots of modeling dough each with a charming animal mold on the lid.


Check out prices for all the best art supplies for toddlers: Air-Dry Clay, Dough and Modeling Tools




Stamps and Ink Pads

tamping and printing activities offer unique opportunities for creative exploration. They also promote fine motor skill development, spatial awareness, and imaginative storytelling.

Look for stamp sets with large, easy-to-grip handles that are suitable for little hands. There’s a huge range of stamp designs available. Go with their interests such as animals or dinosaurs for maximum excitement and motivation. Provide non-toxic ink pads with washable ink in a variety of colors to give them plenty of creative choices.


My Recommendations



Stamp Inkpad – Kids, even very young ones, love playing with stamps and these 6 bright pads of washable ink are just the job for loads of printing fun. I recommend close guidance and supervision when in use as the colors will quickly get mixed together if your toddlers moves their stamp from one color to another.



Ink Stamp Set - Printing with stamps is a great art activity for older toddlers and they’ll love this set of 10 rubber stamps with fun designs such as a rainbow, balloons, stars, and a smiling sun. The chunky, extra-long wooden handles make for easy handling by small hands and keeps fingers off the ink pad.


Check out prices for all the best art supplies for toddlers: Ink Pads and Ink Stamp Sets




Keeping Clean

Toddler art sessions inevitably lead to mess. To minimize the chaos and make cleaning up easy, there are a few must-have items that will help keep your little one and their surroundings clean. Invest in an apron or smock designed specifically for toddlers. These protective garments shield their clothes from paint splatters and stray marks, allowing them to freely explore their creativity without worries.

Place a splat mat under the art area to catch any spills or drips. Not only does this protect your floors or carpets, but it also makes cleanup much easier. Cover the art table with a waterproof and wipeable plastic tablecloth if spills are likely to damage it. With these items in place, you can embrace the messiness of art sessions while keeping the cleanup hassle-free and stress-free.

Remember to keep your little one under close supervision when they have access to art supplies. What parent of a toddler hasn’t had walls or other surfaces wonderfully decorated when they turned their back for a second? As a toddler, I once painted my baby brother’s face bright orange for some reason. Mom was not amused.


My Recommendations



Art Smocks – This 2 pack is great value. The smocks are made of a lightweight, BPA free waterproof polyester material for easy wipe down with soapy water or just throw them in the washing machine. Velcro at the back makes them easy to put on and take off and adjustable for size. Elasticated cuffs keep the sleeves in place but enable them to be pulled up for hand washing. The smocks are for kids aged 2-6 years so may be a bit large for the youngest toddlers.



1 Year Old Art Smock - All the benefits of the art smocks above but a smaller size so even the youngest toddlers can keep clean while enjoying messy art sessions. 



Splat Mat - This splat mat has everything going for it – non-slip, made from non-toxic materials, machine washable, stain resistant, and a fun dinosaur design that’s a winner with toddlers. Use it under the art table, the easel or for your toddler to sit on while engage in their art activities.


Check out prices for all the best art supplies for toddlers: Aprons and Smocks, Splat Mats and Waterproof Wipeable Plastic Table Cloths




Top Tips for Parents


Establishing an Art Space: Setting Up a Creative Zone at Home

If possible, create a dedicated space with an art table and maybe an easel as well, where your toddler can freely explore and create art. Stock it with a variety of art supplies and materials, ensuring easy access for your child. Think carefully about which materials you want them to have access to any time they feel creative and which art supplies they should only be able to get their hands on when under the supervision of an adult.


Embracing Messiness: The Value of Unstructured Art

Art is messy, and that's part of its beauty! Embrace the messiness and let your toddler explore their creativity without strict rules or expectations. Unstructured art activities give your child the freedom to experiment, make choices, and learn from their own discoveries. Through these experiences, they develop confidence, independence, and a sense of ownership over their creations. So, lay down some protective materials, put on those aprons, and let the artistic adventure begin!


Art as a Language: Encouraging Self-Expression and Storytelling

For toddlers who are still developing their verbal skills, art provides a powerful means of expression. Encourage your child to share their thoughts and stories through their artwork. Ask open-ended questions, such as "Tell me about your painting," or "Why did you choose that color?" This dialogue not only strengthens their language skills but also fosters their ability to think creatively and express themselves visually.


Celebrating Every Creation: Encouraging Self-Esteem and Confidence

Art offers a platform for emotional expression, allowing your toddler to communicate and process their feelings. Engage in art activities together, sharing moments of fun, laughter, and even frustration. Celebrate their artistic achievements, and remember to display their artwork proudly. By valuing and treasuring their creations, you foster a sense of accomplishment and grow their self-confidence.

One extra little tip, let them help you pin up their work so that you get it the right way around. There’s nothing that makes a toddler more indignant than displaying their picture upside down!


Art as a Social Activity: Playdates and Collaborative Projects

Art can also be a social and collaborative experience for your toddler. Plan playdates with other toddlers and engage in group art projects. Encourage sharing of ideas, materials, and creative exploration. Collaborative art activities promote social skills, cooperation, and the joy of creating together. These experiences not only foster friendships but also provide valuable opportunities for your child to learn from and inspire their peers.


toddler playing with doughA budding sculptor


Final Words

In this article on the best art supplies for toddlers, we’ve looked at basic tools and equipment, the essentials if you like. But there’s so much more out there to excite your toddler and further inspire and enable their creativity.

As they get older, you can introduce them to craft items such as:

  • feathers
  • popsicle sticks
  • pipe cleaners
  • pompoms
  • googly eyes
  • matchsticks
  • foam sticker shapes
  • sequins


There are some great ready-made kits such as this one.


Be aware of the choking hazard with small craft pieces and only let your toddler use them when you feel they are old enough and you can be 100% present during crafting activities.

They’re going to have so much fun when the time is right.

In the meantime, your little one is going to have a wonderful time sloshing the paint around, doodling with crayons, and exploring the world of sculpting with clay and dough.

Happy art sessions!


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Best toddler art supplies


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About Jacky Spear

Jacky Spear passionately promotes learning toys for child development. With 30+ years of teaching experience, she understands the power of play in engaging and nurturing children, including those with special needs. Drawing from personal experience in both the school and home environment, Jacky helps parents to select the best learning toys to unlock their children's potential and create a lifelong love for learning. Learn more about Jacky >>


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