Painting for Babies! Finger Paints or Condiments

Thu, 03/17/2011 - 9:28am -- Jessica Baudin-...

This week for my Intellidance Babies class at the studio I decided to do a new activity we've never done before. I have a fabulous group of moms who are completely engaged and enthusiastic so I knew they would be the perfect group to try baby finger painting with. The babies in our class range from 4 months- 12 months so I wasn't sure what to expect, meaning I have crossing my fingers I wouldn't end up with moms, babies and a studio covered in paint. Or worse yet very unhappy babies who ate the paint or were not enjoying the process. But the results blew me away and we were left with a group of very proud mommies, great art pieces, and babies who were enthralled with this new experience. 

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I used Alex Brand "My First Paints" Finger Paints, in Red, Blue and Yellow. They have a nice think texture so they babies could actually mash and squish the paints in their fingers and toes. The paint is also non-toxic and while eating it in large doses is not recommended if they did ingest a bit the most the mommies would have to worry about is colorful poop (and that's happens when kids eat broccoli or blueberries anyway). We painted on cardstock so the babies could put a lot of paint on the paper without it getting soggy and so the art pieces could be displayed afterward if the moms wanted. 

My goal with the painting was to create a new "cause and effect" experience for the babies. Babies are constantly learning about cause and effect and how they can make an impact on the world around them. It was very interesting to watch how different babies' personalities greatly impacted how they approached the activity. Some were very tentative, poking the paint for a few minutes not sure what to do, if they were interested in doing the activity at all. A few babies got upset when the paint got on their hand and needed lots of reassurance from mom and positive reinforcement to continue in the activity. Most of the babies jumped right in using hands, fingers, and feet to paint, thrilled to discover they could move the colors around the blank piece of paper creating a colorful world. Lots of the babies also enjoyed painting on themselves, their moms and the floor (we taped garbage bags to the floor for quick clean up but quickly learned many of the babies were just as interested in scrunching and handling the garbage bag floor as painting). So many fabulous senses and discoveries for the babies!

It was heart warming to watch the moms and babies exploring this new medium together. A lot of times people hesitate to introduce art to babies but if you are using non-toxic, baby safe products in a controlled environment with parental guidance, process based art can create opportunities for fun new learning experiences and memories. 

You can also explore finger painting with your baby without traditional paints. When Bria was around 12 months we tried finger painting with ketchup and mustard! Since I knew she didn't have any food allergies or sensitivities the bright red and yellow of these condiments were perfect first paints. I did get her to paint with them on paper so I could keep her results the first time we tried the activity (as shown below) but the numerous times we tried after that I just let her paint right on her high chair tray. This was a perfect activity for after supper while I would clean up the kitchen before giving her a bath. Be prepared art with babies is messy! They wants to paint anything they can reach. 

Have any fun art activities you have tried with your baby? I'd love to hear about them!