Painting With Babies
At this point with the little one we’ve realized that almost anything will undoubtedly now be a messy endeavor which has caused me to step out of a very clean box I put myself in awhile back.
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It can be anything really; eating, sitting, sleeping, reading. It doesn’t matter. There’s pee, drool, poo, crumbs, food from breakfast, lunch or/and dinner inevitably stashed away in some fold, crease or in the hair… it never ends. Because everything is already messy, when faced with the prospect of doing an art project I was both excited and daunted. Luckily, a friend who teaches art to little ones made her way over and really boosted our confidence to jump right in. We called up a friend with a wee one herself and had a day of paint. It went so well, we discussed making this a monthly thing.
What we did:
We went with painting exploration using non-toxic acrylic paint. The goal was less on production and more feel and fun with our 16 month olds.
What we used:
Non-toxic acrylic paint. While our babes are past the stage of putting anything and everything in their mouths, they are still in the stage of tasting anything that looks edible. Anything that is colored red like strawberries and orange like tangerines looks pretty darn good to our little one.
A large plastic sheet for the bottom to protect the floor. We decided to do this indoors because early March is still chilly but we were ready to get some colors flowing. Even with the washable paint that we had, we wanted to keep the mess minimal as obviously not only would we be cleaning the house afterward but also the babies and if the babies were first, they’d probably become messy again when we cleaned up the floor. If the floor was first, the babies would probably get their colorful hand prints on something like the sofa.
A large canvas that was large enough for both babies to sit on, stand on and move around on while exploring the colorful pallet we provided them with. This canvas is also great because we can cut it in half and keep it as our babe’s first art piece. One for each child.
Plastic toys. We wanted to give the kiddos some other options for playing with the paint. While the paint was colorful and appealing to the sight and feel, having some other things to use to make patterns or to push the paint through can add to the fun and overall experience. We’ve also noticed with our little one that having things she recognizes along with the things she won’t helps her become comfortable with a new experience faster.
Extra adults. Since I got pretty colorful, I couldn’t be asked to take pictures or do much else other than paint. An extra adult or two prepared to catch runaway babies and to open bathroom doors for a bath immediately after the painty fun isn’t necessary but super helpful. For us, the moms played and painted and the dads got to give the bath and clean up the babes. Fun for everyone!
One baby, the boy in the photos, was ready to jump right in there and get messy, gooey and painty. He squished the paint between his fingers and put it on the canvas. He moved it around, sat in it and walked on it. He mixed colors together and poured water to see what would happen. He seemed happy to flip flop and perform every other movement you could think of. At times it was like we were on a slip-n-slide. Just as quickly as he was into it, he was out of it and wanted to have a dance party on the floor that wasn’t covered in plastic. I was cleaning up little painted footprints for about five minutes when all said and done (good thing it’s washable paint, right?).
The other baby, our little girl in the photos, was not so keen on getting messy it seemed. She did NOT want to be put on the canvas and certainly did NOT want to have her fingers or feet put in the paint either. She sat on my lap for the first 10 minutes while I played with the paint and put it on her. It took some coaxing and seeing the other baby definitely helped. I put her fingers in it and her toes and had to get pretty painty myself in order for her to get comfortable enough to sit on her own. Still though, her experience was a bit more precise and purposeful. She tends to like figuring out how things work. Taking things apart and putting them back together. She liked the paintbrush more than using her fingers and once she figured out how to open the paint herself, she opened and closed and opened and closed and squeezed that quite a bit. She wanted to keep playing once she became mesmerized with the colorful objects available to her.
We thought this was a great introduction to paint for our babies. I had done paint in plastic bags so that our baby could squish it around but not be nearly as messy when she was an infant and did some footprints a few months ago, but this was her first experience with paint in her hands and with a brush too where she was the one in control. She could have at it and do what she wished. Sixteen months was a great time to do it as well. They definitely tried to put a paintbrush or two in their mouths but after realizing the taste wasn’t delicious, that was done.
A baby’s personality is very easy to see when doing something like this and how they like to do things speaks volumes. While the little boy was happy to make a splash and then dash, our little girl needed a lot longer to get involved and then only wanted to do things in a very specific manner. I think having them together helped the experience for both of them. Because he was so much more interested from the get-go that helped her feel better about finally squishing things around and since she kept playing he eventually came back to see what had changed.