Painting with toddlers. It’s not for the faint hearted!


When my older two are in school and I have my lovely little two-year old at home with me my heart usually starts beating a little faster when I hear the words “Mammy, I want to do painting!”

I see all these fantastic posts on other blogs, on websites and on Pinterest of fabulous ideas for creative painting with kids. I think my kids missed the lesson on how to do painting without wreaking themselves and everything around them.

That said they love it and so now and again I give in and the painting box comes out. After a few years of painting I have gained enough confidence to get through a half hour or hour of painting relatively unscathed.


My top tips for painting with toddlers:

1. A wipeable table-cloth.

We only got one recently and it has been a revelation. Whatever task they are doing at the table all evidence can be just wiped away in seconds. Before I had the wipeable table-cloth I used to get a black sack and cut it open until it was just one big flat piece of plastic and use that as the makeshift table-cloth. I then just rolled it up and binned it afterwards. It is also useful to keep some kitchen towel or cloths nearby to wipe messy hands or brushes without having to move anywhere.

2. Bibs or other clothes protection

To save extra washing (there is enough already) I always make sure that they are covered up – especially the 2-year-old. We have some of the IKEA bibs that go on like a surgical gown (beautifully modelled by my 2-year-old in the picture above) and they are great. They can be just thrown in the machine afterwards.

3. Washable paint

It’s an obvious one but make sure you get washable paints. To be fair most kids paints these days are but it makes things less stressful if you know you are not going to be scrubbing paint from under nails, off hands or worse still off your furniture for days on end afterwards.

4. Painting accessories

Once you have the washable paints you will need paper – and plenty of it. I tend to use either plain white paper which I buy in a ream of 500 pages for our printer and half that goes to the kids. I have also used a very cool roll of paper from IKEA which is great for just rolling out on the table and letting everyone paint together. Even making different parts of one big picture.

While painting is great but, particularly for the younger ones, it can be a bit boring after a few minutes. Add in some sponges, different types of brushes, cut up pieces of fruit and you add a little excitement into the mix for very little extra effort. The best accessory I find is a hand! Toddlers and young kids love to paint their hand and make various pictures from them. Provided you have the washable paint it is no problem just washing it off.


5. Patience

Painting with toddlers or any small children requires a certain amount of patience. Deep breaths and let them just let their artistic side out. It doesn’t matter if you end up with a white sheet painted green as long as the process was fun!

As your kids grow it can be nice to provide them with some ideas or inspiration of things to paint. This is where the internet comes in handy. There are some great website with ideas for painting for kids and Pinterest is full of them. Next on my agenda is going to be some Easter painting. Maybe even painting some eggs!

Happy painting!



  1. Ah.. the dreaded painting. Great post with some good advice.You could put Patience in for 6,7,8,9, and 10 because I find it requires a lot of it.

    My older pair love this and always want to do it even though for my son (4) this mostly involved covering anything he can with the darkest concoction of colours he can make. The IKEA bibs are a god send, haven’t found anything else quite as good.

    For Easter there are loads of Polystyrene eggs available in the cheepy (1 euro shops etc)which you can decorate with paint or sticking things on to them. Your older two will love them. Our pair are already planning their whole Easter break around what art they can do.
    Cormac recently posted…Financial ManagementMy Profile

  2. Big fans of painting in our house too and we also use those big rolls of IKEA paper. So great for allowing them free reign. I gave them a cardboard box to paint one day too and they got a ridiculous amount of fun from it. It was just a box! Great tips. I also ALWAYS have a pack of wipes to hand πŸ˜‰
    Sadhbh @ Where Wishes Come From recently posted…Cat and Fox Birthday PartyMy Profile

    • Thanks Sadhbh. I am sure painting in your house is in a much higher league to mine based on the amazing creativeness you have (everyone checkout her beautiful blog by clicking on her name!). Must dig out a cardboard box – it always is the simple things! That IKEA paper is a popular product when it comes to kids art!

  3. Great tips, mine love painting but I do feel a sense of dread at the word. I usually set the painting up on the table outside and sometimes and have been known to hose them down out there!! We love the ikea rolls of paper, the kids love lying on them and having themselves traced.
    elizabeth macdonnell recently posted…Home Made Chicken GoujonsMy Profile

    • Yes, alfresco art is great. We did that last year during the summer heatwave – makes such a difference for avoiding mess! Love the idea of the kids tracing themselves. That will be on our to do list! Thanks! I hope IKEA are well stocked up on rolls of paper πŸ™‚


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

CommentLuv badge