I spent some time as a preschool art teacher, so you better BELIEVE I was bound and determined to get my kids excited about art from an early age. I had big ambitions about art projects for babies, and I expected I would spend much of my time coming up with cute crafts for toddlers. I even pictured them with little paint brushes in their chubby little hands. And then the day came when I handed Lila her first paintbrush, lovingly dipped in non-toxic red paint- and she stuck it right in her mouth. We THINK these things are going to be amazing. But when it comes to art for babies, sometimes we need to tone down our expectations just a little. Or, at the very least, come up with alternatives that won’t have our toddlers spitting red paint all over the living room floor.
One of the easiest compromises to make is by swapping out typical paints with edible paint for toddlers. Pinterest abounds with plenty of non-toxic options to make your own paint (often involving flour, corn-starch, and the like). We wanted to move beyond paint that simply won’t hurt them. We’re bringing you an art experience that integrates sensory play, taste exploration, and color experimentation in a truly edible fashion. Our yogurt fingerpaint art activity is sure to fill some time with yummy fun for your littlest Picassos. It’s a process-based art project your babies will love.
Choose Your Edible Paint for Toddlers
Yogurt can be eaten by babies as young as six months, but let’s go ahead and make sure it’s a safe food for our littles first. Your child should have eaten yogurt on at least three occasions without a reaction before attempting this activity. Because we want to get cute pictures of them painting, and not selfies from the emergency room, #amiright? Same goes for the flavor you choose- we don’t want to suddenly introduce strawberries, even in yogurt form.
Once you’ve determined that yogurt is a safe food for your baby or toddler, pick up a small carton or two of your yogurt of choice. Personally, I just use what’s on hand, whether that’s the Greek yogurt I buy for myself, or the baby-friendly brand I buy for the kids. Whichever you choose, I do recommend one without mix-ins or fruit on the bottom. Smooth yogurt has a texture more similar to finger paint, and is a little easier to brush or rub onto paper.
Create Your Colors
If you are a type A mama like Jaymi, you might want to create just one shade of yogurt finger paint for your baby to play with (odds are, they won’t care at all. Like, AT ALL.) If you’re in the mood to play a little more, divide the yogurt between several small containers first, and add color separately. Add a drop or two of food coloring to the yogurt, and stir to check how the tint is coming along. You can use standard food colors, or play with the neon versions (available at any grocery store). As a side note, your colors will likely not be particularly vivid once they hit the paper. Keep in mind that this is about your child’s experience, not the product.
Decide How to Present Your Baby Art Project
You can simply give your child the container(s) of yogurt fingerpaint and a piece of paper and see what happens, or you can structure the activity a little more. You can display the yogurt on a “pallete” made from a paper plate, or give them paintbrushes. When Lila was little, we hosted a Valentine’s themed playdate featuring yogurt fingerpaints. The kids used pink-colored yogurt to stamp hearts onto paper using toilet paper tubes molded into a heart shape. Getting creative with the materials can help to keep this toddler art project fresh and new over repeated experiences, and let your babies experience art a little differently each time.
If you’re worried about the mess- first of all, you’re not alone. I use this art project to help fill in our recommended two hours of daily outdoor play (my dog is grateful when I do!). If going outside isn’t an option, you can put your child in their high chair before starting. Or, since yogurt is thin and biodegradable, move the activity into the bathtub and let them use their edible finger paints on the shower walls instead. When they’re done, use a wet cloth to wipe down the walls, and fill the tub to get your toddler squeaky clean, too.
Let Your Child Enjoy Their Toddler Art Project
Listen, this project is made from yogurt- it’s not the Mona Lisa, and it will never BE the Mona Lisa. It’s not about that this time. Let your child spend their time enjoying the fun, creativity, and sensory play this activity offers, and don’t worry too much about how it turns out. They may paint the paper, they may paint their work surface, or they may just eat the paint. We think you should just let them, at least this once. And anyways, odds are you aren’t going to want to keep it forever (it’s somewhat time-limited. Because again, YOGURT). If this project is something you want to hang onto, we recommend snapping a pic or two of their paintings to keep, and then filing the actual art in the round file (that’s teacher speak for the trash can) after a week or two.
We know messy art projects for babies aren’t always the easiest, especially if you have any interest in having a clean house whatsoever. But with a few simple modifications, we’re confident you can have a lot of fun with this edible yogurt fingerpaint- without a drastic increase in blood pressure. Have your toddlers ever painted with yogurt (or another edible finger paint)? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!
Looking for more ways to keep your toddler entertained? Check out our post with the 10 activities your toddler should be doing every day!