The Tot’s Guide to Non-Toxic Art Supplies For Babies and Toddlers

Arts & crafts are a wonderful way to help encourage and develop your child’s fine motor skills, imagination and creativity. But what if the supplies they’re using are toxic and potentially harmful? Health expert, Katherine McMackin, shares her tips on what to avoid.

A toddler painting the wall with yellow non toxic paint.

Enrich your child’s life with creative arts and crafts—all while ensuring they’re safe from harmful chemicals!

Allowing your kids to use art supplies and get colorful and creative encourages a wide range of developmental benefits. Arts and crafts encourage fine motor skills, coordination skills, exploration, relationship development, imagination and can help relieve stress and anxiety.  So break out the paints and play dough and start making some happy messes.

But before you and your kids begin, it’s important to know what’s in your art supplies, and whether they’re safe for your child. In this article, we will guide you through the process of choosing the right, non-toxic supplies as well as recommend the best non-toxic art supplies on the market today.

How to Choose Non-Toxic Paint and Other Art Supplies

There is a catch to all this wonderful creative play and it’s potentially lurking in your paints. Unfortunately, companies who make most mainstream art supplies use materials and ingredients that can be toxic. I am pretty certain that parents didn’t sign up for materials like heavy metals, synthetic and petroleum-based ingredients or VOCs to be a part of the final masterpieces adorning the fridge door. So the next time you are stocking up on art supplies, please consider the following.

Four toxic ingredients to avoid in your art supplies

  1. Petroleum or oil-based materials: Paints, clays, playdoughs and drawing materials are often made with petrochemicals that can be laced with heavy metals like lead, cadmium and arsenic.
  2. Synthetic clays: Some clays and playdoughs are based with a PVC or PVC-like materials and often contain phthalates to soften or scent them.  Phthalates are an endocrine disruptor and are being pegged as a potential contributor to early puberty, hormone disruption and cancers.
  3. Synthetic dyes and fragrances: Lots of products are colored with synthetic pigments that are petroleum-based, carrying the risk of heavy metal exposure. This is especially important to avoid when choosing face or finger paints.
  4. Solvents: Markers, paints and pens can contain toxic solvents to make them smooth and vibrant. The problem is that the volatile organic compounds that they ‘off-gas’ are detrimental to developing brains. They may also aggravate allergies and asthma.

What to look for when choosing art supplies

  1. Opt for paints, markers, and other art products that are water-based instead of oil-based.
  2. Modeling clays and dough can be made at home with a basic recipe or look out for those that are made with natural ingredients like flour or natural earth clay.
  3. Seek out paints, clays and crayons colored with natural pigments that are plant or mineral-based extracts. They are safe and vibrant without the health risks.
  4. Natural pencils and crayons skip the toxic varnishes and leave them bare or use eco-friendly options.

Our Favorite Non-Toxic Art Products

From dough to paint, here are our top picks for natural arts and crafts that will keep your baby or toddler happy and safe.

Best non-toxic playdough

 

The Dough Parlour Dough Sets

Perfect for birthday presents, stocking stuffers and craft time, these Dough Parlour sets feature fun scents and colors for boys and girls! Fresh and handmade-to-order in Canada, they use only 100% food-grade, non-toxic ingredients to create a safe and creative sensory experience for little ones.

 

 

 

The Dough Parlour Transportation Set

$40

 

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The Dough Parlour Unicorn Set

$40

 

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Eco-kids Dough

I really love how this brand focuses on making all their supplies as natural as possible, all the while being totally awesome.

Their playdough is one of my favorites as it’s made with natural ingredients including plant, fruit and vegetable extracts. This makes them super colorful, and they also have essential oils in them to help keep the dough soft and pliable. They also smell lovely without being toxic!

 

 

Eco-kids Dough

$15.99

 

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Best non-toxic crayons

 

Playon Crayons

Available in pastels and primary colors, these cute non-toxic crayons by Playon are made from 100% wax. They also have the European standard CE mark. Their unique shape and strong construction make them easy for little hands to hold, reduces breakage and most importantly minimizes the risk of choking. They also encourage correct pencil grip and creativity.

 

 

Kitpas Crayons

Kitpas’ eco-friendly and water-soluble crayon markers allow kids to draw on paper, glass windows and whiteboards, making craft time or party decorating extra fun. Once complete, simply use a wet cloth to erase the drawings. You can even use them as watercolors!

Kitpas Eco Friendly Crayons 

Kitpas Crayons – Medium

$20

 

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Eco-kids Sea Rock Crayons

These crayons are not your typical crayons! The fun shape of them makes creative drawing and coloring more exploratory and primitive. Made to resemble sea rocks, they are easy to hold and can be used from any angle. The best part is that they are made from natural waxes and mineral pigments instead of petrochemicals.

 

Eco-kids Sea Rock Crayons

$7.99

 

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5 best non-toxic kids paints

 

Natural Earth Paint Natural Face Paints

Face painting is something kids love from a very young age, and it doesn’t have to just be at carnivals. Natural Earth Face Paints are water-based and made with natural pigments.  Their paints are free of nanoparticles, heavy metals, parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, and animal products.

 

Natural Earth Paint Natural Face Paints

$18.95

 

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Eco-Kids Finger Paint

Again, all-natural powder-based ingredients from Eco-Kids. These non-toxic finger paints for babies and toddlers are vibrant, tactile and totally safe for your precious kids to use as often as they please!

 

Eco-Kids Finger Paint

$15.99

 

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Little Mashers T-shirt & Stamp Kit

For bigger kids, the Little Mashers t-shirt & stamp kit allow kids to design and print their own t-shirt and more! Each kit contains a stamp set (choose from shapes set or letters set) a t-shirt, a brush and a set of three special non-toxic inks that can be printed on fabric, wood, card and paper. Just iron your design on the reverse to cure the ink and make it permanent.

Little Mashers Stamp It! Kit in Letters 

Little Mashers T-shirt & Stamp Kit

$58

 

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Natural Earth Complete Eco-friendly Oil Paint Kit

This eco-friendly oil paint kit includes top-quality pigments, sustainably harvested from around the world. Each has been carefully ground to enhance the beauty and luminosity specific to each pigment. Simply mix pigments with walnut oil with a palette knife and start painting! The rich, vibrant colors can also be used by adults for crafting, scrapbooking, and more.

Natural Earth Paint Eco Arts Oil Paint Kit 

Natural Earth Complete Eco-friendly Oil Paint Kit

$46.95

 

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Best non-toxic markers

 

OMY Ultra Washable Felt Pens

Featuring 16 bold and bright colors, these brilliant non-toxic felt pens by OMY are a Tot favorite because the ink can easily be removed from skin, textiles and walls with the help of a little soap and water.

 

 

OMY Ultra Washable Felt Pens

$16

 

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Best non-toxic sidewalk chalk

 

Made using non-toxic pigmets, Twee’s unicorn horn sidewalk chalk, is designed to perfectly fit little ones’ hands, helping to increase a child’s grip strength and fine motor skills while encouraging creative play and imaginative making.

Twee Sushi Chalk 

Twee Unicorn Horn Sidewalk Chalk

$15

 

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Best eco-friendly kids apron

 

Hape Little Pro Painter Art Smock Set 

Let’s face it, you kids are going to get messy and so they should! Tactile and sensory exploration is a good thing. But this doesn’t mean that their clothes have to get messy too! This comfortable kid’s art smock is made of lightweight nylon material and helps protect clothes from paint, paste and other messy stuff. The set also includes a paintbrush and paint palette.

 

Hape Little Pro Painter Art Smock Set 

$12.99

 

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Have Fun With Your Child Without Worry!

 

  • There’s more to kids art & craft than just being creative. Art activities encourage communication skills, imagination, literacy and math skills, fine motor development while also building a child’s confidence and self-esteem. For more arts & craft ideas for kids, see our article on Art the Montessori way
  • When choosing art & craft supplies for kids, make sure you choose materials that are safe and non-toxic. See our extensive range of non-toxic Arts & Crafts supplies for kids.