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?
Allowing your kids to use art supplies to get colorful and creative encourages a wide range of developmental benefits.
Arts and crafts promotes the development of fine motor skills, coordination skills, exploration, relationships, imagination and can even help relieve stress and anxiety.
Long story, short: 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’ll go over:
- Toxic ingredients to avoid in art supplies
- How to choose non-toxic paint, dough, chalk, crayons and more
- The best non-toxic arts & crafts supplies for babies and kids
Scroll down to learn more.
Toxic ingredients to avoid in art supplies
Paints, clays, playdoughs and drawing materials are often made with petrochemicals. Petrochemicals such as mineral oil, toluene, paraffin wax, PEGs, benzene, and ethanolamine compounds (MEA, DEA, TEA) can contain carcinogens and other toxins that irritate the skin, cause hormone disruption, cancer, and organ toxicity.
Some clays and playdoughs are based with a PVC or PVC-like materials and often contain phthalates to soften or scent them. Many phthalates are known endocrine disruptors associated with asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, breast cancer, obesity, type II diabetes, neurodevelopmental issues, behavioral issues, autism spectrum disorders, altered reproductive development and male fertility issues.
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. Synthetic fragrances can contain dozens of chemicals that often do not need to be disclosed. Some of the most common chemicals found in man-made fragrances include phthalates, which are endocrine disruptors, and benzene derivatives, aldehydes, and toluene, which are known carcinogens.
Markers, paints and pens can contain toxic solvents to make them smooth and vibrant. The problem is that those solvents may contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Volatile Organic Compounds are suspected human carcinogens that can “off gas” into your environment, essentially polluting the air in your home. Exposure can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, shortness of breath, headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizziness and skin problems. Higher concentrations may cause damage to the liver, kidney, or central nervous system.
How to Choose Non-Toxic Paint and Other Art Supplies
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:
- Opt for paints, markers, and other art products that are water-based instead of oil-based.
- 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. I have listed some fantastic non-toxic options below.
- 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.
- Natural pencils and crayons skip the toxic varnishes and leave them bare or use eco-friendly options.
The Best Non-Toxic Arts & Crafts Supplies For Babies & Kids
At The Tot, we never use or recommend anything that hasn’t passed The Tot Safety Test.
This means our Non-toxic Living Expert has reviewed third-party testing, examined ingredients lists and asked in length about a product’s composition.
Below are all Tot Tested and approved art products for kids!
- 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.