Non-Toxic Art Supplies For Babies and Toddlers – The Tot Guide
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
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.
When choosing supplies, try to:
- 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 Test.
This means we’ve looked deep into third-party testing, examined ingredients lists and asked in-depth questions about a product’s composition to ensure it’s free of the chemicals we avoid.
If extremely low detectable amounts are found, we take other things into consideration before having it pass The Tot Test. For example, we’d be much stricter if a toy in question is designed or likely to be placed in a child’s mouth vs. a piece of furniture with a metal base that is not likely to be touched by a child.
Below are all Tot Tested and approved art products for kids!
Paints & Easels
Painting can be a fun way for kids to strengthen fine motor skills, learn about colors, expand their vocabulary, all while having a sensory experience! Below are the non-toxic paint sets and easels we love.
Crayons & Markers
When kids color, they’re able to express themselves creatively while also learning how to concentrate, strengthening fine-motor skills, honing hand-eye coordination and mastering color recognition.
Brands like Goober Crayons and Crayon Rocks are taking the activity a step further by making uniquely shaped crayons that are easy and fun for little hands to hold and explore!
Keep scrolling to see our other favorite crayon and marker picks.
Arts & Crafts Sets
Was there anything more exciting than opening up a bursting at the seams craft set on your birthday!? (Nope!)
Below are our favorite arts and crafts sets for kids that contain things like colorful pom poms, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, scissors, glue, card making supplies and more!
Play dough is one of our most beloved activities because it allows kids to strengthen fine motor skills, use their imaginations, problem solve and more. It can also be great for reducing anxiety or giving kids an outlet to pound out their frustrations!
Dough Parlour is a great brand because they add non-toxic scents to their tubs, making it an extra fun sensory experience! Other brands we adore are Land of Dough and Eco-Kids.
Sidewalk Chalk & Chalk Coloring-in Books
Getting to spend the day working on a driveway chalk masterpiece is one of the best parts of being a kid! Since Twee knows that kids also love imaginative play, they’ve designed chalk sets in a range of fun themes like food, planets and mythological creatures!
Another fun chalk brand is Jaq Jaq Bird who make resuable drawing boards and books for coloring-in goodness.
Available in more themes
Available in more themes
- 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.