What are the Benefits of Painting for Toddlers Development?

It’s never been easier to experience blissful moments with you and your toddler. Simply introduce your little one into the creative world of art, via painting. There are some awesome benefits of painting for toddlers development and you won’t regret it. We are often so busy bringing up our young ones, that we forget to just sit and truly engage with them, creating not only artistic masterpieces but memories as well.

There are many benefits of painting for children including sensory development, colour learning, fine motor development, exercising creativity, being able to express emotions and building self esteem. Painting is also a great activity to help teach concepts like shapes and letters in a fun and engaging way.

The painting benefits for toddlers are numerous but it’s not just good for your toddler, it’s also great for you as a parent as well. Painting is invaluable bonding time between your little one and yourself but also helps to establish a stronger relationship and a more thorough understanding of your child. 

8 Benefits of Painting for Toddlers Development

  • Improves mobility and fine and gross motor skills.
  • Improves concentration and patience.
  • Develops spatial intelligence.
  • Teaches colours in a fun and practical way.
  • Helps build a child’s self-esteem.
  • Provides a way to communicate emotions.
  • Allows them to exercise their creativity
  • Provides an introduction to sensory experiences.

So, why is painting good for toddlers? Let’s look at those benefits of painting for preschoolers in a little more detail.


Being free to explore without fear of mistakes, or bad results is great for little ones. They can let their imagination run wild and their peers and adults will always wonder at their artwork. Allowing a child to have this abstract form of self expression can be a wonderful confidence builder.

Learning colours

This is a pretty obvious one. Allowing children to paint and explore with different colours in a fun and practical way to teach them colour recognition. You need to do nothing more than state the name of each colour they choose as they work – just be careful not to disturb them too much.

Motor skills

Painting helps toddlers with mobility and coordination skills and is a great activity for motor development. They are constantly engaging their arm muscles to paint freely which improves gross motor development. Holding paintbrushes and making more precise movements is also a great way for them to develop fine motor skills. 

Communicating emotions

Painting is a great way to allow little ones to express their feelings, and thoughts easily, and help them to vent any bottled up emotions, such as anger.

Spatial Intelligence

Spatial intelligence is vital in early childhood development. When little ones paint and create shapes and objects on a surface or medium it helps them build awareness of objects in relation to each other. In time these skills help them to visualise things without the need for physical action.

Sensory Development

Painting introduces sensory experiences for children, whether they use their fingers, a brush, leaves or any other medium to help create their artwork. This sensory experience is vital for toddlers to explore these new feelings in a comfortable way. you will often see particularly young kids painting their hands with paintbrushes in wonder because they enjoy the feeling. Equally, some toddlers will be very cautious and wary to touch the paint. This is all normal and just a child’s way of processing these new sensations.

Expert Opinion on Painting Benefits for Toddlers

I wanted to check with an expert on what the benefits of painting in early childhood are and why it’s such a great activity. So, I reached out to the lead educator at my daughters’ daycare who has a degree in early childhood education for her opinion.

“Painting is so great for toddlers for so many reasons! It’s an activity that we go back to time and time again at daycare because it promotes individuality and creativity. It gives little ones the space to explore their emotions and capabilities in a very free way. The most important thing for us though is that it’s really fun!! Pretty much all kids love to paint and so it’s an easy way for us to teach and discuss almost any topic through a medium that they truly enjoy.”

The Benefits of Finger Painting for Toddlers

Finger Painting is one of the most loved methods of painting for toddlers as it is not only easy for them to do but is also super fun, (although admittedly slightly messy). Finger painting benefits are much the same as other painting activities.

Your child gains many sensory benefits from this super fun way of painting, as they feel, smell, and touch the paint directly enhancing their senses. Your child is now responsible for mixing colours, teaching them how to explore the creation of new ones, which also stimulates their intellectual development.

Check out our post on watermelon crafts for some finger painting ideas!

Furthermore, the use of finger painting provides them with concentration, balance, control, and strength which helps to develop good motor skills, which enables a smoother transition into writing. It helps them to explore their creativity and imagination in a stress free environment as they do not have to worry about the handling of other materials, eg- brushes, paint holders etc.  

Painting Activities for Toddlers

Free painting benefits for toddlers are numerous but a structured painting activity can also be a great idea. So, don’t hold your toddler back and start exploring some of these fun ideas! 

  • Paint using a sponge!
  • Why stop with paper, go paint the windows and enjoy the colours it provides!
  • Paint with stencils to create interesting designs!
  • Use a paint roller, which gives your child a sense of comfort!
  • Use Q-Tips as miniature paintbrushes!
  • Use a string to slide across the paint, to create intricate designs!
  • Blow paint with straws for an explosion of colours!
  • Use a medical syringe to squirt out paint in fun patterns!
  • Cut fruit also ensures more fun painting activities!

To add more fun, check out our post on imaginative play ideas.

Painting with Sponges for Toddlers

Sponge Painting is another fun and easy activity that your toddler can enjoy, without the usual paintbrushes. Your toddler will definitely enjoy this creative method of painting, and it requires very little effort on your behalf as well,  just merely cutting the sponge into shapes. 

Not only does this provide another interesting and new sensory experience for your toddler, but it also allows them to think outside of the box, and experiment with household items. Colour mixing, in particular, is explored vividly through the use of sponges, to produce beautiful pieces of art. 

Marble Painting for Toddlers

Marble painting is a less common, but equally fun and simple way to help your toddlers experience the joys of painting, and have them coming back for more! Your toddlers will end up creating colourful abstract pieces rather than a focused painting, which makes it even better for just some fun painting.

As this is less common, we are going to give you easy steps to follow to help create this wondrously fun activity for your little ones. 

1. Pour paint out in a sectioned holder (e.g.- egg carton), and have a baking tray with a sheet fitted.

2. Drop marbles into each section, and make sure they are completely covered in paint

3. Place these marbles on the fitted sheet in the baking tray

4. Now roll, shake and tilt your baking tray from side to side, so the marbles roll and create amazing abstract art.

Enjoy the funky art pieces that your toddler has created!

Benefits of Watercolor Painting for Toddlers

The benefits of watercolor painting for preschoolers shouldn’t be ignored. it can be a really fun new way to explore painting.

Watercolor painting is one of the most loved ways of painting for young toddlers, due to its splashy fun. With the easy to use paints and varied colours, this will be a hit for you and your toddler. We recommend ‘Blow Painting’ in particular. Blow Painting is not only silly fun but produces modern art masterpieces. Here is a simple 3 step guide to get you started. 

1. Drop a droplet of watercolour paint on the paper

2. Cut a straw in half, and blow through it at the paint drops

3. Keep repeating with different colours. 

You can also play a ‘hidden picture game’ with your little ones, by drawing a picture on white paper, with a white crayon, and then letting them paint over it with their watercolours, to find the image. It’s a sweet and entertaining game for you to play with your toddler. 

Check out our post on the benefits of puzzles for more entertaining game ideas.

Leaf Painting for Toddlers

Leaf painting is another invaluable form of painting that can be enjoyed by you and your toddler alike. Whilst not only producing beautiful prints, but the process of collecting the leaves makes it all the more enjoyable and adventurous for your little one.

The leaf painting benefits for toddlers begin with promoting outdoor activities, but also a sense of appreciation for nature, observational skills, and encourages toddler independence as they look for fresh leaves which have prominent veins. This is a super cool activity for you and your young ones to enjoy together, treasuring both the results and the leaves. 

For more adventurous activities, check out our post on seashell crafts!

Benefits of Painting for Babies Development

The painting benefits for babies are much the same as the benefits of painting for kids that are a bit older.

Some of the most important benefits of painting with babies are sensory development (eg through touch during finger painting) and development of fine and gross motor skills when using tools such as brushes and sponges. Allowing babies to experience painting will also develop their visual senses, creativity and can be a great bonding experience with parents.

Must Have Painting Supplies

Here are some must have gear to get your creative painting skills flowing. Be sure to check out the links to see our favourite/cheapest options to try out some new painting activities.

  • Kids Painting Apron – A must when it comes to painting with your toddlers, to prevent paint splatters on their clothes. I particularly love these smocks.
  • Paint Brushes – To help your young ones explore the initial joys of painting. These ones are nice and chunky for toddlers.
  • A regular kitchen Sponge and Scissors – If you and your toddler wish to explore Sponge Painting 
  • Washable Finger Paints – For a fun paint, and quick clean afterwards!
  • A Damp Cloth or Wet Wipes – To help effortlessly clean any paint that has landed on your toddler. 
  • Marbles – For you and your toddler to explore Marble Painting with. 
  • A Baking Dish – Is also necessary for the Marble painting, to keep the marble from rolling away. 
  • Egg Carton – To help with the covering of marble in paint. 
  • Newspaper – Be sure to keep it spread out on the table before you and your toddler engage in painting fun
  • A stock of Paper – Toddlers often make mistake and need paper, so be sure to keep a pile handy!
  • Paper Plates and Spoons – To ensure that paint is kept clean and not mixed in the pot directly. 
  • Leaves – For you and your young one to engage in Leaf Painting
  • Markers – For your child to proudly sign print their name on their masterpiece!

So, what’s the biggest benefit of painting for toddlers in my opinion? Even though I’ve researched and seen all the developmental benefits, I think the best thing about painting is how much fun it is and how much fun me and my toddler have together when we do it!

Looking for a fun craft for toddlers?! Check out our ocean sensory bottle! Or if you need gift ideas for crafty kids we have some great ideas for three year olds here and all sorts of other gear here.

Sophie Marie

Sophie Marie is passionate about providing the very best for her kids and her family. She spends half of the year living in an isolated community in Far North Queensland so online research and finding the best products is a skill she's perfected over time.
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