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Why Do Infants Need to Paint?

Are you worried about your infant using paint? What if they eat it?!

You know we love an invitation to paint. Even for our infants!

But why are we so adamant about offering painting experiences for such young children? Here are some of the many benefits of mark-making and exploring paint for infants and toddlers:

Physical Development

  1. Mark-making experiences help children develop their fine and gross motor skills. Think about the muscles required to hold a paint brush, the way their arms or legs move when in contact with the paint.

  2. While exploring paint, children practice their hand-eye coordination and cause and effect. Their movements have clear results, illustrated by the paint on their target. If they move their hand to the left, a streak of paint appears. If they move their hand quickly, paint splashes.

  3. In these experiences, children are exercising their bilateral coordination - using both sides of their bodies at the same time, in different ways. How cool!

Cognitive Development

  1. When working on a canvas of any kind or size, children begin to develop spatial awareness. The paint will likely still travel onto the table or floor, but they are learning about boundaries and concepts such as up, down, and around.

  2. Toddlers may begin to label their marks as a dog, house, mommy, etc. This requires executive functioning, which is the process of making a plan and then following the steps to achieve it. The ability to “make a plan” requires practice, and starts in infancy as children choose which colours they like, where they want to paint, how much they want to use, and how long they want to work for.

  3. Invitations to create stimulate children’s sensory system in several ways. Children learn about textures, tools and materials, colour discernment, and pressure. Messy experiences with paint are a great way for children to take creative risks and learn about their world through their senses, developing their own understandings and ideas.

Social-Emotional Development

  1. Opportunities to paint provide children with the time and space to express themselves. The more opportunities children have to do this, without the adult voice overshadowing their own ideas, the more confident children become. The more they trust their own voices and thoughts. The more empowered they feel.

  2. Painting fosters children’s creativity, allowing them to express themselves freely. There is no right or wrong way to paint, or mix colours, or create marks. This work is deeply satisfying to individuals of all ages, and especially to young children, as they can experiment and create without fear of failure.

  3. When children paint and create together, they can practice social skills such as sharing, turn-taking, and collaboration. Young children can observe one another and learn how others create or express themselves. This is a wonderful early introduction to representation and an opportunity to develop respect for others.

Now that we know the benefits of paint for infants and toddlers, we want to make sure that we are offering valuable painting experiences to them. Check out our 5 Steps to Paint Safety with Infants and Toddlers.

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