Why your Baby NEEDS to Paint
Did you know that between the ages of 0-3, your baby's brain is developing more than a million neural connections each second? This period of time is the most rapid time of brain development in a person's whole life. Fascinating right? But children during this time don't necessarily have all the language they need to express everything they are thinking, feeling, and learning. They need other outlets for expressing themselves. One of those outlets is painting!
Young children are naturally drawn to painting, and here's why:
Painting is a form of expression: As mentioned above, children can express their feelings, thoughts, creativity through painting. Because this is a form of self-expression, avoid providing a model or expecting a specific outcome for children at this age. Process over the product at this age. Say it with me, process over product.
Sensory experience: As the great Jean Piaget said, children at this age are in the sensorimotor stage of development. All learning takes place through the senses + movement. Mixing and seeing the colors, touching the paint, smelling the paint--all of these are important for the senses.
Motor development: As children move their arms, hands, and fingers to control a paintbrush, they are exercising the muscles in this part of the body. Believe it or not, strengthening these muscles is a necessity for later writing. To support this development, give your baby opportunities to paint on both horizontal and vertical surfaces.
Connection: Painting is a way for children to connect to the world around them. As they grow, they will begin to paint recognizable things like memories and experiences, or favorite animals and people. It's also a way for you and your child to do something meaningful and creative together. Don't be afraid to grab your paper and brushes and join in. You may just find yourself relaxing too.
Conversation: Painting time is a great opportunity for conversations. Try to avoid labeling your child’s paintings for them. Instead, ask your child about their painting by saying things like:
"Tell me about your painting!"
"What colors are you using?"
"How does that feel?"
"What do you see?"
"What are you going to do next?"
What about the mess?
-Paint outside! Nature is a wonderful inspiration for creativity. Then hosing things down is a piece of cake.
-Invest in an inexpensive drop cloth or plastic table cloth. The dollar store is a great place for throw-away supplies.
-Make sure you get washable paints. You find them at most convenience stores.
-Dress appropriately. Both you and your child should be in "play" clothes. You can also grab a smock or apron for each of you. Better yet, strip your baby down to her diaper and save yourself some laundry!
-Paint right before bath time. You can use our Deluxe Baby Bamboo Washcloths to wash the paint right off.
Think outside the box (literally!)
Painting doesn't have to be limited to paper and brushes. Cardboard boxes, packing materials, paper towel rolls, bubble wrap, leaves, rocks, paper plates, foil--these all make great canvases for painting. If your baby is still in the mouthing phase, try painting with yogurt! Instead of brushes, you can use q-tips, cotton balls, plastic forks, sticks, sponges, and toy cars to name a few. Although fingers and feet make the best tool for painting. The sky's the limit!
While painting might seem like a less important use of time than say learning letters or numbers, it is equally, if not more, important. Deep development is happening in your child's brain when they paint. Painting with your child is less about the literal picture and more about the BIG PICTURE.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Amanda
Amanda Dixon is a mother of three young children and has her master’s degree in early childhood education. She spends her days homeschooling her kiddos, freelance writing and teaching college. Her favorite things are a good cuppa tea, chocolate chip cookies, books, and her 3 dachshunds.