Messy Art With Infants And Toddlers?

← All Topics

Ask Melinda is a Playvolution HQ column offering thoughtful answers to family child care questions written by Melinda Marshall.

Your questions, comments, and answers are welcome in the comment section at the end of the post.

This week’s question:

Messy Art With Infants And Toddlers?


For infants and toddlers, creative art experiences are all about the process of sensory exploration. Such experiences are an important part of their development.

When infants first interact with their environment, they do not have words to describe what they encounter, but they do absorb information through their senses.

Infants use their senses to explore the world around them. Their visual tracking, physical movements, and attempts to speak are reflective of brain development taking place.

Engage all your infant’s senses with open-ended process art activities. Your goal should be to enjoy the process of making art versus the creation of a finished project.

Art with infants and young toddlers can be messy, but this creates a wonderful opportunity for tactile experiences, developing hand eye coordination, and fine motor skills.

What may look like a mess on the surface is truly a learning experience for your child. 

The idea of messy art experiences may seem daunting at first, but there are many benefits to messy play.

We know that play is the work of the child. This is true for children of all ages, but especially for infants and young toddlers.

Try not to be intimidated by messy art play. Keep a bucket of warm soapy water and washcloths nearby. You can cover and protect surfaces with drop cloths or newspaper. 

Embrace messy art and remember; Children are 100% washable! 

Thanks To Our March 2021 Patreon Patrons

Support Playvolution HQ

creating free content isn’t free

If you find our content here useful, entertaining, or interesting, consider ways you can support the site and our efforts to keep the content flowing.

For example, using our affiliate link when shopping Amazon is a great way to help-you pay the same amount and we receive a small percentage that’ll help keep the site up and running.

You can also support our work by becoming a patron via Patreon

Owner at Mountaintop Family Child Care

Melinda lives in Upstate New York and is owner of her home based program, Mountaintop Family Childcare.

She has been a family child care provider for over 18 years and worked with children for over 27 years. Her program offers relationship based care that includes many aspects of farm life and nature/forest school with PLAY at the center of all they do. She firmly believes in slowing down childhood and allowing children to develop at their own pace.

Melinda believes family childcare programs offer unique settings that have much to offer to the early learning world. She strongly supports family providers in keeping a home like atmosphere in their programs. Backed by research, she continuously advocates for children's right to play.