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DIY: Edible Finger Paints

April 30, 2014

Article and photograph by Nikki Cecala

The writer's son looks up at the photographer as he puts the edible finger paint in his mouth.

Finding activities for infants and toddlers can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. As a parent to a one-year old son, I wanted to find a fun activity for him and I to try. After a little fiddling around in my kitchen, I found a solution: edible finger paint! I have read many different ways to approach this activity, but I tweaked my own version that is taste-friendly and safe. All you need is plain yogurt, food coloring, and a plastic tablecloth.

  1. Take a dollop of yogurt and put it in a small bowl mixed with a few squirts of food coloring.
  2. After mixing it, scoop the colored yogurt out of the bowl and place on a plate. Repeat this for as many colors you are using.
  3. Then place a plastic tablecloth on the floor of the room you are doing this experiment in. Using a plastic tablecloth is best because it’s cleaned easily. If your child is still too young to sit up alone, you can put him or her in the highchair and place the colors on the pullout table.
  4. Depending on the temperature of the room (and how strict you are with messy clothes), strip him or her down to just the diaper. Place the plate in front of your child and watch him or her curiously engage in the "paint." If it seems like he or she is not as interested as you, talk to your toddler. What a child sees, he does, so scoop a little paint up with your finger and put it on his or her arm, leg, or cheeks. My son didn’t seem too interested in the concept until I sprinkled some baby puffs in… then he was thrilled!

This activity provides several development benefits, including encouraging colors, texture, individuality, creativity, exploring senses, and, depending on how your child is playing with the paint, sound effects. This activity is good for ages as young as six months. As your toddler gets older, you can also add more to the project such as including paintbrushes and paper or enhancing the "paint" to make it thicker. Have fun!

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