Exposing babies to art activities can help them develop cognitive and motor skills. These activities can include simple painting and drawing activities, tactile activities such as sculpting with clay, as well as dancing and music activities. In addition to these hands-on art activities, fill the spaces that young children regularly use with bright colors and different shapes and textures to help them to develop their aesthetic sensibilities. Remember to always use non-toxic materials when working with babies, since art materials may wind up in their mouths.
Painting activities are great for babies because it allows even those children who lack the manual dexterity to hold a crayon to create art. While some may be reluctant to use paint activities with babies because of the potential mess involved, there are some low-mess paint activities.
Place a sheet of paper in a cardboard box with low sides or a baking pan, then sprinkle with either tempera paint powder or Kool-Aid mix powder. Place an ice cube on top of the paper, then have children move the box around to move the ice cube. As it melts, it will dissolve the powder and create a painting on the paper. Another low-mess painting idea is to use specially formulated paints that paint only on their accompanying paper, and not on other objects such as walls or furniture.
If you have a dedicated art space and are not worried about mess, give children large sheets of paper and non-toxic finger paints and let them create a masterpiece. Allow children to mix the paints with shaving cream, to experiment with different textures.
Simple drawing activities are best for babies, who may have difficulty using traditional crayons to color on paper. Instead, try using crayon balls to allow children to easily create drawings by rolling the ball-shaped crayons on a piece of paper. Provide babies with large pieces of chalk to make drawings on sidewalks or driveways, or allow children to draw with chalk on paper that's been dampened with water or buttermilk. Allow children to experiment with magic markers on absorbent paper such as paper towels or coffee filters. Even children who haven't mastered the art of dragging a magic marker across the paper can easily create artwork by pressing each marker to the paper and watching the colors spread and bleed together.
For young children, tactile experiences can be very important. A simple non-toxic clay or dough will allow children to squeeze and shape the dough and get used to the feel. You can even create a keepsake art item by helping children to press their handprint or footprint into a piece of dough, then setting it aside to allow it to harden.
Dancing and Music
Babies love listening to music, and will probably start dancing on their own without much instruction. You can help them get used to dancing by tapping their feet to the rhythm of the music or gently clapping their hands to the beat, then letting them creatively try their own dancing. Young children will also love the chance to make some music of their own. Simple instruments can be made by filling small water bottles with rice or beans and gluing the lids on. Turn an old coffee container into a simple drum. Show children how to shake and drum to the rhythm, then let them have some fun.
- Early Childhood Today; "Beauty for Babies"; Alice Sterling Honig; May 2003.
- Family Education: Arts and Crafts Activities for Babies
- Nickelodeon: Parents Connect: Tiny Dancer: Music and Movement Activity
- Baby Center: Salt Dough Handprint
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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