Now that Kaitlin is a little older (ten months tomorrow!!), has more dexterity to her and can focus on one activity for longer (and by "longer" I mean five minutes) I have wanted to do some "arts and crafts" with her. Truth be told I can't wait to bust out the coloring books and craft supplies and get to work, but I know she's still a little young for that. I wanted to find a sensory activity that would be a lot different than her normal play activities. Randomly I came across a photographers blog that had recently done a first birthday shoot and used finger paints as the theme/prop. It was genius! I knew it would be perfect for Kaitlin. She loves to play with her food, she could play with the goopy paint and mix it all together to make different colors.
My only problem was that I didn't want to use conventional finger paints. We are still at that stage where EVERYTHING goes in Kaitlin's mouth. There is nothing safe from escaping her drool. Even though most children's paints are non-toxic I still didn't feel right about her possibly ingesting them. So I set out on the internet to find a safer, more natural version. And once I did find them my wallet cried. Some of the ones I found were upwards of $30 for four small tubs of paint! Granted, they were tinted with things like beets and turmeric instead of dye/food coloring, but I just couldn't bring myself to spend that much on paints that she may or may not even pay attention to. So, back to the internet I went, this time to find a DIY version.
I found quite a few versions out there, mostly based on either flour or cornstarch, which all seemed to be variations of the same recipe. I read a handful of them and then kind of created my own. A lot of directions and recipes that I found were not very clear and were very vague on everything from measurements to cooking time. I've included my recipe that I used today at the bottom of the post.
And the verdict? It went over a treat - Kaitlin really seemed to like it. And yes, she did end up putting it in her mouth. I can't say she liked the way that it tasted though, because she only tried it once and made an awful face and started blabbering on in a not very happy tone. One of Kaitlin's little friends came over to play with the finger paints too and I think he also liked it! All in all it took about 15 minutes to put the paints together and the babies probably enjoyed them for the same amount of time. But luckily I only spend about $1.00 making the paints rather than $30 buying them ;)
DIY Finger Paint
The original recipe that I used for these was posted on Momtastic. It didn't give a measurement for the salt, so I used the same amount as the sugar. Next time I make it I might try and reduce it to 1T so that it isn't so salty - it's probably fine for kids but little babies aren't supposed to have any added salt to their diet, so if they do ingest some of the paint make sure to give them plenty of water to flush it out.
2 tablespoons sugar
1-2 tablespoons salt
1/3 cup flour
2 cups water
food coloring of choice
1. Mix the dry ingredients into a saucepan with a whisk
2. Add the water and whisk until smooth, try to get as many of the big lumps out as you can (but don't go crazy)
3. Turn the heat to medium and whisk regularly until thickened. I whisked continuously for the first 4-5 minutes and then every 30 seconds or so, so that the mixture didn't stick to the bottom. It took me 10-12 minutes for it to thicken up properly - you want it to look like slightly thinned out pudding. It will continue to thicken as it cools.
4. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool in the pan. Stir or whisk every few minutes to help it cool down and to stop lumps from forming.
5. Once the mixture is cool divide evenly between cups and add food coloring as needed to reach your desired shade. I used blue, red, yellow and green. Next time I think I will leave out the green as it was kind of a pain to wash off.
6. The paint will continue to thicken over time. If you let the paint sit before using, give it a stir before you dig in, ours got a bit gloppy.
*I suggest doing this activity outside if you can. I bought a roll of paper from Michael's and spread it out on the sidewalk. If you have to do it inside I would lay down some newspaper underneath the paper first, so that it doesn't leak through to your floor.
*Dress your baby/kids in old clothes that you don't mind if they get ruined or undress them down to their diaper and let them get nice and dirty. I put Kaitlin in an old white onesie and it is completely covered in paint. I have yet to wash it but I don't think the food coloring is going to come out.
*I had no problem getting the paint and dye off of Kaitlin's skin with some soap, water and a washcloth. I also threw her in the bathtub as soon as we were done, so it didn't have time to sit. It will also depend on what kind of food coloring you used (I used gel) and how much - but I suggest hosing them down as soon as you're done just in case.
*Please note - even though this is edible finger paint that doesn't mean that kids should eat it. It contains a fair bit of salt which can be dangerous to babies. As always, please keep a close eye on your children while they are using the paints*