My MAMA Journey Part 3: “The great paint debate”!!!


So after being able to cope with a lot of mess I wanted to be able to use paint at home to create pictures I could display and keep. My first obstacle was knowing which paint was ok on my son’s delicate, eczema prone skin. I’m not sure if this is an issue everyone else had but I found it incredibly confusing as the majority of paint I found in shops would say “not suitable for under 3 years of age, adult supervision required”. This led to confusion as to whether the paint was actually unsafe on the skin/to ingest or it just needed to be supervised?! I did a lot of internet searching, spoke to other mums and asked at messy play sessions…….I probably worried ALOT more about this than I should have! As with most things to do with parenting there were multiple answers – however the general gist was;

1. Children shouldn’t eat the paint (the odd bit won’t hurt so don’t panic if they have a little taste, my son has accidentally licked a bit and he’s still ok).
2. Children should be supervised when using it – to stop them eating it mainly.
3. The majority of paints made for children are water based and non-toxic so shouldn’t actually cause harm.
4. If you are worried about delicate skin try a little test patch before you let your child roam free.
5. Some colours can appear to stain the skin – but I’ve found can easily be removed by a good rub down in the bath!

After looking into all things paint I decided to make my own edible paint, which is what the messy play sessions we went to tended to use. This in itself was a challenge as there were so many recipes to use. I finally settled on a cornflour recipe;

– 2 cups cornflour.
– 1 cup cold water.
– Approximately 4.5 cups boiling water.
– Food colouring.

Step 1: Mix the cold water with the corn flour and it makes a sticky paste.

Step 2: Add the boiling water in stages, mixing well in between until you get to a custard type consistency that you are happy with. This is the stage that took me a few goes! I added all the boiling water at once initially and it went terribly wrong and I ended up with a big gloop of solid yuck. The second time I added too much water and it was too thin to paint with – this is why I say approximately 4.5 cups as it depends on how it’s looking when you stop adding it!

Step 3: Divide the mixture into pots and add different coloured food colouring.

Step 4: Let you child get messy and play!

My son loved playing with this edible paint and he did try to eat it but was NOT impressed with the taste. The problem I found with this paint was when it dried it did not look very vibrant and I was unable to keep the art work as after a while the paint flaked away. I did however take lots of photos and he had fun so it was a successful activity in my mind and as I always say it’s the process and fun rather than the final product!

After using edible paint for a while I bit the bullet and bought some children’s poster paints in order to make the Christmas cards we could send out. I think as he had tried eating the cornflour paint and didn’t like it he didn’t put the poster paint in his mouth as much as I had feared – it’s as if he knew it wasn’t for eating and didn’t taste very nice. So from this point of view I was glad I had tried the edible paint first. Also even though my son had eczema the poster paint didn’t appear to aggravate this which was one of my main concerns, and he got covered in it regularly!

The main error I made when first using poster paints was, for some reason, even though I used my activity mat, I did the activity in the living room, on carpet near our sofa……BIG MISTAKE (at least it was water-based so was easily cleaned and the husband was out….)! We all learn by our mistakes I guess!!

So hopefully I’ve helped dispel some of the fears surrounding paint choices for younger children. Feel free to message me with any questions and share any MAMA creations with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter!

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