Age-appropriate art activities can stimulate your toddler and let him show you all the new things he is able to do. Although he's not ready to do the art projects the older children are doing, like cutting and gluing, he can enjoy art activities that are geared toward his level of development. Research shows that children who have art in their lives are happier, more self-confident and more likely to do better in school than those who don't.


You're probably imagining paint everywhere but on the paper, right?  Don't let this fear keep your energetic and curious toddler away from art.  By doing art projects with your toddler, you will be providing opportunities for his brain to grow.  During your art time together, you're helping him develop:

  • Emotionally, through another form of expression.
  • Socially, through expression and interaction.
  • Physically, through improved fine motor development
  • Cognitively, as names of colors and objects created can be talked about.

IMPORTANT NOTE TO PARENTS: Never leave your child unattended during arts and crafts projects.  Use art materials that are nontoxic and watch that your child does not put art materials in his or her mouth.

Brain Science for Your Baby


Piaget was a famous psychologist who described the stages of development.  He called the first two years of life the "sensorimotor stage".  At around 4 months you will see that your baby is more aware of and responsive to the outside world.  Shortly after that (between 4 and 8 months) your baby will begin to notice that his motor movements can have interesting effects on the objects around him.  Soon your little professor will continue his "experiments" and will soon figure out "cause and effect".  Having safe toys and art materials for your baby to experiment with will help him figure this out.  

A Baby Buffer Prescription for Your Baby

Ready for more! Most infants, starting around 8 months, can hold crayons, and chalk and move them between their hands, make marks and lines and stack blocks.  They also can learn the names of art materials and tools, and how to use them.  So they are ready for a wide variety of art projects.  In many cases you already have the ingredients you need in your house; like this art project, for example, that toddler's love for the surprise it creates, and that parents love for the mess that it doesn't:


Zipper-Bag Art.  Your child will enjoy discovering how yellow mustard and red ketchup will make the color orange! You will need the following:


  •  Zip-locking plastic bag
  • 1/2 cup mustard
  • 1/2 cup ketchup

Pour the mustard into a measuring cup and then into the bag. Next, do the same with the ketchup. Seal the bag and help your artist gently mix the colors with his hands. Talk about the yellow and red colors and of the new mixture of orange. 

A baby Buffer Prescription for You        


Okay, art is messy. But you can eliminate "mess stress" by covering surfaces with newsprint and throw it all away.  Keep wet sponges or  damp paper towels close for wiping messy fingers. Have a place designated just for art, by the sink or with a bucket of soapy water nearby.


"Look at nice way you use red!".  Don't ask you child what he is making. Instead comment on what you see. Try to be enthusiastic. Remember to focus on the process, not the finished product.


Art is free!  Collect "art stuff" like recyclables.  Save collage materials, fabric and paper scraps, Styrofoam trays, yarn, sewing scraps, junk mail, etc. Create outside, too, with chalk on the sidewalk. Let your child help make a snow man as his introduction to sculpture!


Art never runs out!  Repeat the same art activities over and over.  You'll get tired of them before your child does.


What Your Baby Can Do - Developmental Milestones 


Your baby is changing quickly during this period. Know what to look for to make sure your baby is growing and changing in a healthy way.  Click on the links below for information from the CDC on what your baby can do now.  

Gene's Research Tip of the Week

Is "Spring Cleaning" in the air, or at least a thought?  Well consider safety issues for your little ones, before you start!  The American Academy of Pediatrics has some great information at  and I will paraphrase.  Each year about 2.4 million people, more than half under age 6, swallow or have contact with a poisonous substance.  Most poisonings occur when caregivers are home but not paying attention.  The most dangerous potential poisons are medicines, cleaning products, antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, pesticides, furniture polish, gasoline, kerosene and lamp oil.  Read More


Baby Buffer Blog

Written by Cathy Mancina Smith, PhD  


April is Autism Awareness month. It's a time to recognize and reflect on this disorder that has unfortunately become more common in our society. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disability that is characterized by delays or deficits in social interaction, social communication and the presence of restricted and repetitive behaviors and interests.


I have been working with individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) which is referred to as autism, for over 20 years. When I entered graduate school in the early 1990's, the prevalence of autism was somewhat rare, affecting 1 in every 10,000 individuals. Since that time, the prevalence has been increasing. Last week, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released new data estimating that 1 in every 68 children in the US has a diagnosis of autism. This estimate is even higher than the one from 2012 that estimated of 1 in every 88 children having autism. Read More

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