Sometimes playing with your food is a good thing! Mixing art with food is a great thing. Edible finger paint is simple and quick to make, and kids as young as one will enjoy painting with this fun art supply. Clean up is as simple as tossing the kiddo in the bath after the painting is done.  And, you don’t have to run out and get a thing for this project — you probably already have what you need in your refrigerator.

Supplies for Edible Finger Paint:

  • Plain yogurt
  • Food coloring (I used gel food coloring)

One of my favorite tricks for a toddler is to mix little cups of plain yogurt (or vanilla pudding) with a few drops of food coloring in each cup. You don’t need that much food coloring because when the yogurt dries, the color is actually darker on the paper than it is when it’s wet. Also, you don’t want the paint to be so dark that it stains the kid and whatever he touches.

Before we tried this, I considered buying finger paints, but I was really pleased with this activity because it was free (we already had the supplies on hand), and because it’s edible and washable. The paintings look nice when they’re dry, too. The colors are really bright.

The Process:

Strap your child in their high chair and let hthemer use the yogurt as “paint.” They can paint paper (just let it dry for a vibrant art piece, suitable for grandma’s fridge or a thank you card), grapes (for a snack), or even just the high chair tray itself. This paint works great with paintbrushes or with fingers.

This was my son’s first time finger painting, but he got the idea really quickly. Of course, plenty of the paint got into his mouth, but the beauty of this paint is that it’s okay to eat it! We used plain, unsweetened, unflavored yogurt, so it’s not so tasty on its own that the kid wants to eat it all and not paint with it.

Of course, you can adapt this activity to use what you have on hand. If you have pudding, use that. If you don’t have food coloring, use some cocoa powder to make brownish paint. If you want, experiment with natural food colorants like beet juice or pureed carrots.

Cleanup is easy. Just use a washcloth/sponge, and soapy water. For the kid, depending on how messy he or she is, you might be able to wipe them down, or you might prefer to toss the kid into the bathtub. Because yogurt is a dairy product (and already sour-smelling to begin with), I advocate the bath afterward. If you don’t feel like dealing with chair clean up, give your child the yogurt and stick him in the bathtub with no water and let him paint the walls. When he’s done, just give a bath.

My son had fun painting. This activity gave us about twenty minutes of fun, but this was our first foray into painting, and he’s only 18 months old. For his age, he paid attention for quite a long time. Older kids might last longer.

Heather Mann is a regular contributor at Make and Takes. She’s is the mother of three boys, ages 4,  2, and 10 months. Yikes, they’re all mobile! She publishes Dollar Store Crafts, a daily blog devoted to hip crafting at dollar store prices, CROQ Zine, a print magazine devoted to hip crafting, and also CraftFail, a community blog that encourages crafters to share their not-so-successful craft attempts.