Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bathtub Paints

Bathtub painting ranks high on my list of all-time best activities for toddlers and preschoolers. The idea is simple and brilliant: Soap-based paint enables your kid to be messy and get clean all at the same time.

There are companies that sell such paints, but don't bother buying them. You can make your own for pennies, using my foolproof and wonderfully imprecise recipe:

1. Combine liquid soap with a roughly equivalent amount of cornstarch; mix until smooth.
2. Pour into muffin tins or other small containers, then use a couple of drops of food coloring to create the paint colors you want.

This stuff is going on the skin of your precious little darling, so use something mild and reasonably free of carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and sundry other scary toxins (you'd be surprised what's in seemingly innocuous products like Johnson & Johnson's Baby Bath).

The mixture is great for fingerpainting, if that's something your child enjoys. My kids are mysteriously fastidious about having paint on their hands, which I understand is fairly common among toddlers, so I usually give them brushes or sponges to use.

Your child will likely paint the bathtub walls and every accessible inch of his or her body (no, honey, you really shouldn't put paint in there). And most miraculously, from the parent's point of view, when you rinse everything off at the end, you will not only have given your child a great artistic and sensory experience: you will have cleaned the bathtub.


Michelle R said...

Which liquid soap do you recommend? Do you use food dye's? Are there more natual ones out there?


Leslie Kauffman said...

I use Dr. Bronner's soap -- usually the baby mild. A big bottle sets you back ten bucks or so, but when you work it out to a per-bath-painting basis, it's still pretty cheap.

As for colors, I use regular old food dye for this purpose, the kind you get in those little packs of four bottles at the grocery store.

There are natural food dyes on the market now, made by a company called Seelect. I use them for anything the kids might eat, including homemade playdough -- I'm persuaded that artificial dyes are really bad for kids to ingest. But they're not so great for paint: they're quite expensive and the colors aren't nearly as vibrant as the scary-chemical dyes.

Sydney Railla-Duncombe said...

such a great idea. i'm mixing up a batch tonight.

TheNanny612 said...

Ooooh, I loved this post. I also love using Bathtub paints, but never thought of making my own. I love this idea and I will be making my own soon!!

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Anonymous said...

I was going to pick up some kid's bathtub paint at the store today, but decided against it. Thanks for sharing your recipe! In the craft/paint section of Walmart they had a set of Alphabet sponges. Each letter was about 2" high. I think I'm going to make paints and buy the sponges for my kids and for their friend who's bday is coming up.

vegetable garden cook said...

Thank you for the inspiration! Here's my version:

plumbing supplies said...

Making your own bathtub paint sounds pretty interesting. I am sure will be very fond of this idea.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't the food coloring stain the child's skin or the bathtub area?