Is Acrylic Paint Safe Or Toxic For Kids & Babies?

Creative kids love to get messy! One of the most common activities for kids is coloring. There are multiple mediums kids can use to draw with, including crayons, pencils, and markers. But many children love to use paint to create. This preference begs the question, is acrylic paint safe for kids? 

Acrylic paints are widely used because they are readily available, easy to work with and produce bold, vivid colors. Artists openly embraced acrylics during the 1960s and praised the versatility and durability of acrylic paints. 

The versatility comes from the acrylic pigments used to make the paints. Since the pigments are tiny particles that don’t dissolve, they require a binder to keep them on the surface. Further, the paint requires another substance, the vehicle, to deliver the pigments and binders. The most common vehicle is water, and once it evaporates, the binder and pigment remain on the surface.  

Even though acrylic paints only use three ingredients and often come from natural substances, they should only be used by kids three and older. Acrylic paint is non-toxic to children's skin, but it can become dangerous when ingested. Since babies and young toddlers like to stick everything in their mouths, it’s best to avoid acrylic paint.  

For children of a suitable age, acrylic paint is a terrific art and crafts tool. Kids can use acrylics to paint on canvas, wood, and paper. If you are going to purchase acrylic paint for your kids to use, make sure you find a brand that is labeled non-toxic and has the Art and Creative Institute’s AP (Approved Product) seal. 

Water-based acrylic paint is safe on all skin, but babies should not be playing with it. Again, they tend to put their hands and fingers in their mouths. The same can be said for toys colored with acrylic paint. They are safe to handle but should not go to kids who like to suck on things. 

A popular craft using acrylic paints is creating a replica of your baby’s footprints and handprints. When supervised, brands like Apple Barrel acrylic paint are safe. Clean your baby’s hands and feet thoroughly after using to prevent any ingestion. 

Liquitex acrylic paint is considered a high-grade brand and should not be used for children’s crafts. We say this not because it has high toxicity, but because it is expensive! Your kids most likely won’t care what they use to fingerpaint, as long as it’s bright and messy. 

On the other hand, Sax True Flow Heavy Body Acrylic Paint is a perfect option for kids' crafts and childcare centers. It is easily cleaned with soap and water and dries to a water-resistant matte finish. This paint is AP-certified and non-toxic and does not contain allergens. 

Is Acrylic Paint Safe Or Toxic For Kids & Babies

Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Kid's Skin?

If your child wants to finger paint with acrylic paint, it will not harm them as long as they do not ingest it. Acrylic paint is easy to wash off from skin and other surfaces. Soap and water typically do the trick when cleaning off acrylic paint from any material. 

You may be wondering, is acrylic paint safe for kids facepaint? We would not advise you to use acrylic paint as face paint. While it is non-toxic, keeping the paint on the skin can be unsafe. Face paint is made to stay on the skin over time and is safer for your kids. 


How To Use Acrylic Paint For Hand & Foot Prints

As mentioned earlier, a popular activity with kids is making hands and footprints using acrylic paint. Below is what you will need for this activity and how to do it. 

  • 1
    Gather materials: Acrylic paint (your choice of color) following the guidelines above, paper, paintbrush, soap, water, paper towels/washcloth.
  • 2
    Place your paper on the ground.
  • 3
    Use the paintbrush to coat the bottom of your child's food or palm with the paint. Make sure to use enough to cover their hand, but not so much that the hand/footprint will come out looking like a blob.
  • 4
    Place your child's hand/foot on the paper.
  • 5
    Press down gently. 
  • 6
    Remove their hand/foot
  • 7
    Allow the paint to dry on the paper. While the paint is drying, clean off your child's hand/foot using the paper towel/cloth, soap, and water. 

What To Do If A Kid Swallows Acrylic Paint 

If your kid managed to ingest acrylic paint, do not panic. Acrylic paint is typically non-toxic but can cause an upset stomach. Give your child some water to wash out any paint left in their mouth. You can also give them a small snack to decrease the chance of a tummy ache. Vomiting is rare in this situation. However, if they begin vomiting, call your local poison control immediately.  

If your child is still feeling unwell after a few hours but has not vomited, call your doctor instead of poison control. They will be able to direct you accordingly. 

paint brushes

Common Questions 

Does acrylic paint need ventilation?

If you’re painting in large doses, ventilating the area during and after you’ve finished working is necessary. Acrylic paints release chemicals into the air while they dry that should be ventilated out. 


Can acrylic paint fumes make the child sick?

Yes, acrylic paint fumes can make you and your child sick. If you’re painting in large quantities, keep windows or doors open to prevent the fumes from overtaking the area. 


What happens if you use old, expired acrylic paint?

As long as the paint is stored properly, you can use old acrylic paint. Usually, the paint will have dried up after a certain time. If you want to use expired acrylic paint but notice it smells funny or is discolored, do not use it. Discoloration and smell can mean it has begun to grow mold and should be disposed of immediately. 


Conclusion

Acrylic paint is a wonderful art medium for kids during art projects. If you’re interested in getting your kid acrylic paints, make sure they are non-toxic and AP certified. Keep acrylic paint away from children under three years old. As always, be sure to supervise their play to ensure maximum safety! 


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