Is Acrylic Paint Safe for Kids? Kids Safety Is Key As They Learn Painting Crafts 2023

Is acrylic paint safe for kids? Let’s discuss the importance of keeping our kids safe even as we teach them different painting arts and crafts.

Painting is an art that’s both a skill and a talent.

If you notice your child has a given talent or skill, you need to nurture it throughout their childhood development to hone their mastery.

Acrylics are among the best paints for learning the art; it’s often the go-to for amateurs, students, and beginners. However, is acrylic paint safe for kids?

First, a kid is used synonymously with a child, anybody between the birth and puberty stages of development.

Acrylic paint is only safe for kids above three years. Between birth and the age of three, kids predominantly explore their environment by tasting.

Anything they lay their hands to, they’ll immediately put it into their mouth. It’s the same for acrylic paints; they may also rub it into their eyes.

So it’s a yes for children over three and a no for those below three years.

This article expounds on the safety and toxicity of acrylic paints on kids of different ages across the childhood spectrum.

It also guides you on involving children in painting without exposing them to the health risks associated with paint ingestion.

Here is an outline of what I’ll discuss concerning the title in question:

  • Whether acrylic paint is toxic in a general sense
  • Whether acrylic paint is harmful if ingested
  • The toxicity of acrylic paint on the skin
  • The possibility of using acrylics for footprints and handprints
  • Whether it’s advisable to use acrylic paint for baby prints
  • Top-quality paints that are safe for younger kids and paint crafts
  • The ideal acrylic paint craft projects for children
  • How to remove paint from a child’s skin
  • The best paint for a one-year-old
  • The most appropriate age to paint your daughter’s nails

Before getting to the abovementioned subheadings, I’ll start with defining acrylic paint.

I urge you to read the entire article to improve your understanding of how to handle acrylic paints around kids and how to introduce them to this beautiful art.

What Is Acrylic Paint?

Image of Acrylic Paint In the Acrylic vs Oil PaintPainting is an art that resonates with all social, gender, geographical, and age demographics.

Therefore, it isn’t surprising that there are several paint types, the most common of which is acrylic paint.

It’s at the heart of this discussion. To begin, what is acrylic paint?

It is a fast-drying paint consisting of pigments suspended in an acrylic polymer emulsion, plasticizers, stabilizers, defoamers, silicone oils, and metal soaps.

The paints are usually water-based, enabling you to thin them and wash off spills with water.

Nonetheless, it becomes water-resistant upon drying; this is one of its most defining qualities as a coating material.

Acrylic finishes can resemble gouaches, oil paintings, or watercolors or have unique characteristics unachievable with other media.

It’s contingent on the extent of thinning with water or adjustment with acrylic gels, mediums, or pastes.

The earliest historical use of acrylic resin dispersion traces back to 1934. BASF, a German chemical company, was the first to make and use it.

The synthetic variety quickly followed in the 1940s, and it combined the properties of oil and watercolor paints.

The paint has seen massive improvements over the years to form present-day acrylics.

Pros and Cons of Acrylic Paints

Acrylic paints have advantages and disadvantages, as do other paint types! In this part, I’ll highlight their pros and cons.

Knowing these features is essential to understand the paint’s working mechanism and how to handle it. These are the points:

  • They are quick-drying to facilitate timely project completion.
  • The premium versions are as durable as oil-based paints.
  • Acrylic paints are easy to apply.
  • You can clean them easily after completing the project; they come off when you scrub them with your hands/rag and soapy water. However, it has to be fresh to wash off.
  • These paints don’t yellow as they age; they maintain their original color for their lifetime on surfaces.
  • Acrylics are widely available and at affordable prices.
  • You can thin the above paints using water. It’s cheaper and easier than acetone and turpentine, as seen with oil paints.
  • The paints have minimal VOC levels, making them safe for the environment and humans.
  • They are generally less durable than oil-based paints.
  • Acrylic paints have poor leveling properties relative to oil-borne paints, which makes them susceptible to brushmarks.
  • They have short drying times that prompt the user to work super fast. It makes it more challenging to correct mistakes.

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic?

There are many types of paint! The differentiating factors for the paints revolve around constituents, uses, and grades.

It dictates their toxicity profile and how to handle them. That said, is acrylic paint toxic?

There are many types of acrylic paints; some are very toxic to children, others less so. The safest for children are craft acrylics, used for decorative painting.

Even so, it’s only recommended for kids over the age of three years.

The other varieties, like heavy body, acrylic glass paints, exterior acrylics, and acrylic enamel paints, are noxious to kids, especially toddlers.

The toxicity of the paint to kids is due to their inclination to taste everything they come across during their early stages of development.

It’s only non-toxic when they don’t ingest, inhale, and avoid long durations of skin contact, which is pretty easy to attain with older kids.

For assurance of safe acrylic paint for your child, buy craft acrylics or acrylic paint having the Art and Creative Materials Institute (ACMI) approval stamp.

It’s a body recognized by the American federal government to validate innocuous products through meticulous examination by qualified toxicologists.

Also, other recognized institutes certify acrylic paint’s safety for children.

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic If Swallowed?

It’s not uncommon to swallow or ingest substances that aren’t meant to be consumed.

Most people consume them accidentally, and others do so intentionally; the latter case is extremely rare.

Paints are among the chemicals that people swallow accidentally! Acrylic paint certainly ranks high on this list as it’s so common.

However, is acrylic paint toxic if swallowed?

Yes! Acrylic paint is indeed toxic when swallowed. However, the degree of toxicity remarkably differs depending on the variety, grade, and amount of acrylic paint consumed. 

Regarding variety, exterior, open, and heavy body acrylics are more toxic to children than craft acrylics and acrylic gouache.

On grades, artist/professional acrylics are more harmful to kids than student-grade acrylics.

The paints contain different constituents or may contain the same components but in different proportions, hence the varying toxicity profiles.

The amount of acrylic paint swallowed and its toxicity to toddlers relate linearly, i.e., the higher the quantity, the higher the health risk.

Even older children should be under some form of supervision by an adult when handling acrylic paint to avoid accidental swallowing to avoid the corresponding health consequences.

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic to Breathe?

When handling or using volatile and toxic substances, it’s imperative to use respirators to avoid inhaling their fumes.

Some paints are usually formulated with toxic chemicals to keep away vermin and fungal growth, which is perfectly in order.

But do these chemicals affect humans? And to be specific, is acrylic paint toxic to breathe?

It’s a yes, but not an absolute yes. The paint is only toxic under the following circumstances:

  • When you inhale it over long durations: It accumulates in the respiratory system and the body to toxic levels.
  • If it’s formulated with toxic constituents: like exterior acrylics, which contain slightly higher levels of VOCs
  • It’s also toxic to people with chronic pulmonary hypersensitivity reactions, especially if the paint contains common respiratory allergens.

The remedy to the above are as follows:

  • Avoid long painting durations if possible to prevent overexposure to the paint. If it’s unavoidable, ensure you’re working in a ventilated environment.
  • Always put on a respirator when handling acrylics containing high levels of VOCs and other toxic chemicals.
  • Avoid exposure to acrylic paints if you’re allergic to their fumes; you can get aid from a painting professional to get the painting job done.

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic On the Skin?

We’ve examined how harmful acrylic paint can be when ingested and its remedies. That’s the visceral aspect of its toxicity.

Now let’s focus on the external aspect: is acrylic paint toxic on the skin?

Generally, acrylic paint is non-toxic on the skin.

That’s the broad observation; if you look at individual cases, there are rare instances where the paint causes toxic effects on the skin. Such instances include:

  • Overexposure to the paint: by letting it stay on bare skin for long durations or through long-term use
  • Allergic reactions to acrylic paint constituents: few people have sensitive skins that react to specific chemicals in the paint. It leads to contact dermatitis, characterized by itchy and inflamed skin.

Also, the paint shows a marked difference when kids are involved. A toddler’s skin is more susceptible to the toxic effects of acrylic paint than older kids.

Children below three years old have thinner, less developed, and more sensitive skin. 

Moreover, their immunity is not as mature/strong as the older demographic.

You can put acrylic paint on the child’s skin, but the contact time has to be as short as possible.

Also, the child should be three years old and above as they tolerate the paint better.

The most preferred skin contact areas are the palms (the light underside of the hand) and the soles (the undersurface of the foot).

These are the toughest and thickest parts of a child’s skin that won’t absorb or react with acrylic paint.

Acrylic paint is water-based, so removing it from a child’s skin is easy. It only needs washing off with soapy water, then rinsing with clean water.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint for Handprints and Footprints?

An exciting art form is making handprints and footprint impressions on the canvas, floors, and other surfaces.

It’s even more fascinating when doing so with kids, as it enables you to capture their growth stages uniquely.

Can you use acrylic paint for the handprints and footprints?

You can! However, you must be judicious when working with children, especially younger ones.

If you have more than one kid, you must be more watchful, especially for the younger ones, as they tend to suck their fingers and move about touching other things.

They may smear the paint on surfaces or objects you don’t want the paint to go on.

However, if you’re in control of the entire scenario, using handprints and footprints with kids becomes enjoyable and with delightful outcomes.

The art is as simple as it sounds; it involves dipping your child’s feet or hands into paint and stamping them on suitable surfaces like canvas, plain wallpapers, and wood.

It leaves palm or foot impressions that leave permanent sentimental memories of your kids.

You can show it to them when they grow to reminisce over the good times.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint for Baby Prints?

Babies are a specific category of kids aged between one and three years; they are also referred to as toddlers.

Playing around with them is always fun; if you’re a painter, you may wish to get them involved in the art. But can you use acrylic paint for baby prints?

It’s a categorical no!

Babies are too young and delicate to be exposed to acrylic paints, especially if it involves immersing their hands or feet into the paint before imprinting them on surfaces.

Their skins are thin and could absorb the paint into their system; nothing good comes after that.

As already discussed, there’s also the risk of ingesting paint, which is exceptionally high with babies.

For older kids (aged three years and above), it’s safe to use acrylic paint for handprint and footprint art.

That said, some paints are designed for baby prints. The most common ones are tempera paints, watercolor paints, and activity paints.

I’ll discuss them in the next subheading featuring the best paints for younger kids. 

Other safer baby print alternatives are imprinting the baby’s hands or feet in non-toxic moldable or malleable materials, e.g., fresh, non-toxic clay and alginate material. 

You can paint on the impressions afterward. Here, you can use acrylic paint, as there’s no direct contact with the baby’s skin.

Also, you can purchase pigment or ink pads with non-toxic colored substances; they make great baby prints on canvas and paper.

Moreover, they are easily washable; you only need soapy water with minimal scrubbing to get them off the toddler’s palms or soles.

Best Paint to Use for Younger Kids and Print Crafts

As highlighted earlier, acrylic paints are contraindicated for younger kids (less than three years).

Correspondingly, many safe alternatives work equally well. This segment showcases the best paints for younger kids and print crafts.

The best paints for younger kids are tempera, watercolor, activity, and finger paints. The paints are also suitable for craft projects. 

Toddlers, as already discussed, are pretty exploratory and predominantly use their sense of taste to probe their surroundings. 

I disqualify acrylic paints, especially the exterior and heavy-body varieties, as they have noxious constituents when ingested with the kids.

Tempera Paints

Presently, they are the best for kids of all ages. They are waterborne, non-toxic, quick-drying, and easy to clean.

The above paints are also odorless and compatible with many painting surfaces like canvas, paper, wood, cardboard, and masonry.

Examples of tempera paint products for toddlers include:

  • UPGREY Washable Tempera Paints

Acrylic Paint for KidsIt comes with these benefits and attributes:

  • It’s an assorted paint set with 42 colors, i.e., eight metallic, eight glitter, eight neon, two glow, 16 vibrant basic
  • Each bottle contains two fl oz (60ml) of paint
  • The paint is non-toxic to children and eco-friendly as it adheres to ASTM D-4236 and EN-71 standards
  • This paint goes on surfaces like paper, canvas, masonry, and posters
  • The product comes with a bonus toolset featuring five paintbrushes, a sponge, and a spatula
  • Upgrey tempera paint is applicable with paintbrushes, fingers, and sponges
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  • Fantastory Tempera Paint Set For Kids
Is acrylic paint safe for kids?
Kid’s Acrylic Paint

Fantastory has these upsides and properties:

  • It’s a paint set of 32 colors featuring glitter, classic, neon, and metallic
  • Each bottle has two fl oz (60ml) of paint
  • Fantastory tempera paint is 100% safe, fully compliant with EN-71 and ASTM D-4236 regulations.
  • The paint is easy to clean off surfaces, requiring only a few washes with soapy water and rinsing.
  • This paint works best on glass surfaces, but you can also use it on paper and plastics.
  • It is easy to use due to its waterborne and easy-flowing nature.
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Watercolor Paints

Watercolor paints comprise pigments suspended in water. They are safe for children due to their simple and non-toxic makeup. 

The most common support/painting materials for the paint named above are watercolor papers.

Other substrates or supports are watercolor canvas, wood, leather, masonry, and fabric.

For the watercolor canvas, you need to coat it with a gesso that’s formulated for watercolors. 

The archetype of top-quality watercolor paints is:

My First Crayola Watercolor Paint
Acrylic Paint for Kids
Acrylic Paint for Kids

It has the following properties and advantages:

  • It comes in packs containing four colors, i.e., red, blue, green, and yellow
  • The paint works best on plastic surfaces, but you can also use it on glass, paper, and canvas
  • This watercolor paint is easily washable from skin and most clothing. It only needs warm water and soap
  • The paint retails at budget-friendly prices
  • It comes with a kid-sized paintbrush for application
  • The product is water-based and non-toxic, making it safe for children
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Finger Paints

What Is Acrylic Medium?The above are washable paints with typical smooth and gelatinous textures.

It always feels good to touch and play around using fingers; little wonder toddlers love it.

It’s best to introduce babies to finger paints once they start sitting up.

The paint contains mineral oils, mannitol, baking soda, and food coloring. All these are safe for younger kids, so it’s still innocuous if they ingest tiny amounts of the paint. 

The best surfaces for younger kids to use finger paints are thick plain paper, canvases, wood, and glass.

I urge you to purchase creamy formulas with rich tones as they tend to be more enchanting to toddlers.

Here is an ideal finger paint product for younger kids:

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Funto Washable Finger Paint for Kids

Is Acrylic Paint Safe for Kids?The product has the following qualities and conveniences:

  • The paint comes in 10 assorted colors, each containing 2.1 fl oz of content.
  • The kids can use it for interior and exterior finger-painting projects
  • It’s packed in squeeze tubes ergonomically designed for little hands; each tube has a flip-top cap that’s easy to open and close.
  • Funto washable finger paint has a creamy texture that appeals to toddlers’ tactile senses.
  • This paint is safe for kids as it is formulated with water and non-toxic ingredients. It adheres to ASTM D-4236 and EN-71 regulatory requirements.
  • The product comes with a color-mixing chart to help your kid through the painting project.
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As much as the paints above are safe for babies, you should closely monitor or supervise the kids using them.

When they swallow/ingest large quantities of the paints, they can cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, and other health complications.

Ensure you’re present throughout their usage and leave only after washing off the paint from their hands or feet.

What Acrylic Paint Craft Projects are Ideal for Kids?

Adults and kids have disparate interests and objectives when painting. For the kids, it’s all about having fun, completely independent of the outcome.

But you need to control this if you want to nurture the painting talent and skill of the kid. So, what acrylic paint craft projects are ideal for kids?

Many painting ideas and projects for older kids use acrylic paint. The painting projects involve the following surfaces/materials:

  • Canvases
  • Drawing papers
  • Fabrics
  • Wood
  • Ceramics
  • Metals

They can also paint on some of their possessions, like toys, items of clothing, schoolbags, beds, and their rooms.

The household materials they can paint include flower pots, vases, artificial gourds/pumpkins, and even plates.

Other materials they can practice on are garden rocks, pet houses, cardboard boxes, and bubble wraps.

For application, they can use the following materials or aids:


These are thin sheets of plastic, metals, or cards with cut-out patterns.

They are used to create the cut design or pattern on the underlying surface by applying paint or ink through the spaces.

Children are particularly fond of this art as it produces clearer and more impressive patterns and drawings.


Many leaf types produce attractive acrylic paint prints. Each leaf produces unique patterns depending on its shape and size.

The shapes leave rounded, star-like, rhomboid, heart-shaped, needle-like, oblong, and cordate patterns.

Their margins also produce different designs, like serrated, dentate, palmitate, entire, and lobed.

The best technique to produce the above patterns is dipping the leaves in acrylic paint and then sticking them on an appropriate surface to form prints.

Exposing kids to such projects expands their artistic mindset and improves their enthusiasm for painting.

Hands and Feet

As already discussed, older children can paint with acrylic using their hands (palms) and the soles of their feet.

It’s as simple as dipping their hands or feet into the paint and laying them on the substrate to make handprints or footprints. 

Note that when soaking their hands or feet into the paint, it should only cover the palms and soles of the feet.

It’s risky to immerse their hands or feet beyond that as the paint can easily get absorbed into the body.

Plus, removing the paint after completing the project will be more challenging.


Some paintbrushes are specifically designed for kids.

The brushes’ most striking feature is their size relative to ordinary paintbrushes; they are typically smaller. It’s safer than using bare hands or feet to paint. 

Acrylic paints work best with synthetic paintbrushes as the bristles don’t soak or absorb the paint.

Cotton earbuds

Kids can use cotton earbuds to produce dotted patterns on surfaces and for fun painting.

You can also bundle up the earbuds and immerse them in acrylic paint to produce stippled impressions; it’s always a gratifying experience for children.

Household Materials

Household materials, especially cutlery, can be used by kids to generate enchanting designs on surfaces.

For example, the kid can dip the convex end of a solid spoon, a fork, or a slotted spoon into acrylic paint and reproduce the pattern on canvas, fabric, or paper. 

Acrylic paint is waterborne, so it will quickly come off the cutlery when you wash it with warm water.

Wash thoroughly (at least three times) to remove all the paint because spoons are food-grade implements.

You can also be creative with food materials like a potato, whereby you cut it into two, trace out a pattern on the cut surface and then let the kid dip it into acrylic paint.

Afterward, direct the child to stamp the coated part of the potato on an appropriate surface like plain paper or canvas.

Quick Way to Remove Paint From My Baby’s Skin

After exposing your baby to paint, you should take it off as soon as possible. Here is a quick way to remove paint from a baby’s skin:

The simplest method for waterborne paints like acrylic is washing them off with soap and water.

For oil-based paints, remove them by wiping them off with cotton balls soaked in surgical spirit, then rinse thoroughly with water.

The removal from a toddler’s skin depends on the paint type.

Paint removal from most babies’ skin involves the palms and feet only.

However, this procedure applies to the entire skin, except around body openings like the eyes, ears, and nose.

The areas around the said openings need thorough cleaning with clean water only, followed by an intervention by a health professional.

This article centers on the safety of acrylic paint usage by kids, so I’ve detailed its removal from their skin below:


  • Baby soap
  • Clean water
  • A wash or hand basin
  • Two or three cotton towels
  • Water heater


First, pour some water into the water heater and warm it slightly.

Pour the water into the washbasin and feel it with your hands to ascertain it’s appropriately lukewarm for the baby.

If it’s too hot, add cold water to adjust it to the right temperature.

Then, add liquid baby soap to the warm water and stir to form a homogenized soapy solution. Afterward, immerse one of the cotton towels into the water.

Next, dip the baby’s hand or feet into the solution and rub off gently with the cotton towel and your bare hands. 

If the acrylic paint is on a body part that’s challenging to immerse in water, take the soaked cotton towel and wipe it off gently.

Continue wiping or rubbing off the paint with soapy water until all of it comes off.

Then rinse the skin in clean running water.

Lastly, dry off the now-drenched/wet skin area using a dry towel.

At What Age Is It OK to Paint My Daughter’s Nails?

Daughters are a blessing, and we often adorn them with lots of beautiful stuff like earrings and bracelets and even color their nails.

In line with the article, at what age is it ok to paint your daughter’s nails?

The most appropriate age is between 2 and 4 years.

I’ve given a timeframe instead of a specific age value because a few variables dictate the exact time to start. 

First, there are toenails and fingernails. Toenails fall closer to the lower limit of the above range; you can begin painting them from the age of 2 onwards.

Fingernails fall closer to the upper limit; it’s best to start painting them when your daughter hits three years. 

Secondly, toddlers satisfy their curiosity by tasting just about everything they can get a hold of; they gradually stop this habit between the ages of two and four.

The habit doesn’t stop suddenly; it tapers off over a given duration, so don’t rush to paint their nails until you’re sure they’ve stopped putting their fingers into the mouth.

A special category involves children who suck on their fingers, especially the thumb, even after crossing their fourth birth date. Some continue for up to eight years.

In this case, you should avoid painting their fingernails until they stop sucking them. However, you can paint their toenails as the habit seldom extends to the toes.

I recommend painting your daughter’s toenails earlier than the fingernails because it’s safer for the child.

Their toes are more distanced from the face, so there’s little chance for them to rub the paint into their eyes and noses or lick it.

Even for the kids who have attained the recommended age, you should use baby or kids nail polishes.

It’s a precautionary measure in case the kid whimsically puts the fingers into the mouth.

The said nail polishes are water-based, non-toxic, and often contain edible constituents like food coloring and egg yolks.

Also, start with bland and less-reflective colors as children tend to be more curious about bright colors, and the colors also appear palatable.

I’m against applying adult nail polishes on your daughter’s nails (especially the fingernails) because they have toxic components that can harm the child when swallow.

Such constituents include formaldehyde, toluene, harmful preservatives, and other additives.


To conclude, you should expose kids to painting as early as possible if they’ve shown interest or if you plan to inculcate the skill into them.

Acrylics are a good starting point due to their ease of use, affordability, and ubiquity in the industry. But…

Is Acrylic Paint Safe for Kids?

It’s both yes and no because ‘kids’ represents a wide range of ages, from birth to puberty.

So for kids below three, it’s unsafe, but for those above three, it’s okay.

I’ve discussed all these in the article, including the definition of acrylic paint; just scroll up for the detailed bit.

Other related matters contained in the review are:

  • The toxicity of acrylic paint
  • Whether acrylic paint is noxious when swallowed
  • Whether acrylic is harmful to the skin
  • The usage of acrylics for handprints and footprints
  • The possibility of using acrylic paint for baby prints
  • First-grade paints for young kids and print crafts
  • The most suitable acrylic paint craft projects for kids
  • The simplest way to get rid of paint from a baby’s skin
  • What paint best fits a one-year-0ld
  • The proper age to start painting your daughter’s nails

The products featured herein are the best in the market; I’ve drawn my pickings from personal experience, sales analysis, and customer feedback.

However, you need to read the entire article before using them for better familiarity with the paint.

I wish you the best painting experience with your kids and other children.