Is Acrylic Paint Safe for Kids? [Baby Footprints and Hand Prints]

As a parent, you probably want what’s best for your children. You keep them safe from harm and spend time capturing the little moments as they grow up. Hand and footprint craft projects are an excellent way to enjoy the time your kids are small, or even when they’re older. If you’re considering paint choices, you may be wondering, “Is acrylic paint safe for kids?”

Acrylic paint is safe for children over the age of three. The paint is non-toxic when used for specific craft projects, like painting on canvas. Young toddlers or babies should stick to using other craft paints. The best paint for your hand and footprint crafts depends on your child and project. 

In this article, we’ll talk about the safety of acrylic paint and go over the best paint to use based on your child’s age.

Is Acrylic Paint Safe for Kids

Is Acrylic Paint Safe for Kids?

Acrylic paint is a permanent and water-resistant choice for craft projects. It’s typically the option painters select for a canvas painting they want to last. But even non-toxic acrylic paint isn’t always safe.

Water-based acrylic paint with a non-toxic label is safe for kids, but it’s best to choose a different type of paint for young children and certain crafts. The difference between non-toxic and safe comes down to how you use it.

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic?

Technically, children can use water-based acrylic paint with non-toxic on the label. There are a few ways to decide if a particular paint is safe for kids.

Look for craft paints with the Art and Creative Materials Institute’s Approved Product (AP) stamp of approval. The Institute certifies non-toxic products by ensuring a qualified toxicologist examines the materials before they approve appropriate health warning labels concerning toxicity. The AP seal lets you know the product meets the safety standard for art materials and is safe for kids to use.

You can also look for a code on the craft paint sold in America that reads, “ASTM D-4236”. This code indicates the American Society for Testing Materials approves the paint. All paints should have warnings on the label worth looking for as well.

Most modern acrylic paint sold in stores is safe for children to use. However, acrylic paint is not ideal for babies or toddlers. It’s also best for specific crafts because the paint does not perform well without a paintbrush.

The paint is not toxic in every day painting projects, but it could become toxic depending on how you use it.

While it’s safe if the paint makes contact with your skin for a short period, acrylic is not ideal for finger painting or applying to the skin. The paint does not have the ingredients necessary to make it safe for wearing on your skin. The paint is also not safe for swallowing or inhaling.

Each of these factors affects various ages differently. Young children, for example, are especially sensitive to toxins in their environment.

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic if Swallowed?

Toxicity varies based on the reaction an element may have on the human body. Even non-toxic paint can be unsafe if swallowed. If the paint bottle lists a phone number for Poison Control, the paint is not recommended for young children.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission explains how some water-based acrylic paints have levels of formaldehyde and ammonia. If ingested, these elements may cause respiratory irritation. They note other ingredients in solvent-based acrylics that are toxic when inhaled as well, including turpentine, toluene, xylene, and methyl ethyl ketone.

Kids under the age of three tend to stick things in their mouths freely, especially their hands. This is the main reason why you should not give young children acrylic paint or apply it to their hands for craft projects. Otherwise, their curiosity may get the best of them.

But kids can use acrylic paint with supervision. Children who are old enough for you to explain why it’s not a good idea to eat paint are okay to use it for crafts. The maturity of your child may be a factor in when the time is right.

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic to Breathe?

Acrylic paint has strong fumes and odors, and it is toxic while it dries. Ventilation is key.

The most common concern is when acrylic paints are sanded or airbrushed, releasing chemicals into the air. Every day painting projects are typically safe. Some substances may radiate into the air as they dry, though.

If you’re using acrylics for a craft project, make sure to open a window or go outside. Work in a well-ventilated area. You could also wear a protective face mask if you prefer.

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic on the Skin?

Technically, the paint is safe. However, the toxicity scale varies based on the age group, gender, and the project.

Acrylic paint is non-toxic, but it’s not safe to apply to everyone’s skin or for long-term wear. If it comes into contact with a child’s skin for a short time, it’s entirely safe. But you want to wash the paint off as soon as possible to prevent it from absorbing into your skin.

Not everyone’s skin reacts the same way, though. People with sensitive skin may wear nitrile-coated gloves to keep the paint from their skin, especially those with eczema. Never apply the paint to the skin of young children either.

Some paints also have chemicals that may irritate the skin, depending on the brand you buy. If you see any reaction from the paint, wash it off the skin immediately.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint for Handprints and Footprints?

Hand and footprint projects, where you dip your children’s hands or feet into the paint and impress the image on another surface, are fantastic keepsakes. They make great gifts for parents and family members or serve other sentimental purposes. You can use acrylic paint for these projects but within reason.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint for Baby Prints?

Acrylic paint safe for baby handprints

Although some parents use acrylic paint for baby hand or footprints and wash it off immediately after the project is over, it’s not recommended to expose your baby’s delicate skin to the paint. A baby’s brand new skin is too sensitive for the harsh chemicals in acrylics.

Toddlers and kids over the age of three absorb fewer chemicals through their skin, making the project safer for them. However, even non-toxic paint has chemicals and compounds that could cause a skin reaction.

There are better paints created with skin and kids in mind that don’t contain acrylics. Go with tempera paint for this type of project (see more on paint types below). Tempera paint is the first alternative for acrylic paint with baby print projects.

Some parents also opt for handprint and footprint projects where you imprint in non-toxic clay and then paint it, which is much safer for your baby. Another kid-friendly option is to use paint ink pads instead of acrylics sold with hand and footprint projects in mind.

What is the Best Way to Use Acrylic Paint for Hand and Foot Prints?

Acrylic paint child safe

Acrylics are better to make handprints on cloth, like towels, t-shirts, or potholders. However, the paint dries too fast for the prints to turn out well. They’re also difficult to wash the fabric afterward.

For these reasons, select a different type of paint or another medium specifically for hands and footprint crafts.

What Is the Best Paint to Use for Younger Kids and Print Crafts?

Acrylic paints dry quickly and can stain clothing. There are better paint options for younger children and craft projects involving hands or footprints.

Young children tend to stick their hands in their mouths at every opportunity, so handprint projects or even using acrylic paints in crafts are not ideal. Younger children should stick to using safer craft paints.

Other projects may involve allowing your children to paint with acrylics, which is safe if your children are old enough to use a paintbrush. Just make sure to open a window for proper ventilation. If you’re unsure about leaving your little ones to paint with acrylics, here are a few other paint options.

Safe paints for kids include:

  • Tempera paint: Tempera paint is the best choice for children of all ages because it’s water-based and easy to clean. The paint dries quickly. You’ll find this paint in various colors as well as glossy or matte finishes. It’s excellent for paper, canvas, cardboard, or wood surfaces.
  • Watercolor paint: Watercolors are bright and transparent paints. They’re safe for kids and best on watercolor paper, which has a high absorption rate to control the wetness.
  • Activity paint: As you may have guessed, activity paint is ideal for many projects. The paint is water-based and gel, made with small children in mind. It washes away from an array of surfaces with ease.
  • Finger paint: Another top recommendation for young kids, finger paint is typically safe for babies and toddlers. The paint washes from the skin quickly and is safe if your kid gets curious and decides to taste their artwork. Finger paint is best for thick paper products. Go with a creamy formula for rich tones and less splashback.

Tempera paint is probably the first choice for most parents. Poison Control points out that tempera and other poster paints can mildly irritate the mouth or skin, and swallowing large amounts of the paint could cause stomach issues like vomiting. Make sure to look at each ingredient listed on the label carefully and always supervise kids as they paint.

Crayola Washable Fingerpaint

Crayola 8-Ounce Washable Fingerpaint-Primary (3 Count)Crayola is a well-known kids-friendly brand in the art supply world. Their washable fingerpaint kit includes three 8-ounce bottles of finger paint. This kit comes in primary colors, red, blue, and yellow, but they have other colors to choose from sold separately.

This finger paint is safe for kids over the age of three. It washes from skin and clothing easily, so you don’t need to worry about toddlers getting the paint on anything. Kids can come out dirty without causing any stains. The paint also has a soft smell that shouldn’t irritate your breathing.

Veggie Baby Organic Finger Paint

Veggie Baby Finger Paints for Toddlers, Vegan, Organic Baby Safe Coloring, Play, Colorful Eco Painting (5 Colors)An organic and vegan finger paint option, the Veggie Baby line is a top brand if safety is your concern. It’s safe for young children and sensitive skin. The product is edible and created without any harmful ingredients, so you never need to worry about the paint making contact with a baby’s skin.

One of the best parts about Veggie Baby Organic Finger Paint is the colors. The kit comes with an endless array of colors that are easy to mix. The paint comes in a powder that you mix. Veggie Baby says the product is ideal for kids over six months of age.

ARTEZA Tempera Paint for Kids

Arteza Tempera Washable Paint for Kids, Set of 32, 2.03oz/60ml Bottles, Poster Paint for Painting, Craft Projects, Sponge Painting & Finger Painting, Includes Neon, Glitter & Glow-in-The-DarkThis option is the best tempera paint for children. Unlike competitors, ARTEZA makes tempera paint for kids that have a rich and bold pigment. The kit comes with 32 bottles of craft paint, including neon, glitter, metallic, and glow-in-the-dark.

ARTEZA’s tempera paint is 100% washable and easy to clean. They won’t stain clothing or tiny hands. There is no chemical smell typical among other tempera paint brands, and they are safe for the skin. The product all-around meets strict safety requirements for young children.


What Craft Projects using Acrylic Paint are Ideal for Kids?

Acrylic paint is often better for other types of crafts. Older kids can have tons of fun with acrylic paint.

The paint is famous for kids’ crafts because it’s versatile and easy to mix. Acrylics dry quicker than oil paints, meaning you could complete painting projects much faster. They also create vivid colors when you combine the paints, and they produce less toxic fumes than oil paints.

Acrylics are a go-to for a wide variety of craft projects. However, kids should use acrylic paints on certain surfaces.

Acrylic paint is best on:

  • Paper
  • Wood
  • Canvases
  • Fabrics
  • Ceramic
  • Metal

Before allowing your children to paint with acrylics, you may also want to protect the surface nearby. Acrylic paint is permanent because it’s incredibly challenging to remove from a solid surface after it dries. Cover your workspace and protect any nearby fabrics as you work with the paint.

What is the Quick Way to Remove Paint From My Baby’s Skin?

Any water-based paint comes off easier with soap and water. However, some “washable” acrylic paints are still hard to wash off.

To remove paint from your baby’s skin:

  1. Start by washing with soap and warm water.
  2. Use your thumb or finger pads to massage the paint away lightly.
  3. Rinse thoroughly.

When soap and water don’t work, try scrubbing the skin with another product to remove the paint. By applying a generous amount of mayonnaise, baby oil, olive oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil to the area of the skin, you may get the paint out quicker. Just rub it in and rinse.

With challenging, stuck-on paint, you might need something a bit stronger. You can apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol to a q-tip or cotton ball to scrub the skin of older children or adults. Fingernail polish remover can also remove paint, but not all brands are non-toxic.

If acrylic paint gets on your clothing or fabric, you might be able to get the paint out if you submerge or soak the cloth in water and immediately wash them before the paint dries. A soft bristle brush will help remove it from the fibers too.


While you can use acrylic paint for handprint and footprint projects with older children, always wash the paint away immediately when the project is complete. Choose a safer paint option if you have young children under the age of three or sensitive skin. Make sure to follow all safety precautions and double-check the paint label thoroughly before use.

Did this article help you with your paint project? If you learned something about acrylic paints with handprint or footprint crafts, please let us know in the comments and share the article with your friends and family.