13 - 15 Months

Is your toddler ready to start coloring? 

Mother holding their child while they paint

Most children become interested in coloring at some point, but it doesn’t always happen right away. While your toddler may have the dexterity to hold a crayon and make marks on a page, don’t be surprised if they push the paper onto the floor, put the crayon in their mouth, or leave the table to do something more active 🙃

Coloring is still a somewhat abstract concept to them, and they may need to try it multiple times before they start to enjoy it. No matter how quickly your toddler takes to coloring, it’s worth offering it to them regularly. This early version of drawing, known as “mark making,” is great for their fine motor development and teaches cause and effect, a concept your toddler loves exploring right now.

Learn about the stages of drawing and see examples in “What should my toddler’s art look like right now?”

What to expect when toddlers use crayons

They may only color for a brief moment.Your toddler may only want to draw for a moment or two, or may have no interest in coloring at all. Right now, it’s all about the process, not the result—and the process may involve repeated offers before they engage. You can put a few crayons and a piece of paper out on a low table, and see what they do with them. They may also be more likely to try if you sit and draw with them ❤️

They’ll tap and scribble. There are two main kinds of marks you’ll likely see from your toddler at this age: small taps on the page and big marks and scribbles. Right now, it’s all about large, sweeping, gross motor arm movements, not the fine motor coloring and writing that comes much later.

They’ll hold a crayon with their whole hand. Most toddlers start with what’s called a “palmar supinate grasp,” which means they hold their crayon with their entire hand, pinky pointing down toward the paper. 

They’ll put things in their mouth. Coloring at this age is likely to involve a lot of mouthing, so be sure to closely supervise your child while they draw. Mouthing typically starts to diminish by age 2 but can last until your child is close to their third birthday. It’s frustrating, but they do this because they’re still learning so much from their mouth.

6 tips for toddler coloring

  1. Use safe, non-toxic materials, and offer other ways to draw beyond crayons and paper—you can try a magnetic writing board and water writing boards as well.
  2. Offer your toddler large pieces of paper to color on. They won’t be able to hold the paper steady as they draw, so consider taping the paper down so it stays still.
  3. Non-toxic, child-safe washable markers make a mark more easily than crayons, so they may be more immediately gratifying for your toddler. Markers should only be used when you can supervise very closely and stored completely out of your toddler’s reach.
  4. Pick large, easy-to-grasp writing tools, and avoid the urge to correct your toddler’s grip—any way they hold a crayon or washable marker at this age is okay.
  5. Continue to offer simple coloring options often (save the DIY crafts for an older age) and let your child get into coloring at their own pace.
  6. Always supervise your toddler while they draw, and put away all supplies when you’re done with them.


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Posted in: 13 - 15 Months, Fine Motor, Colors, Art, Lovevery App, Child Development

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