Crafting with little ones. Hands up who's shed a little tear at their first creations and the mess… We hear ya. But before you get to that stage, you have to work out what crafts they should be doing at what stage! Are they too young for paint? Too old for messy play? It can be a real minefield.

We've pulled together what you'll need to get started on an arty journey with your mini Monet. And you won't end up with paint splattered up your skirting boards with our ideas either… Bonus.

Stage 1: Mini, mini makers

Art can be introduced from day dot and is great for sensory development too. When they are tiny, they may not be able to focus properly, but that doesn't mean you can't get them prepped. This Wildfire Teepees Playmat helps them get all arty while they chill, thanks to the bold black and white graphics - that are great for stimulating little sensory explorers. When they can start to focus a little bit more (that's around the 3 month mark), Wee Gallery's baby art cards are the ideal thing to get started with. Designed with high contrast playful illustrations, they're great for captivating their minds. The rounded edges also mean they can grab them easily, which is great for honing their dexterity too. Then when they reach the drawing stage, they can use these cards to draw and copy what's on them. Bonus.

Stage 2: Independent Artists

Once toddlers find their feet it's often a bit of a war to get them to stay sitting down to.do.anything… So embrace it, rather than fight it for art time. From the minute they can start grabbing stuff and standing, get them into drawing. This modern take on a traditional chalk easel by Janod is perfect for tots. The double-sided design also means two kiddos can get stuck in at the same time - bye bye sibling squabbles! If they fancy trying their hand at another medium, paper rolls fit perfectly onto the frame & are ideal for painting or drawing onto too. It might get a little messier but it's still not going to be all over your kitchen table and that's a parenting win right there.

And now onto that proper messy play. Yes, it may have you gritting your teeth in fear but it doesn't have to result in tabletops stained with paint 🎉. The handy EZPZ Happy Mat is your friend here. It keeps arty bits & bobs organised for mini makers. Handy hack: Tape a piece of paper onto the rubber mat and you won't have a frustrated tot chasing their artwork around the slippy table (or chucking it on the floor!)

Still too messy? Think outta the box and into the bathroom for a less messy art route with these Wee Gallery colour me bath books. Rest the book on the side of the bath, let your tot paint with the water & watch as the pages reveal hidden colour. Genius!

Stage 3: Expressive Creatives

Kids develop so quickly, art skills included. Before you know it, there'll be glitter, stickers and pipe cleaners filling up their craft boxes. Encouraging design and expression is such an exciting time for parents of pre-schoolers and there are heaps of products out there to hone those skills.

At this stage, you'll probably find your budding artist can't get enough of scribbling and you'll probably find yourself hunting around for scrap paper and heck, even old receipts, to fulfill all the doodling quotas.

Got one of those adult colouring in books yourself? Well, Eat Sleep Doodle create products for kids, with a similar vibe. From pencil cases to wall stickers, the graphic, fine line patterns make these super on trend as well as being an intriguing, alternative canvas for tiny creatives. Bag some washable pens too and encourage your budding artist to get expressive without the commitment. They might let you perfect your colouring in skills as well.

Hoping these tips for crafting with your kiddos are handy.

Laura x